After an incredible run last season that ended with an appearance in the NCAA Division II Championships, the Men’s Basketball team is looking to build upon that success for this upcoming season. Going 21–10 overall last season (15–5 in PacWest Conference play) was a great achievement.
“We definitely have even higher expectations for this year,” said Head Coach Ryan Looney. “We return the core of our team. Our five leading scorers are back, and we feel like we’ve added some pretty talented recruits too.” A few of those new players include junior guard Daulton Hommes, freshman Brock Mackenzie, and sophomore forward Ben Okhotin.
With the loss of only two seniors from last season, a lot of the team culture and leadership remains intact. “I think everyone is able to hold each other accountable because we all know what we should be doing,” said senior guard Tanner Nelson. Continuing on from last season’s success has been helpful in the team chemistry that continues to build, even from the new players. “Everyone is pushing each other,” said junior guard Sterling Somers. “Everyone’s elevating each other in practice, and we can already tell that it’s a different atmosphere in my third year here compared to my prior two years. It’s just a whole [different] level because everyone’s bringing it, from freshmen to seniors.”
In regards to preparation, Coach Looney has instilled habits in the team early on to build a foundation for the upcoming season. “We talk about all those kinds of things [habits] daily,” he said. “From practicing the right way in our short little workouts we get to have this time of year, to not taking any reps off in the weight room, when they leave here to find ways to eat the right way, and to get enough sleep. All of those same habits carry over to the effort they give in the classroom, too.”
The team was outstanding at rebounding last season, leading the nation in rebounding margin. The many turnovers per game, however, they struggled with, and hope to work on for this season. “We need to simply be a more efficient offensive team than we were a year ago,” said Looney. “We didn’t shoot a high enough percent and we turned it over way too much. So if we can continue to do those things and move in a direction where we’re extremely unselfish and more efficient on offense, I think we can have a special year.”
The team opens up the exhibition season at home against Saint Katherine in the Golden Gymnasium on Oct. 30, followed by the Sea Lion Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 9 at home against Montana State Billings.