Kingsmen and Regals basketball return, expecting ‘positive things’

Leslie Mendez, Reporter

The California Lutheran University men’s and women’s basketball teams will officially kick off their season in the second week of November. With the 2020-2021 sports season cut short by the pandemic, the men’s and women’s basketball teams prepare for their comeback in this year’s season.

Last season consisted of a three-game season for the men’s basketball team, resulting in the team going 2-1 overall, while the women’s basketball team was successful in securing four wins in their five-game season and averaging 68.2 points per game. 

Men’s Basketball Head Coach Russell White mentioned that the team’s main focus is all on the upcoming season and that there are no set expectations besides winning games. 

“The program has gone through a couple of tough seasons and we’re trying to be better than that,” White said. “There are no expectations or in terms of win or loss records, post-season, the expectation is we’re going to compete and we’re going to get better.”

The Kingsmen and Regals have a lot to prove in this upcoming season. With their first game of the season approaching, both teams will be able to showcase what they have been working on in the prolonged off-season. 

Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach Melissa Sanchez expressed that this season’s roster is stacked with young players who possess a great competitive nature. 

“I do expect us to come out and compete every game,” Sanchez said. “I see positive things for this team, we’ve already seen such growth from the beginning of practices to now.”

Both coaches mentioned that players have been putting in the work all off-season, from solo training to team practices. The Kingsmen and the Regals are eager to play in front of a crowd and feed off the audience’s energy.

“Obviously, after last year not having any fans in the gym, it’s something that all the guys are looking forward to in terms of having a crowd,” White said. 

Building the team’s chemistry will be especially important for the teams’ success with all the new faces on the roster. The Kingsmen have added nine new players to their team, while the Regals have many new additions to their roster.

Coach White expressed that the focus should be on the senior players on the men’s basketball team due to their longevity; but sophomore players Riley O’Connor, Devin Lewis, and Tommy Griffitts are on the rise. 

“They had a good freshman three-game season and they’ve worked hard in the summer and they’re playing better now,” White said.

Both coaches shared that it is too early in the season to determine the challenges that the teams will face, but they will focus on building their teams’ chemistry to get better and play faster.

Sanchez predicted that the Regals obstacle could be their youth, but they can make up for this with their intentions to prove themselves.

“Especially with this team, they feel they have a lot to prove,” Sanchez said. “Not only because of coming back from COVID, but a lot of them didn’t get to have a full season. But being female athletes in general, I think that that’s something that drives this team.”

Fans can catch the Regals on Tuesday, Nov. 23 versus Willamette at home, and the Kingsmen will host their first home game Saturday, Nov. 20 against Colorado College.