On Nov. 17, the California Lutheran University’s Regals basketball team will be returning to the courts at University of California, Santa Cruz for their first game of the 2017-18 season.
“I’m excited to have a fresh start,” said Grace Derksen, a junior guard on the Regals basketball team. “Four of the five starters graduated last year so we have a brand new starting team.”
For the 2017-18 season, the Regals have welcomed nine new players – six incoming freshmen and three transfers. Head Coach Lindsay Samaniego said she is happy with the new roster and believes many of the new players will make an immediate impact.
“We have a lot of different personalities and strengths this year,” Samaniego said. “We’re running with some skilled basketball players so we’re really looking forward to seeing them in game action.”
Derksen said that, although there are big personalities on the team, some players have a hard time communicating during games. Derksen hopes to improve the communication within the team so they can work more effectively as one unit.
“Last year, we had a lot of returners who had the experience and who understood college basketball,” Derksen said. “This year there will be a lot of learning and building to create a strong team.”
Samaniego said transfers have an advantage because they have experience playing at the collegiate level and are more familiar with the pace and physicality of collegiate basketball. She also said many of the incoming freshman will make a positive impact.
“There are some freshmen who have the skill set and work ethic to make that immediate impact so we will find out next weekend during our first set of games,” Samaniego said.
Jozie Tangeman, a freshman guard on the team, said she is excited for the season and is looking forward to improving and learning from the veterans on the team.
“I’ve been learning a lot from the transfers and upperclassman,” Tangeman said. “They have taught me to not be afraid of making mistakes and to always stay positive and confident.”
During preseason, the Regals practiced against one another rather than playing together as one cohesive unit. Samaniego said she is looking forward to the season because the team will be able to compete against other teams as opposed to competing against each other.
“It’s been a long four weeks of practice and we’ve just been beating up on each other,” Samaniego said. “When running our offense off each other, we already know what the next cuts going to be so it’s going to be a nice change to play someone other than ourselves.”
As for performance, Samaneigo said she wants the team to be more consistent this year. Last season, the team would play differently depending on who they were playing against. She expects that mentality to change.
“Whether we’re playing a top 25 team or a team who hasn’t won many games, I want us to be consistent with our effort and our energy,” Samaniego said.
According to clusports.com, the Regals will compete at Master’s College on Nov. 22 before a four-game homestand from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9. During the week, Cal Lutheran will face UC Santa Cruz and University of La Verne before taking on Occidental College Dec. 6. The tournament will end that Thursday (Dec. 10) where they will compete in a non-conference game against Westmont College.
Following the Master’s College matchup, the Regals will travel back to UC Santa Cruz on Dec. 20-21 where they will play Wartburg College and Catholic University of America before hosting The Regals Classic Dec. 28-29. During the Regals Classic, Cal Lutheran will face Buena Vista University, La Verne and Pacific Lutheran University.
For the remainder of season, Cal Lutheran will play 14 SCIAC games. The top four ranked teams at the end of season will advance to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament on Feb. 22 and 24. Last year, the Regals placed third in conference and finished with a 12-4 record. Samaniego’s goal is to make it to the SCIAC tournament again this year.
“I expect us to compete and work hard every time we step on the floor,” Samaniego said. “For us, the standard is to make the conference tournament and we’re going to do our best to do so.”
The champion of the tournament will then compete in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championships this March.
“To win the national championship would be huge, but since it’s such a fresh squad this year it’s going to be a challenge,” Derksen said. “But you never know, we may come out and surprise people. Anything is possible.”