Men’s basketball laced up and hungry

 

The men’s basketball team has laced up the shoes and are ready to compete.

This season officially began October 15th, but they have been preparing for it since the end of last season. Last year’s team tasted success by making it to the GLIAC tournament and upsetting the number one team in the first round.

Head coach Tim Walker and the men’s basketball team are setting their sights high going into the season this year. (Photo courtesy of Malone Athletics)

Last year’s success turns to hunger

Five key players will be missed entering the 2014-2015 season. The team is losing guard Isiah Elliott, who recently signed a deal to play in Australia. Elliott was the team’s leading score and assist man.

They also lost guard Che Richardson, forward Cory Veldhuizen, center Daniel Wise and forward Vince Kazmierczak who all played serious minutes and contributed most of the team’s points last season.

“Losing in the semifinals made me want to go so hard this off-season,” said junior forward Christian Graves. “I hope it did the same for the rest of the team too, [at least] the ones that were part of that run.”

Offseason and preseason

The offseason is an important factor to a team’s success. It’s a time to really get after it and better your craft instead of just being a learning period.

“Small group started early this year and has been good,” Graves said. “It was an opportunity to train with each other and build some chemistry that’s much needed.”

“Small group workouts basically consist of drills oriented around your positions,” said junior guard Stephen O’Daniel III. “It really helps that we do it twice a week; it’s a big positive for us.”

The Pioneers had an exhibition game against Baldwin Wallace on October 31st.

“[From] a player’s standpoint, I don’t think it went as well as expected,” O’Daniel said. “We could have done better in a lot of areas, which is fine now, but we will have to change it before the season officially begins.”

There were several good things in the scrimmage that the team can build on, such as junior big man Brian Stone scoring 20 and freshman guard Ben Haraway showing an impressive glimpse of what to come.

2014-2015 season

Coming into the new season, the team must work hard to make up for the players lost to graduation last year.

“We have an understanding of what it takes and that we can do it,” said head coach Tim Walker. “By the same token, we have a lot of new faces this year and a lot of guys gone from last year, and this group hasn’t proven anything yet.”

The team kicks off the season November 22 against Silver Lake. (Photo courtesy of Malone Athletics)

Three freshmen joined the team this season, along with a sophomore and a senior.

Freshman point guard Haraway won a state championship last year at Norwalk High School and had a great high school career.

“He’s a coach’s son and a really smart player who understand the game a lot,” Walker said.

Freshman Mitch Spotleson, a Lake High School graduate, and Nate Sheppard, a freshman from Dayton, are also new to the team.

“[Sheppard] has a lot of talent and is getting used to our style of play, and as he gets there, he’s going to be really good for us,” Walker said.

Sophomore forward Gus Simmers and senior center Dimitrije Gudovski are the other two additions to the team.

Some players are battling injuries, which can be a problem heading into the opener.

“Christian Graves has been out with a back injury for a couple weeks, and we need to get him back healthy. . .if that happens, I’ll feel pretty good heading into the opener,” Walker said.

Graves has the most experience on the team thus far due to several minutes he played in his first two seasons as a Pioneer.  He also returns the majority of the points over everybody else who is returning.

Goals are set high every year, and nothing has changed this season. The team hopes to win the GLIAC South and get to the GLIAC tournament.

“Our main goal is to get better every day and keep our guys focused and see some progress,” Walker said.

The season officially kicks off November 22 as the Pioneers face Silver Lake at 1:00 p.m. in Osborne Hall.

 Justin Davis is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.

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