Men’s Basketball Tips Off 2015-16 Season At Northwestern-St. Paul

Posted on November 13th, 2015 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s basketball team is set to begin its 2015-16 campaign this weekend as it travels to the Twin Cities for a non-conference test against the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Tipoff between the Gusties and Eagles is 3 p.m. Saturday at the UNW Gymnasium.

Live online coverage of tomorrow’s season opener begins at 3 p.m.




Head Coach Mark Hanson is in his 26th season at the helm of the Gustie men’s team and his squad is looking to improve on a sixth place finish in the MIAC a year ago when it finished 11-9 in the league. Last season’s team posted a 16-11 overall record after upsetting Saint John’s 64-54 in the MIAC Playoff quarterfinals and then nearly upset top-seeded St. Thomas in the semifinals, but lost 83-79 in overtime.

Gustavus returns three starters from last season’s lineup and their senior leadership will be looked upon to guide the Gusties back into contention for a conference title. Gary Cooper (Sr., Detroit, Mich.) returns as the team’s top point-scorer from last season. Cooper, who was named MIAC Honorable Mention, averaged 11.2 points per game after starting all 27 games. The Detroit native shot .528 from the field last season, which is the best among returning players.

Brody Ziegler (Sr., Mankato, Minn.) also returns to the starting lineup after earning MIAC Honorable Mention honors a year ago. Ziegler started in all 27 games and averaged 8.6 points per game. The Mankato East product shot .527 from the field and averaged 5.2 rebounds per game.

The third returning starter from a year ago is Sergio Najera (Sr., New Prague, Minn.). Najera played in all 27 games and started in 21, averaging 8.3 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game. Najera blocked a team-high 24 shots and posted an .815 free throw percentage.

Other key returners include the St. Peter connection of junior post Peter Kruize and senior wing Chad Poppen. Both Kruize and Poppen were the first players off the bench last season as they averaged 7.5 and 7.2 points per game, respectively. Poppen is one of the Gusties’ top three-point shooters as he recorded a .389 percentage from beyond the arc last year. Kruize returns as a key player down on the blocks, averaging 4.4 boards last season.

Chris Narum (Sr., Eagan, Minn.) and Coleman Sweeney (Jr., Lake City, Minn.) also saw ample time on the floor during last year’s campaign. Narum posted the best three-point percentage at .407 (22-54), while Sweeney distributed the ball well with 29 assists and an average of 12.5 minutes per game.

Other players returning from last year’s team include Jacob Herd (So., Waconia, Minn.), Alec Koster (Jr., Redwood Falls, Minn.), Brain Jacobs (Sr., Lake Crystal, Minn.) and Benjamin Lies (Jr., Hutchinson, Minn.).

Newcomers this season include Charlie Krambeer (Fy., Rushford, Minn.), Mattu Chuol (Fy., Mankato, Minn.), Riley Sharbono (Fy., Marshall, Minn.) and transfer AJ Hatchett (So., Powder Springs, Ga.).


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