Beaver Basketball Season Preview 

Tyler Brunner, Assistant Sports Editor

As fall becomes winter and rain turns to snow, BVU athletics will turn a new leaf to welcome back Beaver Basketball for a new season. This year, the Beavers welcome two new coaches for both basketball squads.  David Wells is the new women’s basketball coach, and Trevor Johnson is the new coach to lead the men’s team this season. Wells and Johnson share their history as coaches, the upcoming season, and some goals they hope to accomplish. 

Coach Wells started his coaching career during the 2010-2011 season at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he led his squad to a 30-3 record and a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title and Regional championship landing them an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament. He then traveled to Millersville University and worked under Mary Fleig, who has posted over 500 career wins. Wells spent two years with Millersville and returned to MSU Denver where he led the team to another NCAA Tournament appearance and a first round win.  

Coach Wells has a tough challenge ahead of him with the women’s team coming off of a 7-18 record last year, and two lone conference wins against Central and Dubuque late in the season. With 5 graduated seniors, the Beavers have to adjust to new leadership under this year’s juniors and seniors.

The Beavers ranked 8th overall in the 2019-2020 preseason polls, just above Dubuque. They also bring back notable players such as senior Destiny Einerwold, who averaged 8.9 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game, Junior Cassy Miller had 51 rebounds and 18 steals last season, and junior Erin Gerke, who led the team last season with 10.9 points per game, had a 73.5 free throw percentage, and had the second most points at 250. Against their opponents, they saw themselves behind in the race. BVU averaged 63.9 points per game, behind their opponents average of 73.4, 36.5 rebounds compared to 40.1, and 563 turnovers compared to 510.   

Yet, the biggest goal Coach Wells wants to accomplish is more than what happens on the court.

“On and off the court, I would like to establish a family culture of caring and trust, one that cultivates hard work, discipline, strong communication, and a willingness to sacrifice for each other,” Wells says. “The team has already established what they value D.E.F.E.N.S.E. (Demanding Excellence From Everyone; No Selfish Exceptions). We’ll look to defend and rebound better than we have in the past. We only have 13 players (I’m naming them the Lucky 13). We’re excited to get the season under way and show people what we can do!”  

While the Beavers don’t play their home and season opener until Oct. 29th, Coach Wells is the 3rd head coach this team has had in the past three years. He admits how hard it can be to accept a brand new coach, but he is excited to see where this team can go. He described the differences between Division II and Division III sports and how little time he has with his players.

“At the NCAA Division II level you get a lot more contact in the preseason. At the Division III level you are limited as a coach in the early phase, the team has been going at 6AM three times a week for strength and conditioning and working their basketball skills almost daily. This year we start practice on October 17th,” he adds. “I’m also eager to be given the opportunity to help elevate the basketball program to another level.”

The Women’s team face off against Dordt College in their first game of the season, starting at 7 pm in Storm Lake.

Coach Johnson is quite familiar with the Beavers, as he spent four years developing the Nebraska Wesleyan men’s basketball team into a familiar threat. He spent his time in Nebraska as an assistant coach where he helped lead that squad to a NCAA Division III National Championship title and two IIAC/ARC conference titles. His most recent job saw him at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Now, Coach Johnson finds himself back in familiar territory in the ARC conference, where he is confident he will bring this team back to its former glory.

Johnson says, “The thing I am most excited for in my first season is just starting the process of getting BV basketball back to where it should be. This is a program with a lot of history and a tradition of success and I look forward to getting things going. We have a great group of guys and a lot of talent returning that is going to allow us to be very competitive each and every night.”

The Beavers, unlike the women, are bringing back a number amazing junior and senior talent to kick start Coach Johnson’s return to the ARC conference. Senior Timothy Jeffries, who was named to the 2018-2019 Second Team All-Conference, was dominant last year and looks to bring that fire back. Jeffries comes off a season where he averaged 16.5 points per game, had a 53.2 field goal percentage, and had double figure nights in the final eight games of last season.

Jeffries is backed up with some great company. Senior Dominic Sesma comes off of a great season, averaging 12 points per game, and junior Michael Demers had a respectable 8.6 points per game and scored 215 points, all admirable percentages. Junior Garrett Sittner, averaged 8.1 points per game, and posted an 80.6 free throw percentage. The biggest goose egg the Beavers will have to overcome is their 5-11 conference record. Even though the Beavers lead in many categories against their opponents, such as points per game, assists, and turnovers, many of those categories were very close competitions.  

With an older team in his hands now, Coach Johnson isn’t looking to reserve a spot for the Beavers in the conference tournament just yet, he wants to take it one game at a time.

“We want to do something special. I don’t know exactly what that looks like for this group at this point, but we are going to take things one practice and one game at a time. Our league has proven to be one of the best in the country so we will have to be ready to compete every night,” he says. “If we are doing things the right way we are going to be in a position to win a lot of games and be in a good spot at the end of the season.”

The Men’s basketball team will start their season off on Nov. 8th against Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, starting at 7 pm.