Panthers Unleashed: A pair of perfect starts

Panthers Unleashed: A pair of perfect starts

Eleven games in and the records of Chapman's basketball teams remain flawless. The women's team moved to 5-0 with a rout of Pomona-Pitzer last night and the men's team is now 6-0 after a win over the Sagehens on the road.

While both teams have experienced numerous successful seasons under longtime head coaches Mike Bokosky and Carol Jue, this is the first time both have put together simultaneous perfect records into December.

Let's take it back to November of 1998. That is the last time both the women's and men's teams put together November win streaks to start the season. Bokosky, in his seventh season at Chapman, led the Panthers to a 4-0 start. Jue was still on the bench as an assistant coach at Cal State LA at the time but her predecessor, Mary Hegerty, led her team to a 5-0 start through November.

Since that time, both teams have strung together strong starts and even better seasons but never simultaneously. The 5-0 start matches the best start in Jue's tenure at Chapman. She led the 2012-13 Panthers to a 5-0 start and finished 21-6.

This year's Panthers have a long way to go to match Bokosky's best start, which was the best in school history. The 2014-15 Panthers went 16-0 to start the year and finished 22-5, reaching as high as No. 15 in polls.

Another prominent early season run for both squads happened in 2008-09. Jue's squad lost its opener but then rattled off nine wins in a row. Bokosky's squad started 7-2 that year. Both teams went on to 20-win seasons that year.

Both Panther teams have taken care of business early on. The men's team scored 80 points or more in each of its first four games and is averaging 79 points per game through the first six. Defensively, teams are shooting just 42 percent against the Panthers and only 31 percent beyond the three-point arc. They've kept two teams under 60 points and haven't allowed more than 75 while ranking third in the country in averaging just 12.7 fouls per game.

After wins by nine points and eight points to start the year, the women's team has won its last three games by an average of 30 points. The usual strong defense that has become Jue's signature is back on display. The Panthers rank fifth in the country in turnover margin and rank seventh in Division III with over 29 turnovers forced per game. Junior Jaryn Fajardo ranks 11th in Division III with over four steals per game.

Just over two dozen teams remain undefeated this far into the season on both sides. The Occidental men's team joins Chapman as the only other unbeaten team in the conference. All eight other women's teams have suffered at least one setback, leaving Chapman as the lone team with a goose egg in the loss column.

Both teams will put those records to the test as they enter the toughest stretches of their schedule thus far. The men's team has one more test before the finals break against former independent rival UC Santa Cruz tomorrow. After finals, the men's team travels across the country to Miami, Fla. for a tournament in which the Panthers will take on Mount St. Mary College and a 5-1 Cabrini team. They'll return home to take on Northwest Conference foe Lewis & Clark on Dec. 28.

The women's team will stay home over the break with games against perennial powerhouse George Fox (Dec. 22) and defending national champion Amherst (Dec.31). After the calendar flips to 2018, both teams jump immediately into conference play.

Fans have grown accustomed to the winter success on the hardwood. Both coaches are the winningest coach in Chapman history in their respective sports. The two have combined to coach in 1,034 career games and have 723 combined wins. That is a combined winning percentage of 70 percent in their 41 combined years leading their respective teams (Bokosky for 26 years and Jue for 15).

Are simultaneous special seasons brewing? How long can both teams stay in elite company with the unblemished records? It will be a fun season to watch unfold as the season continues to rev up over the holiday break and into 2018.

By Steven Olveda 
Sports Information Director

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