Bud Childers has spent the last two days preparing his Winthrop women's basketball team for tonight's "pre-conference, conference opener'' against Presbyterian, a future Big South Conference foe.
So, what exactly is a pre-conference, conference game?
It all came about when Birmingham-Southern decided to drop out of the league. The decision left the BSC with just seven women's teams.
Winthrop drew the short straw when the league put together the opening-day conference slate. Childers scheduled the Blue Hose, a transitional NCAA Division I and Big South member.
"In our minds, we're like the rest of the league -- we're opening league play (today) because we're playing a future conference opponent," Childers said after the Eagles won their third straight with a 72-48 beatdown of USC Upstate on Wednesday. "It just doesn't count yet."
The Eagles were reminded of where Presbyterian is headed as far as conference affiliation as they glanced up to the rafters above to section 120 of the Winthrop Coliseum during practice.
"They have a banner hanging here in the coliseum, and so we're going to prepare just like everyone else in the league for our conference opener," Childers said. "That's the mindset I want us to take."
Winthrop (11-6) has won three straight after stumbling at Wichita State, Charlotte and George Mason. On paper, the Eagles look like an overwhelming favorite. The Blue Hose are 1-19 and have lost 12 straight.
Childers knows the Eagles have to get off to a better start than they did against USC Upstate. The Spartans, who only had eight players available and were missing captain and starting point guard Courtney Bradley, on crutches because of a knee injury, played the Eagles close through the first 20 minutes.
But fatigue and crisp execution by the Eagles at the offensive and defensive end of the floor led to the second-half rout. Winthrop smothered the Spartans defensively, holding USC Upstate to 11 points on one field goal and eight free throws.
"We challenged them at halftime not to let them get to 50 in the second half," Childers said. "For a time, it looked like we might not let them get to 40," Childers said. "All in all, we played a solid game.
"We had more assists than turnovers, we had a lot of steals, we out-rebounded them and shot the ball pretty well."
Winthrop got a career-high 13 points from sophomore Shanice Cole, who also pulled down seven rebounds. Tiffany Rodd, who had struggled somewhat offensively, led the Eagles in scoring with 20 points.
Today's game will be televised on Tri-County 14 (cable channel 14 in Rock Hill), something Childers is looking forward to.
"One of the things that still disappoints me is that we don't have over-the-air radio broadcasts," Childers said. "The Web cast is great, but our local fans don't have the opportunity to listen to us in their cars or their homes.
"Saturday we have the chance to play on television, which gives the cable users in York County the chance to watch the game."
After tonight's game, the Eagles travel to High Point for a BSC game that will count in the standings.
WINTHROP WOMEN'S GAMEDAY
-PRESBYTERIAN (1-19) AT WINTHROP (11-6)
• When: 7 p.m.
• Where: Winthrop Coliseum
• TV: Tri-County 14 (cable channel 14 in Rock Hill)
• On the Web: winthropeagles.com, click on "Listen Live"
• Presbyterian's probable starters: G Bridget Takach 5-6 Sr. (7.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg); G Amy Jones 5-9 Sr. (9.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg); G Katlin Moore 5-7 Fr. (9.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg); F Lee Smith 6-0 So. (6.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg); C Taylor Price 6-2 So. (3.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
• Winthrop's probable starters: G Yvonne van Daalen 5-9 Jr. (5.9 ppg, 4.1 apg); G Tiffany Rodd 6-0 Jr. (12.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg); F Ashley Fann 6-0 Jr. (10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg); F Franchesca Davenport 5-11 Jr. (6 ppg, 3.9 rpg); C Ashley Haugtvedt 6-2 Jr. (8.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
• Notes: Winthrop leads the series 8-0 ... This is the first meeting since 1984 when the Eagles won 77-67 and 70-53 ... Winthrop has posted double-digit pre-conference wins for the first time since joining the Big South Conference ... PC is playing is fifth BSC opponent of the season ... The Blue Hose have used 11 different starting lineups this season ... Over the last 10 games, Bridget Takach has hit 51.4 percent of her 3-point shots ... Tonight's game is the 17th on the road for the Blue Hose.
• Next up: Winthrop plays at High Point at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.