Utah Tech University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have officially tipped-off fall practices.
With an entire Division I season under their belts, both teams have high expectations for continued growth and success.
With four seniors, the team is full of returning experienced players. One of these players being Breaunna Gillen, a senior exercise science major from West Jordan.
“I think we have much better chemistry than we’ve ever had before,” Gillen said. “We’ve had a lot of experience playing with each other, and even some of us have played with each other before college so it’s been great to see how it’s coming together.”
Head coach JD Gustin shared a similar sentiment about the experience on the team.
Gustin said: “I don’t think anything trumps experience. Experience is a critical part of sports, any sport, so for our group to have a little more experience than we’ve had in the past is definitely a benefit.”
The team plays with a fast-paced style. They like to get out, run the court, and shoot lots of threes. The transition to DI with this style went smoothly, and the team finished first in 3-pointers made in the Western Athletic Conference and fourth in the nation.
Gustin said they plan to double down and continue to improve with this strategy.
“I think there’s a chance that we might even take it another step forward offensively,” Gustin said. “So hopefully we’ll be better at that style.”
The team goals are clear with both Gillen and Gustin saying they want to be competitive every night and make it to the WAC tournament.
The women’s basketball will open the season against Washington University Nov. 7 in Seattle, Washington.
The Utah Tech men’s basketball team is in a similar situation as the women’s team with a strong core of returning experience as well as some fresh faces.
Head coach Jon Judkins said: “I do like the experience… Hunter [Schofield] is the main guy that we lost scoring-wise and defensive-wise, but I like the experience. We’ve got a lot of new faces as well and those guys who have been here two or three years got to use their experience and make sure the young guys know what’s going on. So far I’ve been happy with the leadership of those players.”
Another parallel between the two teams is the state of the locker room.
Three-year starter Frank Staine, a junior business management major from Inglewood, California, spoke highly of the chemistry that’s been built.
“The comradery and the whole team attitude right now is like a really big family and brotherhood,” Staine said. “I would say it’s probably the closest I’ve had since I’ve been here and that’s really exciting. It shows on the court too.”
Staine went on to share his expectations of consistent shooting, scoring and ball control from himself to help the team as they lose the top scorer from last season.
The two programs continue to be shockingly similar as both Staine and Judkins shared their goal of being competitive and hopefully winning the WAC tournament.
“We hope that we can get some heads turning,” Judkins said. “… That’s kind of our goal, to win the WAC and win the WAC tournament… Still, a lot of guys are learning things, but I love the way we’re playing right now.”
The men’s basketball team will get the ball rolling Nov. 7 as they take on the University of Nevada in Reno, Nevada.