Men’s basketball preview

Matt Hoh

The Vikings look ahead to another great season, as they are currently ranked 19th in the Top 25 in Division III basketball by The team had a great season last year, posting a 22-3 record, and the team is the reigning Midwest Conference Tournament champion.
Lawrence has become a powerhouse in terms of men’s basketball in recent years, as they have won the conference four out of the last five years. “Our goal this year is to defend our Midwest Conference Championship belt and to make a run at the NCAA Championship in March,” senior guard Ryan Kroeger commented.
Coach Joel DePagter, better known as JoJo, leads the team in his second year as the head coach. JoJo played at Lawrence for three seasons and won a conference title in 1997. He was inducted into the Lawrence Athletic Hall of Fame this past Friday night.
The Lawrence team is lead by standout Kroeger who has been named as a preseason first-team All-American by Sporting News. Kroeger is the reigning MWC Player of the Year, who averaged 17.5 points just a season ago and currently ranks 13th in all-time scoring with 1,082 points at Lawrence.
Joining Kroeger are fellow senior starters Doug Kadison and Chris Page. Overall, the depth and experience within the 14 returning players is the biggest strength of the team.
Kroeger explained, “Our depth and ability to make the game more up-tempo means that we can play multiple guys at different positions and we should be able to run a lot and get the other team tired.”
The team has another strength: shooting.
Kadison commented, “This is the best shooting team I have been on at Lawrence. We have guys who can really get hot and have the ability to carry us for stretches this year … we also have big guys like Page, [senior] BJ Harry and [sophomore] Eric Borresen and we have to find a way to get them the ball inside as well, but for the most part we will thrive in the open court and with good outside shooting.”
With the team’s overall success in the past and the current 19th-place ranking, the Vikings will have to go through the season with a target on their back. Every game “you can expect a very up-tempo match-up and fun style of basketball as a fan,” Page said.
The Vikings start out with UW-Oshkosh Nov. 18 as they head to the Kolf Sports Center at Oshkosh. The home opener is Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. when the Vikings host Coe College.
DePagter added, “We have a great home schedule this year, so hopefully students will continue to support us at home games. The atmosphere at Alex has been great over the past few years, and we need it to continue.