Mandan’s basketball team is scheduled to play just its third game of the season on Friday, but when they lace up it’ll be 24 days since the Braves last hit the court, which is the longest layoff of any WDA team.
Every team is in a similar situation, but the challenge of that long lay off can create different pressures. Luckily for the Braves, they’ve gotten off to a 2-0 start on the season, so they hope the momentum from that can carry over as long as they can avoid a sloppy start against Turtle Mountain.
“The first practice after that little storm break wasn’t the best, especially defensively — our talk, we had to get going again, and we’re not flying around, but it didn’t take long for the guys to pick up after,” Braves head coach Brandon Schafer said. “It felt like it was day one of practice again, but we’re obviously happy to be back on the court.”
“It was definitely not the most enjoyable thing to do, but it was something we have to do in order to get to the level that we want to be,” sophomore Hudsen Sheldon said.
The Braves’ defensive intensity is the focal point this season, allowing less than 70 points in each of their first two games. That’s despite a size gap that seems to be pretty large as the Braves are the only team in the west without a player that’s taller than 6’3″.
“The thing that’s surprised — I wouldn’t say surprised, but I’m very happy with is our defensive effort. We’re a little undersized, we don’t have a true big. Just being able to be physical and finish possessions with rebounds, but our defensive intensity has been really good,” Schafer said.
The Braves have their first road game of the season Friday against Turtle Mountain.