Beidelman making early impact at KU
Austin Beidelman knew that he would get an opportunity as a freshman to impact the Kutztown University men's basketball team.
And once given that chance to begin the 2013-14 season, Beidelman hasn't looked back.
The 2013 Parkland High School graduate has started all 16 games for the Golden Bears, and has been a vital part of what the team has done this season. In 16 starts, Beidelman has averaged 10.9 points per game, good for fourth on the team. He has dished out 52 assists, which is more than double any other Golden Bear.
"It is what I hoped going in," Beidelman said. "I'm not playing my best basketball right now, but I'm trying to get better every day. I work in the gym and I work on my shot, and the coaches are helping me a lot.
"It is a good start. [Head coach Bernie Driscoll] told me that I would have a big role to this team. The guys like me, and I like the guys. We're just trying to figure out how to get wins."
Coming from a Parkland program that endured much success over Beidelman's high school career, including back-to-back District 11 title game appearances in 2012 and 2013 and a championship in 2013, he hasn't been accustomed to the tough stretch that the Golden Bears have endured to start the season.
Besides Beidelman, the Golden Bears start two other freshmen (one is a redshirt freshman) and two sophomores. The team's young lineup has been the cause of some growing pains as the midway point of the season passed, and has much to do with the fact that its fallen to 4-12 overall and 2-4 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
"It is a little different going from last year, my senior year at Parkland, winning a lot of games, winning the district championship and going two rounds in states, and then coming here and not winning as much," Beidelman said. "We're getting better every day, I think, and we're practicing hard. We're just doing whatever we need to get wins down the stretch."
Despite falling to two games below .500 in conference play after Saturday's tough 62-58 loss to Lock Haven, Beidelman and the Golden Bears' mindset remains on improving game-by-game. They've endured six losses by six points or less, including their last four defeats, and are looking to reverse that trend in the final 10 games.
"It's a team game, and it about getting wins," Beidelman said. "We haven't been getting a lot of wins lately. We've been playing well. We just find a way to lose close games.
"He [Driscoll] is just telling us to get better game-by-game, and just improve on everything that we've been doing, especially defensively. We were at the bottom of the league for a while. Our defense is stepping up big time now. We've just got to find a way to put the ball in the basket when needed most."
It didn't take long for Beidelman to make his coming out party at the collegiate level.
In the team's 82-80 overtime victory over Clarion on December 17, Beidelman poured in a team and career-high 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field. In addition to his best game scoring-wise on the season, he also added a game-high five assists and hit 11 out of 14 free throws.
"It was a big win for the team," Beidelman said. "Myself, I played a great game. The guys were setting me great ball screens to get open. I was just attacking the rim and finishing."
In what was a little reminiscent of his Parkland days, Beidelman resorted to his natural offensive instincts by scoring 12 points in the final minute of regulation and overtime. It was Beidelman who was awarded with the scoring numbers, but he'll be the first one to point out his coaches and teammates had the biggest factor in him going on a spurt.
"That game, we had struggled to score a little," Beidelman said. "Coach kept calling my number on a couple of plays, and I knew he had confidence in me to get some big buckets in overtime.
"It is my teammates getting me open, helping me out with my shots and stuff like that. It's not just myself. It's the coach setting up the plays for me, and it's my teammates helping me out."