ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Albany State women's basketball team had high hopes last year would be the year.
It wasn't. The Lady Rams were dumped out in the first round of the SIAC Tournament, ending their season much earlier than they had planned.
That disappointment is driving them this season.
The Lady Rams are less than a month from tipping off the 2016-2017 season. The expectations are where they are typically for this team, near the top of the conference standings.
ASU is picked to finish 3rd in the SIAC, but the Lady Rams have conference title ambitions despite losing 2016 conference player of the year Artisha Holston.
Holston graduated from Albany State in May, and has decided to forgo her final season with the Golden Rams. She'll transfer to Georgia State, and play her final year of eligibility there.
The Lady Rams say last year's early end taught them a great deal, and head coach Robert Skinner says those lessons have made for a great preseason.
"We know we had to come back harder, to fight harder," says junior forward Kayla Green. "We have to work harder, and we had to work harder in the preseason."
Skinner says this has been one of the best preseasons he's seen as ASU's head coach. He says the team's preseason work in the weight room and on the track has shown in their conditioning.
"I'm not saying we're going to play any better. I'm not saying we're going to do any better because that comes down to the effort we play with in every game," Skinner says. "If I look at what we've done in the preseason and the offseason though, that effort has been there tremendously."
Albany State opens the season November 11 at the Valdosta State Invitational.