With both the men’s and women’s basketball teams picked to finish second in the WIAC this year, expectations are high at UW-Whitewater.
Men’s head coach Pat Miller has finished first in the WIAC four times during his 11 head-coaching seasons at UW-Whitewater, so he has seen how a team can win with great defensive play.
The ’Hawks answered the call defensively this past Friday and Saturday defeating Concordia 56-37 and Dominican University 71-44.
The team is 2-0 this season and will face Wisconsin Lutheran College at 7 p.m. tonight in the Kachel Gymnasium.
“I think that our perimeter defenders are doing a great job,” Miller said. “In terms of facing a formidable inside player, we haven’t done that yet, so my takeaway at this point is that our perimeter defenders are very good.”
Alongside the defense, playing through senior Chris Davis inside is what gives the ’Hawks a mismatch in every game they play. Davis has the size to take on most big men and can step out of the paint and hit jump shots, which is what gives opposing teams nightmares.
“[Davis] had a good weekend.,” Miller said. “Friday night they did a good job being physical with him. On Saturday we did a much better job getting him the ball inside and he was much more aggressive on the block. As the season progresses, it’s important for him to establish his interior game because then he can step out and exploit his defenders on the perimeter.”
On the women’s side, the team started off the year playing UW-Madison in an exhibition game.
Head coach Keri Carollo always looks forward to playing against the Badgers.
“We had a really great experience,” Carollo said. “It was fun for us to get a chance to play in the Kohl Center. It gave us a really great opportunity to play against a Division- I program, so the whole experience was very positive for our team.”
After the Wisconsin game, the ’Hawks started their season defeating Carroll University 82-60 and Whitworth College 80-57 before falling 78-73 Sunday against Millikin University.
Carollo isn’t concerned with predictions of the team’s finish, saying the team just needs to get better every game and make progress early in the season. Defense has also been the difference for the women’s team so far this year.
“The first two games I felt like we played a little bit better defensively,” Carollo said. “Tonight [Sunday] we just didn’t do a very good job on the perimeter. We gave them way too many open looks and they knocked them down.”
Starting the season 2-1, the women will host Illinois Wesleyan University at 6 p.m. tomorrow.