By Kiyhanna Dade, guest writer
With an overall 3-6 record, the women’s basketball team was hoping for a better start to the season.
After a stretch of games against non-conference opponents, the team looks to hit their stride as they enter PacWest conference play.
“Our team is new, we only have a few returners and the rest of the team are either freshmen or transfers. The process right now is just trying to figure each other out and come together,” freshman point guard Zoe March said.
After beginning the season with a few losses, the team and Head Coach TJ Hardeman agree they have a lot to work on to prepare them for their challenging conference.
“We have a complete new team. We have a lot of good pieces, but to be a good team we have to be good teammates, work together and get to know each other,” Hardeman said.
Following last year’s 28-4 record, the Cougars are looking to have another winning season despite the fact that they have only four returning players.
“My returners have the best idea about the traditions of Azusa Pacific and what we do and what we stand for. It’s [on] them to kind of carry on the tradition and be leaders,” Hardeman said.
Although they are off to a slow start, members of the team are quick to point out their key strengths to build upon moving forward.
“Our ability to uplift each other is our biggest strength. We understand that we’re new, but it’s important that we encourage each other on the court and don’t let our mistakes go without encouragement,” March said.
Even in the midst of conference play, Hardeman said he believes that patience is critical to the team’s improvement.
“I tell them just be patient with the team, be patient with each other and yourselves. If you’re working your best and trying your hardest to get better, then just hold your head up high and play,” Hardeman said.
Averaging 26 minutes a game, March acknowledged that her faith and the motivation of her teammates are what keep her fire ignited.
“Teamwork is the most important part on the basketball court. Our teamwork, our belief in God and the fact that we integrate God in everything we do is the glue that keeps us together,” March said.
Approaching mid-season, the women expect to get better mentally and physically.
“I’m just excited to see what our team is going to do. We have great potential and I’m excited to live up to it,” March said.
The Cougars won their first PacWest matchup of the season, beating Concordia 75-57 on Dec. 1, but lost their second 81-71 to Cal Baptist on Dec. 3.
The Cougars will take on Biola University at home on Dec. 6 in a non-conference game before returning to conference play in a home match up against Dixie State on Dec. 10.
Men’s basketball is also a young team and is currently in the midst of a rebuilding season.
The Cougars currently stand at 4-7 overall with an 0-2 record in PacWest play.
Head Coach Justin Leslie believes that the team, despite being very talented, has yet to reach its fullest potential.
“Our potential is going to get better as the season unfolds. We haven’t played anywhere near our best yet, but I think we have an idea of who we are and the things we need to work on,” Leslie said.
After a winning season last year, Leslie and the team are looking to continue the legacy of victory.
Junior forward Corey Langerveld, one of the top-scorers this season so far, admits that the early part of the season has been difficult.
“We’ve played a very tough schedule, one of the toughest in the west region. Our record is not where we want it to be, so we’ve been exposed in some areas. It’s been a process,” Langerveld said.
There are a few weaknesses Langerveld said the team needs to build on as the season progresses.
“We need to develop trust in each other and communication on the court. As that unfolds, we will be fine moving forward,” Langerveld said.
With the help of their coach, the Cougars are hopeful in the process of finding themselves and recognizing their potential.
“Coach gives us honest feedback, which really helps motivate us. When he sees good things, he lets us know,” Langerveld said.
Despite the 4-7 start, Leslie said he has faith in his returners and believes the team has can excel, especially with much of the season left to go.
“This team is very talented. They have the potential to be a very great team as soon as they develop chemistry with each other as we get into conference play,” Leslie said.
The men will play their next game at home against Dixie State on Dec. 10 in the Felix Event Center.