Winter sports start strong

Men and women kick off season with a win

Tim Spears | Sports Reporter

Lane Lord isn’t shy when it comes to talking up his team.
“We’ve got the talent to compete on a national level every night,” said Lord, women’s head basket

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ball coach. “We feel like our level in Division II is comparable to a low Division I team.”
Lord has plenty of reasons for that kind of talk. The Gorillas are coming off their best year ever, going 27-6 last season en route to an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Gorillas’ campaign ended on a loss to Shaw, the eventual national champions.
However, a reloaded roster is looking to build on the program’s recent success. The now-starting senior Lauren Brown looks more than capable to replace Larissa Richards at the center position. All-MIAA guards Drew Roberts and Alexa Bordewick provide elite contributions from the wing. And if last season was any indication of what’s to come, sophomore forward Lizzy Jeronimus, the first freshman All-American in school history, may have the game to single-handedly play the Gorillas into an NCAA Tournament berth.
On the men’s side, senior forward JaVon McGee knows how close the Gorillas were to the NCAA Tournament.
“It was a good season. It could have been better,” McGee said. “We never filled our potential, but the season ended well and we showed what we’re capable of doing in the MIAA tournament.”
The men’s team was four points away from winning the MIAA Tournament and making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007, but lost 67-63 to the Washburn Ichabods. McGee is one of the few holdovers from last year’s postseason run as head coach Kevin Muff had to restock the roster, since there are only six players. But the roster turnover and fifth-place preseason ranking hasn’t changed the outlook for the Gorillas.
“The team’s goal this season is to win the conference,” McGee said. “Not as many peaks and valleys during the season as compared to last year.”
McGee says the revamped roster will provide more of an inside presence as well as more versatile guard play. Muff’s squad features eight players 6 feet, 5 inches or taller, compared to only three from last year. And freshman guard Kaleb Porter will immediately make an impact in the back court, having already started the first game for the Gorillas. This season will serve as a test of Muff’s recruiting.
Nonetheless, rosters are set and the season is under way. All that’s left is for the fans to turn their attention from the gridiron to the hardwood.
“We’re excited about the season coming up,” Lord said. “We’re hoping to get a lot of fans to come out and watch.”
McGee took a less serious approach.
“Make the visiting team uncomfortable,” McGee said. “Get on the refs more. I mean, for Pete’s sake, we’re at home. Force the refs to be favored our way.”

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