With a 6-2 conference record for the first half of the season, the number two CCIW ranked Augustana men’s basketball team will begin their conference rematches this week.
Since the CCIW is an extremely competitive conference, the Vikings have had some intense matchups this 2017-18 season. The results of the upcoming rematches will determine each team’s place in the conference tournament.
Junior captain, Nolan Ebel, said how the team likes to focus on one game at a time instead of looking too far ahead.
“Playing a team the second time is always better than playing them the first time,” Ebel said. “We want to prove that we’re the best team in the conference every night, whether that’s getting a tough road win or grinding out a win.”
In order to win these games, the team has been making adjustments where needed. Much of their focus has been on rebounding, in which they average 37.6 rebounds per game.
Overall, the team is working on finishing each game well. Last year, they lost the NCAA Division III national game and the conference title due to their issues with ending the game. With this in mind, Ebel said how the team feels more experienced this year in these situations.
“Starting strong and also finishing strong will help because we want to win conference outright this year,” Ebel said.
For the younger players on the team, the intensity of competitive collegiate games, especially in this half of the season, is a new experience. Freshman, Carson Frakes, isn’t worried about being a young player on the team due to the guidance of the upperclassmen.
“The inexperience I have plays a role, but the leadership the team has makes up for it,” Frakes said. “The leadership that we have makes it so we’re all on the same page about what’s at stake.”
The younger players have had a good share of court time as well as the upperclassmen, and this balance enables the team to have a better prepared team all around. Speaking from experience from past years, Ebel said that this benefits the team in the long run.
“The more time we get with the young guys, the better we’ll be later in the season,” Ebel said.
“The upperclassmen,” Ebel said, “feel like there’s no situation that’s out of our comfort zone because of the experience playing in a national championship.”
The two CCIW losses the Vikings had were against Illinois Wesleyan and Wheaton. The Vikings are looking forward to these two rematches for redemption. After the first game against each, the team knows what to focus on and get better at, whether that be offense or defense related.
“You have to come in every single game prepared and knowing exactly what your opponent wants to do so you can stop them,” Frakes said.
The Vikings’ first rematch of the season will be at Wheaton on Wednesday, January 24 at 7 PM. Their first home rematch will be against Carthage on Saturday, January 27 at 7 PM.