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Men's Basketball Tips Off Season this Weekend
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2007
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - The UW-Eau Claire men's basketball team will officially start its regular season this Friday and Saturday when it participates in the Wartburg Tournament.
The team played two games already, but both were exhibitions. The first was an intrasquad game and the second was a game against the UW-Madison Badgers. Eau Claire lost 74-35 but remained within shouting distance for most of the first half and led by a point early on.
Head Coach Terry Gibbons returns four starters and 11 letterwinners from the 2006-07 squad that finished 10-16 overall and 3-13 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). The Blugolds took eighth in the conference last year and are predicted to take eighth again.
Dan Beyer (Sr.-Waukesha/Catholic Memorial), an All-WIAC Honorable Mention from a season ago, returns to the team. He led all regular players with a 52.5 field goal percentage and 14.5 points per game. His 72.2 free throw percentage was second. Beyer also led in boards at 6.7 boards per game and in total steals at 23.
Other starters include Zack Ryan (Sr.-Lake Elmo, MN/Tartan), Steve Hoelzel (Sr.-Kaukauna), and Geoff Probst (So.-Moose Lake, MN). Ryan looks to have a comeback year after battling a thumb injury on his shooting hand last season. Ryan's 3.0 assists per game led the Blugolds in 2006-07.
Hoelzel started 20 games last year while Probst started six. Hoelzel averaged 6.0 points per game while Probst's averaged 6.9, which ranked third. His 4.0 boards per game were second. Probst led the team in points during the Badger game with 16.
The first opponent for Eau Claire this season is Grinnell College (IA) at the Wartburg Tourney. The Pioneers enjoyed a successful season in 2006-07, winning the Midwest Conference on a 17-7 overall record and 13-3 conference mark.
Grinnell returns several top-tier players. Last year's Division III assist leader, David Arseneault, is a candidate for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award for the second consecutive year. He totaled 203 assists last year and averaged 18.7 points per game.
John Grotberg also grabbed preseason honors with a D3Hoops.com Third Team Preseason All-American pick. His 28.1 points per game ranked third among all Division III competitors last season.
An All-MWC Honorable Mention selection from last year, Keith Chamberlain returns with his 11.9 points per game and a team-leading 6.4 rebounds per game. He shot 55.6 percent last year.
Friday's game will also be the opener for Grinnell, which will play its first game ever against the Blugolds.
The game begins at 5:30 p.m. on the brand new $30 million Wartburg-Waverly Sports and Wellness Center. It will actually be the first game ever on the court. Friday's action will determine Saturday's time and foe.