The Truman State University women’s basketball team is currently 16-7.
The team has been successful and several players have reached individual milestones.
Senior guard Hannah Belanger earned her third GLVC Player of the Week award this season, the fifth in her career, as well as the 1500-point milestone. Redshirt senior forward Ellie Weltha has scored 1000 points in her career.
Sophomore forward Emma Bulman credits much of their success to the buy-in from the entire team.
“I think everyone is really locked in and really wants what is best for the team to get the best outcome of the season,” Bulman said. “I think you see a lot of people say they want to win and do the work to get there, but a lot of people don’t actually do it, and I think our team definitely does that.”
Weltha and junior guard Claire Rake agree this cohesiveness has made this season stand out.
It has been an adjustment this season since there are three freshmen and two transfers, Rake said. They have had to learn how to play with each other and learn head coach Theo Dean’s style of coaching.
“We’re all friends, and it’s translating onto the court,” Rake said. “Practices can get competitive, but we don’t let it affect how we treat each other. We all really just want to win, and we just want what’s best for each other.”
Weltha said the team has been learning how to emerge into new roles as they shift.
Being an upperclassman means being a leader on and off the court, Rake said. It is now their role to teach the younger players how to play the game and how to be a good teammate.
Last season, the team finished 18-11. Bulman said the ups and downs of last season set them up for their successes this year.
“I think we just needed to figure out who we were as a team, and I think that’s been the biggest thing leading into this year is that we have a lot more experience,” Bulman said.
One game that stood out to both Bulman and Rake was their 99-53 win against William Jewell College, Jan. 12.
Bulman said they shared the ball, hit shots and just had fun playing. She said they played like a well-oiled machine.
Rake said everyone got to play and almost everyone scored.
“I remember when I was a freshman, and I would wait for games where we’d be up so that I could play a little bit more,” Rake said. “It’s nice to see some younger players get some playing time.”
This is not uncommon for the team, as there might be four to five people leading the scoring on any given night, Bulman said.
The team has had games in previous years that could have been close, but are running up the scores during games this season, Rake said.
Rake said the team is looking forward to the postseason, getting to the GLVC tournament and working toward a bid in the NCAA tournament. Both of these goals look promising as the team is ranked second in their conference, Rake said.
“We would definitely like to go make some waves in the conference tournament and really have a good showing there, and then obviously we would really like to make the National Tournament and go win the thing. I mean, why not,” Bulman said.
The team has their last home games Feb. 9 and 11.
“We have such a great crowd, so much great support from families and the community and students, so just the energy at home games is special,” Bulman said. “Going to other schools, you don’t see that sometimes, but it’s something we all appreciate and makes playing so much fun.”