Coming into the 2018-2019 basketball season, for both the Beaver men and women, there were a lot of questions. Both squads have a new head coach for the first time in two decades. We were spoiled with consistency and loyalty, something that is hard to find in college sports, and we were spoiled for a long time.
Buena Vista women’s head basketball coach, Dana Christen and Buena Vista men’s head basketball coach Todd Lorensen were asked to fill some big shoes, and they have been filled. In a transition season it’s hard to expect excellence. In a season in which things in Sieben’s fieldhouse are different than they have been since the time that most BVU students were born, there is going to be some early struggles. New coaches, new schemes, new players. Both teams have struggled at times, but more importantly both teams have excelled at times.
Basketball is a sport that replicating an execution of a game plan in practice is particularly difficult. Struggle is natural. There should be a lot of optimism and tips of the caps to the athletic department is these hires. The streaks of excellence that both teams have displayed make both squads scary to face come the postseason. Developing this “scary” factor comes with trial and error.
The Beaver women currently sit at 4-5 on the season. They have shown glimmers of excellence, and have demonstrated the grit to claw their way back into ball games. Two of their four wins have come in nail-biting fashion. A one point win against Macalester, and a dramatic victory over Knox College. Against Knox, the Beavers were down by a significant margin late in the game. The grit and the passion by a veteran group was complimented cold blooded showing by an underclassmen, Cassy Miller, when she knocked down by a three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation to force overtime. BVU would go to win by 10 in overtime.
These are the takeaways that are important to dwell on early in the season. Despite the Beavers’ 0-2 start to conference play, there is plenty of optimism to be had given the showings we have seen thus far.
As for the Beaver men, the ability to light up the gym from deep proves them to be a threat to contend for an American Rivers Conference title. This is a squad that is more or less working with a clean slate. The lone returning senior, Connor Winkelman, is complemented by a surplus of talent. Key transfers such as Dominic Sesma and Robert Hawkins have immediately shown the Beaver crowds, which were the second most fans per game in the ARC, that they came to play. Sesma and Hawkins are both shooting better than a 46% clip from the field and from deep. Their playmaking ability to go along with returners like Winkelman, Tim Jeffries, and Michael Demers is unquestioned.
BVU has a .500 mark on the season, with a 3-3 record overall, including going 1-1 in conference play. They’ve played every game extremely close, and much like the women’s squad have shown that when they get it all figured out, you won’t want to see them down the stretch.
The next time out for the women will be a rescheduled game that was cancelled due to inclement weather when they travel to Loras. The men will head to Wisconsin La Crosse for the next matchup Saturday, Dec. 7 and will try to get back over the .500 mark on the season.
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