Oct. 15, 2012 marked the day all of the Divison III basketball teams in the country could start practicing for this season. Our boys were on the court at 12:01 a.m., and that was only their first practice of the day; the boys were back on the court at 3 p.m. Midnight madness and two-a-days aren’t Head Coach Andy Partee’s idea of whipping his team in to shape, the players are there because they want to be.
They know they have to be there. They want to win the conference tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament. More importantly, the team wants to get better every day.
“My best barometer is when, at the end of every practice, I ask if we are a better team than when practice began,” Coach Partee said.
The team and staff work together to measure their daily growth, and strive to understand mistakes in order to know what to work on the following day .The players have made it clear thus far that they will not waste time becoming the best they can be. Although the team is young, it has the experience and leadership needed to accomplish a successful season. Key returners include junior guard Ryan Milne, who was nearly named player of the year as a sophomore. He returns as the team’s top scorer. At last year’s conference, he led in both scoring and assists. The staff has high expectations that Milne’s experience and leadership will move the team toward achieving their tournament goals. Sophomore forward Chris Lesnansky was awarded Rookie of the Year last season, which means the Tigers had back-to-back rookies in the conference.
“Chris showed up for this season as a much stronger player with a lot more explosiveness. His body is much harder than it was last year as a freshman, so we expect that he will be one of the best forwards in the conference,” coach Partee said.
Junior forward Daniel Webb, senior forward Ian Rewoldt, and junior guard Jake Tramutolo are among other key, returning players who are expected to maintain last year’s level of productivity and leadership on the team.
Of the new players, Coach Partee is expecting great things. There are talented three point shooters; they possess a fierce competitive edge and they have all the right tools to play multiple positions.
“These newcomers give us depth that we didn’t have last year, which I think makes us even harder to play against, because now we don’t just have experience and talent but also depth of talent,” Coach Partee said.
It’s a long road to the tournament, but between the goals of the program and the players, it certainly seems like they’re starting in the right mindset. They have dedication, desire, and hunger for the big W. The team played their first scrimmage against Division II team Regis University this past Tuesday, in which they lost by two points. It is worth noting, however, that they were missing a key player: captain Ryan Milne.
Their first game is on Nov. 16 against George Fox University in Oregon, and they will make their first home appearance over Thanksgiving break when they play Augsburg College and Benedictine University in the 2012 Thanksgiving Classic.