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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Men’s Basketball rallies

By Darwin Manning

While most of us were in a deep slumber or trying to fight the urge to drop their New Year’s resolutions, the Grinnell Men’s Basketball team was in full swing running the “System” to perfection. The Pioneers went 3-3 while placing themselves in a tie for seventh place in the Midwest Conference (MWC). The team now stands at 10-6 and looks to improve on record with three of their next four games being home match-ups.

 Grinnell Forward Arron Levin ’14 sprints alongside Monmouth’s Curtis Oler ’13 during the second half of the Pioneers’ 133-92 rout of the Scots in Darby Gymnasium on Wednesday Night – Ben Brewer

The game that stood out over break for the majority of the team was their Rocky Balboa-esque comeback against Lawrence University. After beating the Vikings 104-95 earlier in the season, this game found Grinnell down 60-35 after the first half.

“We got off to a super slow start, the bench wasn’t picking each other up and everyone was feeling sorry for themselves,” said Assistant Coach David Arseneault ’09.

Midway through the second half the Pioneers began to turn it around as they steadily chipped away at the lead until eventually going on an 18-3 run in just four hot-handed minutes. The Pioneers eventually forced it to overtime, where they never looked back, going on to win 112-103.

“To get a win on the road against a team that was at the top of the standings in the Conference was great and hopefully it will carry over in the next couple games,” Arseneault said.

Forward Matt Skelly ’12 chalked up the success they had in the second half to the run-and-gun System exhausting their opponents.

Joe Rogers ’13 goes up for an inside basket against the Monmouth Scots – Ben Brewer

“We came out of half-time with a chip on our shoulder, got on a few crazy runs and eventually just wore their players down. We learned that anything can happen when you have twenty guys all on the same page, running around causing chaos,” Skelly said.

The team’s success carried over into their most recent contest this past Wednesday, Jan. 26 against Monmouth by winning decisively 133-92. Leading scorer Griffin Lentsch ’13 put up 32 points on 10-16 shooting from behind the arc after turning in 26 points in the comeback against Lawrence.

“We were flying around on defense and that led to easy 3-pointers offensively. For the most part those 3’s were falling, which lead to the comfortable win,” Lentsch said.

Looking ahead the team will play at home on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. in Darby Gymnasium. The men hope to break a very difficult, top-notch defensive-minded Lake Forest squad. Grinnell knows they will have their work cut out for them, as unlike Monmouth, Lake Forest plays with a mind to counterbalance Grinnell’s fast-paced offense.

“Lake Forest likes to spread it out and slow it down, which is completely different than what Monmouth was doing, which is running with us and shooting threes, which is what we hope to do,” Arseneault said. “They will go four corners on us and do the total opposite, we’re going to have to work defensively, otherwise we’re going to find ourselves in a hole and we will be in trouble.”

That said, the team will stick their offense while challenging Lake Forest with their offensive strength.

“We’re preparing the same way we do for every game—shooting a ton of threes in practice and perfecting our offense,” Skelly said.

The squad is pleased with how they have improved from last season, but they know with where they sit in the standings that there are still improvements to be made.  “We need to improve on our ability to close out games and our ability to start games.  We can’t come out flat and we have to be able to execute in the late game,” said Center Kale Knisley ’11. “We dropped a game to Carroll at home because of poor play on our part at the end of the game.”

Though their record may not place them at the top of the Conference, it is better than it was this time last year, and at least one Pioneer has seen definitive improvement.

“As our record shows, we are a deeper and more talented team compared to last year. The team chemistry is good. We are all one year older in terms of experience, which is showing,” Lentsch said.

Additionally, the team is focusing on improving their road record and having more confidence away from the cozy confines on 10th Ave.

“We need to work on our focus and readiness to play on the road, that is something we’ve struggled with a little this year. Winning consistently on the road is a tough thing to do in this Conference but it is something you need to do if you want to compete for a Conference title,” Lentsch said.

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