The Buena Vista women's basketball team is now just days away from its 2018-19 season opener, and the Beavers are excited to get the year underway under first-year head coach Dana Christen.
Christen is no stranger to the BVU bench or program as she has spent the past eight years as an assistant coach within the program. After spending last year as an associate head coach, she now takes over the reins of a team that has three starters back as well as three others who came off the bench and averaged over 10 minutes per contest. As her squad prepares for its season opener on November 10 at Iowa Wesleyan, Christen has been pleased with the effort put forth to this point throughout the last three weeks of preseason.
"The ladies have put in a ton of time and effort during the pre-season," she says. "Our captains have stepped up and helped get the women in shape. They have improved not only with their skill but their mentality as well!"
All three of the returning starters are seniors - Morgan Muhlbauer, Holly Schneider and McKenna Whitehill. Muhlbauer (13.3ppg, 5.5rpg) is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder. Despite battling through injuries during the later part of last season, she still managed to post career-highs in points (345), three-point makes (55), free-throws (64), steals (37) and blocked shots (23). Schneider was fourth on the team in scoring (10.7ppg) and was third in three-point makes (32). She also dished out nearly 2.0 assists per game and registered just over 1.0 steal per game. Whitehill chipped in with 5.5ppg and also dished out just over 1.0 assist per game.
Despite having three of its top-five point scorers back this season, Christen is still emphasizinig the need for the team as a whole to shoot the ball more effciently after making only 41 percent from the field and just 55 percent from the charity stripe.
"Shooting and defense will both continue to be areas we want to keep working on to get better at, but also just their ability to believe they can win," she adds. "This team will work hard no matter what. They will give it their all to be successful. They will be fun to watch."
Buena Vista was 13-13 a season ago including an 8-8 mark in conference play. It averaged just under 69.0ppg while allowing over 71.0ppg.
An area which could impact the improvement of that shooting percentage is the added height to the roster this season in the team's guard play.
"We do have more height in the guard court this year than in the past," she states. "We are hoping to use this to our advantage as the season wears on."
Among some of the added height include freshmen Jennifer Schneider, Erin Streit and Nicole Lange - all players Christen feel will play an impact on the team from the opening tip. In all, she has brought in eight newcomers to the team to mix with the veteran group of returners.
"They have all bonded very well not only on the court but off the court as well," adds Christen. "This is a strong group, but even stronger at its core, which is our upperclassmen. They will need to help develop this young group of players, and I know will do a great job!"
In addition to its season-opener, the Beavers will play five more games away from Siebens Fieldhouse before playing both its home and American Rivers Conference opener on November 28 against Coe. It will also play a non-conference game against Nebraska Christian on December 3 which is sandwiched between league games at Loras (Dec. 1) and at Simpson (Dec. 5).
It will wrap up the calendar year by taking part in the prestigious DIII Classic out in Las Vegas, Nev., on December 28-29 while playing a pair of tough non-conference games.
"The women are excited for the trip, and we will have lots of time for them to see Vegas since we play at 10 am both days," says Christen. "The competition is very strong and will be a good test for us over the break. It will keep us prepared for what's to come in the next part of conference season."
The final regular season home game is set for February 9 against the University of Dubuque. The annual Alumni Day game is scheduled for January 5 when the team hosts Luther College.
Saturday's season opener is set to tip-off at 1:00 p.m.