Sports

Women’s Basketball looks to continue winning ways

Coming of an historic season, winning 25 games and the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference season and tournament, Bluffton women’s basketball head coach, Chad Shutler, looks to continue the program’s success this season.

Coach Shutler said he understands with the winning and great success, expectations need to be set high for this upcoming season.

“Hopefully we’ve set the bar a little bit high and our kids are aware and understand and expect success now,” Shutler said.

With the departure of multiple seniors last year, Shutler admits it’s tough, but said the women are ready to step into bigger shoes and continue the program’s winning ways.

“Looking at the stat sheet, you have three of our top scorers returning in Kaycee Rowe, Macey Sheerer and Rachel Beining, so I think that’s a good place to start production wise,” Shutler said. “Any one of those individual kids could’ve maybe done more in the last two years but we’re unselfish enough to understand to be successful that this is what the team needed.”

When looking at the characteristics his team holds this season, Shutler said the team’s resilience, chemistry and friendship will contribute to their future success.

“If we don’t do as good in practice, they’re resilient enough to come back and have a better one the next day,” he said.

Coming in as a freshman can be tough for some people, but Shutler said the upperclassmen on the team have done an exceptional job of leading the newcomers in the right direction.

“I think the group gets along really well. Eight new freshmen is a lot, it’s an interesting dynamic, so I think our upperclassmen have done a good job of taking them under their wing and helping them through the process,” said Shutler.

Seniors always play a huge role on any sports team, whether it be leadership, experience, or both. Coach Shutler thinks the seniors on his team bring both experience and leadership to the table.

“Seniors bring experience, having been there for four years now as players, knowing how to balance the academic side, knowing how to balance the athletic side, knowing how to stay focused for two hours in a practice setting, knowing that days before games, days after games, that we’re going hard. These are all new things for incoming kids,” said Shutler.

Shutler is confident his newcomers will fit in and make contributions this season.

“I’m excited about our new kids.” Says Shutler. “I think we’ve got a good, explosive group, a good level of talent, so I think they’ll be able to eventually work into some positions and bring scoring, assisting and defense to our group and be able to mesh together well with our group.”

Every season brings new challenges. Coach Shutler thinks the challenge this year will be finding depth in the rotation and developing the younger players.

“I think missing some kids from last year. It’s tough to have a 1,000 point scorer come off the bench last year. That’s tough to replace from an experience and a depth standpoint,” said Shutler. “Our challenge is going to be how quickly, game-wise and rep-wise, can we get some young kids acclimated to the grind of the season and to be able to produce at a high level every night.

“That’s the fun part, working with it, developing it, and watching it get better. So I’m excited about the challenge that it brings.”

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Gino Spadaro

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