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Tigers eye: Missouri Tigers ready to roar

The University of Missouri women's basketball team is anticipating a breakout 2015-2016 season complete with a healthy team, their best-recruiting class in school history, and a pleased-but-never-satisfied attitude. I was able to speak with head coach Robin Pingeton about her outlook on this year's team and season. The sense of excitement in her voice was assuring that great things are in store for her program. The Tigers will open their season on Friday, November 13th at Missouri State.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Swish Appeal: What is your outlook on this upcoming 2015-2016 season

Robin Pingeton: We are really excited about this upcoming season. I feel like every year that we have been here, we continually raise the bar, and our expectations are really high especially coming from our staff. We are a team that is pleased with the growth that we've had in our program, but are certainly never satisfied.

Our kids continued to stay the course and had a really strong off-season. We have the best recruiting class this year in the history of our program, from a ranking standpoint, and a lot of depth at each position. The team chemistry among the girls is also outstanding. So I think we've really positioned ourselves to put ourselves in a good place this season.

SA: How much are you looking forward to a healthy team this season? And how much of a difference do you think that will make?

RP: We are very much looking forward to a team of healthy girls this season. Last year there were a lot of injuries that we had to fight through that changed the complexion of our team a little bit.

But in hindsight, the opportunities that our players had to get more minutes and more game experience has resulted in more maturity and growth. They are all very close-knit, which made the injuries even more challenging. When one of their sisters goes down with a season-ending injury, it is really hard emotionally.

The girls also had to adjust to the new positions they were playing and the increased number of minutes they were on the court. We always try to turn things into teachable moments. Right now it's basketball, but later on it's going to be life.

It's all about how you respond when you face adversity, and I think our girls did a tremendous job handling that. This season is much deeper than we have been in previous seasons. We felt really good about finishing 7th in the SEC considering the challenges that we had in front of us, but we are certainly not satisfied. We are just going to continue to grow and build on the foundation that we have laid here at Mizzou.

SA: What do you expect out of Sophie Cunningham, your freshman All-American recruit, this season?

RP: Sophie is a very talented young lady, and she certainly has a lot of accolades that come with her, which were very well-deserved in high school. She has really made the transition smoothly for a freshman.

Sometimes freshman have a hard time adapting to the pace, physicality, and learning curve that comes along with the game. But she has really stepped in and made an immediate impact on the court here in practices.

She came here, and she wanted to help us build this program and take it to places that it's never been, and I think she is excited about that opportunity. She has embraced the opportunity that she has to come in and make an impact. We are expecting a lot of really good things from her.

SA: What players do you expect to really have a breakthrough season this year?

RP: I definitely think you'd have to talk about Jordan Frericks. She was an All-SEC team selection for us a year ago and really carried a heavy load for us. We didn't have a lot of depth in the post position, and she was able to log a lot of minutes there for us.

She adds a lot of valuable game experience. I also look at one of our freshman, Cierra Porter, who had injuries that she had to deal with in high school. But I think once we can get her healthy, she's another player that can really come in and make an impact in her first year.

Overall, we are excited about what this season has in store for us. As a team, we don't talk a lot about the outcome, but we really focus on the process. We talk about trying to win championships but also want to build champions for life.

I think the results from that will take care of themselves. We all want to win, and we all want to be in the Big Dance, but that's not what we set our sights on each day. We focus on being our absolute best on the court, off the court, in this community, and challenging each other to get better every day.