DSU Preseason Basketball

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Dixie State University’s women’s basketball teams embraces a new coaching staff while DSU’s men’s basketball prepares for a tough preseason. 

The DSU women’s basketball program has gone through three head coaches the past five seasons. The DSU women’s team finished eighth in the PacWest Conference last season with a 9-11 record in conference play and 9-17 for their overall record. J.D. Gustin, DSU’s head women’s basketball coach, was hired in the spring and said he doesn’t care what has happened in the past with the program. 

“What has happened in the past here doesn’t really matter to me,” Gustin said. “It is what we do today and what we are working for in the future,” 

Jon Judkins, DSU’s head men’s basketball coach, has been coaching at DSU for 11 years and led the team to finish with a conference record of 15-5 and an overall record of 18-9 last season. DSU men’s basketball tied for first last season with Azusa Pacific and has been PacWest Conference Champions five times.  

DSU women’s basketball; new Coach, new year, new team. 

Gustin said it is a challenge to bring together a brand-new team with new personalities, new offenses, new defenses and new everything, but he has done it before.

“I enjoy the challenge of developing new culture and getting kids to believe in something together,” Gustin said.

The DSU women’s basketball team has five returners, four junior college transfers, one division one transfer, and signed three freshmen out of high school. The team played a scrimmage game against Snow College Oct. 28 and will open preseason play this Friday against Colorado Mesa University at 5 p.m. in the Burns Area. 

Gustin said DSU did get a good beating by the young Snow College team, but Snow College had been practicing for two months where as the new DSU team has only had nine days of practice. Gustin rotated all his players in during the scrimmage to give them each the chance to prove they deserve playing time in the actual games to come. 

“I don’t have any expectations other than for these players to go out and compete,” he said. “Win or lose, you want to give a great competitive effort together and put that together with our technical side of offense and defense.”

Gustin said the only goal for this team is to get better little by little everyday and that starts off the court. The team has to lay down a foundation of good grades in the classroom, respect for each other, and then they can talk about the basketball part, he said.

“It is real world stuff before you talk about the ‘Xs’ and the ‘Os,'” he said. 

Ashlee Burge, a forward and junior business administration major from Riverton, said team chemistry is everything because it determines success.

“Off the court, on the court, the relationship you have with your teammates and coaching staff is the most important thing about playing collegiate sports,” Burge said.

Gustin said the strategy for this season is to take it one game at a time and win or lose, the team will take what it learns from that game and become better for the next. 

“Whether that is winning five games, ten games, 20 games, we don’t know,” he said. “We simply are going to try and get better every day and see what happens.”

He said he is asking the players to have a high basketball IQ and learn a lot of information offensively and defensively at a fast pace. So far, he is impressed with where the team is so far but they still have a lot of work to do.

“I believe Dixie State is a special place and it is proven by the other programs: women’s volleyball, women’s softball, men’s basketball—all of them,” Gustin said. “They are highly competitive and there is no reason women’s basketball shouldn’t be in that exact spot.” 

DSU men’s basketball 

Four out of men’s basketball six games will be against teams that made appearance in the NCAA Division II tournament, one of those teams even making it to the elite eight. 

“[Preseason] is going to be a test for us, but I want to challenge them so they get better everyday,” Judkins said. 

DSU men’s basketball team opened its season with a win in its exhibition game against University of Antelope Valley ending in 98-69, and has been ranked to finish as the third team this season in the preseason polls. 

Judkins said he didn’t even give his own team a first-place vote in the preseason polls.

“I like to be second or third because it gives the guys something to shoot for,” he said. “Then we will just go out and prove ourselves that we are better than that.” 

DSU men’s team has eight returners with an addition of three new four-year university transfers, three junior college transfers, and two freshmen. 

“Bringing everyone up to speed and having everyone on the same page is something we have to focus on,” said Josh Fuller,  a forward and senior accounting major from Rexburg, Idaho. 
Judkins said this year was a good recruiting group and they are going to have a deep bench. He said the strengths for the team this year is its speed and continuing to improve its outside shooting; their weakness is going to be their physical strength. 

Trevor Hill, a guard and junior finance major from Sandy, said the ability to play together is also going to be a key to their success. 

“The one-on-one game doesn’t work at [the college level] Hill said. “We all have to be willing to share the ball and play together to be successful.”
Judkins said this year’s team is very coach-able; they seem to be a closer knit this year and it is going to be a fun season.