Men’s V-Hawk basketball preview

By Patrick Bradley

Lumen Reporter

 

Editor’s Note: At press time, the men’s team held an opening record of 2-0. They hosted UW-River Falls on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Varsity Athletic Center.

 

Even though the NBA might be in a lockout, the college basketball season is still good to go and in full swing.  The Viterbo men’s team is looking forward to a promising and more successful 2011-12 basketball season.

The VU men are coming off of a 6-25 season in 2010-2011 that Alex Koeller, a junior forward, called “a disappointment.”  The V-Hawks must also deal with the loss of leading scorer Ryan Ambrose and sixth man Chris Millner, a key contributor off the bench who averaged almost six points per game.  Even though last season didn’t live up to expectations, Koeller still feels as though it was beneficial to the team.

“It may not have been a successful season,” Koeller said, “but it was definitely a learning experience.”  Koeller played in all 31 of the games last season.

Returning junior point guard Matt Turba feels as though last season will help the V-Hawks improve in the 2011-12 season.

“Our record [last season] doesn’t show how successful we actually were,” Turba said.  “We improved as the season went on. What we learned will help us be better in this upcoming season.” Turba averaged almost nine points per game last season and is the only returning player to have started all 31 games.

The V-Hawks won five of their six games in the second half of the season and at one point, had won three of four games.  The team also took two games to double-overtime and one game even went to quadruple-overtime.

The men’s team is returning seven players who saw playing time in least 24 games last year.  Both Turba and Koeller feel as though this experience will help the team improve their basic fundamentals.

“We have to be more patient on offense,” Turba said. “Taking care of the basketball, better shooting, passing, just working on the little things.”

The V-Hawks shot just 40 percent from the field last season (last in the Midwest Collegiate Conference) and were outscored by an average of almost eight points per game. Koeller attributes this lack of scoring to a new offensive system and a young starting lineup.

“We basically started four freshmen last year,” Koeller said. “We were also learning a new offense, which took some getting used to.  Hopefully this season we can use it better and be more successful.”

Defense was also an issue last season for the V-Hawks.  They gave up over 74 points per game and they finished dead last in conference for defensive field goal percentage (45.8 percent) and rebounds allowed per game (40.8).

This year, the team suffered a major setback before the season even officially started.  Sophomore guard Alex Diciaula may be out for the season with a foot injury suffered in practice earlier in October.  Diciaula played over 18 minutes per game and averaged almost eight points off the bench last season.

“With Alex out, we are going to need a freshman to step up,” Koeller said. “One of them has to learn the offense and become a contributor on the team.”

The V-Hawks currently have five freshmen on the team, making up almost one-third of the team’s total roster.

Even with the loss of Diciaula for perhaps the entire season, the V-Hawks are still optimistic about the season. “Our goal is obviously to win [our] conference,” says Turba. “We just have to take it game by game. These non-conference games at the beginning of the season are important. They will help us get settled in and ready for conference play.”

The V-Hawks went just 4-12 in conference play last season and took eighth place out of nine teams in the conference standings.  Viterbo opens conference play on Dec. 3 at home against Clarke University, another team that struggled last year, going just 4-11 in conference play.

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