13:10 PM

Coming at You! Women’s Basketball Takes the Court

Coming at You! Women’s Basketball Takes the Court

By Dan Silvia

The basketball season at Bellevue University will look a little different this year.

For the first time, the Bruins will be sponsoring a women’s basketball team. Head Coach Dave Denly has been working for well over a year in constructing the roster. The team opened the season on October 28 at the Oklahoma Wesleyan Classic and played its first home contest on November 2 against Grace University.

Denly spent 17 seasons as the head coach at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, while also serving as the school's athletic director for six years. He compiled an overall record of 348-171 (.671), guiding his teams to eight-consecutive 20-win seasons, setting school records along the way for both total victories in a season and conference wins in a season.

“The school I was at was going through a transition – a presidential change,” Denly said. “The more I heard about Bellevue University, the more I was intrigued.”

Denly signed on June 4, 2015 and set about building the program. It was a bit of an odd experience for the veteran coach to go through a season without a team.

bball2“You don’t really realize how much you’re going to miss having a team,” he said. “You don’t realize how much you’re going to miss having assistant coaches and a staff. Having the day-to-day interaction, the practices -- the whole purpose of what you’re doing.”

Denly’s first recruit is a familiar face to Bruin fans, Beth Walker, a two-time All-American as a setter for the University’s volleyball team.

“I could not think of any better person to have in the program to help establish what we want to do. How we want to act, how we want to compete, how we want to carry ourselves,” Denly said.

Other recruits signed on from there.

“From a talent standpoint we have all the pieces that we need,” Denly said. “We’re very athletic, we’re very versatile.”

bballFollowing Walker into the fold was 5-2 point guard Shanae Collins from Sibley, La., via Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Neb.

“Shanae is a dynamic up and down point guard that can defend the ball and creates for her teammates,” Denly said.

Cassidy Hubbs from Oklahoma is the tallest player on the roster at 6-5.

“We have great expectations for her,” Denly said. “I think her best basketball is a head of her. Her potential and her athleticism and her skills are all going to mesh together.”

A pair of junior college teammates come in from Solano College, Alexandra Bader and Christen Voyles.

“They both bring something. Alex is an extreme competitor that can play multiple positions and Kristin is a dynamic outside scorer,” Denly said.

Assisting Denly on the sidelines will be a familiar face to longtime Bruin fans, James “Ice” Benford. Benford, who played for the men’s squad in the late 80s and early 90s, is well connected in the local girls’ basketball scene as a former assistant at Bellevue East and the coach of a select team, the Retro Hoops.

Jillian Flores, a former player at Iowa Western and Benedictine, rounds out the staff. Flores has coached at Peru State the past two years.

“We talk about daily goals, we talk about weekly goals. We break the season up into segments.  Our success is going to be determined by the growth pattern. Where we start at and where we finish at. That’s what we’re going to focus on,” Denly said.  “I do believe that if you take care of those little things, the results will take care of themselves. “