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Courtesy: Nelson Chenault
Marian Kursh and Britteni Williams
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Seniors Help Trojans Be Their Own Team
UALR Sports Information
Release: 03/16/2012

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Seniors Marian Kursh and Britteni Williams knew what it was like to win a championship and go to the NCAA tournament before this season started. What they did not know was how the team was going to rebuild after losing the top three scorers from last year. Despite the doubt of the Trojans topping last year’s performance, these senior took it upon themselves to make the UALR women’s basketball team not look at the past but play in the now.

After losing the seniors last year, many thought that the Trojans would be in a rebuilding year. In fact, the conference coaches’ picked the UALR women’s team to finish third in the west division. For Kursh and Williams, they believed that this season could be special.

“We knew we were and really young team, and we knew we were going to have to step up and be leaders,” said Kursh. “We know a lot of people doubted us. We lost three really good players, but at the same time, we always knew we could become our own team. We could form our own identity.”

“I think in the beginning it was a little hard, but we had to stay positive, because we knew the end was what really counted,” said Williams. “We had time to pull it together which was up until the time of the tournament. We just worked hard and kept that in mind.”

Starting the season 3-8 could have been the downfall of a young team, but instead of quitting and giving up, these seniors helped the team reinvent what they thought they were to become what they were supposed to be.

“I think before that we were trying to compare ourselves to the last three teams,” said Williams. “We were just trying to compare ourselves to that. There was no reason for us to do that, because we are such a young team, and we were just working on something totally different. We switched up roles. This is a more balanced team.”

Kursh added, “It’s not just one or two people that we know that can score. Everybody can contribute. I know for me, the big turning point in our season was conference. I told the girls all the time conference is when it counts. You go through three seasons: non-conference, conference, and post-season play. If you win conference, you know you get to play three games instead of four. I think during conference, we started working really hard on defense, and that is what won us a lot of games.”

Facing the undefeated in conference team with a storybook of tradition in February was a test for the Trojans of days to come. Kursh and Williams knew that this game could change the course of the conference tournament.

“B the game, we were all like this could have an effect on whenever we meet them in the tournament,” said Kursh. “Whoever won was going to think like, oh we did this before, and it’s no big deal. I honestly think the loss helped us.”

Williams added, “I think it helped us too, because we knew if that was the best, then we would know what to do to beat the best. Obviously you don’t want to lose, but if that is what it took for us to win the tournament, then I am glad it happened that way.”

These senior helped mold a team that after the 59-51 loss at Middle Tennessee did not lose another game and have won seven in a row. When these two met again, it was the leadership from all three seniors, including Megan Williams who is sidelined due to an injury, that helped UALR captured the team’s second-straight Sun Belt Championship.

“After we won, I was pretty much speechless,” said Kursh. “I couldn’t do anything. I was so emotional. I couldn’t stop crying. It just felt so good. It is like when people doubt you, and you prove them wrong. We came together as a team. Just to accomplish that when nobody thought we would, that was the biggest thing to me. It felt better this year than last year. I know last year was our first, but it did.”

“I know we loved our three seniors last year when we were playing with them all the time,” said Williams. “For us to lose them and still get it done and to show our fans, coaches, and everybody we could do it, that is what meant a lot to me. Not letting the program down, not letting our supporters down who do a lot for us, meant a lot. For those people that really didn’t think we could get it done, it just feels really good to show them we worked hard and did it.”

Now these seniors along with the rest of the team get to show their fans at The Jack Stephens Center what hard work and determination can do as the Trojans play in the NCAA Tournament.

Win or lose this week, it shouldn’t matter. What these seniors have done for this program is show everyone that just because you aren’t picked first doesn’t mean you won’t finish there.


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