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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Friday, June 14, 2024
The Echo
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Women's basketball plays for an "audience of one"

Trojans adapt to tough early season schedule

In the first seven games of the season, Trojans women’s basketball went 3-4, falling to St.-Mary-of-the-Woods 78-64 on Nov. 11. 

Senior Ava Henson led with 23 points against St. Mary-Woods. 

Senior Claycee West had the game high of 13 rebounds, and senior Jillian Oswald topped off the night with five assists. 

Cassie Wiseman was named the new head coach of women’s basketball at Taylor University this season, thus starting her collegiate coaching career. 

Following the legacy of former head coach Jody Martinez has come with new adaptations for everyone on the team. For Wiseman, the adaptations aren’t just filling in an open position, but also transitioning from high school to college basketball.

“I've had to assess and figure out what (players’) strengths are, and then even go back and adjust (until) I think one thing is working and then look at something else,” Wiseman said. 

She explained that it is encouraging and fun to be able to give the girls a play once and then watch them execute it immediately. 

She said that coaching college basketball has been a great experience so far and that she loves the true passion the girls have for what they do. 

Henson has started the season off strong with a total of 109 points, 16 assists and a 46.6 field goal percentage. 

She most recently earned a spot on the Bevo Francis Classic All-Tournament Team for her performances against No. 7 Rio Grande and St. Mary-Woods.

Henson said that Wiseman has brought a heightened importance of communication and energy to the team. 

“Even people who aren’t in at a certain time, she expects them to be just as intense and high energy as those who are in the drill,” Henson said. 

She said the team is learning to adapt to Wiseman’s confidence in their strengths and abilities and her relaxed coaching style. 

“I want them to take on their own identity as a team (by) giving them some freedom to work within their strengths,” Wiseman said. 

The team was used to hearing play-by-play instructions from Martinez and are now learning how to have confidence in their own playmaking ability. 

West admires Wiseman’s approach to the season and the trust and respect she has in her players. 

“(Wiseman’s) biggest motto is having joy and doing everything we do with joy, and playing not just with each other but for each other,” West said. 

West has scored 74 of the Trojans’ 490 points this year. She has also claimed 33 defensive rebounds and 18 assists.

At the beginning of the season, the team decided they wanted to prove the rankings wrong, as a currently unranked team.

Henson said that the preseason rankings fuel the team’s motivation to outperform what the league expects of them. 

In Wiseman’s office, a poster hangs on the wall that says “Glorify God. Play Hard. Pursue Excellence.” 

The first statement in that list is something the seniors put in place from the beginning of the season. 

Before Wiseman had even claimed her position, the Trojans seniors claimed their theme for the season: “audience of one.”

“When I came in, I wanted the program to take on the culture of glorifying God… what that looks like on and off the basketball court. Always playing for our audience of one and having the eternal perspective in mind of how we can be a witness for him,” Wiseman said. 

With losses in the past two games against No. 7 Rio Grande and St. Mary-Woods, the Trojans have learned valuable lessons on persistence.  

Wiseman said the team is working on putting all four quarters of the game together and showing their tenacity all the way through. 

West added that the team is also working on a new defensive philosophy to help strengthen their offensive opportunities and abilities.

“Our grit and resilience and ability to fight has been huge for us,” Henson said.

The Trojans’ next game is at Mount Vernon Nazarene on Nov. 21 with a 6 p.m. tip-off time.