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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
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Men’s Basketball off to best start since ’05-’06

Everyone expected the men’s basketball team to shoot threes, not play much defense and hustle. Not many expected the Pioneers to start off the season 4-0 and to break several school and NCAA records.

With an average score of 117 points per game and contributions from every player, the Pioneers are off to their best start since the 2005-2006 season.

Photograph taken by Andrew Kelley

“Getting off to such a hot start has really given us a lot of confidence,” said Matt Skelly ’12. “Right now we feel like we can compete with anyone, so we’ve really increased our level of focus during practice as we prepare for some tough games coming up.”

Skelly was the leading scorer of last Saturday’s game against Wartburg College, the Pioneers’ latest victim in a four game winning streak. He connected on four of seven three pointers and added five rebounds. Close behind Skelly in points was Matt Chalupa ’12 who had 12 points and three steals. With the help of Skelly and Chalupa, the Pioneers took a 56-43 lead by halftime and never looked back, beating Wartburg 100-83.

“A win against a top [Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference] school really helped our confidence as a team,” Chalupa said. “Beating a good team like [Wartburg] showed ourselves we can do some things.”

Against Faith Baptist Bible College on Tuesday, the Pioneers broke the NCAA record for three pointers made by the most players on a team and tied the Grinnell College record for most points in a half with 88. A whopping 88 of 137 points came in the first half as the team shot better than 56 percent from field goal in the half.

“It’s great that we are able to do things simply not done before by other teams,” said Griffin Lentsch ’13. “The fact that the records are coming in winning efforts is the most important thing.”

On Tuesday, Lentsch was the leading scorer for the Pioneers with 20 points, 18 of them coming from beyond the three-point arc in only ten minutes of playing time.

While it is exciting for the players to break records, the Pioneers remain humble.

“It’s always fun to set records and to be a part of something special and different in ‘The System,’ but winning games always comes before setting records,” said Augustus Karisch ’11. “The best records are the ones that are set without any sacrifice of quality of play. At the same time, it really shows our team’s depth and top-to-bottom ability to have 19 guys make a three-point basket at game speed.”

The players attribute their early success to the team’s depth, chemistry and overall improvement over last year.

“Last year was tough because we lost so much in the seniors who graduated,” Kale Knisley ’11 said. “Everyone came into the season a year older, stronger and with a willingness to work hard from day one. Now that everyone has had a year to grow and learn in ‘The System,’ I think we are team that is ready to stay on the winning track.”

Skelly added, “This group really wanted to prove we could win. We’ve been waiting all off-season to redeem ourselves, and so far the energy level and selflessness this team has demonstrated has resulted in wins.”

The Pioneers hope to continue their success in Wisconsin, as the team will travel to face St. Norbert College and Ripon College on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

“These two teams were picked as the top teams in our conference,” Knisley said. “In addition to that, going on the road up in Wisconsin is never an easy task. We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us, but I think it will be a good test of our ability. It is still early, but coming away with a win or two would certainly make a statement to the rest of the conference.”

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