FARMVILLE, VA (WWBT) - League games, the conference tournament, games that mean more in January and February. These are things that many basketball teams may take for granted. Not Longwood.
Saturday the Lancers will play in their first conference game since making the transition to Division 1 nine years ago. Longwood hosts Coastal Carolina at 2pm.
This has been a long time coming for head coach Mike Gillian, who has told his teams to just keep playing and keep winning, and eventually a conference would take them in. Last year, the Big South announced that it would welcome Longwood with open arms. Now a team comprised almost entirely of players that committed without knowing whether they'd ever play a conference game, will get that opportunity.
Willett Hall only holds 1800 fans, but it has become one of the loudest venues in Virginia. Students and fans usually pack the place for games that don't have the same implications that a conference game will. Gillian is excited to see what it will be like now.
The Hall has undergone an almost complete transformation over the past five years - new lights, new bleachers and a new floor.
The first Big South team to experience that atmosphere will be the Chanticleers Saturday.
Even though Longwood is 3-11, Gillian says the team is improving. While they have a bright future (there's only one senior on the roster) they'd like to win now. They'd like to give the rest of their new conference a message - just because they're the new guys, doesn't mean they'll be an easy out.