Zach Friesen, Staff Writer
With the end of the semester getting closer and closer and fall sports wrapping their seasons up, the winter sports are getting ready to take center stage, with basketball at the forefront. Both the men’s and women’s teams started their seasons last weekend, and players on both squads are looking forward to the start of the season.
“It feels great to get back on the court,” said Garrett Butler, a sophomore guard from Burlington, Oklahoma. “Having practice and workouts everyday in the preseason starts to get old. Having games kind of feels like a reward for all the hard work we’ve been doing. Our expectations for the season are to compete for 1st place in the conference and qualify for the national tournament. When we move the ball around, our offense is so much better.”
Coming off of a year full of ups and downs, the team is looking to solidify its play this season through hard work and teamwork.
“Our coaches have been telling us to play really hard and to play together and to ‘Do the next right thing.’ If we play hard and do what we are supposed to do, we could be a dangerous team,” said Butler.
Also coming into this season with big expectations is the women’s team. After ending last season on a 16-game win streak, capped off with a National Championship, the players and coaches on this year’s team look to build upon their inaugural season in NCAA Division II play.
“It feels great to be back on the court with the team and being able to figure out our chemistry as a team adding in the newer players,” said Callee Cox, a junior product of Bethany High School. “While it will be a different type of team from last year’s, we have the options and pieces to make another title run.”
Kristin Milster echoes the thoughts of Cox, saying they are all looking forward to a chance to defend the title.
“It feels great to be back in season. I always look forward to getting together with the girls for a new year of ball,” said the senior out of Washington, Oklahoma. “We want to defend the national title in the NCCAA and to exceed expectations set on us by others.”
One area the coaches have focused on heading into the year is spending time in the weight room, according to Milster.
“Because we are moving to NCAA Division II, we need to get stronger by lifting more to keep up with the competition.”
Cox states that they are also focusing on a new offensive set for this year. “Our emphasis has mostly been on an inside-out look. With Aminata (Fall) inside and a 4-out-1-in movement offense; she can take it or kick it, and we’ve been focusing on that option.”
With rosters full of exciting players on both teams, this will be an entertaining year for the Crimson Storm basketball teams. It will also be interesting to watch both teams attempt to establish themselves within a new conference and prove they belong among the NCAA Division II ranks.