University of Wisconsin-Parkside men’s basketball program enters the 2010-11 season with a revamped squad, and plenty of youth. Featuring a roster comprised of mostly sophomores, their foundation for the next few years is being built for success.
Last season, the Rangers posted a record of 4-14 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC), and 10-19 overall. Despite loosing seven out of their last eight regular season contests, they bounced back with a victory over Missouri-St Louis in the opening round of the conference tournament. With an eventful off-season, Parkside looks to take that momentum into this winter.
“It’s great that the returners got a taste of the post season,” said Parkside’s eighth-year head coach Luke Reigel, who currently sits at 85 career wins in his tenure. “We’re ready to move up the latter, and compete with the big teams in the conference.”
In preparation for the regular season, UW-P hit the road to face Division 1 Drake in an exhibition match. Newcomers Leneal Harris and Tim Baines racked up 12 points apiece in a disappointing 82-46 loss.
Along with Harris and Baines, the Rangers will suit up a starting roster with only two returners: sophomore phenom Jeremy Saffold, and Sam Katula. With freshman Jordan Mach anticipated to start at the shooting guard position, Parkside must find a way to adjust to its new talent.
“Everything is up in the air… we don’t have an identity yet,” Reigel said. “We want to be a tough defense, and versatile on the offensive end.”
Key departures from last season’s squad include Zach Blesich, Jamere Dismukes, and leading scorer Grant Johnson. They combined for 33 points per game, which leaves Parkside with a lot of offensive production to make up for.
“The guys returning are our core,” Reigel assured. “Fortunately, we have about four impact players who we’ve added to the program.”
New-coming starters Harris, Baines, and Mach are part of that tandem, as well as sophomore Nick Neari, a former walk-on at the University of Iowa. The Big Ten transfer will be a potent threat in the perimeter game off the bench.
Sophomores Kevin Senechalle and Ryan Callozzo will also be key contributors off the bench. Also, Steve Jaskulske and Dwayne Edwards are formidable options in the front court.
With a significant shake up of the roster, Reigel will have the task of creating a game plan that will result in a cohesive effort from his guys every trip to the hardwood.
“We come into the season with no go-to player,” Reigel said. “There’s nothing that will be handed to them…they have to prove it on the floor. It helps that we have the deepest group we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. With so much youth, they bring great energy.”
While the Rangers face the challenge of forming an identity on both ends of the floor, they do have major potential within their lineup. Saffold, the first freshman to make All-Conference grade in Parkside history, averaged almost 15 points and five rebounds in his opening campaign. The rising star showed stints of greatness last season with his impressive athleticism and ability to thrive in clutch situations.
“I’d like to see Jeremy continually become more consistent,” Reigel cited. “We want him to be a factor every second he’s on the floor.”
Parkside will host its regular season opener against Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday, Nov. 13. Tip-off from DeSimone Gymnasium in Kenosha, WI will take place at 3 PM. They return home against Michigan Tech on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 3 PM.
For Parkside men’s and women’s basketball coverage, tune in to WRJN 1400AM, Racine. In addition, games will be simulcast on www.gatewaysportsweb.org.