Expectations equal reality most of the time for Liberty women

The Lady Flames play UNC during the first round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at the Carmichael Arena on March 21, 2015. (Photo by Kevin Manguiob)

Every year, the Big South takes a preseason poll of coaches and media to predict who might be the conference’s best women’s basketball team.

Almost every year, the answer is Liberty.

To be precise, 18 times in the last 19 seasons, the Flames have been selected to win the conference title. Fifteen of those times, Liberty actually has won the regular season.

It’s not always an entirely accurate predictor, then. But it’s usually a safe bet.

Even if head coach Carey Green hates it.

“Truthfully, I hate those expectations,” Green said. “It’s undue pressure. And a lot of it’s fool’s gold. I’d rather not have that because it not only is a challenge for myself to deal with reality, but also our players. Truthfully, we’ll talk about it one time: Today. And we’re not talking about it anymore.”

Green would rather talk about the five seniors he expects to lead the Flames, which includes preseason Player of the Year (and the reigning Big South Tournament MVP) Ashley Rininger. The 6-foot-4 forward/center led Liberty with 12.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season.

Rininger and her teammates will be challenged from the start, with a non-conference schedule that includes teams such as NC State, Ohio State, Cal and Duke.

All that’s by design, said Green, whose Liberty team has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 13 of his 16 seasons at the helm.

“I don’t want us to not have a day that we’re not consistently improving,” he said. “It’ll help reveal who we are and the areas we need to work on. And, I’d like to have this problem, but it would definitely be tougher from a Biblical perspective: What if we won every one of those games? If we won every one of those games, they would probably be ranked easily in the top 20, and I would probably be dealing with a bunch of monsters at that point in time. (But) it’d be a good one (problem) to deal with.”

Above: Ashley Rininger and the Lady Flames will be challenged early with their non-conference schedule. Liberty is once again the pick of the Big South.  (Photo by Kevin Manguiob/Liberty University)
Jodie Valade

Jodie Valade

Jodie Valade is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC.