‘8-11’ shirts provide motivation for women’s basketball

%278-11%27+shirts+provide+motivation+for+women%27s+basketball

by Hunter Hillygus, Sports Reporter

In the 28 years head coach Brian Niemuth has been at the helm, the Simpson women’s basketball program has been synonymous with success, with 11 conference titles – eight in the past 11 years – 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and three runs to the Sweet 16.

Despite the success, the program hasn’t been where it wants to be the last two years, finishing the last two seasons fourth and tying for fifth in the IIAC, respectively.

Enter the 8-11 shirts.

The team wears practice shirts with 8-11 on them to signify the eight conference titles the program has won in the last 11 years, and also to serve as a reminder the program hasn’t finished atop the IIAC standings since the 2012-13 season, the program’s last Sweet 16 appearance.

“The reason we did that was to make a point that we hadn’t won titles in the last two years, a reminder for them every day that they put it on that we have won a lot of titles, but we hadn’t done anything the last two years, hoping to motivate them for this year,” Niemuth said.

The Storm is tied for fourth with Wartburg in the IIAC with a 3-3 record, with Buena Vista third and Luther and Loras tied for first.

With the motivation from a clear expectation of success, the Storm are looking to make a run to the top of the IIAC once again, a run that is especially important to the team’s seniors.

“(The seniors) were a part of the team our freshman year that won the conference, conference tournament and made it to the Sweet 16,” senior guard Morgan Mauro said. “The last two years we’ve struggled to get back to that, and I think it’s especially important to the seniors because we’ve been here the longest. So we know how successful the program has been, and we want to get it back to that and leave our mark before we are done.”

The shirts not only serve as a reminder of the success and relative failures of the program, but also to remind players of what program they’re representing.

“It’s important for them to know that a lot of players before them put in a lot of hard work and built this program, and I want them to have that same attitude and work ethic and have some pride in this program,” Niemuth said.