Titans look to take next big step

Lydia Westedt, Assistant Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team traveled to UW-Green Bay on Oct. 30 for the first exhibition game of the season.

The Titans were defeated by UW-Green Bay 76-36.

The Titans finished the 2018-19 season last spring in the third round of the NCAA Division III Championship after setting a league record by winning their 13th WIAC regular season championship.

“We’re really proud of last year,” head coach Bradley Fischer said. “From start to finish, we accomplished more than we thought was even possible.”

Fischer said it’s important for this year’s team to see last year’s successes, but this year has nothing to do with last year.

With only two seniors on the 2019-20 team, Fischer said the junior class will need to step up to the challenge.

The team will be looking to juniors Nikki Arneson, Karsyn Rueth and Leah Porath to take on leadership roles this season.

“The pressure is up for them this year,” Fischer said. “They all started up between 10 and 14 games last year, so they have pretty good experience.”

Fischer said Arneson and Porath had especially strong finishes in last year’s season.

Porath led the team in their final game of the season by scoring 18 points in the D-III semifinals last spring before losing to Wartburg College (Iowa).

The team has had a rough start in the preseason practice.

“We’ve had a lot of injury issues to deal with here before the season has started,” Fischer said.

“We’ve been practicing with nine or 10 players when really we’ve got 16 that we would have hoped would have been practicing by now.”

Fischer said entering into a new season means there are a lot of question marks.

“This is probably the most uncertain I’ve felt going into a season about a lot of different parts of our game,” Fischer said.

The team has been working hard to prepare for a strong line of defense, in response to the team’s struggles with injuries and player turnover.

“I think we’re going to have trouble scoring at times this year potentially,” Fischer said.

“We’re going to need our defense to be consistent so on those nights where we don’t shoot well and we’re not scoring enough points, the defense keeps us in the game.”

Fischer admitted to being an “eternal pessimist” at the beginning of the year.

“As a coach, I see all the things we need to get better at,” Fischer said. “It’s still so early that it’s hard to tell what we’re capable of.”

The Titans will begin their regular season play with a home game against St. Mary’s University (Minn.) on Nov. 11.