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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Men’s basketball has high hopes for second half of season despite a tough road ahead

Aiden Gilbert ‘23 attempts to score against two players from the Knox Prairie Fire
Aiden Gilbert ‘23 attempts to score against two players from the Knox Prairie Fire

The men’s basketball season is more than halfway over and despite being at a lower record than last season, the team still has high hopes for a postseason run. Before facing St. Norbert and Ripon College in a weekend trip to Wisconsin, men’s basketball captain Anthony Gulve ’20 shared what he thinks will be needed from the team in order to get into a good place in the playoffs. “We have eight more games and five of them are against teams either tied with us or ahead of us in the playoff standings,” Gulve said. “It is definitely going to be a rough stretch. I would say the biggest key is to win the three games that we are not playing challenging opponents, we have to win those if we want to go to the playoffs. Those need to be must-wins. And these other games where you could say we are ‘underdogs,’ we have to steal a few of them.”

The first night of the two-game trip will be against the number one team in the conference, St. Norbert, and according to Gulve, “In my three years, we have never won at their gym. Every year they are very good, it’s a really hard place to play because of the tough environment with a lot of fans and students.” The last time that Grinnell men’s basketball won in St. Norbert’s gym was in 2012.

In addition to being captain, Gulve ’20 is now the only senior on the team. Gulve explained how this is not too uncommon in college sports: more people leave as time commitments in other areas of their college experience demand more attention. “My grade began with six,” Gulve said. Then at the end of my first year, one kid transferred and then another person came back for one semester but later he also transferred. This past summer, two more left the team but they still go here. Just one of them, Jacob Leder ’20, left to focus on theatre and Noah Jacobson ’20 also left to focus on school and do track. The final senior, Jake Conran ’20 who started the season with us, decided to leave the team to focus on school, job applications and things like that.”

For Gulve, being the sole senior on the team included taking on most of the leadership tasks for a while during the off season. Gulve was appointed captain at the conclusion of last season but did not receive a co-captain to help alleviate the responsibilities until early October.

“Those past five or six months I was essentially doing everything on my own, so it was a lot to deal with school and planning for summer,” he said. “Being home when I was away from campus, I had two jobs, was hanging out with friends, and spent time with family that I don’t see too often, but I still had to remain connected. I was calling my coach every couple of weeks and reaching out to the new first-years. Leadership duties are definitely less when you are out of season rather than during season. The entire time I knew I would definitely get some help once the season got going.”

“Since I have been here, the team and I have set a bunch of goals and we have seemed to accomplish all the things we have set forth like leading the conference in scoring, getting people on the all-conference team and not losing games at home,” said Gulve. “The last thing that we haven’t done is either get first in-league to host the playoffs or win the postseason tournament. Just getting to the playoffs and getting one more opportunity to win it would be something special.”

Last year, the men’s basketball team lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual conference champions, even though Grinnell beat them twice in the regular season. “We kind of thought that we were better than them and so it’s sort of unfinished business. Gulve hopes that during their last few home games, student and fan support will remain strong and excited. “We have a lot of our home games during the break which is tough because we don’t get a whole lot of fans when all the students are gone. For these last couple of games, especially when we play St. Norbert, we need to find a way to get a bunch of students out at these games and hopefully get a crazy crowd.”

The Pioneers continue their season agianst St. Norbert Friday at 5:30 p.m. with the next home game Wednesday Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

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