Joe Foley knew his young University of Arkansas at Little Rock team would be due for some hard lessons this month.
Seasons don't start with road trips at No. 5 Texas A&M, one of the most consistent programs in women's college basketball, and Rice, an NCAA Tournament team last season that is receiving AP Top 25 votes, without taking some lumps.
The Trojans were dismantled by Texas A&M, 78-35, during the season opener in College Station on Nov. 5. Then they lost to Rice, 66-40, on Saturday in Houston.
Foley, who's in his 17th season as head coach at UALR, knows those types of games aren't designed to produce victories. Development and measuring the roster against tough competition are the goals.
"It's always disappointing when you lose, but you got to take under consideration who you're playing, where you're playing and what you're playing with at this time of year," Foley said. "We got a bunch of freshmen, and they're all playing and they're not ready for that, and we won't be ready for LSU [tonight].
"There's no way that you can get freshman kids ready to play against that kind of talent in the short amount of time. But it's something that exposes and lets them understand how far they got to go to be a competitive team."
There's some experience in UALR's starting five, but for the most part, it's a young roster with a bench that'll rely heavily on freshmen.
Through two games, Foley has played five of the team's six freshmen, including forward Alayzha Knapp, who's started both games.
Foley said his freshmen have struggled to adjust to the speed of the college game. The defensive end is a work in progress for the young players. Offensively, Foley has been pleased with the shot selection, but he indicated players have been rushing many of their looks.
UALR has shot 31.3% from the field and made 2 of 28 three-point attempts. The Trojans also have turned the ball over 33 times.
Foley believes his raw supporting cast will grow.
"It's just gonna take a little while. It's not gonna happen overnight. It's not gonna be pretty for a while," Foley said. "But I've been in it long enough to know that eventually, if the kids are right, then it's gonna pay dividends. Now if you're looking for a quick fix, some quick wins, it ain't gonna happen.
"I'm not gonna push the panic button. It's probably gonna get a little worse before it gets better, and that's just part of it. If we can keep the kids from panicking, then we're all right."
One of the bright spots for UALR has been senior guard Kyra Collier, the team's second-leading scorer last season.
The North Little Rock High School graduate has been the Trojans' only consistent source of offense in the first two games. Collier was the lone Trojan to reach double figures against Texas A&M, tallying 13 points. She led UALR with 16 points Saturday at Rice.
Foley wants Collier's style of play to serve as the model for UALR's young players.
"She's solid," Foley said. "She's not too up and down, and that's what the other team members have got to learn is you can't get overexcited about something, and you can't get too down about something. This is something that you got to compete every day, and that's something that the freshmen are not used to doing ... and they'll figure that out."
The Trojans could be in for some more learning tonight with another difficult test.
UALR's home opener at the Jack Stephens Center against LSU (1-1) is at 6:30 p.m. The Tigers pushed No. 12 Florida State to the brink on Saturday before falling 70-62 in Baton Rouge.
"They're a very solid team. They got a bunch of kids back from last year," Foley said. "They're very athletic. Inside, they'll be much bigger than we are. Guards are a little bigger and quicker. It's a tough matchup, and they play very aggressive on defense. I'm worried about the speed of the game a little bit, with our kids still trying to learn certain things on offense."
LSU AT UALR
WHEN 6:30 p.m.
WHERE Jack Stephens Center, Little Rock
RECORDS LSU 1-1, UALR 0-2
TV Cox Sports TV
Sports on 11/13/2019
Print Headline: Foley says early lumps expected