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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

New season brings new offense for Men’s Basketball

Men’s Basketball poses in front of Old Main for its 2014-2015 team picture. Photo courtesy of Macalester College Athletics.
Men's Basketball poses in front of Old Main for its 2014-2015 team picture. Photo courtesy of Macalester College Athletics.
Men’s Basketball poses in front of Old Main for its 2014-2015 team picture. Photo courtesy of Macalester College Athletics.

Commitment, depth and experience are a few words that define the 2014 Men’s Basketball team and set it apart from past years. After four weeks of practice, the team is ready for their first game on November 15 at Crown College.

In order to succeed, the team has three areas of focus. “Defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball. If each player brings those three things everyday and embraces their role…that will dictate our success,” said Head Coach Tim Whittle.

Each of these smaller goals will help the team achieve their ultimate goal: making the MIAC playoffs. Although this has not happened in over a decade, athletes and coaches alike believe that this is the year. “Our mindset is different. Everyone had a great offseason which shows their commitment,” Hans Erickson ’15 said. Both Max Horvath ’17 and Jordan Black ’16 spent significant time rehabbing injuries and are looking to get back on the court.

In past years, no one realistically thought playoffs were achievable, but a new year brings new circumstances and more determination. The Scots did not lose anyone to graduation, returning the same group from last year and adding five first years. There are also more upperclassmen than underclassmen to lead the team. “We have never had an experienced team like we have this year,” Erickson said.

In addition to the players, the coaches are also very experienced and their influence can be seen in the players. In Whittle’s fifth year, it is the first season he has coached and recruited every player. “The team and the culture has changed dramatically. We have two great leaders this year in our seniors and they have really taken ownership of the team at a different level and it is reflective in the way our team gets along,” Whittle said.

“We’ve really grown with our coaches. We have a great relationship with them; we can joke with them, we can laugh with them, we can have fun, but we still respect them and work hard,” said Bert Yaffe ’15.

Unlike in the past, the first-years will not need to be relied on to carry and lead the team. According to Erickson and Yaffe, both captains, the first years are some of the strongest players in the weight room and bring another level of toughness, energy and competition to the team. Whittle agreed that the team is very competitive this year and that demonstrates the depth it has. “The most exciting thing for me is how deep the team is this year. That has really helped at practice because it has given us ways to mix up the combinations and play different combinations that we have not been able to do before,” Whittle said.

One of the most noticeable changes is the new offensive style the coaching staff is bringing to the team. This triangle offense allows the team to be a lot more dynamic, focusing on quick cutting and ball movement, not using set plays or feeding the ball to the same player or two. “As a coach you have to be willing to adapt and Coach Jay Anderson and I think this system really fits our skill level. It has been a learning process, but I think the guys have really embraced it and we have already seen its success in our scrimmages,” Whittle said.

“In the past we would run a play and when it was done we didn’t know exactly what to do, but now there is more continuity. We are more of a threat,” Yaffe said.

Although the team aims to rely less on individual players this year, a few returners to watch include Sager Moritzky ’17, who led the conference in assists last year, Kareem Ismail ’17, who was their second leading scorer last year, and Dylan Kilgour ’16, who led the league in 3-point shots last year. “Kilgour is definitely stronger and is playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Whittle said.

The Scots’ first home game of the year is Tuesday, Nov. 25 against the University of Northwestern. Players hope that fans will come out to support them. “We have fun playing, that is why we do it and if people see us having fun and winning, then they will come,” Erickson said.

The team is eager to begin the regular season, to play hard and to spend time together. “Everyone is really committed and we know that will set the tone for this season,” Yaffe said.

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