New women’s basketball coach aims to fill seats of Don Page Arena

Posted October 15, 2019

The women’s basketball team at UW-River Falls starts its regular season on Nov. 8 against Marian University of Milwaukee. The Falcons’ first game of the year will be at home in the Don Page Arena and that is how the brand new coach wants it.

Blake DuDonis, the new women’s basketball coach, plans to bring an extremely high-energy style of basketball to River Falls this year. DuDonis said he wants the seats in arena full for all the games and for the entire community to be a part of the team.

DuDonis’s goal for the first home game is to completely sell out the arena. To create interest, DuDonis said he plans to bring in free T-shirts, $2 tickets for non-students, cheap concessions, and a way to win prizes throughout the game.

Returning senior and guard Lori Wardynkski said she is extremely excited for the first home game because she thinks the fans are going to be a part of a very special night.

“We are excited to create an atmosphere that is electric and we’re looking forward to having the entire community come out and support us,” Wardynksi said.

His history as a basketball scout will help in game preparations, DuDonis said. Before joining the Falcons, DuDonis was a scout for Blue Star Basketball, a national evaluation organization in women’s basketball, and an advanced regional scout for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. He also has worked as an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University at Buffalo, Gardner-Webb University and Merrimack College.

Knowing what the opponent is going to do and forcing teams to go to Plan B or C is an effective strategy he intends to put in place on the court, DuDonis said.

DuDonis said that he wants the team to be consistently competing in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), year after year. Last year, the Falcons finished with a conference record of four wins and 10 losses, and a overall record of 10 wins and 15 losses.

But DuDonis said regularly competing in the WIAC is a great goal for the future. Winning isn’t his first priority this year as he is more focused on the future of the team’s direction.

“It will be different this year since I’m new,” he said. “It’s a new style of basketball for everyone. We will have to work out the growing pains. We have to be willing to mess up and be willing to learn. It’s all about building roots.”

Wardynski added: “We compete in a tough conference and everyone on our team knows they need to bring their best effort and best energy to compete and win. That same attitude has extended to preseason workouts and lifts and is what will contribute to our success this year.”