NEW ULM - New Ulm Cathedral head boys' basketball coach Paul Hazuka said that inexperience is the one word that can describe the Greyhounds' 1-7 start to the season following a close 52-49 home loss to Sleepy Eye Tuesday night.
"We have three seniors (one of which, Jeff Osborne, is out with a high ankle sprain) and the other night we played four sophomores and a freshman," Hazuka said. "We have a lot of learning to do. We have a lot of guys that are trying to come together to create a team. It is a learning curve that we have to work our way through."
Hazuka said that so far this season, he has had to go through "mixing and matching" starting line-ups.
"It is not a year like last year where things were pretty well set up and you knew what people could do," he added. "This year we had two steady guys in Jake Stadick and Jeff Osborne that played a lot last year and we knew what they were capable of doing and are trying to build around them."
One of the early season problems that the Greyhounds had was shooting the ball.
Tuesday night in the three-point loss to the Indians, Cathedral hit on 14-of-33 shots from the field.
"Our shooting may be improving a little bit, but we are still having a hard time scoring," Hazuka said. "It is still up and down - we are not consistent in our shooting like we need to be."
That inconsistent shooting has put extra pressure on the Cathedral defense.
"The other night against Mankato Loyola we did not shoot well at all in the first half, and they got a lot of easy fast-break baskets as the result of that," Hazuka said. "Any time you can put the ball in the hoop, that slows up the other team offensively, it is a big plus."
Hazuka feels that the team's goal in the next month is "for us to find our roles and niches offensively - we need to put things together."
The Greyhounds have two big rivalry games coming up back-to-back Thursday at Sleepy Eye St. Mary's and then Monday at Minnesota Valley Lutheran.
Cathedral may well go into its game with the Chargers with one win, while MVL has a game with Cedar Mountain/Comfrey on Friday and could be winless when it meets Cathedral.
That is unusual for two schools that usually have solid basketball programs.
"This is not the typical year," Hazuka said. "MVL has been so successful for a long time. Small schools like us have peaks and valleys that we have to live through. Right now we are both in the valley."
Eagles boys' hockey has tough schedule
The New Ulm Eagles boys' hockey team has three tough home games coming up at the New Ulm Civic Center.
Tonight New Ulm hosts Rochester Lourdes before a first-ever regular season meeting with The Blake School on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Eagles then have a key South Central Conference meeting with LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter on Tuesday.
"This will be an interesting month," said Eagles' head coach Erik Setterholm, who hopes that his team can rebound from a 5-3 loss to Dodge County on Tuesday. "In the next three weeks we play games every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. That is hard for one, and then we have some really tough opponents in Orono, Blake and Lourdes. And we have St. Peter - we need that win to keep us in the hunt for the South Central Conference title."
The Eagles tied LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter 3-3 in St. Peter in their first meeting this season.
New Ulm fans will get the chance to see teams that the Eagles normally do not play when Rochester Lourdes and The Blake School come to town.
"Those teams will be tough," Setterholm said. "You play two hard non-conference games almost back-to-back and then play a tough conference game the next week. It can be tough on you."
New Ulm had two tough games in the Rochester Kiwanis Tournament in contests with two Wisconsin teams - Verona and Northwood Pines.
"They are big, physical teams," Setterholm said. "Both teams just manhandled us and Verona ended up winning the tournament. They were ranked fifth in Wisconsin."
New Ulm did get goalie Matt Berkner back from a broken arm sustained during football season.
"He came with us, and that takes a lot of pressure off of (goalie) Brach Kraus," Setterholm said. "Brach played through some injuries earlier in the year. Matt is a good goaltender - he will play some JV to get some games under him. He had 34 saves in the last game."
Right now minnesota-scores.net has Luverne and Windom ranked ahead of New Ulm in its rankings for Section 3A.
"But if we can win our games against Marshall and Litchfield, we should be the number one seed," Setterholm said. "We would have beaten the teams we needed to beat. We would have beaten Marshall twice, and they split with Luverne."
Setterholm said that he has changed the team's second line to Ethan Kraus, Brandon Helget and Colin Huffman.
"We moved Huffman up to center that line, and they played very well against Litchfield," Setterholm said. "I expect them to give that first line some help."
Setterholm hopes that his team can be competitive against Lourdes and Blake.
"We want them to want to keep playing us in the future because we are competitive with them," Setterholm said.