The Gustavus men’s basketball team will open its 2009-10 season with an exhibition game against Southwest Minnesota State University tonight at 7:00pm in Marshall, MN. The Southwest State Sports Information Office will have live stats available for tonight’s match-up.
2009-10 Men’s Basketball Season Preview
The Gustavus men’s basketball team returns three starters and six letterwinners from a squad that finished sixth in the conference last season and advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC Playoffs. Senior captains Jesse Van Sickle (Garden City, Minn.) and Ryan McPartland (Le Sueur, Minn.) along with senior post Sam Paulson (Waseca, Minn.) will lead the Gusties as they make a push to return to the top of the MIAC.
On the perimeter, two-year letterwinner Dan Schmidtknecht (LaCrosse, Wis.) will take over at point guard where he backed up Mike DesLauriers last season. Schmidtknecht averaged 2.6 assists per game last season and led the team in steals (29). He has emerged as a leader on the court and will be asked to control the game with his ability to penetrate the lane and get the ball to an open teammate. Joining Schmidtknecht on the perimeter will be veteran Jesse Van Sickle and Phil Wirtjes (Des Moines, IA). A three-year letterwinner, Van Sickle averaged a team high 26.7 minutes per game while scoring an average 10.4 points per game last season. He led the league in 3-point field goal percentage at 46.0 percent (46-100) and was named to the 2008-09 MIAC All-Conference team. Wirtjes scored 3.9 points per game while playing an average of 15 minutes per game last season. He is a strong defensive player and good ball handler who compliments Schmidtknect and Van Sickle well. Other returners that are expected to provide depth on the perimeter will be sophomores Tyler Gray (Montevideo, Minn.), Seth Anderson (Minnesota Lake, Minn.), and Adam Michel (Belle Plaine, Minn.). Newcomers that could compete for playing time include Ty Moore (Brooklyn Park, MN), Ben Biewen (Edina, Minn.), and James Hill (Edina, Minn.).
In the post, Gustavus will build around returning starters Sam Paulson (6-9) and Ryan McPartland (6-5). Both Paulson and McPartland gained valuable experience last season and will be expected improve their scoring and consistency this year. The scrappy McPartland led the team in rebounds last year with an average of 5.5 rebounds per game, while scoring 9.7 points per game, while Paulson averaged 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Both players received honorable mention All-Conference honors last year. Sophomore Bobby Johnson (Edina, Minn.) was expected to play a big role inside for the Gusties this season, however a knee injury late in the summer will likely cause him to miss the entire season. Senior Mychal Crowder (Minneapolis, Minn.) and sophomore Paul Blacklock (Winona, Minn.) will back up Paulson and McPartland in the post.
The Gusties will open their season with non-conference games against Buena Vista (away) and UW-La Crosse (at home) in late November before opening conference play at Carleton in early December. Over the holiday break, Mark Hanson and his squad will head to Hawaii to face Hawaii Pacific and the University of Hawaii-Hilo.