INDIANOLA, Iowa – The Simpson men's basketball team tips off the 2013-14 season this weekend when it travels North to face Minnesota Conference foes Gustavus Adolphus and Augusburg.
The Storm face Gustavus on Friday at 7 p.m. and Augsuburg on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
A Look at the Opponents
The Gusties went 13-11 last year, going 11-9 in the MIAC to finish in a three-way tie for fifth. Head coach Mark Hanson's team returns nine letterwinners and two starters from last year, led by guards Isaac Tapp (7.7 ppg) and Jordan Dick (7.4 ppg).
The Auggies went 21-7 a year ago and 14-6 in the MIAC to finish third. Head coach Aaron Griess' team will be led by 6-9 center Dan Kornbaum, an All-MIAC first team pick after averaging 18-plus points in 2012-13.
Fourth-year head coach Charles Zanders returns six letterwinners and three starters from last year's team that went 7-19 and 3-11 in the Iowa Conference to finish in a tie for sixth.
Simpson was picked seventh in the IIAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Headlining the returners is 2013 honorable mention all-conference performer, Charles Swain. A 6-2 junior shooting guard from Austin, Texas, Swain led the team in scoring a year ago, averaging 13 points per game. One of the top 3-point shooters in the Iowa Conference, Swain connected on a team-best 35 3-pointers while leading the team in 3-point shooting percentage (.393).
Swain's role will be magnified in 2013-14 with the graduation of Elijah Knox. A three-year starter at point guard, Knox was a first team all-conference pick after averaging 11.8 points and leading the league in steals (60).
One of the top candidates to fill Knox's role is transfer Chad Gutschenritter. A sophomore originally from West Des Moines, Iowa, Gutschenrriter comes to Simpson from Division II Truman State. The 5-11 point guard was a two-time all-state selection at Waukee High School, earning first team honors as a senior after leading Class 4A in assists and steals.
Leading the supporting cast is 6-7 junior forward, Austin Hennings. The South Dakota State transfer from a year ago was the team's top rebounder and is the second-leading scorer coming back in 2013-14. He showed flashes of brilliance a year ago, highlighted by a 32-point, 14-rebound effort in an overtime loss to conference co-champion Buena Vista on Jan. 30.
Seniors Drew Bentley (F, 6-6) and Eric Lande (F, 6-6) also look to fill crucial roles. Bentley started 19 games a year ago, averaging 6.8 points and 3.9 rebounds with 33 3-pointers. A veteran of the program, Lande is a three-year letterwinner and looks for an increased role in 2013-14.
- 2012-13 Record: 7-19
- IIAC Record/Finish: 3-11/t-6th
- Letterwinners returning/lost: 6/4
- Starters returning: 3
- Drew Bentley (F, 6-6, 205, Sr.): 2-year letterwinner ... started 19 games ... averaged 6.8 points and 3.9 rebounds ... second on team in 3-pointers (33).
- Austin Hennings (F, 6-7, 235, Jr.): 1-year letterwinner ... started 23 games ... averaged 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds ... led team in rebounding and double-doubles (2).
- Charles Swain (G, 6-2, 175, Jr.): 2-year letterwinner ... named honorable mention All-IIAC ... averaged 13.0 points and 2.1 rebounds ... led team in scoring, 3-pointers (35) and 3-point percentage (.393).