The Gustavus Adolphus men’s basketball team opens the 2006-07 season Saturday afternoon when it faces Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. The Gusties open the home portion of the schedule next Tuesday evening, Nov. 21 when they host Buena Vista University of Storm Lake, Iowa. Both games are non-conference tilts.
Despite missing the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in 11 seasons in 2005-06, the Gustavus Adolphus men’s basketball team again looks to compete for a MIAC title and a national tournament bid in 2006-07. Gone are 1,000-point scorer Adam TeBrake, a solid defender in Trent Hollerich and a big body in John Wippler, but the Gusties return a wealth of experience as they return three starters and a fourth that averaged 25.1 minutes per game. As a team, Gustavus connected on a high percentage of its shots last season, finishing the year ranked fourth in NCAA Division III in field goal percentage (52.1%) and fifth in three-point field-goal percentage (41.9%).
Senior Phil Sowden (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), a two-time All-MIAC selection, is a rangy post player that placed in the top-15 in the league in both points (12.7 ppg) and rebounds (5.3 rpg). Sowden also showed an ample amount of accuracy for the Gusties during the 2005-06 season, hitting 52.2 percent (132-253) of his shots from the field and 82.2 percent (74-90) of his attempts from the charity stripe to rank eighth and third among MIAC players, respectively. Sowden also dished out a team-high 72 assists and pulled down 143 rebounds for the Gusties last season.
Juniors Jay Stien (Arlington, Minn.) and Andrew Doble (Sarasota, Fla.) will join Sowden in the post. Stien, who has started all 83 games of his collegiate career, led the Gusties in rebounding, pulling down 5.8 boards on average. Stien also contributed offensively, scoring 5.8 points per game. Doble, a 6-foot, 6-inch lefty who averaged 11.9 minutes of play in 16 games last season, averaged 7.1 points per game.
Junior Trevor Wittwer (Redwood Falls, Minn.), the MIAC’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2005-06, should move into the starting line-up this season on a full-time basis. He spent most of last season as one of coach Mark Hanson’s first options off the bench, but moved into the starting line-up after Andrew Olson (Sr., Owatonna, Minn.) was lost due to an injury in early February. Wittwer, a wing player whose shooting percentage hovered at or near 74 percent up until the final few games, led all MIAC players in field goal percentage, hitting 68.0 percent (100-147) of his shots. Wittwer also led the team in three-point field goal percentage at 63.2 percent (12-19), but did not record enough makes to be ranked among the MIAC’s leaders.
Olson returns to the Gustavus backcourt for his senior season, bringing with him an 11.8 points per game scoring average. Olson shot 51.0 percent (77-151) from the floor, 43.8 percent (28-64) from the three-point line and a team-high 89.6 percent (43-48) from the charity stripe, but did not play in enough games to be ranked among the league’s leaders.
Kane Sivesind (Jr., Madison, Wis.) and Mike DesLauriers (So., Minnetonka, Minn.) both appeared in all 27 games last season, each averaging over 13 minutes of play, while guards Tyler Kaus (Jr., St. James, Minn.) and Robbie Schmidt (Jr., New Germany, Minn.) also saw significant playing time last season. Those players should provide depth in the backcourt.
In addition to 12 returning players, Hanson hopes to get some production from five newcomers: Jesse Van Sickle, a 6-2 freshman wing from Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial High School; Derek Eddie, a 6-4 freshman wing from Owatonna High School; Ky Battern, a 6-6 freshman post from Osceola (Wis.) High School; Andy Hartman, a 6-5 freshman post from Eagan High School; and Sam Paulson, a 6-9 freshman post from Waseca High School.
Another new, yet familiar, addition to the program is Assistant Coach Aaron Kahl, a 2000 Gustavus graduate, who takes over for the departed David Flom. Kahl both played for and coached under Mark Hanson, but has spent the last five seasons as the top assistant for the Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team, where he guided the team’s defensive efforts.
Gustavus opens its schedule Saturday, Nov. 18 when they travel to Decorah, Iowa, to face Luther College in a non-conference tilt. The 2006-07 home schedule opens the following week with games against Buena Vista University (Nov. 21) and Carthage College (Nov. 26). Other non-conference games are scheduled against University of Minnesota-Morris (Dec. 11) and Bethany Lutheran College (Jan. 2). The Gusties open their MIAC schedule Wednesday, Nov. 29 when they host Macalester College.