As the fall season moves closer to winter, it’s almost time to head indoors to Pam Evans Smith Arena to watch the men’s basketball team. The 2011 season looks to be an exciting one, as Tiger hoops are ranked 11th in the nation by d3hoops.com.
“We are honored to be ranked that high. The early non-conference schedule will be a true test to show our worthiness of this ranking,” said sophomore shooting guard Steve Newell.
Some notable teams they are ranked behind include NCAC rival and national runner-up Wooster, who are posted at ninth, and the Marietta Pioneers, who know sadly brought the Tigers season to an end in the NCAA tournament last year. Wittenberg looks to build off of last year’s 20-9 overall record with the return of 3 seniors and 4 starters overall.
“We return four starters from last season: seniors Clayton Black, Alex Brandt, and Michael Cooper upon his return after the football season, as well as sophomore Steven Newell,” said Head Coach Bill Brown. “We look for on court leadership from each, great effort and sound defensive play, and for each to play to their offensive strengths. We believe Clayton is capable of averaging double figures in both points and rebounds.”
Senior leadership will be big components of this Tiger team. Clayton Black is coming off an outstanding junior campaign after averaging 15.2 points per game. He was also awarded first team All-NCAC and third team All-Great Lakes Region honors by d3hoops.com.
On the defensive side of the ball, post player Alex Brandt lead the team with 6 rebounds per game and 88 offensive boards per game, which was the most in the entire NCAC last season. Look for those two to step up and take a leadership role to propel the Tigers into a championship season.
As the calendar has just flipped to November, the realization is that basketball season is finally upon us and just last month the Tigers went to Canada to participate in exhibition games. The team unfortunately ended the trip 1-2, but the lack of success has not affected their optimism for the upcoming season.
“Given that we had just 10 days of practice before playing some teams that had already played some games, we were very pleased with the effort and competitiveness our team demonstrated on the Canadian trip,” said Coach Brown. “We were particularly impressed with how the players responded to some coaching ‘on the fly,’ meaning without the advantage of practice, and how it led to improvements made from one game to the next.”
Since coming back from that trip the team has kicked it into high gear practicing every day to improve on what Coach Brown says will lead to success. These improvements will help the Tigers fare against what is shaping up to be a tough league in the NCAC in this 2011-2012 season.
The new addition of Depauw to the NCAC adds some extra competition to conference play, but Wooster is still the school with the target on their back. The Tigers want to beat The Fighting Scots twice this year, and possibly a third time if they get to meet in the NCAC tournament.
The home opener will be held on November 15, 2011 at Pam Evans Smith Arena at 7:30 P.M. against Indiana-East University.
(Ben Groff / firstname.lastname@example.org)