This week marks the tipoff to regular basketball season.
Women’s basketball fell to Denison University Tuesday, Nov. 12, in their season opener. Men’s basketball lost exhibition games against Division I, University of Notre Dame Tuesday, Oct. 29 and Division II, Ohio University Saturday, Nov. 2.
The Crusader men’s basketball team was a regular season champion last year and made it to the NCAA Division III Tournament, before losing to Augstana (IL) in the second round. This season, the team only has seven returning players from last year, and 10 new first-year players.
The women’s basketball team ranked fourth last season after a regular season record of 11-7 and lost in the first round of the OAC Tournament. This season, the team has nine new first-year players, keeping 12 players from last year, including five seniors.
“Our team chemistry is very good, we work really, really hard,” Dixie Jeffers, women’s basketball head coach, said. “They’re starting to understand and transition, the freshmen are, from high school to college, and everybody is working extremely hard.”
According to Coach Jeffers, the new players can shoot well and are hard-working. With their size, the new women have found their places on the team and blend well.
“We’ve got a pretty good freshman class,” senior forward Ganiyu Yahayah said. “Some of them have been stepping up, especially in the exhibition games, and practice and working or playing hard, and it’s going to come in handy.”
Yahayah is one of the only returning players from last season who will be a key player in the lineup and a mentor for the new players this season.
Playing against Notre Dame in an exhibition game before Halloween, the Crusader men’s basketball team lost 72-43. The conflict of interest that took place was that the Crusader’s head coach, Damon Goodwin, has a son who plays for the Fighting Irish.
“It was different for me. I had never coached against my son like that,” coach Goodwin said, “I’ve rooted for him for the past 19 years and to try to ignore him on the floor was a little different for me.”
The experience of playing against an ACC team like that was a great experience for the program.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams have a large number of new players and they are melding well together. Transitioning to college, the new players work hard at practice to improve and maximize their playtime.
Men’s basketball plays their next game against Trine University (Ind.) Friday, Nov. 15 at home. Women’s basketball plays their next game against La Roche University Friday, Nov. 15 at the John Carroll Tournament.