St. Peter, Minn. - After a 70-61 exhibition win over the University of Minnesota, Crookston two weeks ago, the Gustavus men’s basketball is poised to open its regular season when it hosts Bethany Lutheran College on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Picked to finish second in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) this season, the Gusties will look to get off to a strong start against the Vikings. Bethany enters Saturday afternoon’s match-up with a record of 0-1 after a 74-67 loss to St. Olaf on Thursday.
With the graduation of seven seniors from a team that finished 20-8 (16-4 MIAC) last season on its way to a share of the conference regular season title and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004-05, the Gusties will have a new look to their rotation in 2012-13. Head coach Mark Hanson, now in his 23rd season at the helm of the men’s basketball program, welcomes back nine letterwinners from last year’s squad, and will look to a core group of seniors to lead the way.
That core group of seniors includes three of the top five scorers from last year’s team in Ben Biewen (Sr., Edina, Minn.), Jim Hill (Sr., Edina, Minn.), and Blake Shay (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.). Gustavus’ second leading scorer last season, Biewen averaged 8.8 points per game after playing in all 28 games, and starting in 26 of them. The six-foot two-inch guard also led the team with 71 assists as the primary ball handler for a Gustie squad that ranked third in the MIAC, averaging 13.8 assists per game. For his efforts, Biewen garnered MIAC All-Conference Honorable Mention honors.
The third leading scorer a year ago, Hill earned the honor of MIAC Sixth-Man-of-the-Year after averaging 8.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. The Edina, Minn. native came off the bench in 20 of 28 games, starting the other eight. Shay finished last season as the fifth leading scorer on last year’s squad with a 5.8 average. He was also second on the team in blocked shots with 16. Reed Sallstrom (Sr., Winthrop, Minn.) rounds out the four returning seniors after averaging 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game a year ago.
Outside of the four seniors, the Gusties return just 20 points in a combined 192 minutes of play from last year’s squad. Lone junior Jordan Dick (Jr., Wabasha, Minn.) will look to add production to the Gustie lineup this winter after appearing in 20 games in 2011-12, and averaging 8.2 minutes per contest. Joining Dick as a likely starter is Isaac Tapp (So., Stewartville, Minn.). In his first season wearing the Black and Gold, Tapp saw action in eight games, playing a total of 13 minutes.
Sophomores Martin Feddersen (So., Winona, Minn.), Brian Jacobs (So., Lake Crystal, Minn.), and Jed Kreuser (So., Jordan, Minn.) are all expected to contribute in their second season. Combined, the trio played a total of just 15 minutes, but with the vacancy of over 3,000 minutes of floor time, minutes will be needed from the underclassmen. Newcomers Matt Humphries (So., Maple Grove, Minn.), Dane Schmid (So., Mahtomedi, Minn.), Sergio Najera (Fr., New Prague, Minn.), Connor Perry (Fr., Hibbing, Minn.), Chad Poppen (Fr., St. Peter, Minn.), and Brody Ziegler (Fr., Mankato, Minn.) will also look to make contributions in their first collegiate varsity season.