When Liz Bart explains the frenetic pace at which she and her NAIA Olivet Nazarene University women’s basketball teammates play, she doesn’t use a comparison to her own sport.
“I tell my friends it’s like hockey,” said Bart, a Cary-Grove graduate. “It’s a great way to play. When I go back and watch high school ball, it’s so much slower.”
A junior guard for the Tigers, who are ranked No. 17 in NAIA Division II, Bart is part of a team that plays 15 players a game in short shifts while firing away from 3-point range an average of 57 times a game. The team’s goal is 90 shots a game, 45 of which should be 3-pointers.
“It’s a totally different philosophy than most teams,” ONU coach Lauren Stamatis said. “It’s very uptempo and a very fast style.”
“I love it,” Bart said. “Even our center shoots threes.”
While zipping up and down the floor, ONU substitutes five players at a time. Bart estimates her average time on the court is about 35 seconds before the next group comes into a game.
“We like to play everybody on our roster,” Stamatis said.
Bart said she practices with the same four players on her “unit” all season to build familiarity.
“Getting to play with the same unit every time you go in is a lot of fun,” she said. “I don’t think I could go back to a regular style of basketball.”
Bart, a team captain, is an important contributor for the Tigers (20-6), who average just more than 100 points and force opponents into more than 35 turnovers a game.
This week, Bart ranks No. 5 in NAIA in made 3-pointers (79) and sixth in 3s a game (3.04).
“She has no conscience when it comes to shooting the ball,” Stamatis said. “If she’s inside the gym, we want her to shoot. I yell at them if they don’t shoot the ball.”
ONU’s fast-paced style also brings about plenty of yelling from fans on the Bourbonnais campus for home games.
“Our fans love it,” she said. “Our families love it.”
The student section, in particular, gets into the spirit, wearing Tiger shirts and even Tiger slippers, Bart said, along with shouting a unique chant when a new unit hits the floor.
“They yell, ‘Line change,’ ”
Bart said. “Just like in hockey.”
Parkside’s giant slayers: Jacobs grad Conrad Krutwig had a team-high seven rebounds and scored eight points Thursday night to help NCAA Division II Wisconsin-Parkside’s men’s basketball team to a 75-70 win at No. 23 Kentucky Wesleyan. The win was the fifth in a row for Parkside.
Krutwig, a senior forward who has started every game this season, is averaging 11.4 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Rangers (15-5). Krutwig also has hit a team-high 32 3-pointers this season.
With Thursday’s win, Parkside took over sole possession of the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s East Division with a 10-2 record. Parkside has defeated five Top 25 teams this season.
Whiting a winner: The Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference named Woodstock grad Mollie Whiting the league’s Women’s Basketball Athlete of the Week on Monday.
Whiting, a senior guard at D-III Dubuque University, scored 23 points and hit a game-winning shot with 2.1 seconds remaining Jan. 31 in a 49-48 victory against Wartburg.
Whiting scored 31 points two days later in the Spartans’ 80-63 win against Coe. Whiting’s first basket of the game against Coe helped her surpass 1,500 career points. The conference’s leading scorer at 21.9 points a game, Whiting has score 20 or more points in 11 consecutive games.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.