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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Men’s and women’s basketball anticipate a successful winter

Hanna Kessel ’19 attempts a floater over teammates in practice. Photo by Reina Shahi.
Hanna Kessel ’19 attempts a floater over teammates in practice. Photo by Reina Shahi.

Next weekend, college basketball is returning. At Grinnell, that comes with high expectations from both the men’s and women’s teams. After a fruitful season with the teams placing third and second, respectively, in the Midwest Conference standings, the Pioneers are heading into their opening games with confidence. Even with the loss of many valuable seniors from last year, the team, according to the men’s and women’s basketball head coaches, still retains last year’s depth and has also acquired many valuable assets from the freshman pool.

“We have a great group this year that is working hard every day to establish their identity on and off the court and we look forward to many new faces out on the court this season. Kayla Morrissey (’18) is the returning Midwest Conference leading scorer so we are obviously expecting big things from her, but we will look for our other six returners to step up into bigger roles this season with the help of some of our first years,” wrote women’s head coach Dana Harrold in an email to The S&B.

On the men’s side, many important contributors from last year’s team return.

“This season, key returners include: third-year guard Vinny Curta, third-year guard Ky-Sean Johnson, fourth-year forward Jacob Ekstrand and fourth-year guard Sean Cullinane. We’ve [also] added 11 first-year players, including seven players between 6’6 and 6’9. First-year Hannes Kogelnik, a 6’7 combo guard, has had a great first few weeks of practice,” wrote men’s head coach David Arseneault Jr. in an email to The S&B.

With the season around the corner, players say that the atmosphere at practice has been strong. Each team has different adjustments to make, however. For the women’s team, it’s more about the mindset going into each match.

“Our approach is to focus on the controllable –this is a unique opportunity where six of our players have no prior expectation of the teams we play, and [therefore] will walk into every game with the same confidence,” wrote Hanna Kessel ’19 in an email to The S&B.

On the other hand, the men’s team is looking to reinforce the leadership that was essential to the team’s success last season.

“That special leadership is going to be really hard to replace, but the captains this year are taking a lot of what they did and trying to implement it whether it be on the court or off of it,” wrote Vinny Curta ’19 in an email to The S&B.

“This last season feels kind of weird. I realized [basketball] is a huge part of my life. I’m not going to be too devastated, but it’s kind of sad when it’s all over. Hopefully we will end it on a good note,” said Jacob Ekstrand ’18.

“It’s exciting, but it’s gonna be very sad when it’s over. Playing basketball here with this incredible group of women that I’ve been able to meet and bond with has been the best experience of my life. Not having a group like that around every day once I graduate is going to be difficult. I’m happy to go into my senior year, trying to go out with a bang, but it’s definitely bitter-sweet,” said Kayla Morrissey ’18.

The women’s and men’s teams open their season against Emmaus Bible in Grinnell’s Darby Gymnasium next Wednesday at 5 and 7 p.m.

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