2010-11 Men's Basketball Preview: Muskies look to pick up tempo, compete daily
Athletics - posted on 11/8/2010
The Lakeland College men's basketball team is changing its style.
This season, the Muskies will play at a higher tempo that will include a high-pressure defense and a lightning-quick offense that refuses to be out-rebounded.
One year after a 12-14 overall record and a tie for third place with Rockford College in the Northern Athletics Conference North Division, third year head coach Aaron Aanonsen is confident his team will be a formidable competitor.
"This year we need to do a better job in every single area," Aanonsen said. "We need to push the ball, transition faster and make easy baskets. Last year, we lost by an average of one point per game. We need to do a better job pressuring the basketball, communicating with each other and winning the rebounding war. If we can do that every single game, we'll be in good shape."
Last season, Lakeland saw its scoring average increase four points a game to 71.2. The Muskies also cut down on turnovers, recording one less turnover per game. Aanonsen hopes the new approach will further improve these numbers.
"We tweaked our offensive system to adjust to the players we have this year," Aanonsen said. "Our guys have adjusted well to playing at a faster pace, and I think it will help us get easier baskets."
Defensively, the Muskies hope to hold their opponents under 43 percent from the field and force more turnovers than they commit.
Aanonsen has prepared a challenging non-conference slate to prepare for another season of stiff NAC competition. Lakeland's schedule is highlighted by the St. Norbert Tournament over the winter break on Dec. 29-30, which includes two top 25 NCAA Division III ranked schools: No. 10 St. Norbert (Lakeland's first-round opponent) and No. 24 Augustana. Lakeland also faces an improved Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe, UW-Stout.
"It's going to be a great test for us to see where we're at and prepare us better for the conference season," said Aanonsen.
Last season, Lakeland finished 4-5 in non-league contests, including a 95-56 win over Silver Lake College, who the team plays in its home and season opener on Nov. 15.
The Muskies were picked to finish third in the NAC North by the league's coaches and will compete without the conference's leading returning scorer, junior Jake Schwarz. Nonetheless, Lakeland returns several key players and a solid mix of transfers and freshmen.
Leading the Muskies this season is junior point guard Josh Regal. The Suring, Wis., native returns as the team's leading scoring, averaging 13.0 points per game while adding a team high 120 assists. Regal started in 25 of 26 games last season and is on track to have a solid junior season.
"Josh is playing with a lot more confidence than he has in the past," Aanonsen said. "We are expecting him to have a big year for us."
Trevor McKown, a senior from Hot Springs, S.D., played in all 26 games last season, starting in 20. He averaged 7.0 points per game and grabbed 112 rebounds. Aanonsen will look for McKown to stay consistent on the glass.
"Trevor needs to have the mentality that he can become a better offensive player," said Aanonsen. "He has all the tools to be successful on the offensive end, but it's more of a confidence factor for Trevor. He'll also be a key defender for us in the post."
One of the Muskies captains and vocal leader, junior forward Germell Heard, returns and looks to have a big season. The Milwaukee, Wis., native played in 26 games last year, and averaged 3.8 points per game. Aanonsen is pleased with Heard's work ethic and leadership.
"Germell has looked the best out of all the post players," Aanonsen said. "Last preseason he was hurt, but he has come back refocused with a little extra athleticism. He has a lot more confidence and understands he needs to play more aggressively with the absence of Jake (Schwarz)."
The team welcomes transfer junior guard Bobby Komorowski, a Germantown, Wis., native, who averaged 17.0 points per game last season playing for Madison Area Technical College.
"Bobby's strength is his ability to score," said Aanonsen. "This year we need to create open shots for him and keep his confidence up. Defensively, he needs to be a key factor for us."
Another newcomer is transfer junior guard Jack Ridgway. The Sioux Falls, N.D., native brings energy and a good sense of the game, and, like Komorowski, he's a solid shooter. Aanonsen likes Ridgway's consistency and is hopeful he can be a dominate presence in the backcourt.
"Jack is the player who always makes the right plays at the right time," said Aanonsen said. "We are going to look to Jack to be consistent and defend as hard as he can."
Additional strengths for Lakeland this season are balance and depth. Aanonsen believes the team's depth will allow it to make a solid run in the NAC Tournament.
Stan McKenzie, a freshman from Racine, Wis., has impressed the coaches with his sense of the game. McKenzie offers an excellent complement to the upperclassmen and will be a key contributor.
Eric Vandivier, a junior from Mt. Prospect, Ill., plays hard defensively and adds another shooter.
Another key reserve is freshman Tim Rotruck. The Milwaukee, Wis., native brings energy and makes a huge impact defensively.
Tal Diekvoss, a freshman from Beaver Dam, Wis., is a sound player who can score.
Other key contributors are freshmen Justin Ward (Wisconsin Dells, Wis.) and James Oshkeshequoam (Shawano, Wis.). Both are solid players who can make a big impact on the game.
Seniors Phil Sontag (Altoona, Wis.) and Sam Schroeder (Shawno, Wis.) return as two key players whose leadership and work ethic positively influence the team.
"Phil is an extremely hard worker who does whatever it takes to make the team better," said Aanonsen. "Sam is a great teammate with an unbeatable work ethic."
Also contributing to the team this season is sophomore Eric Strzok (Thorp, Wis.) and freshmen Mikal Anschutz (Bonduel, Wis.), Tyler Hass (Manawa, Wis.), Mike Koeppen (Manitowoc, Wis.), Danny Rajchel (Oak Creek, Wis.) and Zach Schultz (Port Washington, Wis.).
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