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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

After slow start to the year, Carleton basketball is finishing strong

< a slow start to the season for both the Carleton men’s and women’s basketball teams, recent success has proved that both have finally found their stride. With the men winning nine in a row and the women winning six of their last eight, the two teams were at one point on contagious winning streaks.  The women’s team has now improved their record to 6-9 in the conference, with their most recent wins helping them inch closer toward a playoff spot. The men’s team now holds record of 10-6 in the conference, fighting a close point battle to maintain their current playoff position. It is an exciting and pressure-filled time for both teams.

Coach Cassie Kosiba of the women’s team credits the recent success to the continuous hard work her players have demonstrated throughout the season. Over the summer, Kosiba assigned the team to read “The Energy Bus” by John Gordon in order to instil an empowered mindset amongst her players.

“Before the start of the season, I asked everyone to commit to living the season based on the lessons of the book,” she said. “We decided that focusing on positivity and daily progress rather than negativity and results was what would guide us through the season.” Whether it was after a sensational win or a heartbreaking loss, the players never failed to demonstrate their maturity by arriving at each practice with the goal of improving.

The team’s impressive performances did not go unnoticed. Last week, Carleton sophomore Cece Leone was named the MIAC women’s basketball player of week for her standout efforts in the Knight’s recent turnaround. The team does not focus on the sole aspect of winning, but rather concentrating on the details of the game and how the group will continue to get better. Aware that they are in reach of a playoff spot, Kosiba explained that there are still so many variables at play, and the team must “control the controllables and do what we do best.” She described her players as “extremely driven, fun, and hardworking women who inspire me every day.” The unity and leadership present on this team will inspire the players to keep fighting until the end with the hope of securing a playoff spot.  

The men’s team also saw a dramatic reversal, winning their last nine games after starting the season 1-6 in the conference. Captains Pete Bakker-Arkema ’17, Mitch Biewen ’17, and Beau Smit ’17 all attested to the difficulty of having to persevere following a disappointing start to the season. The team faced a series of bad breaks, including back-to-back devastating losses against Bethel and St. Thomas, which Smit described as, “the most frustrating week of basketball in my career.”

Knowing this record was certainly not reflective of the caliber of the team, the players transformed their frustration into motivation, and soon enough were winning game after game. Biewen acknowledged certain tactical changes that helped in the turnaround, explaining that “in the beginning of the season we typically ran very structured offensive sets. We started playing better when we incorporated more ball screens into our offense, which gave us a little bit more freedom and put us in positions to make plays.”

Bakker-Arkema recognized how the coaches have also gone the extra mile, explaining that they “scout our competition with incredible detail and I think that’s been one of the biggest contributions to our success.” Bakker-Arkema also spoke to the strength and talent displayed by the youth on the team, expressing that the freshmen and sophomores all “play like upperclassmen.” “I think Beau and Mitch can agree that this is the most talented team we have been on while at Carleton,” he said. Despite the tight point race in the standings, the men’s captains described the team mentality as “taking it one game at a time.” They believe they have the skill and strength to take on any competitor, which is a clear testament to their ongoing winning streak and impressive team performances.

With the playoffs so close in sight, both teams undoubtedly have momentum on their side and the unwavering support of the school behind them.

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