Hoopers fall in title game
March 14, 2017
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When you think of athletic programs with traditions of winning at UW-Whitewater, many people could list off multiple teams from around the university, but they better include wheelchair basketball in that conversation.
After the men’s squad won three straight National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (NIWBT) national championships, UW-Whitewater was handed hosting duties to the end of the year tournament held appropriately in March (the month of college basketball).
Unfortunately, after tallying a victory vs. Southwest Minnesota State University on March 9 and a 60-49 victory against the three-seed Illinois Fighting Illini on March 10, the ’Hawks (22-5) fell 76-52 in the title game to the University of Texas-Arlington Movin’ Mavs the following day.
The Movin’ Mavs, the one seed, had the ’Hawks number all season, defeating them twice earlier in the year. Despite that, UW-W’s head coach Jeremy Lade still thought his team could have played better.
“We didn’t perform up to our potential,” Lade said. “We definitely had the possibility of hanging in there with them. Now granted, UTA was the No. 1 seed for a reason, and they are a darn good ball club… We could have played a really good game and still lost, but that wasn’t certainly our best performance of the season.”
Lade said he was proud of how his team played leading up to the final game in the quarterfinal and semifinal victories.
“The guys really executed well,” Lade said. “We limited our turnovers. Our defensive rotations were exactly where they needed to be. We had good chair position on our defensive rotations. We took advantage on the offensive end, of not only generating looks in the open court, but moving the ball in the half court and really getting some good looks.”
The ’Hawks offense was generating those good looks in the championship game, but had a host of turnovers and missed shot opportunities haunt them to give the Movin’ Mavs an early lead that UW-W could never come back from.
Junior Christian Seidel led the Warhawks with 16 points while junior Guthrie Lindquist was the only other UW-W player in double-figures with 14 points in the packed Kachel Gymnasium for the title game.
Lade said that being able to host the championship weekend was “an award for everyone.”
By hosting the championship weekend, three players, graduate student (wheelchair basketball players have five years of eligibility) starters Sammy White and Dave Fleming, along with senior Jordan Scheidecker, played their final games on the team’s home floor.
“Anytime you lose seniors, it’s obviously a challenge,” Lade said. “Those guys are up there among some of the best seniors that we have had.”
After losing those players, the team will have an uphill climb to get back into the national title conversation, but Lade said the team won’t be changing much to prepare for next season.
“It is not a matter of re-inventing the wheel,” Lade said. “Our goal at the beginning of the season, as odd as it sounds, isn’t necessarily to win a championship, it’s to build our team to be stronger at the end of the season than they were at the beginning of the season. We are going to stick to that recipe of trying to be as strong as we can come March.”
The recipe has worked in the past, so there is no doubt that the ’Hawks will be in the national championship picture next year and maybe can start another title winning streak.