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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Men’s Basketball brings the heat after Winter Break

Looking to rebuild after dropping seven straight games in the weeks before Winter Break, Grinnell’s Men’s Basketball team broke even with a record of 3-3 since coming back to campus on Dec. 29. The team lost its most recent game 82-80 against Monmouth College on Wednesday in Monmouth. The Pioneers are now 3-6 in conference play and 4-11 overall with eight games left this season.  

Coach Arsenault admits that he knew this would be a tough season for the Pioneers.

“The best teams we have had through the years would have struggled away from home with this year’s teams from William Penn, Buena Vista, Wheaton, UW Whitewater,” wrote Head Coach David Arsenault in an e-mail.  

But since the beginning of Midwest Conference play, the Pioneers were immediately competitive and after break, they have gone 3-3 in conference.

“As a team, we were struggling at that point to get wins, so they [practices] were kind of tough but at the same time, they were very good for us. We had a couple of rough weekends , but this past weekend, we started to turn things around.”

And with confidence building, the season is surely salvageable in their eyes.  

“We have a decent shot at conference with a lot of winnable [future] games,” said Matt Chalupa ’12. The Pioneers will make the Midwest Conference Tournament if their conference record is in the top four. Currently, Grinnell is in seventh place and but only two games back.  

Coach Arsenault is confident about the advantages of the System at this point in the season. As other teams become fatigued earlier in the game as the season stretches on, the Pioneers will have “fresher legs by comparison” due to their multiple substitutions, Arsenault said.

“I thought our energy level was fantastic this past weekend and it helped that we didn’t need to lean on any one player for excessive minutes,” Coach Arsenault wrote. 

Although the team received a lift from these recent wins, Arsenault is still searching for “vocal presence in practice” and there have been questions about which player will emerge as a main scoring threat in games as well. 

“Last year we had main scorers who did most of the scoring the last three years,”  Kaitz said. “This year’s question was who was going to do a lot of the scoring. Matt Skelly has really stepped up and Griffin, although he’s hurt now, was doing some good scoring.” 

However, the lack of a real designated shooter has given the Pioneers a little more flexibility in the way they approach games. One major change in the team’s game this year is an increase in spreading the scoring opportunities. 

“I think we just kind of let the offense start flowing rather than to trying to dictate what and happened when. We just started playing basketball.”

Coach Aresenault would prefer to depend on just a few “statistically significant and the remainder of the roster occupies needed playing roles,” but due to youth and injury getting the chemistry built for that kind of system just wasn’t developing. Kaitz, co-captain and point guard, was out with an injury for five weeks and after his return Griffin Lentsch ’12, first year who leads the team in average points per game,  

“We have been hurt by the injury bug,” Coach Arsenault wrote. “So, creating some sort of synergy has been difficult. Rather than focus on goals we have been more or less of the mindset to try to get better every day—which we have been doing.”

Chalupa said that although the Pioneers are currently winless on the road, the team is still young and does not have the same confidence and energy exerted from the support at home games. 

“We’re a young team and being in somebody else’s gym you lack the support from the crowds, which for us gives us the confidence and swagger we need to do what we do. If we can on the road, stay as one unit and just be super supportive, we will definitely be able to pull something off,” Chalupa said. 

The Pioneers will continue their Conference tournament push against Lake Forest College (5-4 in MWC, 7-9 overall) on Saturday in Chicago and then return home to face Fontbonne University on Sunday.

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