Men’s basketball ready to win

The men's basketball team practices their strategies for their first game of the season, set to begin Nov. 15 at noon against St. Fisher College. (credit: Kristen Severson/Photo Editor) The men's basketball team practices their strategies for their first game of the season, set to begin Nov. 15 at noon against St. Fisher College. (credit: Kristen Severson/Photo Editor)

The Carnegie Mellon University men’s basketball team has been picked seventh in the 2009–2010 University Athletic Association (UAA) this season. Carnegie Mellon was tabbed seventh of eight teams, falling behind Case Western Reserve but ahead of Emory University.

The Tartans are coming off a successful 20–7 season in which they advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs for the first time in the history of the program. The record for the men’s team at UAAs for the 2008–09 season was 9–5.

The Tartans will return two of their starting players from last year, seniors Shane Rife and captain Jack Anderson.

Along with these players, Jon Wolleben, a co-captain for the Tartans, will return for a fifth year of eligibility. Anderson, a guard for the Tartans, was the second leading scorer for the team last year, averaging 14.1 points per game. He was able to score in 22 out of 27 games last year, and ranked eighth in the UAAs for his scoring record. Anderson also enters this year in 11th place for the school’s all-time three-point scorer, and only needs 219 points to reach 1000 points; if he achieves this feat, he will become the 18th in Tartans history to receive this honor.

When discussing the competition heading into this year, Anderson said, “We consider every UAA conference game to be crucial; with the depth and talent of the teams in our league, every game is a battle. This year we are really trying to focus on one game at a time. With a less experienced group, it will be important for us to not overlook any opponents.”

Rife, a forward for the Tartans, was the third leading scorer for the team last year, averaging 9.2 points per game. The junior was second on the team for blocks, raking in 21 blocks last season. Wolleben is also a valuable player to the team, playing in 81 games during his career on the team and averaging 5 points per game.

Another returning player is junior Matt Pettit. Pettit appeared in 51 games through his first two years as a Tartan. Pettit shared his sentiments about next season. “I’m excited to start playing games and see what our team is made of. We have a lot of young talent this year and they’re all looking to contribute to the team,” he said. “After losing five seniors and three starters, we have two new captains (Anderson and Wolleben) that have stepped up to lead the team and fill the void.”

Sophomore John Duhring is another returning Tartan who will strengthen the lineup. Duhring, a swing man for the team, saw action in every game last season, averaging 2.8 points per game and shooting 38 percent from behind the arc.

“The team goals are to be equally as hard working and successful as the team was last year, because even though we lost multiple seniors and starters, we still plan on being a competitor in the UAA and NCAA come March,” Duhing said about the upcoming season’s goals. “A team strength that we have is versatility and diversity of players because we are relatively young and somewhat inexperienced, but that means we have 16 guys who can all get playing time and mix things up in games.”

Another returning asset is senior Dan Lavallee, who had to sit out last season with an injury, but is ready to head into this season strong. Senior Dan Bruce and sophomores Max Gordon, Bryan Good, and Joe Kromka will add good experience for a great season this year.

For power inside the court, senior Dan Sawl and sophomore Jackson Read are talented players that the coaches will look to this season. Sawl, playing 29 games in his two-year career, has averaged 3.2 points.

There are four first-year additions to the Tartan team this year: Stephane Batton, Andre Moore, Christian Shepley, and Chad Stein.

Coach Tony Wingen, who is entering his 20th year of coaching with Tartans, is confident in his team this season. “We’re definitely a different-looking team than last year. Less experienced and a little smaller, but I believe we are [a] better perimeter shooting team. The guys are really working in practice, and we’re learning about each other every day. The intensity has picked up, so we must be close to playing real games.”

Overall, the morale of the team is high heading into the season, but the Tartans will take things step by step.

They start their year with high hopes for their first game at Skibo Gymnasium on Nov. 15 at noon.