The highly-anticipated Augustana basketball season is finally here. Leading up to this point, there have been tiresome practices and scrimmages where the women’s basketball team has learned to work together like a well-oiled machine. Each player is geared towards one goal: consistency.
After ending last season with a 22-11 record and falling to the University of Minnesota Duluth in the second round of the NSIC tournament, the team is returning with speed and a determination to succeed.
Head coach Dave Krauth is very optimistic about the tenacity of his players.
“The team has a lot of depth this year, which will help us match our opponents,” Krauth said.
The starting lineup consists of senior guard Abby Hora, senior guard and forward Hana Metoxen, sophomore guard Vishe Rabb, sophomore center Camryn Hay and freshman point guard Lauren Sees.
Hora, Metoxen, Rabb and Hay all saw playing time last year. Hora averaged 9.8 points per game last season, while Metoxin and Hay averaged 6 points and 4 points, respectively. Last season, Rabb was named NSIC Freshman of the Year and averaged 10.7 points per game.
Sees is a freshman recruit from Avon High School, where she showed her mettle by averaging 24.1 points per game during her senior season as well as 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. She will bring speed and endurance to the team.
Some other players to watch out for are junior guard Izzy Van Veldhuizen, senior guard Danni Honner and junior forward Janelle Shiffler. Van Veldhuizen played in all 33 games her sophomore year, averaging 3.8 points per game, while Honner scored a total of 99 points as well as grabbing 49 rebounds and 12 steals. Shiffler started 17 of the 33 games she played in and averaged 5.8 points per game.
“The girls have speed and determination,” Krauth said. Although the team lost Lyndsey Prosser and Shelby Selland, two of its top scorers from last year, Krauth said he is hopeful the girls will step up this season.
As a senior, Hora is stepping up this year into a new leadership role and is looking forward to seeing how well the team plays.
“My focus in practice lately has been creating more scoring opportunities for myself and others, as well as increasing the number of offensive possessions we get as a team, either through defensive steals or rebounding,” Hora said.
These skilled athletes are looking to improve their performance from last year to take on rivals like the University of Sioux Falls.
Krauth said that the games between Augie and USF “carry a little bit more emotion” than other games. Metoxen said that these games are filled with respect and healthy competition.
“Our rivalry with USF is a special one. Over the years you get to know these girls pretty well,” Metoxen said. “Yet we are all extremely competitive, so it creates a really fun but interesting atmosphere when we play each other.”
Even though the Vikings’ season was cut short, they are determined to improve upon their techniques and plays to become faster and stronger as a unit.
The Vikings secured a 91-56 win against the Division III University of Minnesota Morris in an exhibition game on Nov. 4. In the game, Rabb led the team with 18 points, while Sees had 13 points and Hora had 10.
The team will travel to Kirkesville, Missouri, on Saturday to take on Truman State in the season opener. The game is set to begin at 11 a.m.