Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman’s Basketball Team works towards NWC Success

The men’s basketball team rallies during a recent home game. Photo by Eddie Buchko

Last week, Whitman’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both played against Whitworth University and Lewis & Clark College. With each win and loss, the teams propelled themselves toward their goals of success to get one step closer to the Northwest Conference. As the season approaches the conference, the men’s and women’s teams are gearing up for the competition and savoring the time in between. At Sherwood Center, sneakers squeak, an ever-present dribble and cheer echo through the building, excitement fills the air. Off the court, though, members of both teams feel the pressure of the season’s close.

According to senior player Jai Deshpande, the season started with uncertainty.

“We lost a lot of key players from last year’s team, so I wasn’t sure going into the year what the season would be like, but different guys have stepped up. Our style of play is a lot faster this year and we’re playing well,” Deshpande said.

For Deshpande and other players, the basketball team is a point of pride.

“I think we’re ostensibly the best team in the country,” Deshpande said.

As always, team sports require working together and coordinating wins. This year, both the men’s and women’s teams have worked to do just that. Standing at eight to four wins and losses in the Northwest Conference, Korin Baker, a player on the women’s team, shared similar sentiment to Deshpande. Like the men’s team, the women’s team brought in several new players this year and focused on strengthening their team dynamics.

“We brought in eight new players this year, so our team doubled in size. We had a small team last year and we’re also a really young team,” Baker said.

For Deshpande and Baker, new team dynamics means taking on new responsibilities and working as a group. Even with this work, though, the two of them have enjoyed the season and watching their teammates train their skills.

“All the freshmen brought new life to the team; they all came in excited to play. That’s been a lot of fun for me just because it’s my fourth year here, so I kind of know what’s going on and it’s been a lot of fun to get excited for the season,” Baker said.

Both teams enjoy the competition of the basketball season, and they’ve been strengthening their teams both on and off the court. Head Women’s Basketball Coach Michelle Ferenz puts in the effort to create a positive space for her team and cater to each players’ individual skills in the game and for life after college.

“Athletics demands time and discipline. However, it is a chance to be part of something that is bigger than the individual. I believe the athletics teach valuable lessons that our players will carry with them after they graduate,” Ferenz said.

Even while competing, players still have room for fun.

“We’re a college basketball team, but really, it’s just 16 buddies,” Deshpande said.

With a nine to three standing in the NWC, playing on group dynamics has done more than won friendship for the men’s team. The team has focused on bringing home victories and practiced as hard to do so. While maintaining a strong team dynamic, the team has worked hard to maintain a competitive edge.

“If you watch us practice you wouldn’t think we were friends a lot of the time, we’re going after each other, but we all know that we’re doing it for the benefit of the team and to try and bring the best out of each other,” Deshpande said.

Baker seemed to agree – as fourth in the conference, the women’s team is working hard to come out on top.

“We’ve had conference losses but it’s nothing we can’t come back from,” Baker said.

As the season winds down, members of both teams encourage students to attend home games and see them to victory.

“With only three more home games, it is the last chance for students to come watch,” Ferenz said.

Students bring energy to games, and both the men’s and women’s teams are trying to rally before the season ends. With the Northwest Conference Semifinals in sight, the teams are preparing for success. Upcoming home games will be played in Sherwood Athletic Center on Feb. 9 and 10.

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  • K

    KenFeb 10, 2024 at 12:30 pm

    It’s great to hear how Whitman men & women hoopsters are doing. Great article. Go Blues!

  • M

    MitziFeb 10, 2024 at 7:09 am

    Wished we lived closer so we could cheer on the teams!