The sixth man: how a home game win streak is made

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MISHAWAKA (BB) – The Pilots basketball team recently celebrated quite an accomplishment: a 26-home game win streak. The Pilots had stayed undefeated on their home court since their last loss on February 13, 2016. Unfortunately, that streak was broken over break with a 91-70 loss to Indiana Wesleyan University on January 6.

The last time the Pilots lost on their home court, Ryne Lightfoot (right) stood on the sidelines with his father, Mike Lightfoot (left), in 2016.

Still, a broken streak is a streak nonetheless. To what does head men’s basketball coach Ryne Lightfoot credit the success?

“I think the biggest thing you look at is pride,” he said. “You've got pride in what you do and where you work and supporting what you do. I don't think you ever want to hear another team celebrate in the locker room down the hall, celebrating a win on your home court.” Lightfoot also mentioned the large fan support the Pilots get at their home games.  “People come out and watch our games, that's always a big part of what Bethel basketball's always been about,” continued Lightfoot. Sports information director, Andrew Bowen, said that a home game influences the team’s attitude. “Obviously you have to have a talented team with talented players to be able to win consistently,” said Bowen, “but I think it’s the mentality that they have at home that’s like, ‘This is our home court. We’re not going to lose here.’ So, they just fly down, and just have that mentality that they’re not going to lose at home.” I asked Lightfoot if the team felt any pressure amid the streak to get it going, and he said that not much changed during the streak. “It's just another game to them,” he said. “I think for us, we try to create environments as coaches that every time we have an opportunity to play, (it's) a blessing, and we want to make sure they take full advantage of that and maximize the opportunities that have been given in front of them.” But nothing lasts forever, and that holds true for the Pilot’s win streak. I asked Lightfoot about the team’s reaction to the loss to IWU. “I think for us, we were just really disappointed in the way we played and the effort we displayed, more than the streak,” he said. “Records and streaks happen, but they're byproducts of the disciplines that you show between those moments. It's not 26 games, it's one game at a time, and that's how you get streaks.” “I don’t think the team pays attention to the records or anything,” said Bowen. “They were just disappointed because they didn’t show up the way Bethel basketball usually shows up in any game, but then coupled with that (opponent) being Indiana Wesleyan, it was just a tough game to take.” As a final thought, Lightfoot reemphasized the impact a friendly environment can have on a performance, citing other universities’ performances at home, including Taylor and Duke. “Fans do a great job providing an atmosphere for...players to compete in, and I think because of that, guys just want to come out and showcase their skills to classmates and people they see around in the dorms and see around in chapel, I think that it just provides that extra boost of energy to not only play for a streak, but to play really hard for the people that support them.”
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