The Ottawa University men’s basketball team will be different than the past couple of years.
Coach Aaron Siebenthall said this year’s team will be better defensively and the scoring will be spread out.
“We are still defining roles,” Siebenthall said. “We will be faster than we were last year. It is going to have to be more spread out. We have four, five or six guys that can be our leading scorer. It will make us harder to guard and harder to game plan for.”
The Braves return eight lettermen and three starters from last year’s 18-14 team. Ottawa surrendered 85 points a game last year. Siebenthall said the defensive approach to defense is much different this year.
Jaquann Daniels and Lucas Zeman are "two of the best defenders I have seen in a long time," Siebenthall said.
“They have a knack for it,” he said. “It is important to them. They want to play defense. Lucas brings a level of defensive intensity that we were lacking in the post.”
Ottawa opens the season Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 in the Virgin Islands Classic.
Coach Bruce Tate hopes a year experience will turn last year’s close losses into wins this season. Ottawa returns eight players from last year’s 9-19 team.
“It’s great to have a solid number of returners that gained a decent amount of experience during last season,” Tate said. “Now having four seniors and those key returners gaining that early experience, we hope it begins to pay off in certain game situations.”
Ottawa’s key returners include Mariah Grizzle (9.6 points and 7 rebounds), Kelsey Hendricks (three-year starter), Katlyn Hughes (8.4 points and Avery Lewman (9.1 points and 4 rebounds).
Tate said the biggest obstacle is overcoming the lack of size.
“We have to match up with those [taller] teams, but they have to match up with us,” he said. “We have to play our game and to our strengths. We have to find a way to get it done.”