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The Antelope

Offense off to a hot start with a new coaching staff

Drew Johnson is assisted by wife Nicole Ohlde-Johnson as they enter their first year coaching the Lopers. Photo by Treaton Harimon / Antelope Staff

The UNK women’s basketball team began its season with two wins on the road under new head coach, Drew Johnson. He is the eighth women’s head coach in UNK history.

As the season begins for the Lopers, players are still adjusting and getting used to the changes within the team.

“We just need to embrace that we’re gonna be a new team and it’s gonna be a little bit different and we can still be very successful,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of ways to play basketball but I think we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping a toughness and an energy that I feel like this program has had some over the last few years.”

Johnson has 18 years of coaching experience with six of those years at the collegiate level.

He was the head coach at Newman University where he led them to their first MIAA tournament in school history. At Bethel College he led the team to a school record of 20 victories in his first season as head coach.

He coached nine All-Conference honorees and three NAIA All-Americans at Bethel.

Johnson has sped up the offense compared to previous seasons which led to scoring almost 80 points in the first two games.

“It’s definitely been a challenge basketball wise just learning a whole new system and getting used to all the new coaches,” said fifth-year guard Trinity Law. “They’re really great people and they want the best for us on and off the court. They care about us as individuals and that has really helped along the way.”

It may be a difficult change losing so many starters from last year, but starting fresh with a younger team along with all the other changes could be beneficial, Law said. 

The Lopers lost three of the starting five players from last year, but leading scorer Shiloh McCool, with 11.9 points per game from last season, returned for her fifth year.

Returning junior guard/forward Meg Burns, set a career high of 19 points in the win against Minnesota-Crookston. McCool scored 11 points and redshirt sophomore guard, Jillian Aschoff had 15.

McCool had 23 points and 18 rebounds in the victory over Southwest Minnesota State. Law had 12 points and Burns had 10.

Johnson emphasized the importance of building relationships with the players to ensure they feel cared about, not just as basketball players, but as students too.

“We’re in an era of college athletics where that is one of the most important things that you can possibly do,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure that we get to know them on and off the floor and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure we get to know them.”

Johnson is a graduate of Friends University and is assisted by his wife Nicole, a former Kansas State basketball player and WNBA champion with the Phoenix Mercury. Josh Burt, who was with Johnsons at Newman, is an assistant coach as well. 

Just like the players have to adjust to a new coach, Johnson is adapting to a new team as well as a different town.

“One of the biggest things is just being in a community where everybody’s going to care about the athletic teams that are playing,” Johnson said. “We’re excited about the overall fan support and welcoming everybody back in for the basketball season. We’re looking forward to seeing the fans and students, especially, back in the stands.”

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Shelby Berglund
Shelby Berglund, Photography Editor
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