COLUMBIA — For Paige Spietz, a freshman on the Missouri women's basketball team, a trip to play in Memphis is just as exciting as getting the chance to play in her first regular season game.
Spietz, a native of Brimfield, Ill., traveled to neighboring states playing club basketball in high school. Memphis was a frequent stop. This weekend will be different, though.
Missouri Tigers at Memphis Tigers
WHEN: 5 p.m. Friday
WHERE: FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.
Missouri won both its exhibition games, 67-60 over Missouri Western and 68-66 over Oklahoma City. Memphis beat Christian Brothers 78-40 in its only exhibition. Memphis returns eight players from last year's 20-win team. Four are starters, including 2010 first team All-Conference USA sophomore Brittany Carter, who led the conference with 19.2 points per game last season.
Missouri Tigers at Eastern Illinois Panthers
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Lantz Arena, Charleston, Ill.
Eastern Illinois rallied after the death of assistant coach Jackie Moore at the beginning of last season to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship. They carry a 10-game home win streak into Sunday's game against MU. The Panthers return six players from last year, but do not have a senior on their roster.
Listen to live game coverage of both games on the MU Athletic website.
"I was talking to coach (Robin Pingeton) yesterday about getting on a plane," Spietz said. "In high school, we got in cars and drove to Memphis. Getting on a plane is crazy."
There are many thing Spietz is getting used to in her first season with the Tigers. Because the quality of competition has increased, Spietz has had to change her work ethic.
"In high school, you can just step on the floor. Here, you have to put in time off the court besides practice," Spietz said. "You have to get in the gym. You have to eat right, all of the little things that just lead up to practice."
Spietz's efforts have led to 20 total minutes of playing time in Missouri's two preseason exhibition games. Sophomore Sydney Crafton is another underclassman who has received substantial playing time.
Crafton saw playing time in six games last year, but the most in one game was nine minutes against Iowa. In Missouri's two exhibitions, the Jefferson City native was on the court for 36 total minutes, accumulating 15 rebounds.
Pingeton said she hasn't planned on giving Spietz, Crafton or other underclass players extra time on the court in this weekend's road trip to Memphis on Friday and Eastern Illinois on Sunday. But she said she recognizes the younger players efforts.
Knowing where the underclass players fit in the rotation is another matter, though. She is not looking too far ahead.
"Right now, it's all about everybody getting their feet wet," Pingeton said. "We're going to need all the depth that we can find, and we have to allow our players that were getting half as many minutes last year to get on that stage and play when the lights are on.
"With where we're at right now, because there is so much parody in our rotation, it's going to be week by week until we can settle into a solid rotation, and I have no idea when that will happen."