Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The UW-Eau Claire men's and women's basketball teams hold their media day, Monday, at the Davies Center on campus.
There's a parallel between the two teams, as head coaches Tonja Englund and Matt Siverling will look to play a more uptempo style featuring more perimeter scoring.
"Having that opportunity to change things is exciting because you get a chance to mold the team that you have and try some different things," says Siverling, "and I know these guys are looking forward to it."
"Our guard play is really strong this year and our depth is really good," Englund says, "and that's where we are looking to be able to push the ball more to get up and down, our scrimmage (last Thursday) was very up and down, and not as much defense as I would like to see."
Five of the top eight players from Siverling's men's team have moved on, including post players Jared Schneidermann and Josh Weix. Returners include George Diekelman, who averaged just over 14 points per game last season, and Chris Duff, who averaged just under 12.
"We're definitely going to play a different style," says Duff, " because last year we kind of pounded the ball inside and worked off of that. We're still going to get the ball inside this year but I see us shooting a lot more 3's and being a little more perimeter-oriented this year, taking guys off the dribble a little more, instead of the direct post-ups."
Whatever the team needs me to do on a nightly basis," says Diekelman about his role this season, "I think just providing consistency and just trying to, if I have to score the ball more I will and just kind of play whatever coach needs me to do."
Siverling thinks the WIAC will be as tough as ever in 2017-18.
"I think 17 of the top 20 players in the league, you know, first-team all-conference and honorable mention return," says Siverling, "only three seniors on that list, so that's a significant amount of experience and a significant amount of talent. Fortunately, we have a couple of those guys returning as well."
UW-Eau Claire gets the season going on Wednesday, November 15, when the Blugolds go to St. Norbert.
The UWEC women's team returns all four of the team's top scorers from last season, including sophomore and Eau Claire native Anna Graaskamp, who was third in the WIAC with 14.4 points per game as a freshman. Factor in three viable point guards, including junior Maddie Dunathan and senior Jenni LaCroix, and the Blugolds will look to push the pace this season.
"I think this year we've got a different style and we're looking to push the ball more," Graaskamp says, "so definitely getting out in front and running is going to be something that I want to work on."
"It helps our team as a whole having two people on the floor that are leaders and kind of an extension of the coaches, and with the pace of the game, we can get up the floor a lot faster, and hopefully hit Anna on the run," says LaCroix, "or turn it on our own and get to the rim and playing faster, because I like that pace, and I think the team likes that pace. It's a lot of fun."
With the faster pace, Englund expects to use a deeper rotation this season.
"I'd rather have them go hard for 3 to 4 minutes and ask for a sub than try to play their 34 minutes that some of them did last year," says Englund, "we want to be in better condition than the teams that we're playing and we want our players to go out there and put 100 percent on the floor during the time that they're out there, regardless of what their role is."
The Blugolds begin their season with the UWEC Tipoff Classic. UW-Eau Claire will host UW-Superior on Friday, November 17.