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The Spuds return without one of the top talents to ever come from their halls. Tyler Bormann and his staff have put together a program that will be able to pick-up that vacated offense and may be even stronger this year from starters through their bench. I couldn't have asked for much better information to be provided then the coach gave this year!

I'm curious which memories stand out as the highlights of last year?

"I was proud of our group last year as we had a great season overall as a program. The 20 regular-season wins marked only the 4th time in program history that a team won 20 regular-season games. It was the second straight year that we saw an improvement of 9 wins from the previous season (3, 12, 21), illustrating the growth and development of our program as a whole."

"As for memories, hosting and winning a home playoff game in the always competitive Section 8AAAA and advancing to the section semifinals for the second year in a row was a highlight for our team. Individually, we had two players eclipse the 1,000 point career scoring mark in the same season (Maleeck Harden-Hayes and Drew Hagen). Seeing Maleeck's overall development from his sophomore year to signing a D1 letter of intent with NDSU was memorable not only for us as coaches but for those who follow our program I believe. I'm proud of last year's teams as a group, none of the team or individual accomplishments happen without the collective efforts of our entire program."


How do you plan on building upon what you taught your returning players last season?

"We look forward to the opportunity in front of us to build on the growth of our program to this point, but we recognize with a new year comes a new set of challenges and areas we need to improve in. We will continue to strengthen what we do as a program by staying consistent in what we've been teaching (playing with great tempo and spacing on the offensive end of the floor and competing with toughness on the defensive end). Replacing our graduation seniors won't be easy, but we're confident in the group that we have coming back as 6 of our 8 leaders in minutes played from last season return for us this season."


Did you take your team to any camps this past Summer? If so, how did your team benefit from that?

"We had another busy summer period with our players 9-12, with skill sessions 4 days a week during the summer as well as attending various team camps and MN Breakdown events to allow us to compete together as a team. That time of year allows us to see who has matured both physically and mentally, who may be ready to step up for us as a team coming into this season, and it's enjoyable to spend time with our players during the summer months playing in events and working on skill development."


Have you already had players in the gym working on their game this Fall?

"Our out-of-season rules don't allow us to work directly with our players this time of year, but we've had open gyms, offseason team lifting, and morning workouts run by Sanford Power Basketball that is available for our players to take advantage of, if they choose to do so. It's been great to see how invested many of our guys have been in the weight room this fall. In addition, we have many guys who compete in a fall sport which I think is great for their overall development as a competitor."


Thinking about the roster that you will have, is it fair to say that Drew Hagen will be the number 1 option for you?

"Drew will undoubtedly be asked to step up as senior this season, but at the same time, we will expect Drew to be himself, focusing on what he does well to continue making his teammates better rather than trying to do too much. He has confidence in the players around him making that much easier."


How have you seen Hagen's game improve over the years?

"As a player Drew has continued to develop his ability to score at all 3 levels, working more on his ability to score in the post based on matchups as well as defending and rebounding more consistently. He continues to have the ability to shoot the ball at an elite level from the perimeter but in developing his overall ability to impact the game has put him in position to have a great year for us and be a D2 commit going into his senior season."


Who will need to step up around him to replace Maleeck Harden-Hayes and other players that graduated or otherwise moved on?

"As for other players that we're confident will step up:"

"Quentin Hegg (Sr.): quietly averaged nearly 13 ppg last season, he provides competitive toughness for our team on both ends of the floor."

"Donnavin Hinsz (So.): poised to take another big step forward this season inside for us. Coming off a freshman campaign where he played meaningful minutes the last month of the year he likely play a much bigger role in what we do this season."

"Belind Alemadi (Jr.): had a strong offseason, coming off a season where he started nearly every game at the PG position for us and was our best on-ball defender throughout the season."

"Brady Walthall (Jr.): had a strong sophomore season, looks poised to step into a primary scoring role for us this season and be key for us on both ends of the floor."

"Trey Feeney (Jr.): versatile in his ability to play on the perimeter and physical enough to play inside, he will be a great on-floor leader for us this season."

"Blake Walthall (Jr.): his ability to shoot the ball on the offensive will provide depth on the perimeter and we're confident he can take a big step forward this year."

"David Lindell (Jr.): another player who had a very nice offseason, we will look for him to provide depth and physicality on the perimeter for our team."

"Jake Thielke (Jr.): a strong post who can bring a physical presence inside, he will likely provide depth on the interior for us."

As things are today, is there a certain aspect of the game that you think will be the strength of your team? "As I mentioned earlier we will continue to push the ball and play with great tempo on offense, putting our players in advantageous situations that allow them to use their overall skill set to be successful. We should have a relatively high overall offensive skill level as a group and we believe in allowing our players to play free within the concepts we preach to have success. Offensively I think our strengths will be our willingness to share the ball, our ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter, and our versatility as a whole." "Defensively we will continue to work on making teams take "our shot" by competing with toughness, preparing for each game, and playing together. One area we will need to focus on improving, in large part due to our losses through graduation, will be rebounding the ball as a team to finish defensive possessions and allow us to get out in transition where we are strongest."


Ultimately, what do you hope to accomplish this season?

"It may sound cliche but it's true, our goal as a team will continue to grow and improve as the season moves along so we can compete for a section title at tournament time. It's imperative to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year and a lot goes into that, so our focus will simply be on getting better each day by coming ready to compete in practices and games, investing in our game preparation, and developing togetherness that will carry us when we need it the most as a team."