No rolls of toilet paper litter the gym floor, no fans anticipate the next shot. For now, it is only the players and the coaches preparing for the upcoming season in the Bill George Arena.
The John Brown University men and women’s basketball teams prepare for Nov. 3, their first home game of the 2018-19 season. The annual men’s Toilet Paper game is preceded by the women’s game at 5 p.m. Until their first game, however, the teams practice and refine their skills through practice and scrimmages. On Oct. 10 and 11, the Sooner Athletic Conference Coaches Preseason Poll announced the predicted rankings for the teams. The coaches picked the women’s team to finish fifth and the men’s team to finish eighth.
Women’s team head coach Jeff Soderquist said that this year’s team has got the talent to finish in the top three or four in the conference. Last year, the team finished with a 12-8 record in conference play. Senior Baily Cameron returns this year after receiving SAC first-team and WBCA-NAIA first team selection, and she averaged 18.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
After losing four of its top five scorers from last year, the women’s team recruited five new freshman to play this year. Soderquist said that each of these recruits cover almost every position on the team.
Senior Karina Chandra said that she is looking forward to exceeding the expectations people have set for the team. “We’re going to be the underdogs this year because we lost so many of our seniors last year that were really good,” Chandra said. The team’s main theme this year is grit—guts, resilience, initiative, and tenacity—as they prepare for their season. Chandra said it embodies how they want to work hard and think positively.
The men’s team is coming off last year’s conference season with a 10-10 record and return their top 8 scorers. This includes Jake Caudle who scored 18.6 points per game and was selected as SAC first-team and NAIA All-American honorable mention.
Head Coach Jason Beschta said, “It’s been amazing because of [Jake’s] work ethic and his character. He has just grown in so many areas every year.” Another senior who Beschta expects to build on last year’s second semester season is Josh Bowling, who averaged 12.8 points and five assists per game last year.
The men’s team also recruited a new assistant coach who runs their defense. Tim Kisner spent his last six years at Lake Superior State in Michigan as the assistant coach. Beschta said Kisner might have been the best recruit of the season because it’s not common to get someone with this much experience at a college this size.
“Kisner brought us an identity defensively of who we are, what we’re going to be about, the toughness we’re going to be about, the energy we have,” Beschta said. “All those things have risen to new levels with him here.”
Both teams start their season in November and they hope the JBU students will come support them.