With many returning players and recent transfers, the team has high hopes for their 2017-2018 season
Azusa Pacific’s women’s basketball team is beginning their new season with the goal of winning a national championship. Selected as the co-favorite team in the PacWest preseason head coaches poll, expectations are high for the team and the they aspire to be ready for the challenge.
In addition, senior guard Abbigail Goodsell and senior forward Gabrielle Kaiser were chosen to the preseason all-conference team.
The Cougars look to win the PacWest conference title and tournament title for the first time in two years. The team has grown since last season, where there was only one returning player who had solid experience with the team previously. In addition, last year’s starting lineup was composed of either freshmen or transfers. For the Cougars, the foundation to achieve greatness this season is here, as the team has been working to improve with new talent once again over the past year.
“Where we are, in comparison to last year, we’re a lot further along in knowing what we want to do as a program, how we play as individuals, and in knowledge of what we want to do,” APU head coach T.J. Hardeman said. “It lets us go deeper into different things.”
The results have created a solid foundation for improvement. Last season, APU had a conference record of 13-7 and placed fifth out of 14 in the PacWest. With an overall record of 16-14, the team still qualified for the PacWest postseason tournament, but fell short in the second round, losing to Cal Baptist in a close battle, 86-85.
This year, the Cougars aspire to move farther into the competition. The team plans on using their more experienced players to their advantage, creating more cohesion and immersion within the team environment that will help take them one step closer to a PacWest championship, and then a national championship.
“Already people are telling me that the team is much different this year than it was last year,” sophomore guard Savanna Hanson, a recent transfer from Santa Clara, said. “People are putting so much more work in.”
For new transfer athletes like Hanson, the hope is to leave a stronger impact on a well-established team. This year’s transfer athletes such as sophomore guard Daylee Hanson and junior guard Gina Henderson are all highly experienced college players who each bring more strength to the team as whole.
“We have some transfers that are helping build our strengths and depth,” Hardeman said. “They are all team-players. They’re a good addition to an already strong team.”
The team’s first few games of the season will be a part of the 2017 Division II Tip Off Classic in Orange Calif. They hope to gain knowledge from playing against teams from outside of their league.
“We haven’t really done this in the past three years I have been here. It’s exciting,” senior guard and team co-captain Annanya Raghavan said.
Through hard work the team hopes they have what it takes to take the team to new heights this season. With both experienced APU players and Division I transfers, the team is excited to use their passion for basketball to take them all the way to the top.
The 2017 Division II Tip Off Classic will be taking place at Santiago Canyon College and the Cougars will play against Wisconsin-Parkside on Nov. 3, Wayne State College in Nebraska on Nov. 4, and Young Harris on Nov. 5.
The first home game will be Nov. 10 in the Felix Event Center against Cal Poly Pomona.