The D2 Women’s Basketball season is just a few weeks away, which means it is time to start talking about what to expect on November 11 and beyond.
In each of our region-by-region previews, we will spotlight the defending regional champions, break down five favorites to make the Elite Eight this season, one dark horse contender, and a preseason all-region team. Over the next few days, we’ll roll out previews for each of the eight regions in D2, so if you miss one, make sure to check out the 2016 Preview Headquarters.
We start our preview series in the South Central, home to the defending national champion Lubbock Christian.
Spotlight: Lubbock Christian
Head Coach: Steve Gomez (14th season)
2015-16 Finish: 35-0 (D2 National Champions)
2015 Conference Finish: 18-0 (Heartland Conference Champions)
Key Player: Junior forward Tess Bruffey (13.4 PPG | 4.8 RPG)
Key Game: Nov. 11 at Metro State in Denver. The first game of the season will be the thermometer to see how good this team can be trying to defend their title.
The craziest part of LCU’s championship run is that it was their first time attending the dance. The Chaps were in their third year following a move from the NAIA ranks, but coach Steve Gomez explained the jump isn’t as big as one might think.
“NAIA has about 15 to 20 teams that could easily compete on this level, and have started to do so since they transitioned,” said Gomez. “With that top tier, there is not a lot of separation in the talent pool.”
A key contribution to the title run was a large group of seniors, all of whom have since graduated. Gomez realizes it will be tough to make up for all they did.
“There is going to be a lot of early season experimentation,” Gomez explained. “We will have to do some different things as this team learns its identity.”
When looking at what Lubbock could do this season, the immediate thought is to imagine a repeat. While it is certainly possible, coach Gomez will admit it’s a long-shot, at least in the same way they did it last year.
“35-0 again is foolish as a goal for us,” Gomez told HERO. “We really want to just accomplish what we can, and I will let the players set their goals. My hope is that we handle the adversity we face with grace and class.”
The Chaps are going to be a player in the South Central region, but how big a player is yet to be seen. The Heartland Conference title is a marker for this squad. If they can claim that and make it back into the big dance, they will have proven that they have enough to make another run. If they miss out, then it will be an offseason spent trying to recapture the glory they tasted during their perfect run.