November 25, 2020

The Sporting Insider

Off To A Rough Start  

Josh Sellmeyer

Josh Sellmeyer, The Journal sports editor

It’s been tough sledding for the Webster University men’s and women’s basketball teams in the early goings of their seasons. Both squads are still searching for their first victories of their 2011-2012 campaigns. The men are 0-4, while the women are 0-3.
The slow starts aren’t terribly surprising, considering the difficult nonconference schedules both teams have faced. Men’s coach Chris Bunch and women’s coach Jordan Olufson have provided their teams with early-season tests to see how they’d respond against top-notch opponents.
The end results haven’t been great, but the hope is that these early losses will harden the Gorloks and prepare them for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference slate of games. And if either team gets into the NCAA Division III tournament, they will have a better idea of what they’ll need to do to beat superior opponents.
Both teams should be kicking themselves for not winning their regular-season openers, though. The Webster men missed too many free throws in a 79-76 overtime loss to Bluffton University. The Webster women shot less than 30 percent from the field in a 47-45 loss to Concordia University Chicago.
In hindsight, the men’s loss doesn’t look so bad now, as Bluffton is off to a 4-0 start to their season. In fact, the men’s four opponents have a combined record of 14-4. Maryville College is 3-2, Luther College is 3-1 and Nebraska Wesleyan University is 4-1.
The Webster women’s three opponents have a combined record of 8-4. The Gorloks’ second opponent, Marian University, is 3-1 and went 15-11 last year. Augustana College is off to a hot start at 4-0.
But it’s the two-point loss to 1-3 Concordia that should have Olufson and the Gorloks concerned. In their first home game on Nov. 22, the Cougars lost by 23 points to Eureka College, which was picked to finish fifth in the SLIAC.
Now, that doesn’t mean that the Gorloks will be 25-point underdogs when they take on Eureka. But it is troubling to see Eureka, a team that’s perceived to be much lower in the SLIAC pecking order than Webster, trounce the same Concordia squad the Gorloks lost to.
The women and the men will find out exactly how they measure up on Nov. 30. That’s when both teams play host to Westminster College — the women at 6 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m.
Both Westminster squads were voted as the SLIAC favorite, but only the women are living up to the billing. They are 3-0 to start the season and have won all of their games by double digits. The Westminster men are 2-3.
Though neither of the Webster teams are where they want to be record-wise at this point in the season, it’s imperative for the players not to get too frustrated. The worst thing an individual on a struggling team can do is push too hard out of frustration.
Instead, the Gorloks should have a team-first mentality with an emphasis on defense. The Webster basketball teams were so successful last year because they bought into the defense-wins-championships philosophy.
For the Webster teams to reach that same level of success this year, they will have to get the ship righted soon. Wins over Westminster would be a good start.

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