New-Look Men’s Basketball Squad Tips Off Season Friday

Posted on November 18th, 2016 by

Written by Laura Johnson ’18, Gustavus Sports Information Intern

ST. PETER, Minn. – Head Coach Mark Hanson is in his 27th season at the helm of the Gustavus men’s basketball team and his squad is looking to improve on an eighth place finish in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference a year ago when it went 9-11 in the league. Last season’s team posted a 12-13 overall record, although Gustavus proved to be competitive while keeping a majority of games within single digits. The 2016-17 MIAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll ranked Gustavus seventh.

The Gusties begin their 2016-17 campaign at 7 p.m. tonight at Buena Vista University. The game will be broadcast online via the Buena Vista Athletics website, and through the airwaves at 860 AM KNUJ with the voice of the Golden Gusties, Tom Wheeler, on the call.

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Hanson strives for a style of play that is “team oriented, pass first, with a cohesive offense that is hardworking and aggressive along with tough defense.”

Gustavus graduated six seniors that were vital contributors to the team, two of which were season-long starters. Brody Ziegler (Mankato, Minn.) and Chris Narum (Eagan, Minn.) received honorable mention in the MIAC postseason awards for their achievements. Gary Cooper (Detroit, Mich.) was last season’s go-to player, who was named All-Conference after playing in just 16 games due to an injury that sidelined him for seven weeks.

“With all the changes we have from graduating six and having a seventh not able to play because of an injury, we recognize we are a completely different team,” Hanson said. “We have a lot of new people and people who will be expecting more playing time. The team is getting to know each other and our main focus is not so much improving on last year but trying to create the best team we can have this year.”

The Gusties enter the 2016-17 season with big shoes to fill. Returners Riley Sharbono (So., Marshall, Minn.), Peter Kruize (Sr., Saint Peter, Minn.), along with senior captains Coleman Sweeney (Sr., Lake City, Minn.) and Alec Koster (Sr., Redwood Falls, Minn.), will be setting the expectations for this season.

“We expect excellent effort, communication, being vocal, along with conduit between coaches and players from our captains this season,” Hanson said. “To a degree, we want them to create a leadership expectation from everybody. If you are led by two people you won’t go as far as if everyone has leadership skills.”

Sweeney is looking to step in after missing a portion of the 2015-16 season due to injury. He finished last season with 17 games played, averaging 9.7 minutes per game.

Koster, a senior wing, returns as the Gusties’ most experienced starter. Koster played in 22 games and started in 10 last season, averaging 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Last season, Koster ended with a 42.3 shooting percentage from the floor and shot 35.5 percent from the three-point line.

Sharbono returns to the lineup after averaging 18.2 minutes a game last season, which is the most among returners. Sharbono played in all 25 games and averaged 7.5 points per game. In his rookie campaign Sharbono shot 41.9 percent from the field and tallied 188 points.

Down on post, Kruize returns for his fourth season on the varsity roster. Kruize played all 25 games last season, averaging 6.8 points per game. The local Saint Peter product had the second highest shooting percentage on the team at 52.2 percent and posted an 87.1 free throw percentage.

Other players returning from last year’s team include Charlie Krambeer (So., Rushford, Minn.), Benjamin Lies (Sr., Hutchinson, Minn.), AJ Hatchett (Jr., Powder Springs, Ga.), and Schuyler Thompson (Jr., Milville, Minn.).

The large graduating class of 2016 made room for newcomers on the roster. Newcomers this season include Austin Goetz (Jr., Chaska, Minn.), Vannis Smith (Fy. Crystal Lake, Ill.), Spencer Tollefson (So., New Richland, Minn.), Jason Faul (Jr., Prior Lake, Minn.) and transfer Kelsey Thomas (Jr., Wiesbanden, Germany).

“They have been very coachable and I think their effort has been excellent,” Hanson said of the newcomers. “I expect them to continue to work hard and to be the kind of people Gustavus would be proud of.”

2015-16 Gustavus Stats | 2016-17 Gustavus Roster | 2016-17 Gustavus Schedule

 

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