Caleb Bailey, Sports Editor
The Armstrong Pirates men’s and women’s basketball teams look to turn their luck in recent years around with the start of the 2016-17 season just around the corner. Next week, the two teams take to the road for big exhibition match-ups with Division I opponents as a warm-up for the regular season.
The women’s team travels just one state over to face off against the College of Charleston Cougars on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Despite finishing the 2015-16 season with a winning record of 16-12, the Pirates went 8-11 in the Peach Belt Conference and missed the postseason and the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season after reaching the Elite Eight in 2014.
The Pirates return forward Brigitta Barta for one more season after she averaged 13 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. She is just 179 points away from becoming Armstrong’s all-time leading scorer after she became just the second player to surpass 1,000 points last year.
Barta is not alone, however, as she is joined by junior college transfer Aysia Grimsley. She comes in from Chattahoochee Tech, where she was the NJCAA’s leading scorer with 29.6 points per game during the 2015-16 season and also scored the most points in a single game in the entire country last year with 51 points against West Georgia Tech.
The Cougars finished the 2015-16 season with an 11-20 record and fell in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament to eventual champion James Madison.
The men’s team faces a much tougher test in their exhibition game as they travel up to Ann Arbor to face off against the Michigan Wolverines on Friday, Nov. 4. The Pirates made the PBC Tournament in 2016, but fell to Montevallo 76-71 and finished with a 12-15 record.
Jamison Jeffers returns for his senior year as he averaged 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists last season. He is joined by Chattanooga State Community College transfer Larry Spicer, who scored 12.2 points per game last season as a sophomore.
The Wolverines went 23-13 during the 2015-16 season and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten conference tournament. They also advanced to the Second Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament before falling to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.