Written by Carissa Lucas
The men’s basketball team made history last year when it hosted the first ever postseason NCAA men’s basketball game. Unfortunately, a loss ended their season.
This year the Cru hopes to build on their previous success, and they’ve been practicing to do just that.
Mid-October marked the official beginning of the men’s season, with morning and afternoon workouts that pushed the players to their limits.
Head Coach Ken DeWeese and American Southwest Conference West Division coach of the year from 2007-2010, knows his team has a lot of improving to do before the first game.
“We have to develop an inside game and develop our defense from a team standpoint,” DeWeese said. “Our defense is so different than most people play. It takes time for newcomers to grasp and execute on the floor.”
Even though learning the defense will be an obstacle for the new members, DeWeese knows there are some players he can rely on to help him with the team.
“We have two returning seniors this year, Colby Waller and Dean Pele, so we will rely heavily on them from a leadership standpoint. I also think we have several strong-minded juniors that will help in that role,” DeWeese said.
Senior information systems major Colby Waller, a forward for the Cru, thinks his team is ready for the challenges this season will bring.
“With the amount of returning players and experience that we have coming back, the majority of us know how it feels to be successful and how hard it is to be that successful,” Waller said. “We understand that we have to make ourselves better everyday and that nothing we do will be easy.”
Junior chemistry major Greg Wiernas expects great things from the Cru this season.
“I have high expectations for our team this year, as I do every year,” Wiernas said. “We have a lot of returning players coming back, and we got some new players who could end up being key players for us down the road.”
Many teams stand in the way of the Cru and an ASC championship, and each is a threat to what the men hope to accomplish.
“Everyone wants to beat us due to our previous success,” said Waller. “It’s basically like we have a target on our back and everyone wants a shot. We will get every team’s best game, but they will also get ours.”
The Cru have already garnered votes of confidence this season. In the annual Preseason Coaches and Media Poll released Oct. 22, the UMHB men’s basketball team was picked to defend its ASC West Division championship.
The Cru received 21 out of 24 first place votes, with Concordia University receiving two first place votes.
DeWeese has high expectations for his team as well. His ultimate goals are to “win the ASC West Division, win the ASC Championship and advance in the NCAA tournament.”
Wiernas agrees with his coach.
“Our number one goal is to win the conference tournament and go to the national tournament,” Wiernas said.
The Cru kicked off their season Nov. 13 with an exhibition game against Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. They will then host Southwestern University Nov. 23, with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.