Basketball season is right around the corner, and both the men’s and women’s teams have started preparing.
After a 15-12 overall record last year, the women’s team lost two players, Aerial Smith and Hayli Jo Smith, but is hoping to have a successful season with the help of four first-year students and one transfer student.
“We have such a great team chemistry, and we want to keep our family strong,” said Zinka Duric, senior.
Team chemistry between returning players and newcomers will have an impact on how the team performs.
“Last season I thought we had great team chemistry and there were a lot of bright spots that we can build on,” said Women’s Head Coach Jill Slominski.
With the graduation of their scoring, rebounding, assist and steal leaders, the team is looking for everyone to step up and fill those roles. This will be the biggest obstacle for the team, whose goal is to make it to the top of the conference, as well as play their hardest and compete well with all opponents. According to Slominski, Drury University, Maryville University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Lewis University, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Bellarmine University and University of Southern Indiana will be some of the strongest teams in the conference this year.
“Every team in the GLVC [Great Lakes Valley Conference] is strong so we will need to be ready to compete each game,” said Slominski.
According to Slominski, one of the biggest strengths the team has is its depth, with many players on the bench capable of first team play.
“We are not the biggest team in size in the GLVC so it will be a challenge to play against girls that are greater in size. However, a lot of our girls are fast and athletic, giving us an advantage, and hopefully we make it to the GLVC tournament in March.” said Duric.
The men’s team is also hoping for a successful season after a 13-14 overall record last year. These include several newcomers to the team. This includes three transfers and four first-year students. Some strong returning players include, Darius Tomlin and Jason King, seniors, Austin Regier, Zach Starr and Chris Morrison, juniors, Patrick Whelan, Emil Ostafiiciuc, Easton Koch, Zach Lamb and Simon Zajicek, sophomores.
“Many believe that the GLVC is the toughest conference in the nation in men’s basketball so the challenge is to be ready every night to compete at the highest level,” said Men’s Head Coach Larry Holley.
Drury University, Bellarmine University, University of Wisconsin- Parkside, University of Southern Indiana, Lewis University and University of Indianapolis are the teams to keep an eye on this year because of their national rankings last year. Tomlin addressed the challenge of having many new players on the team and what they need to do to overcome this.
“Getting everyone focused on one goal, and that’s doing whatever it takes to win a championship,” said Tomlin.
To compete their best, the team maintains the same goals as previous years: to play hard, smart and together. The team will have to learn to play together effectively; however, they hope to compete at the highest level of the GLVC conference this year.
The men’s first game is an exhibition game against Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. Nov. 7. The women’s first games will be at the Disneyland Tournament starting Oct. 30 in Anaheim, Calif.