Lady Toppers preview big week ahead with home games vs. UALR, Arkansas State

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team has a big week on deck.

The Lady Toppers play two of the Sun Belt Conference’s top teams, Arkansas-Little Rock and Arkansas State, at home this week, starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday against preseason favorite UALR.

We met with coach Michelle Clark-Heard and redshirt freshman guard Kendall Noble today to preview the week ahead. Here are their comments:

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD

Importance of this week: “It’s really important for us. Little Rock and Arkansas State are in the top three, and as far as the preseason. Preseason doesn’t mean anything when you get started in the conference, but they’re the most challenging teams that have a lot of the returners back. Little Rock has (Taylor) Gault and (Taylor) Ford, and they have the mentality. It’s going to be a tall task for us.”

More on this week: “We talk about every single day, we have to take care of what we need to be in the best position we can be by the time we get to the end of the conference. Taking care of your home court is No. 1.”

On UALR: “I know (coach Joe Foley’s) a great coach, and they’re a great team. Last year, we were the last team to beat them, and then they won 10 games in a row after that. He finds a way, and he understands his team and what they can do. They’re probably going to be one of the toughest teams we have to play against, as far as guarding – them guarding us and the way they play. They run a motion offense that they run very well. They like to set screens and slips. Gault can shoot the 3 or get to the basket, and Ford is playing the point for them and has a strong body. I think the biggest thing right now is confidence for my team.”

On wanting good crowds this week: “We need all the help from the sixth man we can get. You’re going to see some great basketball and competition, and you’re going to see two of the best teams in the conference. … People need to not look at their records, because their records don’t indicate that. They’ve played a lot of good teams and been to a lot of good places. I encourage everyone to come out. We’re always going to play hard and compete, but this is a big week for us.”

KENDALL NOBLE

Preparing for week ahead: “We’ve been practicing hard since Wednesday. We really haven’t had an off day, so we’re taking these games seriously. We know they’re big games. To be No. 1, we need to beat these two teams.”

On UALR: “They’re very aggressive on defense. We know it’ll be a defensive battle. They’re very physical and tough.”

On crowds this week: “That’d be great to see a good crowd. It’s always more fun playing in front of a bunch of fans. If we have a big crowd, that’d be great, but if not, we’re still going to play hard.”

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