The Goshen College men’s and women’s basketball teams are gearing up to take the court for another season, this one will be unlike any other.The men’s team kicked off their season with an 84-76 home win over East-West University on Oct. 27, but fell to Lawrence Technological University 80-70 this past Tuesday, putting the Maple Leafs at 1-1 on the season.
Men’s head coach Jon Tropf acknowledged the team’s uneven start and recognized there is still work to be done on both sides of the ball.
“We have done some good, and some bad through two games,” Tropf said. “The good is we’ve done a good job forcing missed shots and have been efficient around the rim on offense. We need to get better on the glass, especially securing rebounds after forcing misses.”
The ever-looming threat of COVID-19 still weighs heavily upon all Goshen College sporting events, but Tropf believes that his team is handling the situation well.
“The uncertainty of COVID-19 in general is a big challenge,” he said. “We are trying to focus on playing each game as if it is our last – because it could be. I think our guys are doing a good job of handling the adjustments that COVID-19 presents.”
According to Tropf, sophomore guard Kendrick Bibbey has been a standout player thus far, as Bibbey has racked up a team-high 17 rebounds, and currently leads the team in field-goal percentage with 81%, averaging 11 points through two games.
“I’ve been pleased with what Kedrick Bibby has brought us,” Tropf said. “He’s been very efficient on the offensive side of the ball. He needs to be better on the defensive end. I’ve also been pleased with Phillip Hughes’ growth, and Quincy Mussio has given us good minutes for a first-year.”
The Goshen College men’s basketball team’s next matchup is an away contest this Saturday in a matchup with 0-2 Concordia University beginning at 3 p.m.
The women’s team has yet to kick off their season. They prepare to take on Indiana University East in an away matchup this Friday.
According to women’s head coach Stephanie Miller, the IU East Red Wolves aren’t the focus quite yet.
“We are currently focused more on ourselves and ensuring we are prepared for what we want to do on Friday,” she said. “We shift our attention to IU East on Thursday and will look at their offensive and defensive sets as a team and go over the player scouting report.”
Miller is confident with what she’s seen in practices thus far and is excited to see her team’s genuine intent to “win the day” and perform at a very high level.
Standout players for the Maple Leafs so far include a pair of pre-season second team all-conference standouts in two juniors: TaNiece Chapman and Graysen Cockerham.
“They [Chapman and Cockerham] have really been competing well and looking like veterans out there that will anchor our squad,” Miller said.
Miller also expects a healthy Janara Flowers to make a splash with her versatility and on-court energy.
Sophomore guard Sadre’a Rougeau, who Miller cited as being one of the best athletes that she’s ever coached, is looking for an opportunity to step into a starting role after learning the system last year.
According to Miller, several team members have already stepped up into the all-important leadership role for the Maple Leafs, and she’s encouraged to see such leadership so early in the season.
“We have terrific leadership in this group and it’s spread out in different ways,” she said. “Our captains are Claire Rauck, Keyaira Murff and Graysen Cockerham, and they have done a strong job representing our team on court, in the locker room and in the campus community.”
The women’s squad has a tough task ahead of them as they take on an IU East who already have a game under their belts this Friday at 3 p.m. That match up kicks off a difficult stretch of four away games to start the season. The Maple Leafs have not faced off with IU East since 2016, when they fell to the Red Wolves 86-71.