As the second semester begins to get into full swing, the Union University Men and Women’s basketball teams look to continue to improve.
The seasons of the Union University Women and Men’s basketball teams have been two sides of the same coin.
For the Women’s team, dominance has been the name of the game. Though they lost a painfully close contest to North Alabama on Saturday, they are 21-2 overall with a only one loss in conference play (Let the records show that I practiced with the Women’s team a grand total of 10 or 12 times before a knee injury, so I’d like to think I helped them become better. But probably not).
With tonight's 72-56 win over Alabama-Huntsville, head coach Mark Campbell picked up his 575th career victory at the helm for the Union Lady Bulldogs. His all-time record now sits at 575-87 (86.9 winning percentage). Congratulations, coach! @UUAthletics @uubasketball
— Logan Whaley (@LWhaleyUU) February 2, 2018
Also, star power has not been in short supply. Senior guard Chelsey Shumpert, who has been GSC Player of the Week 9 (!!) times this season, is averaging 24.7 PPG. Senior Forward Sarah Lytle is averaging 14.8 PPG while making a ridiculous 55 percent of her shots.
I am a basketball buff, so when I see a great basketball team, I know it. The Union Women’s team is a darn great basketball team (I know, what an outrageous opinion). After all, when analysts have compared the team’s offense to the greatness of the Houston Rockets, you know the team is legit.
When a team has reached this level of success, it goes without saying that it took improvement and hard work to get there. Assistant Coach Sara Hammond was not shy about the work that her team has put in to become better. She said,
The biggest improvement I’ve seen in our team since the beginning of the season is effort. Max effort on a daily basis. We’ve truly started to compete with a true team effort, day in and day out. But it’s not just on the court; it’s also in the film room and during training. We always had really good individual players, but we’ve finally decided to totally buy in together.
Obviously, there are only great things ahead for the Union Women’s team.
However, their counterparts on the Union University Men’s basketball team, led by Head Coach David Niven, have been the other side of the proverbial basketball coin so far. After a heartbreaking home loss to UNA, they are now 9-14 overall with only a 3-12 record in conference play. Despite the disappointing record, they are led by excellent Senior forward Charlie Wilson who leads the team in scoring with 14 points per game.
Senior guard and communications major Nick Velasquez believes that it is just the little things that are holding the team back.
“We need to pay more attention to the scouting reports along with our errors and mistakes on the defensive end,” Velasquez said. “We also need to focus on moving the ball and making smarter decisions on the offensive side of the basketball.”
Nick Velasquez. Photo by UU athletics
Even at this late point in the season, there is still time for them to turn their season around. They still have 5 regular season games left before the Gulf South Conference Tournament, and the top eight teams get in. Union currently sits four games behind the eight seed, Alabama Huntsville. They can still clinch a bid in the NCAA Division 2 South Region Tournament if they win the conference tournament.
Though the Men’s team has struggled this year, they are still led by three seniors and have the potential of a really solid team. It would be wise to not count this team out just yet.