Revenge or litmus test? The two games this weekend will be a gauge of how the Augustana women’s basketball team has grown over the past 20 days.

At the beginning of the calendar year, the Lady Vikings were riding high at #5 in the polls and visions of greatness were shrouding the program. Pundits such as yours truly were wondering if this could be the year for all sorts of high honors and meeting of expectations. Then after a long layoff came two games on January 4 and 5 with Minnesota State-Mankato and Concordia-St. Paul. Augustana held significant second-half leads at home and lost both contests. The first was a one-point heartbreaker at the hands of the Mavericks that was settled in the last 10 seconds. The second was gear-grinding setback as the Golden Bears scored the last 14 points of the game to topple the Vikings 70-61.

Seemingly those admittedly (by both Coach Dave Krauth and Senior star Alex Feeney) lackluster efforts shook the foundations of a title-building year. Or did it? Sometimes when you get smacked, it sets you back. For one game that was the case. However surrendering two straight on the Elmen Center floor for the first time in almost a decade sent the ladies to do some soul-searching and some ship-tightening.

Update: Augustana Women’s Basketball is back. The team has returned to #8 in the polls after five straight double digit wins. Probably the most cathartic of those is a 73-50 road thrashing of Wayne State in the chamber of horrors commonly known as Rice Auditorium for many previous Augie women’s teams. Next on the schedule are the two offenders who put the blemishes on the docket to start 2013.

Considering how a champion should conduct business when confronted with a formidable opponent, the weekend trip to St. Paul and Mankato should be a milepost. Payback doesn’t really pay in January.

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