ORU Women’s Basketball
Official practices are underway and the women’s basketball team is gearing up for the season. The roster features players who have gained experience on the court over the past few years—they are prepared to lead the new players brought in over the summer.
Adjusting to the college game can be challenging for any new players. From high school to college, there is an increase in the intensity levels of physicality, speed and weight training.
As the level of play increases, so does the skill and commitment necessary to perform at such a high level. Head Coach Misti Cussen is excited about the progress the rookies have made in becoming acclimated to the division-one game.
“There’s been great growth in all four of the new players,” said Cussen. “The transition from high school to college is a tidal wave at times, but I think they’re starting to really manage it well.”
Cussen described the overall focus for the women preparing for the season as “fitness and conditioning,” assuring that the speed and stamina would reflect in the team’s style of play this year.
With more depth at all positions this season, the coaching staff is expecting the women to make improvements on both ends of the court. Summit League competition requires the players who start the game and the players who come off of the bench have a collective standard required throughout the game.
“We’ve got more people that we can sub more often and maintain the pace we want to play,” Cussen said. “We are going to set a higher tone defensively because we can play deeper this year.”
This will be a big advantage for the squad in both non-conference and conference play. Cussen describes this year’s team as “mature and growing,” despite losing key players from the past few seasons, like Faith Ihim and Maria Martiañez.
A fast-paced game will likely be the key to success for the team this season. With less than 30 days until the season tips off, the coaches and players alike are looking forward to the start and the pursuit of the Summit League Championship title.
ORU Men’s Basketball
The men’s basketball team has a big goal for the upcoming season—to win a championship. With eight new players and five returning players, the team will look very different than they have the past few seasons.
Preparation is essential to performance, which means the offseason is important for the men’s team. While planning for the new year, head Coach Paul Mills and his coaching staff knew there would be a lot to digest for the new players.
Coach Mills said the offseason focus was to “get everyone to understand the value of each other and the value of each other when we are united.”
With a vision of championships in mind, the team is taking steps to make sure that happens. 24/7 Sports ranked the ORU incoming players as the number one recruiting class in the Summit League. The coaching staff was intentional when deciding who to add to the squad.
“There is a level of talent you have to have in order to compete in Summit League conference play. At the end of the day, you have to have attributes that lead to winning rather than accolades,” Mills said.
The team is also spending time off the court to promote team chemistry. In September, the men brought in “The Program,” a group of former marines who led the men through a workout.
Mills describes the biggest takeaway from the experience as learning “your job is to accomplish the mission and to add value to the team.”
The time spent with “The Program” is something that Coach Mills believes is applicable to life outside of basketball.
“The lesson is something that will carry on with them forever,” Mills said. “You need to make sure that whatever you’re doing, because of your presence, you’re adding value and demonstrating how you need each other in order to accomplish the mission.”
Although the team looks very different this year, the standard Mills and his coaching staff demand remains the same. A vision of unity combined with high-level talent is a recipe for success for the upcoming season.