This year UR Women’s Basketball (URWB) received new uniforms, and it seems as though the change has rubbed off on their play. By posting two huge wins this past weekend by scores of 66–55 and 75–52 over Case Western and Carnegie Mellon, URWB perpetuated an incredible 10-game winning streak to improve their overall record to 15–1, a record that has got them ranked seventh among Division III programs, according to D3HOOPS.com.
In what is perhaps the best start under Coach Jim Scheible’s reign as head coach at UR, the ‘Jackets success is undeniable. But, this team has loftier aspirations, said Coach Scheible. “Our goal is like everyone else’s: to win the league.”
Scheible knows a thing or two about how to lead great teams to success, as he has led the ‘Jackets to the NCAA Final Four three times in the past 13 seasons. When asked what would be the biggest challenge for this team going forward, Scheible said, “to become a hardened team, to show up mentally [to] every game.” He addressed the aforementioned team goal, saying, “If you want to win this league you have to be consistently excellent.”
The ‘Jackets coach was optimistic about his team’s potential to win the upcoming tests, including two clashes with perennial powerhouse Washington University on consecutive Fridays. “There’s a lot of different ways we can win games,” he said. “We have really good balance…We’re versatile.”
From a decent 15–10 season a year ago to seventh in the country, one might assume there were some big roster changes over the off-season—but that doesn’t seem to be the case. “Last year we had a pretty young team,”senior guard Kayla Kibling said when asked about making such a big leap. “A lot of people got a lot more experience.” Added Kibling, “everyone knew what the expectations were.”
Kibling echoed the sentiment of Scheible, saying that, going forward, their biggest challenge is to “keep playing consistently.” She noted some rough patches in their win over Case Western, but she was impressed by how her team bounced back to handle Carnegie Mellon comfortably.
Consistency seems to be a theme with this team. I wondered if keeping up the pace early on a Tuesday morning amidst a 10-game win streak was doable. Kibling didn’t think it was. “We work hard,” she said. “We have fun all the time with each other.”
It’s clear that this is a team that genuinely likes each other. Typically, it’s teams like these that find themselves still playing come March. When asked how high the ceiling is for this team, Kibling made it clear that they want to go “as far as possible.” She remembered the disappointment of not making the NCAA tournament last year. “We want to play the best in the country,” she said.
Fortunately for the ‘Jackets, they don’t have to look far to face some of the best teams in the country. The UAA is amongst the best conferences in Division III women’s basketball, with multiple nationally-ranked teams and a competition that Scheible pointed out is “top to bottom, no easy games.” Based upon the difficulty in their schedule, it is safe to say that it isn’t all in the uniform.
After this weekend’s road trip to St. Louis and Chicago, the ‘Jackets will return home for the next four games, all part of UAA play.