Following the success of last year’s seasons, the Chapman men’s and women’s basketball teams are approaching the upcoming season with high expectations.
The 2015-16 season ended with a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) title for the men’s team and a spot in the playoffs for the women’s team.
The men’s team lost just two players to graduation, leaving in place the core of last season’s successful team.
“A lot of guys that played a lot of minutes are back, so it’s good to have that,” said senior forward James Griffin. “It makes an easy transition for the freshmen that come in because they get to learn from guys that have been playing a lot.”
Sophomore guard Cam Haslam, the leading scorer for the men’s team and the SCIAC as a freshman last season, echoed a similar sentiment about the heart of the team remaining together.
“We have the same core group of guys. We are just trying to grow together and build off of what we had last year,” Haslam said. “That being said, we have some really exciting transfers and we are just trying to get used to the system right now.”
Assistant coach Dan Krikorian said that the team can rely on the returning players, but is interested to see how the combination with new members will play out.
“We lost a few key guys to graduation but we have a lot of guys back from the starting lineup and a lot of good guys from our rotation,” Krikorian said. “Then we have some new guys we are really excited to see, you know, how they will progress. We’re excited to see how that mix goes.”
The women’s team has a larger roster change this season, losing three seniors and gaining six new members.
“We lost (forward) Natalia Ebrahimian,” said head coach Carol Jue. “She was our core player at 5’9”, so that’s a lot of points there and rebounds. And (guard) Lauren Taketomo helped me produce my All-Americans … Those six new players are just going to have to learn the system and that will take a while.”
While the teams now differ dramatically in orientation, their goals remain the same, according to Jue.
“We are always trying to be in the top four, hopefully into the top two so we can make the playoffs, get back to the conference tournament, get back to the NCAA tournament,” Jue said.
Women’s sophomore guard Katelyn Serizawa said the team’s biggest competition in the upcoming year is likely to be Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, which finished in first place last season.
“Claremont always gives us a tough time, but we could beat them with good defense,” Serizawa said. “We just have to play hard and follow what our coach says.”
Krikorian said that the men’s team’s plan to achieve a championship revolves largely around execution on the defensive end.
“I think that we’re going to have some guys that can really score and are talented offensively, but our thing right now is being one of the top defensive teams in our conference, to give us a chance down the road to be a good team,” Krikorian said.
Krikorian said he is hopeful ahead of the team’s opening game against La Sierra University on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
“(La Sierra is) always a really good opening test for us because they are usually really athletic and have guys that are great offensive players,” Krikorian said. “So it’s great for us early on to see how we are cohesively as a team.”
The Chapman men’s basketball team will open its season at home against La Sierra on Tuesday at 7 p.m., and the women will take on the University of Texas at Tyler at the University of Redlands on Nov. 19 at 5 p.m.