NEW ULM The Martin Luther College men's basketball team is looking to improve on its 4-21 record from a year ago, and it thinks it has the tools to do just that.
Senior captain Galen Holzhueter will lead the Knights once again this season. Holzhueter is a three-year returning starter for the Knights, and he is coming off a first team all-Upper Midwest Athletic Conference selection after averaging 18.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Holzhueter's 18.2 points per game led the team and was second in the UMAC.
"Galen is a leader, and nobody works harder than he does," MLC head coach Jim Unke said.
Holzhueter will be joined in the front court by sophomore Micah Koelpin. With a year of experience under his belt, Koelpin will be looked to be a force on the boards and on defense for the Knights. Newcomer Zach Peterson could also see some quality minutes in the frontcourt.
Luke Rothe returns for his sophomore season at the point guard position. Rothe was second on the team with 13.2 points per game last year, and he will be looked to carry much of the scoring load along with Holzhueter as well as run the offense in his new role this season.
"If we can find all the pieces to fit around (Holzhueter and Rothe), that is not a bad duo to build a team around," Unke said.
Sophomore Mike Paulsen will also see some time at the point guard position. The Knights will have point guard Josh Lindner back this season after he was forced to sit out last year with a torn ACL. Lindner could also see some minutes at point guard.
Senior Ben Edmundson and sophomores Austin Eisenmann and Todd Brassow all return to the court for the Knights with experience, and will round out the backcourt for the Knights.
"We are going to have to rely on an offense that is really run by our guards and our forwards," Unke said. "We really have some good athleticism out there this year."
Junior Craig Wilke is a utility player of sorts for MLC, and he will be looked to give valuable minutes both in the frontcourt and the backcourt.
With their tallest player being Koelpin at 6-feet-4 inches, the Knights will try to use its experience in the backcourt to its advantage. The Knights are looking to pick up the tempo on both sides of the ball with fast breaks and pressure defense.
"We want to run the floor and score on fast breaks as much as we can," Holzhueter said. "We are just going to have to set good screens and work hard to get ourselves open on the offensive side of the ball."
The Knights were picked to finish seventh in the UMAC preseason poll which is something they will use for motivation.
"We are definitely looking to exceed the spot we were picked in the preseason poll, and I think it is definitely something we can do as a team," Holzhueter said. "We are going to have to work hard every day for it, but I know it is something we can achieve."
MLC kicks off its season this Friday when it travels to take on Lakeland College.