Basketball prepares for season


Morgan Reddekopp

Senior forward Corey Jeffs attempts to take a shot at net against Viterbo University in an exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 4 in the McCown Gymnasium.

Clara Kuerschner, Sports Reporter

Finishing off their season last year with 11 wins, the Winona State University men’s basketball team is optimistic about their upcoming season.

Their first game against Viterbo University was on Monday, Oct. 30, and ended with a win for Winona State. As the first game of the season, the game showcased the areas that the players need to work on to get better. Of the improvements the team needs to make, most players agreed that defense and endurance are number one on their list.

“Our first game is a good way to find out what we are doing well and what we need to get better at. There are a lot of things we do very well, but there are also a lot of things we need to get better at very quickly,” Head Coach Todd Eisner said.

In the spring of 2017, the men’s basketball team graduated four seniors; Josh Mongan, Riley Bambenek, Isaiah Gray and Kyle Bauman. This year, they are welcoming five first years; Troy Slaby, Isaiah Walden, Devin Whitelow, Kevion Taylor and Carter Larson.

They are also welcoming two transfers; Juniors Isaiah Easaw and Rickey Calvin. Easaw transferred to Winona State University from Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona. Calvin is joining the Warriors from Illinois Valley Community College in Olegsby, Illinois. With the loss of four talented players, the incoming and returning players need to make large strides to compensate.

“We got two good transfers this year, they play as well as the seniors from last year and a lot of the boys improved over the summer,” senior Corey Jeffs said.

First-year Troy Slaby expects the upperclassmen to help encourage the underclassmen and wants the upperclassmen to step up into leadership roles to make a positive impact on the team as a whole.

Morgan Reddekopp
Sophmore guard Caleb Wagner dribbles the ball down the court at Saturday, Nov. 4’s exhibition game against Viterbo University in McCown Gymnasium.

Even though the team won on Monday, their season started off rough, with many players being injured during the weekend before their first game. Junior Charlie Koontz tore the ligaments in his ankle during practice on Oct. 27. He is expected to be back on the court in three to six weeks. Junior Spencer Treder and sophomore Connor Flack both sustained knee injuries during practice on Oct. 28. These two players returned to practice two days before the game with limitations, but were ultimately able to play a combined 35 minutes during the game on Saturday, Nov. 4 against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

There were also a couple of injuries that occurred before the season even started. This summer, junior Rickey Calvin broke both bones in his lower leg, and required surgery to help in the recovery process. Calvin is not yet cleared for basketball related activities at this time.  First-year Carter Larson broke his foot during a pre-season training session. His injury will require surgery. He will not be playing during the 2017-18 season.

Many of the players have various goals for the upcoming season for both the team and themselves.

Jeffs, Slaby and junior Caleb Wagner all agreed that they want to win their conference. Jeffs’ personal goal is to be a leader for the underclassmen and to shoot 42 percent at the free-throw line. Slaby’s goal is to win as many games as possible and Wagner’s goal is to be a good overall vocal leader for the team on the court.

Wagner and Jeffs are both excited about getting the season started and they want to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with, but know that it will take lots of hard work and consistent practice and performance from everyone on the team.

“At the end of the day we need to perform on game night and we need to show marked improvement to jump up the ranks,” Eisner said.

At the end of the 2015-16 season, the Warriors were ranked as the number one defense team among their division. At the end of last season, the Warriors dropped to number 4. Coach Eisner says he hopes that the team can reclaim their defense ranking during this season, which starts with a renewed commitment to bettering their defensive game.

Nicole Girgen
Junior guard Liz Evenocheck looks pass the ball to a teammate at Saturday, Nov. 4’s exhibition game against St. Mary’s University in McCown Gymnasium. The women’s team officially starts their year Saturday, Nov. 11 at home as they take on Beloit college.

Coach Eisner talked about the loss of the four senior boys. He said they had very productive collegiate careers and left many openings on the court. The team is in search of the players that are going to be relied on for making shots and adding points to the board.  With the openings on the court, the returning players must work hard to improve their individual games. He hopes to see improvements from these last few games.

The Monday, Oct. 30 game in McCown Gymnasium against Viterbo University was a great start to the season with a 78-59 win. It was also a solid game for several individual players. Jeffs scored 28 points with six three-point shots. Juniors Mason Domask, Tommy Gathje and Wagner as well as Whitelow all averaged nine points during the game.

The men’s basketball team faced off against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Saturday, Nov 4 at 7pm. The home game was hard-fought, ending in a loss for the Warriors.  The two teams battled back and forth for the lead throughout both halves of the game.

The team kept up with the Eau Claire, and were never more than ten points behind them. Jeffs and Flack both garnered 18 and 17 points for Winona, respectively. Eau Claire ended the game with a five-point lead over Winona, for a grand total score of 81-76.

The current starting line-up for this season includes; Devin Whitelow as point guard, Domask and Easaw as wings,  Jeffs as forward and Gathje as center.

The men’s basketball team will be playing in their first regular season games on Nov. 10 and 12. They are playing in the Hillyard Classic Tournament at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. They follow up that tournament with a game at home against Grand View University. The game will be at 7 p.m. in McCown Gymnasium on Thursday, November 16.

Nicole Girgen
First year Allie Pickrain shoots a free-throw shot against St. Mary’s University in an exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 4 in McCown Gymnasium. The women’s team finished last season 22-9 overall for the season, with a 15-7 conference finish. They officially begin this season Saturday, Nov. 11 at home against Beloit college at 4 p.m.