Hoops Season Heating Up
Will Rossmiller
wross460@uwsp.edu - Twitter @willrossmiller

mensbasketball-2-color-jack-mclaughlin.jpgBoth the Quandt field house and Berg gym have lain quiet for nearly eight months, but that is about to change.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at The University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point are all set to start another season of Pointers basketball.

The men’s team starts Thursday with a game at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Their first home game comes on Tuesday, November 20th, against St. John’s University from Minnesota.

The women’s team is set to face Millkin University in Illinois on Thursday and play their first home game against Marion University, also on Tuesday, November 20th.

It was a tough end to last season for the Pointers men. They started the season 19-4 but ended losing four of their last five games, including a loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The women’s team won the WIAC conference tournament title and shared the regular season title with The University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire last season.

The team finished with a 24-5 record overall and a 13-3 in the conference. The Pointers women won in the first round of the NCAA tournament but were defeated in the second round.

Both teams come prepared for this season with a full off-season of work put in. “Each off-season is set up knowing that we have to prepare to play one of the best schedules in the country,” said assistant men’s basketball coach, Kent Dernbach.

“Our seniors, Tyler Tillema and Jordan Giordana, run captain practices, organize lifting sessions and team practice sessions,” Dernbach said.

“We’ve worked hard over the summer, and we’ve had a great pre-season,” said head women’s basketball coach Shirley Egner.

​Men’s and women’s basketball teams will start their
seasons this next week with the Women’s team facing
Millikin University in Illinois on Thursday and the men’s
facing Lawrence University in Appleton on Thursday.
Photo by Jack McLaughlin.
 

“We’ve been in the weight room, we’ve had long runs, we had a triathlon and we also did some swimming,” Egner said. “We have done a variety of workouts to get ready for the season.”

Both teams also have a player on the D3hoops.com pre-season all-American list. For the men, Tillema was named to the second team all-American list. Senior Sam Barber was honored with a first team all-American nod for the women’s team.

With their star players, you would expect the coaches to say that the team will play as well as their stars, but that was not the case.

“I’m a firm believer that the starters will cancel each other out, and the reserve players are the ones that will make a difference,” Egner said.

“The team that can win that bench battle and go deeper into their bench will be the team that comes out successful, so we’re hoping that our depth will provide that.”

The men’s team will look to most of its roster to step up and play at their highest level, but one group has to really step up, explained Dernbach. “Our group of sophomores has to play at a high level and play like upperclassmen,” he said.

According to the WIAC preseason rankings, the Pointers women are predicted to finish first in the conference, with the men’s team predicted to finish second behind The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The expectations for both teams are very high going into the season, but both coaches say that the team is used to high expectations.

“Our expectation year in and year out are WIAC championships, and to go as deep as we can in the NCAA tournament,” Egner said. “Those goals have never changed for our team.”

“The team always has the expectation that we want to put ourselves in a position when it comes to it for a conference title,” Dernbach said.

In the pre-season rankings, the men’s and women’s team stands at 15 and 7, respectively, but neither coach puts stock into pre-season rankings.

“It’s great for recruiting, and that’s all that matters,” Egner said. “They don’t really mean anything to us.”

“It probably has a lot to do with the tradition at this university,” Dernbach said. “It wouldn’t be right if only one team from our conference was ranked in the top 25.”

“The best thing about the pre-season rankings is that it drums up more support from our fans.”

Fan support is key for any sport but especially so for the Pointers.

“We want to get the students to come out and support our team,” Dernbach said. “It makes a huge difference on the game environment, which affects team performance as well as recruiting. We want to make our home games’ atmosphere into one of the best in all of Division III basketball.”