Women’s basketball faces tough road test after winning seven straight at home
The Augustana women’s basketball team is a tight-knit group, and that is leading to success.
Augustana is 8-2 on the year, having won seven-straight including its first three in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.
“We just click,” senior post Naomi Rust said. “The personalities of this group make it easy to get along. We hang out off the court, and we’re all so close.”
That closeness has translated into wins for the Vikings, who defeated Concordia University and Minnesota State-Mankato last Friday and Saturday. Augustana has displayed a balanced attack on offense, with at least three different players scoring in double digits in each game during the winning streak. Head coach Dave Krauth attributes this parity to the team’s selflessness.
“They look for each other, and it’s very noticeable,” Krauth said. “They’re pleased when someone else makes a big play. It’s a real team effort.”
Having just two seniors graduate from last year’s team, the depth of these Vikings is an advantage they’ve enjoyed, Krauth said. But with those years of experience come high expectations, and despite being 8-2, the team still has things to work through as it gets deeper into the season.
“To me, an obvious area of improvement is consistency,” Krauth said. “There are segments where we don’t play as well together, and there are others when we play really well together. With this team, we need to minimize those droughts in between.”
Though the Vikings have had a successful run at home—the entire winning streak has been played either at the Elmen Center or Sioux Falls Arena—going on the road to play two North Dakota teams this weekend could prove challenging.
Augustana faces Minot State (2-7) on Friday and the University of Mary (6-5) on Saturday. Krauth described them as two extremes, whether it be record or venue—Minot boasts a huge arena while Mary has a smaller gym, similar to what one might find at the typical high school. In terms of playing style, Krauth said both teams’ scrappiness will force Augustana to adjust its game.
“It will be tough,” senior guard Logan O’Farrell said. “It’s a long trip, and after eight hours on the bus it’s hard to get moving again. It’s difficult to know what to expect, but we’ll be ready for their best.”
Krauth said that as long as his team can start the game with the necessary energy, he knows the outcome will take care of itself.
The Vikings’ winning streak has helped them get over the sting of falling to USF in the NSIC Tournament Championship last season, and Rust said she hopes that the past few years of disappointment have served them well as learning experiences, allowing them to make a bigger run this season.
Krauth knows it’s still early in the year, and there is no magic formula to winning a conference championship. Now, he’s focused on getting his team as close as possible to that goal one game at a time.
“We’re not going to burden ourselves by thinking of winning the conference all the time,” he said. “It’s hard to orchestrate winning because you can’t always control the other team like you want to. I just want this team to be conscious of improving each week.”