The first five games of Hampton's women's basketball schedule looks like this: at Pittsburgh, at Jacksonville, at Florida, at IPFW and at Chicago State.
Daunting, to be sure, but if the way the Lady Pirates handled job No. 1 on Saturday night
perhaps not so much.
"They're the Big East, and they got three top 100 players on their team," HU coach David Six said.
Don't think, though, that Six is in any way satisfied by his Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team's clobbering of a much larger foe.
"We played well defensively. We didn't play all that great offensively," Six said. "I know we can play better than that, especially offensively, but offense comes slow. Defense is always ahead of the offense, primarily because we spend so much time on it."
Indeed, the Lady Pirates ranked 12th in the nation last season in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 53.4 points per game. Those opponents included James Madison (a 69-64 HU win), East Carolina (a 69-63 HU win) and Florida, which lost to the Lady Pirates 69-54 at Hampton on Dec. 10.
Safe to say, the Gators won't be coming back to the Hampton Convocation Center anytime soon and neither any will other quality, out-of-conference opponents, if the Lady Pirates keep this up.
"Quite honestly, it was hard to get people to come to Hampton. We had to go where we could get games," Six said. "It's quite an ambitious road trip, but we look forward to the challenge."
HU closed last season with a narrow 66-62 overtime loss to Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and Saturday night showed FBS schools should still be afraid very afraid.
The Lady Pirates notched the 23-point win their best player, senior point guard Jericka Jenkins, struggling to a 2-of-15, seven-point performance. The 5-foot-4 inch Jenkins led HU with 13.4 points per game last year and ranked second in the nation with 7.2 assists per game.
"What Jericka didn't realize is she's not a secret," Six said. "So the defense was geared to stop her tonight. That might have been a little news to her, because usually people look at her size and just let her do whatever."
Jenkins still managed five assists while McMillian picked up the scoring slack. Melanie Warner added 12 points and Ariel Phelps came off the bench to produce 10 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes.
"I wouldn't say I was surprised," Six said. "We defend at a pretty high level, so that's going to keep us in the game, and then once we got locked down defensively, it was hard for them to score. Had we played a little better offensively, we might have won by more."