In it for the long haul

Member of Concordia’s women’s basketball team guards the ball from an opponent during a past game. Photo courtesy of the Concordia Sports Information Office.

With about two thirds of the basketball season completed, Concordia’s men and women teams are looking to push for a strong finish in their remaining games. In order to secure spots in the playoffs, both teams need to finish the season in the top six.

Since the beginning of the season, the women’s team had its struggles, but they have managed to bounce back and make a playoff push. According to starting forward, Olivia Johnson, the team is currently in a four-way tie for the fourth spot in the playoff picture.

“It’s kind of been up and down,” Johnson said. “It hasn’t been the greatest record like we’ve had in the past, but it’s been a fun year.”

Johnson mentioned the team has been able to thrive because there has been good rhythm on offense and the ball is moving. An area that the team has been successful in recently has been spreading the floor and providing each player with an opportunity to touch the ball.

“It doesn’t matter really who gets the points,” Johnson said. “We just spread the floor. And those team wins are a lot more fun than the individual ones where one person has 30 points and you barely squeak by.”

With wins and losses counting more than ever at this point of the season, Johnson believes the women have a great chance to stay in the playoff race. Aside from the team’s immense talent, their unique chemistry has the power to catapult them into a successful postseason appearance.

“Now we are on a roll of playing some good team basketball,” Johnson said. “I am just excited for those games. I am looking forward to some more of those games.”

With a new MIAC conference format starting this season, the teams get to play more non-conference teams and less doubleheaders with some teams in their conference. According to Johnson, the change increases the competitive intensity of the games and increases the stakes that wins and losses have for the team.

Junior Brett Bergeson attempts to score for the Cobbers during a past game. Photo courtesy of the Concordia Sports Information Office.

After a similar start to the season as the women’s team, Concordia men’s basketball is currently in the sixth and last playoff spot, fighting to keep what would give them an automatic playoff dearth. According to head coach, Rich Glas, the team has reason to stay motivated and optimistic because of their recent play.

“We opened up last week with a win against Hamline,” Glas said. “And now we got a run of nine more games that’ll kind of determine the success of our season.”

In their January 24 match-up against Hamline, the men lost starting forward, Brady Syverson to injury for the rest of the season. Glas believes that even with the setback, the team still has to play with extra effort and mental toughness to keep up with the season and secure a playoff spot.

“Injury-wise, we’ve been pretty successful [in avoiding them], but we did take the hit here,” Glas said. “We have some of the guys that will have to step up their games and have opportunities to play in that post position.”

Glas states that in order for his team to end the regular season on a high note, continuing to seek consistency on both sides of the floor is going to be the key.

“Our biggest challenge has been scoring, because we just have not shot the ball well,” Glas said. “The thing that’s really kept us in games has been our defense. We played good team defense.”

Glas trusts that his squad has the shooters who can score points, but the level of consistency has not been there yet. Still positive in the cause, Glas believes a good run can keep the team in the playoffs where, currently one game above them, there are four teams tied with the same record – all fighting for their lives.

With the level of competition being high towards the end of the season, the players motivated to achieve their goals during these last few games. Starting forward, Jordan Bolger, believes the level of motivation has stayed the same for the team throughout the season.

“We are right there,” Bolger said. “We have been playing really well lately. We have some good teams left. All the teams are beatable though so we have a chance to win every game.”

As both teams approach critical points in their seasons, wins and losses have become very important, and the change in conference format has made the season’s challenge to make the playoffs for both the men’s and women’s teams greater. Bolger understands the level of focus required to finish the season strong.

“We know every game is important, so we get up for everyone,” Bolger said.

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