Macalester Men’s Basketball preview: Young Scots ready to lead

Unlike almost every other college basketball team in the country, the Scots will not be holding the vaunted Senior Day. When the team hosts St. John’s on Feb. 12 for its final regular season home game of the year, there will be no celebration of soon-to-be graduates. That is because no seniors are currently on the Macalester roster.

Guard Justin Wasik ’14 (Chicago, Ill.), the lone expected senior on the roster, tore his ACL in a workout this summer and decided to redshirt this season as a result. The injury leaves Macalester men’s head basketball coach Tim Whittle with an extremely young team. Whittle, who will enter his fifth year on the job, will have to rely on many underclassmen to step up and take on leadership roles during the season. Whittle expects his junior class – Hans Erickson ’15 (La Crosse, Wis.), Samson Bialostok ’15 (North Woodmere, N.Y.) and Bert Yaffe ’15 (Bethesda, Md.) – to fill that role.

“The three juniors have really stepped up their leadership with Bert, Hans and Samson feeling like this is their year to take the team over vocally and leading by example,” Whittle said. “They each have different leadership styles and complement each other very well.”

All three juniors started at least eight games last season for the Scots. With this experience in their back pocket, the upperclassmen will likely have more added onto their plate this season: adopting eight freshmen to the grind of a lengthy college basketball season.

“As juniors, we feel that we need to bring the younger guys up to speed in order to be certain that everyone has the potential to contribute,” Bialostok said.

However, the core of the team may lie within the sophomore class, led by returning leading scorer Dylan Kilgour (La Crescenta, Calif.). As the point guard, Kilgour knows the expectations that come with the position.

“Anyone who plays the point guard position needs to be a leader on the floor,” Kilgour said.

Kilgour had an outstanding freshman season running the Scots offense and leading the team in scoring in seven contests last season. He was selected as a part of the all-conference freshman team, leading MIAC frosh in scoring (12.6), assists (2.6), three-point percentage (39.6%) and three-pointers made (2.3).

This summer, Kilgour was rewarded for his strong freshman campaign with an invitation to play on the USA Division III basketball team as a part of a two-week tour in Brazil. He is now hoping his Brazil experience combined with his freshman season in the tough Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) will translate into even greater things.

“We have guys that have all played significant time and so that game experience is going to help us out,” Kilgour said. “Making the MIAC tournament is our first goal and I think that we are ready to get there.”

Aside from Kilgour, the sophomore class includes two potential starters in guard Kyle Bernhard ’16 (Sleepy Hollow, Ill.) and forward Griffin Glatt ’16 (Summit, N.J.). As a freshman, Bernhard (5.4 ppg) started 13 games and converted 36.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Glatt (4.8 ppg), who pulled down 5.1 rebounds per game, started seven of the first nine games before suffering from mononucleosis, which ended his season.

“It was especially hard for me to get mono and have to miss 15 games,” Glatt said. “Being a freshman who was playing a role on the team, the last thing I wanted to do is miss more than half the season.”

Glatt’s role could be even more substantial this year as he will likely be replacing All-MIAC honorable mention selection, Sam Marshall ’13, in the starting lineup. Marshall was the Scots leading scorer (12.7) and rebounder (6.3) last season, where he also registered three double-doubles. Glatt and fellow sophomore forward Anders Voss ‘16 (Duluth, Minn.) will attempt to fill the void left by Marshall’s departure in the scoring and rebounding department.

The Scots got off to a hot start early last year with a 3-1 record. However, after All-MIAC performer Pierce Peters left the team during the J-Term Period, the Scots struggled and only managed to win one game the rest of the season. However, Bialostok believes that Peters’ absence allowed other players to surface as leaders of the program.

“Losing Pierce hurt… he was essentially our best player,” Bialostok said. “However, with his absence, everyone seemed to step up physically, and vocally. Overall, I think Pierce leaving the team last year pushed us to be a better team.”

More leaders will have to emerge if the Scots want to improve on last season. With 14 of the 17 players on the roster either freshman or sophomores, there will be growing pains that typically come with a young squad. However, Whittle believes his team has the right combination of experience and talent to make some noise this season in the MIAC.

“We are very excited about this season,” Whittle said. “We have a nice mix of experience returning and youthful exuberance from our seven freshmen. All the returners have improved in the offseason and came into the school year ready to make big strides.”

As emerging leaders, many players have that same confidence and are ready to help turn the program around. Once February 12th arrives, the Scots will not have the opportunity to honor their seniors. Instead, they will hope to have the opportunity of potentially locking up Macalester’s first MIAC Tournament bid since 2004.

“We definitely are a different basketball team than Macalester has seen in the past few years (and) we are about to take a major step this year,” Glatt said. “Coach Whittle has done a tremendous job of turning this program around and I think this year is when we will see real results.”

And lacking a large upperclassmen presence isn’t a problem according to Kilgour.

“We are a young team,” said Kilgour. “But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any leaders.”