Storm gear up for postseason play (men’s basketball)


by Seth Nailor

The Simpson College men’s basketball team had high hopes entering the 2002-2003 Iowa conference season. Simpson jumped out to a 7-1 conference record, sat alone atop the league and seemed to be a cinch for a first or second place finish in the standings.

Since then, Simpson has dropped seven of its last eight games and has been left to try and battle for the fourth seed in the conference tournament.

How important is seeding to a team that has hopes of making it to the NCAA tournament in March? If Simpson sweeps its final two games this weekend at home against Dubuque and Loras, then odds are in favor of hosting a game that following Tuesday.

Ironically, Simpson has to beat Loras, the team that started the current skid by beating the team in Dubuque last month.

Head Coach Bruce Wilson would prefer a nice cozy home game as opposed to another bus trip. “It beats the heck out of getting on the bus and going to Dubuque. Staying at home is much preferable to that,” said Wilson.

Wilson also believes that this team is still very capable of achieving one of their goals, earning a trip to the NCAA tournament by winning the conference tournament and receiving an automatic bid.

“It’s always been a one of our long term goals to play in the NCAA tournament from the very beginning of the year. And the great thing about the conference tournament is that you still have life,” said Wilson.

Senior center Matt McCulla shares his coach’s thoughts on being given a second chance in the conference tournament.

“You try not to think about how the second half of the season went and just looking forward to tournament play where you get basically a fresh new start,” said McCulla. “We’re looking at our seeding right now and trying to get our wins in so we can be the best seed as possible and advancing to the NCAA tournament.”

Wilson knows his team’s struggles better than anyone, but saw his team play much better last weekend on a road trip to Cornell and Coe Colleges. The trip didn’t yield wins but it did see the team play like the Storm of old, at least in stretches.

“We’ve had some very close games. In fact both games this weekend were very winnable games, but we had some major defensive breakdowns. You just cannot have those things,” said Wilson.

” You’ve got to play every possession like it was the last possession of the game especially at the end of games. You’ve got to make sure that your flawless in your possessions both defensively and offensively,”he said.

McCulla admits that things don’t look as rosy as they did at one point this season, but still thinks that when this team gets its confidence back it will once again be the team to beat in the Iowa Conference.

“When we have our confidence back and are playing like we were at the beginning the season with that kind of confidence, then we definitely have a shot at winning the conference tournament,” said McCulla. “The goal will be to at least win the first game, that would be a big improvement. Then after that we’ll just take one game at a time and start playing like we can.”