Basketball looks to build off last season’s successes

The Biola men’s basketball team is coming off a GSAC championship and the women’s team is coming off a NAIA quarterfinals appearance as they look to the new season.


Junior forward Andre Murillo victoriously hoists the GSAC championship plaque. Biola defeated Concordia’s Eagles, 81-77 on Tuesday night, sealing the first men’s basketball GSAC title in school history. | Tyler Otte/THE CHIMES

Cassandra Acosta, Writer

Senior forward Andre Murillo victoriously hoists the GSAC championship plaque. Biola defeated Concordia's Eagles, 81-77 in their last game of the Spring 2012 season, sealing the first men's basketball GSAC title in school history. | Tyler Otte/THE CHIMES [file photo]

The men's basketball team reached new heights under the leadership of head coach Dave Holmquist last season when they won the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship for the first time in program history. And although there have been changes in both the men’s and women's teams, the success of both teams has only brought higher expectations for this new season. 

Last season, the men's team had a rare challenge. Holmquist was left with the task of recruiting a whole new team since the only returning players redshirted the year before. Despite the new team, the Eagles managed to upset top-seeded teams such as Concordia University Irvine and Azusa Pacific University to take the conference title.

Their season ended in the quarterfinals of the 2012 NAIA Division I National Championship Tournament in Kansas City, however, when the Eagles were unable to pull off an upset against No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist University.

Losing in the quarterfinals of the national championship has left the Eagles hungry for more wins. But many of the key players from last season were forced to moved on.

Last year’s team captain Andre Murillo must sit out this season because of an injury that occurred in the off-season. As a transfer last season, Murillo averaged 12 points per game, but more importantly, he led his team in offensive and defensive rebounds.

“Luckily he will still be around,” sports information director Jeff Hoffman said. “He's not working out with the team because he's had some surgery, but he's around so that leadership presence and that excitement that he brings will still be around.”

This year's team missing key components from last year

Guard Given Kalipinde was a vital asset on last season's roster as well. He was named GSAC Men's Basketball Player of the Week twice, and earned All-GSAC recognition and NAIA Third Team All-American. Graduated guards Chase Adams and Dave Hopkins are also crucial players that will not be returning to the court in red and white jerseys this season; they averaged 12 and 11 points per game respectively.

But as players leave, new faces arrive.

Four important players will be added to the Eagles’ roster this season. Junior transfer guard and forward Jamie Ball, junior forward David Swartz, sophomore forward Mike Kurtz and freshman guard Christopher Jones have already made their presence known on the team. And after taking the 2011-2012 season off, senior forward David Cline will return to the court for the Eagles this year.

“Cline is kind of like Murillo, with that defensive mindset and a good scoring attitude as well,” Hoffman said. “He's going to be the biggest key I think as far as returners go.” 

This year, the Eagles will look to build from last year’s success, and work their way to another conference title and hopefully a national title as well.

The women's team also lost significant players, all of whom were guards. Now graduated Emily Drews and Lauren Gustafson averaged nine and six points per game last season. All-GSAC and 2012 NAIA All-American guard Charrise Reece also ended her collegiate career last year; she was a big component that led the Eagles to the NAIA tournament.

Women's team relying on experience built over past few years

The women's team only added two new players to their roster: transfer junior guard and forward Angel Dorn and freshman guard Aubree Mittel. This team will rely heavily on the experience gained throughout the past three years from junior center Adijat Adams, sophomore forward Chelsea Hill, sophomore guard Amy Freet and senior guard Becca DeVere.

These key returners contributed largely to the success the Eagles earned reaching the national tournament in Kentucky. But if either team wants to make a run at a conference and national championship, they will need to improve in some areas.

“Defense for the men, and offense with the women. I think that’s the biggest thing that will determine their success,” Hoffman said.

Players from both teams are eager to start the new season and will open their non-conference schedule at home on Saturday with the men starting at 5 p.m. against Menlo College and the women starting at 7 p.m against University of La Verne.

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