On Nov. 13 at the Hornets’ gym in Marietta, Reinhardt came up just short, with the men losing by three and the women by 14.
In addition to the revenge aspect of the longstanding rivalry — once conference rivals before Reinhardt left the Southern States Athletic Conference and dropped into the NAIA’s Division II — today’s games will also involve familiar faces matching up against their former teams.
Former Reinhardt men’s coach Jeffery Pourchier is returning to Waleska for the first time since taking the same position at Southern Poly.
Pourchier expects the Eagles to come out with a high level of emotion, even if only for the first few minutes.
“(Reinhardt) will be up for this game, no doubt about that,” said Pourchier, who coached the Eagles for five seasons. “I think they’ll be all fired up and ready to play. Emotions will be running high for the first 5 minutes, but after that, it’ll be a normal game and everyone will begin to settle in.”
While Pourchier made the move from Reinhardt to Southern Poly, Lady Eagles guard Tara Hay moved in reverse, transferring to Reinhardt after three seasons at Southern Poly.
Though she may be facing her former teammates, Hay is treating the game just as she would against any other team.
“I try not to think of it,” said Hay, averaging a team-high 14.2 points, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game. “It’s just another game. We’re just focused on executing the game plan, work harder and getting the win this time around.”
With over a month’s more experience under her belt since first meeting Southern Poly (8-0), first-year Reinhardt women’s coach Lindsey Huffman hopes to see her team turn in an improved performance and end 2012 with a win.
“We’ve been working really hard on changing things up on the defensive end and on our offensive sets,” Huffman said. “We’ve done a lot of work since we’ve played them, and I think we’ve fixed some of the things that they hurt us with in our first game.”
One of those things is the Lady Eagles’ offense, which struggled to deal with the high-pressure zone defense of Southern Poly.
“They played a 1-2-2 zone against us when we didn’t have a zone offense at all,” Huffman said. “Now, we do. This time, we have to come out and execute offensively and not be so passive like we were in out first meeting.”
Huffman also stressed the importance of entering the winter break on a high note. Reinhardt (6-7) had won four of five games to start the season but is only 2-6 since.
“This is huge for us. Going into winter break, we need this momentum,” Huffman said. “I would be a big morale booster.”
For the man who replaced Pourchier as Reinhardt men’s coach, Jason Gillespie feels that some new players to his roster will make the rematch with Southern Poly (6-5) more like a first-time meeting.
“We both have different teams,” said Gillespie, whose team has won four straight to improve to 5-5. “We have a few new guys that were recently added to the roster and have only played one game for us, while they have some guys that may be participating for the first time this season,” Gillespie said, alluding to Reinhardt’s recently eligible players — guard D.J. Jackson, forward Gabe Mathis and center Luke Joseph. “This will not be a typical repeat game, and that makes it kind of interesting.”
For the Eagles to avoid another loss to the Hornets, Gillespie believes they will have to win the battle at the boards, or at least make it competitive.
“Our biggest problem all year has been rebounding the basketball,” he said. “They did a great job on the glass against us earlier in the year. We’ve got to do better.”
Though Gillespie hopes to emerge with a win, his focus is on seeing Reinhardt continue to improve.
“If we lose, we aren’t necessarily in bad shape for the second semester,” Gillespie said. “Win or lose, we need to keep doing what we have been doing and keep getting better. One way or another, we are going to improve from this game.”