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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo

TU men's and women's basketball prepare for season

Men look to jump in wins, while Coach Wiseman enters first season at the helm of Taylor women's basketball

Taylor University men’s basketball is gearing up for the 2023-24 season starting on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. against the University of Northwestern Ohio. 

Grace College and Huntington University look to sit atop the Crossroads League again after the two squads faced off last season in the Crossroads League Championship where the Lancers of Grace came out on top.

Grace went 31-4 (15-3) last season and finished with the best record in the Crossroads League. They also earned a trip to the NAIA National Tournament where they won their first three games and then were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Georgetown College.

Huntington University also had a productive season finishing with a 24-8 (14-4) record and received a bid to play in the NAIA National Tournament as well. They did not fare as well as Grace, losing their first-round matchup against the University of Pikeville. 

Both schools will be tough competition this season for the Trojans.

Last season, Taylor finished 14-16 (7-11) and missed out on the NAIA National Tournament. It was an improvement from the previous season, where they went 9-21 (5-13). 

“We are expecting another jump in wins,” junior guard Kaden Fuhrmann said. “We have a very deep team this year and we believe we are very skilled all the way around.” 

2023 graduate and former starting forward Jason Hubbard was clinical on the court last season. He led the team in points per game with 23.6 and was top three in nearly every statistical category, including being first in rebounds and blocks. 

The highlight of last season was Hubbard becoming the all-time points leader in Taylor men’s basketball with 2,479 points. His final season was electric and filled with highlight plays every week. Thundering windmill and alley-oop dunks led to Hubbard quickly becoming a fan favorite. 

But with Hubbard graduating, Fuhrmann looks poised to step up and take on a bigger responsibility on the offense.

“I don’t want to sound cocky but I feel like it’s my duty,” Fuhrmann said. “I’ve been the secondary scorer the past two years and I feel like it’s time for me to take that jump.”

Fuhrmann averaged 10.5 points per game last season along with three rebounds and one assist per game. 

Fuhrmann also spoke on how complete this year’s team is, citing that their camaraderie as a team has never been better.

“Sometimes you just click and I think our camaraderie as a team is one of our biggest strengths,” Fuhrmann said. “The upperclassmen have really been instrumental in building the confidence of the freshmen and transfers. We are really together as a team.”

Transitioning from high school basketball to the style of college basketball can be a challenge for incoming freshmen, but freshman forward Julian Mitchell welcomes the challenge.

“It’s been a lot of fun getting used to college ball,” Mitchell said. “The speed is definitely the biggest difference. Everyone is just so athletic and fast compared to high school.”

The game that everyone circles on the schedule is the annual Silent Night game. This year, the unlucky team to experience the silence versus the Trojans will be the Crusaders of Great Lakes Christian College. Taylor is currently 24-1 in Silent Night games.

After opening the season at home against the University of Northwestern Ohio, the Trojans will then be on a three-game road trip playing Olivet Nazarene University, Cleary University and Rochester University. 

- Dalton Jones

The Taylor women’s basketball season is set to tip off the season at home this October. With a brand-new coach, new faces, and a strong returning senior class, the Trojans look to a high level of success for the season to come. 

New head coach Cassie Wiseman wants to take a more direct approach to her coaching style. She wants a scrappier defense and the best shots on offense. 

“The team is quite mature,” she said. “Athletically, they are trying to do things right the first time. They are picking up on the X’s and O’s, and putting in work on their game.” 

Wiseman had a short window from being hired to getting on the court and coaching. She wanted to start right away, knowing the team, building relationships, and noticing who the premiere players would be to help the team win. 

Of those players is senior Taylor Westgate. As one of three seniors on the team, she has been a dominant force on the scoring end. Last year, she surpassed the 1,000 career point mark and led the team in scoring for the second year in a row. Before the season began, she made the Crossroads League preseason all-league team for her efforts on the hardwood. 

Coach Wiseman looks to use Westgate to improve the Trojans’ offensive prowess. Her goals revolve around more communication, spot-up shooting, and high-percentage shots. Furthermore, she looks to run more set plays, rather than a pure motion offense. 

“The Crossroads League is competitive,” she said. “You have to adapt based off what the team needs.” 

The women’s basketball team boasts four new athletes in the newest freshman class. All four were recruited by former head coach Jody Martinez. Now playing under Wiseman, freshman Maddie Drye looks back on the recruitment process, the coaching change and the season ahead. 

“I did not expect the retirement,” she said. “It was not something to be prepared for.” 

Drye got to meet with Wiseman quickly after and shouted out assistant coach Cassidy Wyse throughout the process of the change. 

Drye, along with the other freshmen, gets the unique opportunity to be under Wiseman for the next couple of years and grow as an athlete.  

The Trojans are set to play Michigan-Dearborn at 5 p.m. on Oct. 26 in Odle Arena, followed by an away game against Calumet a day later.

- Conrad Otto