Despite suffering a disappointing loss to Trinity during overtime in the conference championship, the men’s basketball team is still on the rise.
The team’s overall win percentage has increased more than a percentage point since last season, and in conference it has increased by more than two. This past season’s 16-11 record represents the most victories for the team since the 1992-1993 season, when the Tigers achieved a 17-8 record.
Junior Captain Dan Webb attributes much of the team’s success on the court to the team chemistry.
“This is the closet team I have ever been a part of and while that doesn’t always translate to success on the court, this year it definitely has,” Webb said.
Junior Captain Ryan Milne added that the depth of the team has played a large role in their court success. He specifically noted the advantages of Chris Lesnansky having more experience as a sophomore, and the strength of the freshmen class.
Justin Berrardino is a big part of that strong freshmen class. He has proved himself a standout player in all but one game this season and started in eighteen of the games, including the championship game against Trinity.
The new athletic facility, along with the addition of a full-time strength and conditioning coach, can only mean good things for the Tigers as they head into the off-season. Milne explained that they couldn’t really lift weights or shoot around the same way they will be able to now, due to the fact that the gym was under construction last year.
While the cards seem to be stacked in the Tigers’ favor, there are a few hurdles they will have to jump through in order attain the level of success they are aiming for next season.
The most notable obstacle will be the loss of their sole senior, Ian Rewoldt.
“Ian [leaving] is a big loss,” Webb stated. “He is one of best rebounders in the country, so that is something that we will have to figure out how to provide.”
But Rewoldt offers more then just rebounds. He is also a team leader when it comes to scoring, and is second only to Milne in minutes played, as he started in all 27 of the games this year.
The addition of Schreiner University and Texas Lutheran University to the Tigers’ schedule could also prove challenging, as they’re known for being more competitive teams.
While the overtime loss in the conference championship game was a disappointment, Milne was proud that the Tigers had made it that far to compete.
“Playing in the conference championship, being that close, and getting into overtime, [was a memorable moment]” Milne said.
Webb considered the Trinity home game earlier in the season to be a highlight.
“Hockey didn’t have a game that night and we tend to compete with them for fans and support, so that was our biggest turnout of the year,” Webb said. “Being able to feed off the energy of the crowd, and that feeling of support coming from the student body is the best. We won by a good amount that night.”
Webb and Milne are two of five players who will make up the basketball team’s first substantial senior class in two years. Jeremiah Walters was the sole senior on the team last year, and Rewoldt is the sole senior on the team this year.
Jake Tramutolo, Chris Mayo-Smith, and Corey Dyer will play alongside Webb and Mile to compose the strong senior class of next season. The senior lineup paired with the already deep bench and the incoming freshmen class is a recipe for success.