The men’s basketball team has high hopes this year, including winning the conference, participating in the national tournament and getting more fans to the games.
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Wilson said the winner of the Iowa Conference Tournament gets an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament, which is one of his goals for the team this season.
“Every year our goal is to win the Iowa Conference,” Wilson said. “It will be difficult, but it is achievable.”
Senior Ryan Hittenmiller echoed Wilson’s team goals.
“Our goals are to win conference and make a decent run in the national tournament,” Hittenmiller said. “Personally, I want to work on my defense and consistency rebounding.”
Senior Jason Parkinson said he will focus on improving his shooting percentage from last year (42.3 percent) and improving his defense.
“I worked with a professional NFL and NBA trainer in the off-season to improve my defense,” Parkinson said.
Hittenmiller also hopes to improve his defense and his rebounding consistency this year.
Wilson said the team’s overall areas of improvement this year should be field goal percentage, defense, 3-point shooting and free-throws.
“If you can stop people you have a chance to win,” Wilson said.
The team is coming off a 13-14 record last season and Hittenmiller said he hopes to improve that statistic this year.
“As a team we want to have over 20 wins this season,” Hittenmiller said.
Hittenmiller and Parkinson agree the team will improve with hard work at every practice. Hittenmiller also said taking each game one at a time is important.
The team is playing in a tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. called the Cactus Jam. In the tournament, they have a chance to play many good teams including Mt. Union, Ramapo, Roanoke and Baldwin Wallace. Parkinson said the tournament is a great time to get experience against good teams.
“All our conference games are big games, so are all the games at the tournament in Phoenix,” Parkinson said. “The first game is also big because we need to get started off on the right foot.”
Wilson said starting off the season well would hopefully increase the fan support. He said if they start winning a lot, more people would come watch.
“The dance team and cheer squad bring a lot of people to the games,” Wilson said. “They work hard preparing.”
Hittenmiller agrees that the fan base could use a little work.
“I’d like to see the fan support increase, but I can understand,” Hittemiller said. “We haven’t had that great of a team in past years. … We should be good (this season), and I hope the support follows.”
Parkinson blames the lack of fans on the team because fans want to watch people win.
“As soon as we start winning there better be some fans there because we are going to win this year,” Parkinson said.
Wilson is proud of the six seniors on the team: Parkinson, Hittenmiller, Jeff Travis, Brett Cermak, Jason Soppe and Lyndon Hawkins. Wilson said they’ve done a great job preparing for the season, and they have great work ethic and attitudes.
“It is their team,” Wilson said. “They’ve done a great job at setting the table for the team.”