The Bisons basketball season will tip off in a back-to-back women’s and men’s homestand on Thursday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre against the Brandon University Bobcats.
The women’s team is coming off a much-to-be-desired 6-14 regular season in 2022-23. This year’s roster looks promising, with four rookies added to the mix. Meanwhile, the men’s team will feel the pressure to live up to last year’s historic 18-2 program-record-setting regular season.
With the stage set, here are some storylines to follow this 2023-24 basketball season.
Entering her 10th season as head coach, Michele Sung has already coached the women’s team to an impressive pre-season, winning six of its nine pre-season games.
Last year’s regular season record is also somewhat misleading when it comes to the incredible talent of the team. With the majority of the herd’s 2022-23 season losses being close contests, the amount of returning players will certainly aid in this year’s push for a post-season berth.
Point guard and women’s basketball 2022-23 Most Valuable Player Lauren Bartlett returns for her fourth year. She set multiple records last year, including the single-game assists record, the second most-single game steals record and the fifth triple-double in program history in a winning-contest against the MacEwan University Griffins.
Veteran forwards Emily Johnson and Autumn Agar also return to the team this year. Johnson scored 156 points and recorded 27 steals last regular season, and has an impressive .818 free throw percentage, while Agar recorded 188 points and 23 steals.
The men’s team will once again be helmed by head coach Kirby Schepp, who is entering his 15th season with the herd and won the Canada West Coach of the Year honour last season with the Bisons’ historic regular season win record.
Fresh off his summer with the Winnipeg Sea Bears, 2023 Canadian Elite Basketball League U Sports Player of the Year Simon Hildebrandt is entering his second year on the men’s team. Hildebrandt racked up 297 points in his rookie season, with a killer .848 free throw percentage and 44 three-point baskets. He was awarded the 2022-23 Bison, CanWest and U Sports male Rookie of the Year honours for his phenomenal first season.
Tito Obasoto and Cieran O’Hara are both returning to the team for their third years. At guard, Obasoto racked up 144 points, 25 steals and held a respectable .788 free throw percentage last season, while forward O’Hara had 112 points and 14 steals last season and grabbed an impressive 121 rebounds.
Mirroring the women’s squad, the men’s team has added four rookies this year, with the majority of last year’s roster returning this season. The team is also coming off a fantastic pre-season, only losing one of the five pre-season contests.
Both teams will host the Brandon Bobcats in their respective home and regular season openers Nov. 2 and 3, playing back-to-back with the women’s games starting at 6 p.m. and the men’s games starting at 8 p.m. on campus at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.