NEW ULM - Call it a pleasant surprise.
After the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers girl's basketball team defeated Sleepy Eye 65-56 Tuesday night in a Tomahawk Conference contest, it moved the Chargers to 8-0 on the season.
MVL head coach Dave Biedenbender said that unbeaten season thus far was not expected by him.
"I am happy to be 8-0 right now," he said. "We have had a couple to tough games so far against Martin County West (a four-point win) and St. Croix Lutheran (two-point win) and Springfield. We were hoping to have a good winning record right now but I don't know if we would be 8-0."
Biedenbender thought that one of the big pluses in the season thus far has been his team's depth.
"We have been able to play a lot of kids," he said. "We play 10-11 players each game and we are not getting a lot of drop-off [in quality] when we play them. Our starters and our players coming off of the bench are very interchangeable."
He added that the other plus has been his team getting players back from injuries.
"We got back Sarah Burk and Mariah Schoof from ACL injuries," he said. "We didn't know if we could count on them this year. Now we know that we can and that and that has helped us."
With the quality depth that Biedenbender has on this year's squad, he has not yet interchanged starters. Not because he can't, but because he has not chosen to do so.
"But we certainly could," he said. "Once things shake down a little we may be able to do that. I would not feel bad about doing that at all."
MOLDSTAD PLEASANT SURPRISE: Biedenbender said that junior point guard Nicole Moldstad has been filling in for Schoof, who was not able to play in the first six games.
"Nicole has done a nice job and handled the ball very well," he said. "I wasn't really sure how we would be at the point guard spot but she has done well."
He also tabbed junior guard Charlotte Pfingsten as a key to the succes thus far.
"She has also been playing the point guard position. Her and Nicole have been solid there," he said.
With Moldstad, Schoof and Pfingsten all point guards, who does he see as the eventual starter at that spot when everything shakes out?
"I think that Mariah will assume that role," Biedenbender said. "She still has a ways to go yet - she has to build up the strength in that leg yet. But she did play her first game Friday against Martin County West so we hope that by after Christmas she will be able to step into that leadership role again."
Biedenbender said that Burk has recovered fully from her ACL injury.
"She comes off of the bench for us right now but she could very well be a starter for us," he said. "She provides a good spark off of the bench for us in the post area."
GUARD DEPTH: One of the many areas that the Chargers are strong at is the guard spot.
"We are pretty deep in the guard area," Biedenbender said. "We have seven players that can play at that position. They also have a lot of nice outside shooting - we have been averaging about five 3-point baskets a game and that opens up the middle for us."
Biedenbender said that his team needs to kee playing good defense. In five of their games, the Chargers have held teams to less than 50 points.
"And we have to improve our rebounding," he added. "We have had a couple of games where we have allowed to many offensive rebounds. That can come back and bite you."
The Chargers will get a big test early in 2013 when it faces Sleepy Eye St. Mary's, Wabasso and New Ulm Catheral in three of their first four games of 2013.
"We will see what we are made of then," he said.