The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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

Tough season for Men’s Basketball comes to a close

When Ross Preston ’10 saw the Grinnell Men’s Basketball team play in the first Division III regular-season basketball game ever aired on ESPN in February 2005, he knew that playing for the Pioneers would be a special experience. 

“They didn’t even win the game, but that it was that style of basketball that I just immediately fell in love with,” said Preston. “And when I realized that Grinnell was the kind of school I wanted to go to anyway, it was just a dream come true in that sense.”

That nationally televised game against Beloit was five years ago, and many wins later Preston and fellow senior John Bruns have arrived at the finale of their collegiate careers. This season, however, the Pioneer squad (6-15, 4-10 in the Midwest Conference) faced serious adversity after losing last year’s talented senior class to graduation.

“Last year we had three superlative offensive players in my son [David Arsenault], John Grotberg and Bobby Long who never panicked if we fell behind,” Head Coach David Arseneault wrote in an e-mail. “They knew that they had the ability to score in bunches and usually did. This year’s group tends to worry too much when we go ‘cold’ and tends to lose offensive confidence quickly.”

Bruns explained that this team’s youth made it difficult to execute the system on a consistent basis. 

“When your core is a freshman class of eight guys that have never played system ball and are coming out from playing regular basketball, and you’re telling them, ‘Hey, go play system ball and score 130 points,’ that’s really hard,” Bruns said.

With so many young players on this year’s team, Coach Arsenault called on Bruns and Preston to step into leadership roles. 

“I think that’s been one of my favorite things about this year is getting to know all of [the first-year players],” Preston said. “I’ve tried to be kind of a big brother to them, in the sense of college and what it takes on the court to succeed—not necessarily as someone that has been a leading scorer, but as someone who has watched several people succeed in that type of role.” 

“That’s all I’ve known since being in this program is to have those guys lead the way, so this year was kind of fun because we got to show some new guys the ropes a little bit,” Bruns said.

Arseneault noted that even in what he called “a down year,” the Pioneers are still on pace to bring home the NCAA title in several statistical categories.

“We still are poised to lead the country in scoring and three-point makes for the 15th time in 17 years and, in Dylan Seelman, have a first year on pace to lead the nation in three-point makes per game,” Arsenault wrote.

After an astonishing 131-84 home victory over Knox and a 95-77 road loss to Illinois College, Grinnell hits the road to take on Knox yet again on Thursday.

“Given our road record this season, there is no reason to expect anything but a dogfight at Knox,” Arseneault wrote before the game. “We have been very erratic in our play this season. Hopefully, we will have learned our lessons from these games and not let last week’s result versus Knox at home have any bearing on the effort it will take to beat them at their place.”

The Pioneers will not finish in the top four in the Midwest Conference and therefore are not playing in the Conference Tournament. Grinnell will host Monmouth for their final game on Saturday in an attempt to finish the season on a winning note. 

“That’s definitely what we’re playing for, and as a team if we end the season [with a win] it would give everyone a positive memory and something to build on,” Preston said.

Bruns also sees a foundation that will allow the Pioneers to build a bright future.

“I think there’s a great core group that just really gets along with each other and they’re going to have a lot of fun figuring out all the possibilities of the system,” Bruns said. “How they figure it out is completely up to them. It can be a good or bad experience, but I think they’re going to make it a good one.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *