Despite losses, men's b-ball stars earn top MIAC honors

By Will Kennedy

Post-season awards sweetened what was primarily a sour season for Macalester Men’s basketball. Both Abe Woldeslassie ’08 and Tom Conboy ’08 received all-MIAC honors from conference coaches, while Minnesota College Sporting news named Conboy player of the year and appointed Woldeslassie to first-team all-MIAC.

Conboy led the league in scoring and rebounding, averaging 23.2 points and 10.8 boards a game. Woldeslassie’s 5.1 assists per contest made him the top MIAC passer for the second year in a row, while his average of 18.1 points a game ranked him fifth.

Awards, however, could not erase all the residual disappointment from a losing season.

“Tom and myself would agree,” Woldeslassie said. “We would give [the recognition] up for a better record than we had this year.”

After an incredible start and despite boasting two of the most decorated and offensively productive players in the conference, the Scots struggled for most of the season. Macalester began the year 3-0, locking up wins in the final seconds against 2008 MIAC champion St. Thomas University and runner up Gustavus Adolphus College within an eight-day stretch. From that point, the team had only one victory in its next 17 games, ending the season with a frustrating overtime loss to Hamline.

Amidst all those losses, Macalester’s two stars continued to establish themselves as premiere players. Woldeslassie further distinguished himself as one of the MIAC’s preeminent point guards after transferring to Macalester from St. Thomas’ Junior Varsity squad two years ago.

Meanwhile, Conboy secured his place atop the Macalester record books, breaking the school rebounding and scoring marks of 722 and 1707 respectively. Both records belonged to Ben Van Thorre ’04, the legendary forward who helped lead the Scots to a second place MIAC finish his senior year. Conboy ends his career with 836 rebounds and 1909 points.

Looking back on his four years of college basketball, Conboy chooses to take the positives with him, citing the time spent with his teammates and the victories of top-MIAC competition as his most memorable moments.

“The whole thing has been a pretty unbelievable experience,” he said. “I’ve always put a lot into basketball and as long as I do that, there’s not anything I can look back on and regret.”

Now Conboy is enjoying some time off from basketball, but he hasn’t ruled out playing professionally in Europe or elsewhere in the future. Woldeslassie plans to continue his basketball career as either a player or a coach.

With the impending graduation of Conboy, Woldeslassie, and Brian Ranwick, Macalester basketball is looking ahead. According to Kietzer, the Scots will have to replace about 60-70 percent of their scoring from this year. That will likely give the Scots a new look in 2009 as Kietzer expects his team will emphasize defense-Mac’s biggest weakness this year-over scoring.

Kietzer acknowledged the difficulties in replacing his graduating players, but he added that their efforts this year should pay dividends later. “We hope that [the seniors’] legacy will live on and that the returning players will carry on what they instilled this year.”

Conboy echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“That’s the nature of college basketball,” he said. “Hopefully new guys will step up and find new identities and hopefully they’ll have a winning season.