NEW ULM The Martin Luther College Knights men's basketball team is looking to be much more successful than the 2-22 (2-12 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference play) team it was a year ago, and the Knights think they have the talent to do it.
"This team has a lot of talent, and we are excited about the upcoming season and our chances of reaching the UMAC postseason tournament," senior captain Justin Eternick said.
The Knights return three starters from last year's team. Junior Galen Holzhueter was the team's leading scorer and rebounder a year ago, averaging 18.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Holzhueter earned second team all-UMAC honors. Holzhueter is a team captain along with Eternick (6 ppg).
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Justin Eternick will be a key post player for the Knights this season.
"Galen is going to get his points and be a leader on both ends of the floor no matter what, but this year I think he will have a stronger supporting cast which will take pressure off of him a little bit and open more things up for him," MLC head coach Jim Unke said.
Senior Josh Danell (7.3 ppg) and sophomore Craig Wilke (5.1 ppg) are the other two starters the Knights return this year.
MLC should have a strong front court attack with Eternick and Danell leading the way under the basket.
The Knights also get some experience back at the point guard position from Kaleb Buch. Buch was forced to sit out last year with an injury, but he is back this year healthy and expected to start for the Knights.
"It's nice to have Kaleb back on the court this year because he is the one guy on this team who has experience at point guard," Unke said. "He is a competitor and he looks really good this year."
MLC is hoping to get plenty of contributions from its young players. The Knights have 15 players on their roster with eight of those 15 players being freshmen.
Luke Rothe highlights the large freshmen class and is expected to make an immediate impact starting at either point guard or shooting guard. Rothe was player of the year in Wisconsin's Capitol North conference his senior year and was invited to play in the Wisconsin high school all-star game.
Other freshmen who will be looked upon to make early contributions are guards Austin Eisenmann, Todd Brassow and Mike Paulsen along with forwards Micah Koelpin and Mark Steinbrenner.
"We really have a talented group of freshmen this year," Eternick said. "They have quite a bit of speed and athleticism, and they all play with that energetic mentality that we need on the team."
The Knights were picked eighth in the UMAC preseason poll, which came out Nov. 13. Being picked last is just extra motivation for this young Knights squad.
"It never feels great being picked last in a preseason poll, but it motivates us to work even harder to prove that poll wrong," Eternick said."
The Knights open their season today against Viterbo University in the Viterbo Tournament in La Crosse, Wis.
MLC has its home opener on Dec. 1 when it hosts Dakota State University.
The Knights kickoff UMAC play on Jan. 8 when they travel to take on rival Bethany Lutheran College.