Men’s Basketball: Storming the Country

BY KIERAN RUANE

From the early days of the 2014-15 men’s basketball season, All-Midwest Conference forward Andrew Schwoerer ’15 had high expectations for his team’s success, and he had good reason to do so.

“At the beginning of the season, the goal is to win every game and then to win the conference tournament. Knowing the incoming first-year class and the returners that we had from last year, I absolutely thought we could reach the level of success that we had last year,” said Schwoerer.

That level of success is something they reached indeed, and it didn’t stop there. Posting a (24-1) overall record, to go along with a Midwest Conference championship, a number three national ranking according to d3hoops.com and hosting privileges of the regional round of the NCAA DIII tournament, this year’s team made easy pickings of its competition, and took over the national spotlight in the process. Head coach Gary Grzesk, who was named the MWC coach of the year for the third consecutive season in 2015, attributes this success to the balance and unselfishness prevalent throughout the Green Knight roster.

“Within our league, we have a nice balance of inside-out play on the offensive end,” said Grzesk. “A lot of the teams in our league are perimeter oriented. We have unselfish kids who are willing to screen for each other, and pass up good shots for great shots.”

In addition to his coach’s comments, Schwoerer goes on to explain his team’s success in his own, rather familiar, words.

“The reason this team is so successful is because of our unselfishness on the court and our ability to work hard every possession,” said the division three preseason all-American and co-MWC player of the year. “Our high team shooting percentage is a product of each guy on the team willing to make the extra pass and pass up a good shot for a great shot. We do not concentrate on one guy getting his shots or points one game, but instead take what the defense gives us and trust each other to make the shot.”

Unselfishness seems to be the recurring concept that makes this Green Knight team tick. And in relation to this, when Schwoerer talks about the team’s “high shooting percentage,” he means it; the Knights’ overall field goal percentage 16 percent higher than their opponents (.547 vs. .388, respectively). And this isn’t the only stat that sets them apart from their opponents, either, as the Knights outscored their competitors in nearly every major stat line recorded, including total points scored (1981 vs. 1523), three-point field goal percentage (.430 vs. .334), free throw percentage (.745 vs. .684), rebounds (938 vs. 663), assists (439 vs. 288), steals (140 vs. 123), blocks (94 vs. 43), and finally, in a shout out to Green Knight men’s basketball fans, attendance at St. Norbert home games (13,592 vs. 5,105). It’s safe to say that with these stats in order, the Knights are more-than-deserving of every accolade they achieved this season.

True success, for any team, is hard to be achieved without a strong combination of talent and work ethic from both the players and their coach. For many, this type of relationship is hard to find; however, with the talent that reigns on this year’s team, the coaching prowess of four-time MWC coach of the year Grzesk, and just the right amount of work ethic, balance and unselfishness, the Knights, without a doubt, struck gold this season.

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