Boys’ basketball is optimistic for upcoming season

Boys' basketball is optimistic for upcoming season

Photo courtesy of Mark Lex

The boys’ basketball team hopes to maintain its positive reputation this year with strong seniors leading the team to state.

Chris Bell, Staff Writer

As one of the top basketball programs in the state, the BSM boys’ basketball team rises above others with a consistently competitive and talented team each year. The 2011-2012 season embarks on not only another chance to win the North Suburban Conference title, making it the fourth win in six years, but also to achieve the team’s number one goal of advancing to the state tournament and possibly snagging the state championship.

Over the past five seasons, the Red Knights bolstered an impressive 120-30 record, proving they have been one of the most consistently talented teams in the state. Though this is true, the Red Knights still come into the season with something to prove due to the devastating two point loss they suffered to Waconia in the 6AAA section finals last spring.

Bouncing back from the loss, the team will use their memories of that game to push themselves even further this year. “That [Waconia] game affected our whole mentality for this year. That game is in the back of everyone’s minds. When things start to get tough down the stretch, that’s going to give us all the motivation we need to keep grinding,” said senior captain Will Dunn.

Consistency won’t be a challenge this season due to the amount of seniors on the team. “We have 11 seniors returning from last years team, so that is a lot of experience. Those are the guys our team turns to in crunch time––guys that have been through certain situations before,” said assistant coach Jeff Fix.

The offseason also served as a big factor to the teams readiness. Many players played on summer teams and put in the work and effort to help achieve the goal of obtaining the state championship trophy. “I traveled around the country in the summer playing against some of the best talent in the country. I was constantly working on ball-handling, shooting, getting more explosive,” said Dunn.

While all of this experience seems like a good thing, it also suggests the high expectations set for the team this year. “Win the conference, the sections, and eventually the state tournament. The only way we can do that is if we work hard every day in practice to get better everyday,” said fellow senior captain Sanjay Lumpkin.

This won’t be an easy task, partly because of the loss of 6’10 Kyle Washington to prep school (who averaged 8.7 ppg last season) and because of inconveniently timed injuries. “We weren’t going to be as big as last years team, and then the loss of Joe Gill to an ACL injury makes us even smaller,” said coach Fix.

Perhaps the biggest challenge the team faces though, is the tough regular season schedule it has putting them up against some of the best teams in the state. Although this does increase the chances of the Red Knights losing a game or two, it will prepare them for the playoffs and state tournament.

The schedule includes the always-difficult and back-to-back-to-back defending class AAAA state champions, Hopkins, storied crosstown rivals DeLaSalle, conference foes Cooper (twice), and out of state power house St. Thomas More, from South Dakota. “We want to schedule as tough of games as we can to help prepare us for the post season.” said Coach Fix.

The Red Knights know they have a target on their back and that they need to play their best every night to get to their goal, or they’ll fall short. “We have to take every game seriously and play it like our last. It’s cliché, but its the truth,” said Dunn.

This being the last season for the seniors and the last opportunity for them to conquer the state championship, the team appears to be up to the challenge, especially with all the experience and the diversity each player brings. The depth of the team is unquestioned. “We have many players that can contribute in all different areas and have depth many teams don’t have,” said Lumpkin.

With the drive to get the job done, the level heads of the captains and the raw amount of talent the team possesses, this season is sure to be exciting and one to be remembered. “Every player on our team looks bigger and stronger than last year. There are only a few teams in the state that get to end their season with a win and we want to be one of those teams,” said coach Fix.