Cobber Hoops Preview
Two weeks from today the Cobbers men's Basketball team will tip it off for the third year in a row against NDSU. The coaches must really like what it provides for their players to keep going in for those massive mismatches. 10 days after that the ladies get after it against Calvin College to start their year. The men's first game that will count comes on November 15 against Minnesota Morris.
Point is, it's not too early to start talking about corn cob ball. The fellas are coming back from a six win season that was 3 - 3 early in December while the gals are coming off an 11 win season, with an early 5 - 3 record. So both teams started out respectably but then the wheels fell off. The good news may be that between the two teams' rosters there were only four graduates and three of the four left the men's team. With the overloaded rosters that each team had in 17/18 there is likely more turnover than just that but on the surface it bodes well for what the teams have coming back...or at least it could bode well.
Two of the three guys that the men's team has lost were among their tallest guys on the roster. They still have a half of a handful of cornstalks to slot in at Center and Forward but the loss of experienced height may have an effect on the team's defensive rotations, especially early in the season.
The one and only chance that anyone would have to see the guys play during the first month of the season will come against the Dragons in an exhibition on November 13th, though the exhibition against NDSU is pert near a home game, if you really wanted to watch that. More to the point though, the men don't have a home game that counts until the 12th of December. That's an unfortunate scheduling situation because if they aren't able to quickly learn how to play together they could already have an untenable win/loss record.
It gets worse from there as the women's team is in much the same situation. They won more games and lost fewer players so that could help them get off to a good start right away but if they don't the gym could be a pretty desolate venue for both teams. The one exception that the ladies do have is a home game on November 15 against Valley City. If they're looking to build excitement amongst the student body, and who isn't??, then that one could serve as a spring board into the heart of the winter months.
Typically having a road heavy section of a schedule means that home games will come in bunches at other times in the schedule. Oddly and surprisingly that's not really the case for either squad. More to the point of the scheduling being a bit unusual, both the men and the women have three more games away from Memorial Stadium then they do in it. That may not seem like much but could mean the difference in finishing with winning records or even close to .500 records.
If there was one game that I would recommend attending it would be Macalester for the men and St. Olaf for the women. Last season each team won both of their matchups against that particular opponent. The guy's even managed to crack 100 points against Macalester during their home game so if you're looking for fun that could be the one to see. They both could be, because who likes to go to a losing game? No one.
But I got this far without even mentioning any players by name, time to turn that around. So while they'll look to return with some new bodies on the block, the guy's are primed to return the top three scorers from last season and the two top assist men. Collin Larson overlaps in both categories. Amongst that trio of top scorers is also one of last year's top rebounders, Jordan Davis. The third member of the group is junior Tommy Schyma. With the other two entering their senior seasons it will be now or never to compete within the conference. That added pressure could pay dividends for the team from day one.
The gals have it even better with all five of their top scorers having at least one more year to play at Concordia. The fourth and fifth members of that group also lead the way as the team's top two rebounders. Add in to the gumbo that they'll also have their top assister and thief in Grace Wolhowe and the 11 wins seems like an easy mark to reach and surpass - if it went down on paper. A lot of things seem better on paper but with Wolhowe, Jamie Mentzer, Mira Ellefson, Kirstin Simmons and Lincoln Haiby leading the way in many of those categories, they should be a competitive team on a game by game basis!
It's a shot in the dark but I always like to take a shot in the dark at how the season may go, wins and losses. So here goes the predictions:
Men 11 - 14
Women 15 - 10
It's a bit rudimentary but considering how little attention they get, I think it's as good of a season preview as you'll find. So while I wish Winter were still a ways off, the signs of it are evident so let's embrace the positives that come along with the cold and snow. College Basketball is certainly one of those positives and no matter how they do in terms of wins & losses the Cobbers program is no exception!