The loss still stings, but Movin’ Mavs head coach Doug Garner has shifted his focus to next season.
UT Arlington dropped a 55-54 heartbreaker to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the championship game of the 2014 National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in March at College Park Center. But Garner believes 2015 could bring his team that elusive eighth national title.
“I’m optimistic about where we’ll be next year,” he says. “We’re already talking with our athletes about what they need to do for us to be successful. Everybody’s back in the gym, working hard.”
That includes Andy Kraft, a second-team All-American who averaged 21 points and seven rebounds this season, and fellow big man Jan Gans, who averaged 23 points and nine rebounds. But the team must carry on without first-team All-America guard Jorge Sanchez and his 16 points and eight assists per game.
“All of our big guys are coming back next year,” Garner says. “We just have to develop our guards a little bit more.”
The Movin’ Mavs posted a 22-2 collegiate record during the 2013-14 season, with the only two losses coming to Wisconsin-Whitewater by a combined eight points. They also defeated UWW twice during the season.
UT Arlington routed Missouri, 63-32, in the semifinals but fell one point short in the title game when Gans’ desperation shot at the buzzer tricked off the rim. Kraft led the team in scoring with 19 points, followed by Sanchez with 17 and Gans with 13.
“We should be near the top again next year,” Garner says. “Our goal is to get back in that championship game.”
And win it.