There’s a lot the College of Southern Idaho women’s basketball team doesn’t quite know about itself just yet.
Perhaps the Golden Eagles will learn pretty soon.
With a couple ranked squads coming to Twin Falls for the Coca Cola Invitational, which starts on Friday, one of which will be an opponent for CSI, a lot will be learned this weekend, and the Golden Eagles are looking forward to it.
“It gives our kids a chance to compete against what the national tournament is going to look like,” head coach Randy Rogers said.
The No. 14 Golden Eagles (5-3) will take on Williston State College (3-3) on Friday, then Georgia Highlands (5-2) on Saturday. The Chargers entered the season ranked No. 18 in the NJCAA preseason poll, and will provide a stern test for CSI.
No. 17 Salt Lake Community College (7-2), a Scenic West Athletic Conference rival, is co-hosting the tournament with CSI. The Bruins defeated the Golden Eagles 63-56 on Nov. 17 at the Midland NIT Tournament, but it was not a conference game.
While the two won’t square off this weekend, Rogers said it’s only an added bonus to have another ranked team in the gym to give his team an extended look at what they could be up against down the road in conference play.
Especially after the Salt Lake loss, which was one of back-to-back losses that had CSI at 3-3, the Golden Eagles, who have won two straight since, are ready and rearing to go.
“We have a lot of talent but I think we hit a rough patch,” sophomore guard Mallory Lapoole said. “I think we’re good now. These upcoming games should be good.”
That talent, Rogers said, is enough to take the Golden Eagles to the postseason and beyond this year. However, Lapoole said, in a way, it’s like they don’t quite know how talented they are.
Rogers said they’ve had some trouble with continuity, and understanding roles within the team. Sometimes it falls back on who’s got the hot hand, but each player has been given their chances this season and, now, it’s up to them to piece it together.
“Sometimes I feel like we don’t know where to put that talent,” Lapoole said. “I wouldn’t say it’s too much talent, but we’re trying to fit everybody in.”
Lapoole says everybody is starting to understand their roles, mainly because they’re starting to challenge one another in practice. Rogers said he’s challenging himself after the way the Golden Eagles opened the season. He said “that’s not my start.”
There’s only one loss Rogers is truly disappointed in, he added, which was a 59-56 loss to Sheridan College on Nov. 3. The Golden Eagles had a nine-point lead late and only managed one shot in their final 11 possessions that night.
Everything else this year has been part of the learning curve, which takes CSI to this weekend.
With conference play not too far away, Rogers said those roles need to become even more defined, and that talent needs to be applied where it fits. That’ll start with a difficult slate in the coming days.
“To compete at the national level, you’ve got to be pretty good,” Rogers said. “I like my team and we have an outside shot. We’ve got talent. We’re just trying to put that all together.”