The Southern Oregon University women’s basketball team is undefeated at 15-0, and these women show no signs of letting up. They’re stronger, faster, and playing harder than ever. “There’s a confidence, and an urgency we take with us going into each game,” said Ashley Claussen, one of the top scorers for the raiders. “We’re playing with an edge, and we can go undefeated all year.”
This year’s Raiders have a new mindset and that can be partly attributed to new coach, Alex Carlson. “Our goal is to just be all around better basketball players,” Carlson said. “Not just good in one aspect or another. We want to be complete players. We want everyone to be able to play any position.”
This new style of playing has proved to be successful in every game so far, including their most recent victory over the Walla Walla Wolves, which was the most lopsided conference victory in team history.
“Everyone needs to be a key player, even the thirteenth player,” explained Natasha Smith, the assistant coach. “Everyone needs to pull their weight. No cliques. No MVPs. That’s what we’re working towards, a chemistry between the players.”
This is similar to how the NBA’s Golden State Warriors approach each game. Ashley Claussen mentioned Steph Curry as being somewhat of a role model for her when she’s out on the court.
Coach Carlson also mentioned the Warriors. “We’re trying to emulate that style,” he said. “Playing hard, fast, and up tempo. We’re trying to give our players more freedom out on the court.”
On Friday, SOU makes their way to face off against Idaho, then Eastern Oregon the next day. Eastern Oregon has been a long-time rival to SOU: of the past four games between SOU and Eastern Oregon, Eastern Oregon has won three.
But this new and improved SOU team is confident in their abilities. “They should be nervous to play us,” Smith said. “We’ll beat Eastern Oregon and stay undefeated,” Ashley Claussen stated.
Coach Carlson is staying on his toes, however. “It’ll be a challenge,” he said. “A lot of people don’t consider the twelve hour bus ride and the toll that can take on the girls. But as long as we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll win.”
Being undefeated of 15 games can add a lot of pressure. This pressure is what many people cite as the reason for Golden State losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in December 2015, crushing their 24-0 win streak.
But SOU isn’t going to ignore their own success to avoid the pressure that might come with it. “We don’t shy away from the fact that we’re undefeated,” coach Carlson said. “We embrace that because I think the girls deserve the recognition and the joy that comes with this success. They’ve worked so hard for it.”