Men’s basketball looking to build from last year’s experience

Mens basketball looking to build from last years experience

by Ben RobisonStaff Writer

With nine returning letterwinners, the men’s basketball team has big goals and high hopes for the upcoming season.

“The goal is always to win the Iowa Conference championship and get into the NCAA tournament,” Head Coach Bruce Wilson said. “We’re a young but experienced team. We have the guys to field a strong and competitive team.”

The 2007-2008 season was less than desirable for the Storm, finishing 7-18 (4-12 IIAC), but they are looking to rebound. Anchored by a group of sophomores and juniors, who saw solid playing time last year, and three senior forwards-David Ferezy, Chris Mars and Aromeo Grigsby-the 2008-2009 squad is looking to make a substantial move in the Iowa Conference.

“We’ve had some good practices, and we are pretty optimistic about the season,” Ferezy said.

Ferezy, who led the IIAC in blocked shots in 2007-2008 with 83, is confident in the abilities of the team’s underclassmen.

“Last year’s JV team was pretty successful,” Ferezy said. “That group is going to be significant to our team’s success this season.”

Junior center Tim Dunlavy, a 2008 Iowa Conference first team selection, is also excited about the team’s direction.

“We’re still a young team, but we have the experience to do well,” Dunlavy said. “We’ll be a lot better this year. Look for a couple of freshmen to be big contributors.”

The Storm have a tough road in front of them. A loaded non-conference schedule includes No. 2 Augustana and No. 17 Elmhurst, both at home, as well as three other teams receiving national ranking votes: Carlton, Puget Sound and Whitworth.

“The non-conference schedule will test us,” Wilson said. “It’s a good way to build and prepare a program for the NCAA Tournament.”

The road to a conference championship won’t be easy either. The Storm will meet Buena Vista twice, an IIAC team that finished eighth in the national polls at the end of last season, and is currently ranked in the same position. Wilson commented that Loras, who was a part of the NCAA tournament last season and is receiving national ranking votes for this preseason, Cornell and Wartburg will join Buena Vista as serious conference contenders.

“If we can get some good non-conference wins over the ranked teams, we should have some good momentum heading into the conference play after Christmas break,” Dunlavy said.

In order to perform at the level needed to win either a regular season or a conference tournament title and advance to the NCAA tournament, the Storm will need to make drastic improvements from a year ago.

“We definitely want to play more up-tempo,” Wilson said. “We’ve done well shooting the three so far, something we struggled with last year.”

Wilson, Ferezy and Dunlavy all reiterated the anticipation of a good year.

“We’re going to be an exciting team to watch,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be very competitive. Last year was a good learning experience for the guys, and we’re going to have an exciting year.”

The Storm open regular season play Nov. 15, when they host Augustana at 7:30 p.m.