Men’s and Women’s Basketball off to strong starts


Both men’s and women’s basketball are ramping up their seasons with strong starts.

Calvin’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have started their seasons with strong rankings and records. Men’s basketball is currently ranked 17 in the D3hoops Top 25 poll and Women’s basketball is ranked 15. 

Men’s basketball

The men’s basketball team had a strong beginning to their 2022-2023 season.  Their 7-0 record is their best start in over 20 years. The team has beaten Grace Christian, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stout, Illinois Institute of Technology, Hiriam, Rockford and UW-Stevens Point. The team began the season ranked third in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll. So far, first-year Jalen Overway and junior Uchenna Egekeze have earned MIAA player of the week honors. Overway has also been named to the D3hoops team of the week. 

Calvin men’s basketball looks different this year compared to last.  “We went from a guard-centric team with a lot of seniors and guys that were coming back for a fifth year, to a team that is very young but has way more size,” Head Coach Bill Sall said.

The youth of the team has played a role in the team dynamic this year. “Having so many new guys, we needed our upperclassmen to do a good job of welcoming them and making sure they felt a part of the team. … I think they’ve done an amazing job of that … it’s been a pleasure to coach these guys,” Sall said. 

We have a lot of guys that are stepping up this year … everyone is contributing a lot to our success — it’s not just one major player.

— Jalen Overway

Overway agreed: “We all like each other a lot. We’re pretty energetic during practice, and it all seems like we really like to be there.” He said that the team’s success isn’t because of one individual. “We have a lot of guys that are stepping up this year … everyone is contributing a lot to our success — it’s not just one major player.”

The team has made strides defensively. “We’ve become a really good defensive team and I think we’ve made a nice hump with rebounding. Our rebounding margin is about plus 11 right now — so those are really positive aspects,” said Sall.

Men’s basketball is still sorting some things out early in the season. “We’re trying to get a feel on the offensive end where we can find consistency. Overway has had a good start to the year, and [Egekeze] and Marcus Bult have really done not only a great job of being leaders but doing some great things on both ends of the floor,” Sall said. “I think it’s more kind of that consistency of the younger guys really being able to pick up strides and do some good things. Although we’ve had a good start, this is really a work in progress of trying to figure out where to go.”

The team’s goals for the season are “to win the MIAA championship, … get into the NCAA tournament and make a run there. Just win as many trophies as possible,” Overway said. 

Men’s basketball has an away tournament in Florida during winter break, but when they return they will play Albion on Jan. 4 to kick off their MIAA conference play. 

Women’s basketball

The women’s basketball team has also had a great start to their season. They are currently 5-1 and started their season ranked third in the MIAA. Fifth-year Gabby Timmer has been named preseason All-American by D3hoops. Timmer has also earned player of the week honors and has been named to the D3hoops team of the week. So far, women’s basketball has beaten Wisconsin Lutheran, Bethany Lutheran, Colorado College, North Park and UW-Whitewater. 

It’s been fun to watch how resilient we have been as a group.

— Mark Christner

The team has four seniors, including one fifth year, but the rest of the team is sophomores and freshmen. Nonetheless, the team has had a good transition blending together this season. “We enjoy being around each other, and the group has worked hard at building relationships — and that’s the foundation of building some trust. Our seniors have done a really good job of facilitating that, and our younger players have done a good job of buying into that,” Head Coach Mark Christner said. 

Christner believes the team’s strengths are their resilience and their ability to stay even-keeled in games. “It’s been fun to watch how resilient we have been as a group. Every game has been a little bit different in terms of how the games have started. We’ve had some really good starts, and we’ve had some slower starts, but our group has done a really good job of not getting too high or too low,” Christner said. 

Women’s basketball is beginning to ramp up their season with even tougher competition. “We’re getting into the segment of our season where we play the teams in our league. We still have a tournament in Iowa where we play Lourdes right away, which is a high quality program. We have two more non-conference games with Cornerstone and Benedictine. It’s about our league at the moment; we’ve put ourselves in a position with these wins early [on] to just keep going,” Christner said.   

Women’s basketball has a game against St. Mary’s on Wednesday, Dec. 7. They will continue playing over the holiday break and compete in more MIAA conference play after the break. The team plays Albion on Jan. 4 at 6 p.m.