Cru Basketball: Men expected to dominate conference, again

In 2002 the movie Like Mike took the screens by storm as actor and rapper Lil’ Bow Wow acted out a dream that many young basketball players share—to play in the NBA. Even more popular was the song titled “Basketball” that was released as part of the movie’s soundtrack. What Bow Wow didn’t know was that 10 years later the words in his song would highlight the thoughts of many Crusaders: “They’re playing basketball. We love that basketball.”

The season is drawing near, and several around the ASC West believe that the men’s team has what it takes to maintain its title. The Cru received 17 first-place votes and totaled 140 points in the overall balloting at the West Division’s annual preseason meeting of coaches and the media. This is nothing new for the Crusader team Coach Ken DeWeese said.

“Being picked first is something we have come to expect. It is nice that others think highly of our team in the preseason. However, at the end of the season, the team that is first is the team that has earned it with the best won-lost record. There will be no vote to see who is first. It must be earned,” he said.

To come out on top, the team has several new challenges to overcome. First, ten of the players on the 18-man roster are new faces for the Crusaders. To have a successful season, the Cru must come together despite the changes in personnel.

Next, with the graduating class gone, a vital part of the team’s scoring and rebounding must be replaced. The graduating seniors accounted for 62 percent of the points scored and 68 percent of the rebounding.

Some of the weight will be handed to the team’s freshmen. Currently, they occupy eight spots on the roster, but they don’t plan to let their youth keep them from being key contributors in games.

Freshman biology major Layton Zinsmeister said, “With losing all those key players… we have big shoes to fill. I speak for all the freshman. We are most looking forward to getting better and growing as a team. We want to work hard in practice to make the games seem easy. We all are going to work extremely hard in an attempt to win a conference title.”

The team got its first taste of basketball against St. Edwards (Division II) in an exhibition game. The Hilltoppers upset the Cru 95 to 69. It was the long-range shooting of St. Edwards that clipped any momentum the team had tried to build.

“St. Edward’s shot 38 three-point shots and made 19 for 50 percent from the three-point line. That happens rarely, so it was good for us to see that,” DeWeese said.

The Crusaders showed strength in their rebounding game as they won the boards 36 to 31. However, the team was more interested in seeing which newcomers would respond well in an actual game situation.

DeWeese said, “We did play a lot of new people as many minutes as we possibly could to see how they would compete and react to adverse situations.”

The men are preparing for an excellent season; they open play at home against Southwestern University Nov. 20. Fans anticipating the basketball season look forward to watching both the men and women compete.

Freshman business administration major and avid basketball fan Lauren Davis said, “I am so incredibly excited to be a part of watching this season. Basketball is my favorite sport, and being able to come and be a part of a high-spirited crowd that we have, I just can’t wait to cheer our teams on to victory.”

Author: Tyler Agnew

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