Men's Basketball Opens Season at Concordia
THIS WEEK: Pacific Lutheran gets its 2009-10 men's basketball season underway on Saturday night when it plays the Concordia University Cavaliers in Portland, Ore. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: While Pacific Lutheran will be playing its official season opener, NAIA Division II member Concordia will take the floor for the fifth time in counting games and eighth time overall. The Cavaliers have lost exhibition games to a trio of Division I opponents - University of Portland, University of Oregon and Boise State University. In counting games, Concordia has defeated Multnomah University 130-90, William Jessup 86-80, Point Loma Nazarene 68-66 and San Diego Christian 87-85. The win over Point Loma, a NAIA Division I national playoff team, is ample evidence of the Cavaliers' ability. The team's leader through the first four games is 6-9 senior center Alex Tiefenthaler, a Tacoma native who played his prep ball at Bethel High School. Tiefenthaler averages 23.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Jourdan Sweeney, a 6-5 sophomore forward, chips in with 14.5 points per game and four other Concordia players are averaging between 8.0 and 9.3 points per game.
SEASON OUTLOOK: The 2009-10 Pacific Lutheran men's basketball team will have one only one senior - guard Gabe Smith - to complement a roster with four juniors. "We're still a young squad," head coach Steve Dickerson said of this year's Lutes. In spite of the youth, this team will boast experience beyond its years after several players saw significant time on the court last year as freshmen and sophomores. "They need to be thrown in the fire," Dickerson said. "That's the quickest way to learn." In preparation for this year, Dickerson emphasized the need to gain strength and athleticism. His team responded, with about half of the players staying near campus over the summer to work with PLU strength and conditioning director Chris Wood. Dickerson believes that the team will be a nice mix of youth and experience, emphasizing the physical growth of the returning players through fitness training as well as the size and athleticism of the incoming class. After the graduation of career 1,000-point scorer Josh Dressler, the Lutes have to find a way to replace the points that he brought to the team. Dickerson believes that the points will not come from just one player, but rather from better team balance and consistency throughout. "Scoring is not going to be an issue," Dickerson said. "We've got a lot of people who can score. Which player scores will depend on the matchups of each game." Juniors Victor Bull and Kyle MacTaggart would appear to be the first two players in line for higher scoring totals. Bull, a 6-7 post player, averaged 11.4 points per game and was the Northwest Conference's third-leading rebounder with 7.1 per game. The 6-4 MacTaggart scored 11.9 points per contest from the wing position. Senior Gabe Smith will lead a group of talented guards that includes sophomores Tommy Begalka, Marcus Reaves and Zachary Klein, and freshmen Andrew Earnest, Cameron Reister and Nicholas Forsythe. Dickerson said that the two biggest questions coming into the season are rebounding and leadership. In terms of rebounding, he mentioned Bull as one of the top post players in the conference and pointed to sophomore Tarjei Bryn and freshman Dylan O'Neil as players who need to help solidify PLU's presence on the boards. "The potential to rebound is there," Dickerson said of his post players. "They're warriors." Leadership will come from everyone on the team, Dickerson said. "We just need leadership on the court. We've got to have someone step up and lead." Junior Curtis Trondsen, one of the team's top long-range shooters, returns after scoring eight points per game last season. He will pair with MacTaggart on the wings, along with incoming freshman Cameron Schilling. Junior Tony Polis and sophomore James Conti both return to split time at point guard, with a year of growth and experience in the system to help them take the next step. The pair combined to average six assists and 13 points per game from the point guard position. As the season begins with fall practices, Dickerson sees the improvement of a year spent gaining size, strength and experience.
LUTES LEARN IN SEATTLE U. EXHIBITION: Pacific Lutheran has one preseason scrimmage and one exhibition game under its belt as it heads into the opening week of the season. Charles Garcia scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds on Saturday, Nov. 7, to lead Seattle University to a 96-68 exhibition victory over PLU at Connolly Center. Gibson, a 6-10 center, helped the Redhawks to a dominance near the basket as 50 of their points came inside the key, in addition to having a 49-33 rebounding edge. Tommy Begalka made a triumphant return for Pacific Lutheran, leading the Lutes with nine points in just five minutes of action. Begalka, who missed all of last season after rupturing an achilles tendon, was 3-for-4 from three-point range. Kyle MacTaggart led the Lutes with four rebounds and added six points in 12 minutes, Victor Bull scored eight points in a team-high 25 minutes, and James Conti scored seven points and dished out four assists in 21 minutes. Marcus Reaves came off the bench to score eight points in 10 minutes. All 16 players on the Lutes roster saw action in the game.
APPLY NOW: Lessons learned from that exhibition contest will need to be applied quickly as the young Lutes start their season against a Concordia team that has already been tested seven times this year.
LUTES ONLINE: You can listen to Pacific Lutheran's season opener against Concordia University by clicking on the following link - http://www.golutes.com/information/listenlive. A trio of PLU students - Drew Griffin, Paul DiPietro and Bret Handy - will call the action this season.
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