High hopes this season for Lincoln basketball teams

It’s officially college basketball season and it’s been a very promising opening week for both the men’s and women’s teams at Lincoln.

The men opened their season unofficially last Monday with a whopping 59-56 win over UMKC on the road for the first victory over a Division I opponent since the 1978-79 season, while the women started their season 1-1 in the central region. Challenge to Fayette, Iowa, with a win over Arkansas-Monticello and a loss to Southern Arkansas.

It looks like the Blue Tigers have the right coaches for the job in women’s coach Drea Mize and first-year men’s coach Jimmy Drew.

Drew was announced as the new leader of Lincoln’s basketball program in April after spending six seasons as an assistant coach and director of basketball operations under Johnny Dawkins at the University of Central Florida – where he worked with three would-be NBA players in Tacko Fall, Matt Williams and Deng Adel.

Drew took over a struggling Blue Tiger team after the Blue Tigers finished last season 4-23 and needed a roster overhaul.

That’s exactly what Drew accomplished, as he brought 10 players through the portal – including three Division I transfers – and five freshmen for a completely different team.

The Blue Tigers win over UMKC was a show for Lincoln, but it was the official start of the season for the Roos.

Although the victory does not count towards the official season record, it was a big game for the momentum, recruiting and morale of an all-new Lincoln team.

The Blue Tigers trailed by up to 11 points at the start of the second half but fought on until the final whistle, securing Artese Stapleton’s eventual lay-up winner – a transfer from Radford – to stun the Roos on their opening night.

“We have a group that represents our school in the way I think everyone will find a positive light,” Drew said. “We have a fun group to watch, a fun group to be around and they work hard. I hope the wins will follow, but this is a group that I hope the community and school can support.

The women’s team showed a lot of the same fight in its opening weekend.

The Blue Tigers narrowly fell in their exhibition game against Indiana State on the road, but fought back to earn a season-opening victory in the Central Regions Challenge.

Lincoln trailed nine points in the second half on Friday against Arkansas-Monticello but battled through the night and eventually took the win 67-64.

On Saturday, the Blue Tigers fired hot to take a 30-25 lead after the first quarter against Southern Arkansas – which beat Lincoln 96-63 last season.

It was Southern Arkansas who got hot behind the arc in the second quarter – shooting 5-8 from 3 in the second to lead all the way to 14 and carry a 53-43 lead at halftime. time.

Lincoln trailed by no less than 13 points late in the third, but the Blue Tigers rode a big 14-2 streak to finish the quarter and cut their deficit to 72-71 going into the fourth.

Southern Arkansas threatened to run away with the game a few times in the fourth quarter, but Lincoln continued to fight back.

In the end, Southern Arkansas’ 16 3-pointers were too many for the Blue Tigers to overcome in the 100-89 loss, but they did see two promising performances from Le’Yanna McGinnis over the weekend , while she finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Friday and added 25 points and seven more rebounds on Saturday.

Both teams have shown great resilience so far early in the season and seem to have more firepower offensively than I saw in my first season with the Blue Tigers.

Lincoln fans will see the men’s team for the first time at 7 p.m. Monday against William Woods at Jason Gym, but will have to wait until Dec. 1 for the women’s opener against Newman.

It’s still too early to tell what the final product will look like for these two teams, but all signs point to an exciting season of Lincoln basketball.