Milligan women’s basketball is currently struggling to end this season on a high. After winning the conference and qualifying for nationals the past two seasons, the Buffs were expected to end this season the same way.
In the 2015-2016 season, the Lady Buffs ended with a record of 17-3 in the conference and 23-8 overall. Playing hard throughout the season led them to win the regular season conference. This win not only led them to the quarterfinal of the conference tournament but also to the first round of the national tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
The 2016-2017 season was also full of wins for the Lady Buffs. They ended their season with a record of 18-4 in the conference and 23-10 overall. For the second year in a row, they won the regular season conference, which led them to nationals once again. They were able to make their way to the semifinal of the conference tournament and the first round of the national tournament.
So far this season they have a conference record of 11-9, which is the lowest record they have had over the past two seasons. They are also ranked sixth in the Appalachian Athletic Conference standings and the top 8 seeds go on to the conference tournament. Compared to the past two years, the women are battling to the very last moment to end this season as high in the standings as they can get.
At the beginning of this season, head coach Rich Aubrey wanted his team to focus more on the defensive aspect of the game. Making this change would allow his team to play with a faster defense than what they had previously experienced. He wanted to better prepare them for the national tournament in hopes of making it further than the first round.
“I made some changes to our system, especially our defensive system. Those changes were intended to make our team more dynamic, but they did not have the intended effect,” Aubrey said. “I take responsibility for those changes. Sometimes as a coach, you take chances, and they bring about positive results. Sometimes, they don’t.”
To better ensure a top spot in the regular season conference standings, Aubrey knew that he would have to change strategies. He specifically wants the team to return to their program’s values. He also made sure that the team returned to practicing the basics: shooting, offensive sets and playing team defense.
“We have simplified the game,” Aubrey said. “We aren’t trying to do as many different things, especially on defense. We’ve also chosen to be deliberate about winning (and losing) together.”
With four games left until the conference tournament, Aubrey is hoping to lead his team to more wins that would sit them comfortably in the standings.