Vikes, More Vikes!

Peter Griffith

(Brent Schwert)

While last weekend’s loss to Carroll was pretty disappointing, LU men’s basketball fans that were keeping up with the rest of the league felt their disappointment muted by the fact that both Ripon and Lake Forest won on Saturday afternoon. That meant that even if LU had managed to beat the powerful Pioneers, they wouldn’t have made the playoffs. In the end, the season finished not with a bang but a whimper.
Such an ending feels pretty strange for seniors who have watched Lawrence compile a miraculous 82-21 record over the past four years, win three straight conference championships, and win games in three NCAA tournaments. We’ve been spoiled rotten.
We had the joy of watching the MWC’s greatest-ever basketball player in Chris Braier and one of Lawrence’s best-ever defensive players, Kyle MacGillis. His brother, Chris, was one of the best sixth men I’ve ever seen, and sharpshooters Jason Holinbeck and Ryan Kroeger poured in more than our fair share of picture-perfect three-pointers.
But it’s time to move past all of that (well, maybe not time to move past Kroeger just yet). Lawrence will miss Matt Osland’s big presence in the paint and in the locker room, but next year’s team has the potential to be good. Really good.
Kroeger and Andy Hurley should be the best 1-2 punch in the league next year. Chris Page at times shows echoes of (dare I say) St. Braier. Tommy Schmidt and Jayce Apelgren came out of nowhere to solidify themselves as legitimate contributors in big games – I guess that Tharp guy can recruit too. And if you’re looking for senior leadership, well, Ben Rosenblatt may just be LU’s first real-deal, triple-threat point guard since Rob Nenahlo.
Yes, the future is bright. Seniors should not feel that when they left the southwest corner of Alex’s bleachers for the last time they were walking away from the end of an era. And that goes for you too, Matt, Matt, Nate, Ryan and Erik. This cupboard is anything but bare, and Tharp isn’t going anywhere (isn’t that right, Coach?).
For now though, lets not forget about the girls. After all, they made the playoffs.
They open up against Lake Forest, currently ranked 16th in the country. LFC has only dropped one conference game all season. The team that beat ’em? Your very own Lawrence Vikings.
Fear not, LU basketball fans. You have much to look forward to in the next few years, from the women and from the men. Just promise me you’ll always outcheer Ripon.