Warhawk hoops teams rolling after early bumps
WHITEWATER—There has been no hammering of the snooze button here.
No rolling over for a few more minutes of slumber.
The UW-Whitewater men’s and women’s basketball teams received their respective wake-up calls last month, and they’ve both responded with impressive winning streaks.
“We’ve picked up the speed, and our team chemistry is coming together,” Warhawks junior guard Quardell Young said after the UW-W men topped UW-Platteville Wednesday night. “No one is playing out of their role, so we’re just coming together collectively.”
It took a bit of an early-December jolt to arrive at this position.
The Warhawks, two years removed from a Division III national championship, opened Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with back-to-back losses at UW-Stout and No. 1-ranked UW-Stevens Point.
“My freshman season we lost four games, sophomore year five games, so two in a row was something that hasn’t happened before,” Young said. “I knew we had to pick it up, and all of us just took that as a learning experience.”
The Warhawks have rattled off nine straight victories, including Wednesday’s 19-point victory over a Pioneers team previously unbeaten in league play, to improve to 13-2. They are ranked No. 8 in the latest D3Hoops.com poll.
“The nice thing with this team is they’ve gotten progressively better,” Whitewater coach Pat Miller said. “From a mental perspective, when you have as many veterans as we do and you start the conference season 0-2, it’s certainly a wake-up that we need to pick it up. And they have.”
The UW-W women’s team’s wake-up came outside of conference play, but it has had the same effect.
The Warhawks were 8-1 and riding high into Las Vegas for the D3 Hoops Classic late last month. But they were stunned there by a pair of losses in a span of about 26 hours, losing 91-77 to Carthage before falling by a point to Ohio Northern.
“They were two very good teams—Carthage is ranked and Ohio Northern made it to the Sweet 16 last year,” Warhawks coach Keri Carollo said. “But it was an eye-opener.”
“It was kind of like, ‘OK, we need to make sure we’re not taking this for granted,’” senior forward Amy Mandrell said of the group that made it all the way to the D-III national title game a season ago.
Saturday’s victory over Superior gave the Warhawks five straight, and they’re back to No. 17 nationally in the latest poll.
That streak included beating previously unbeaten Oshkosh.
“Conference is how we’re going to get into the national tournament,” senior guard Mary Merg said. “It’s been really good to come back from Vegas and get some conference wins.”
Indeed, UW-Whitewater’s basketball teams are awake and well.