Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Men’s basketball looks back at this year’s season

Senior forward Nic Hoepfner goes for the basket while being blocked in the first half. Photo by Alex Cintado.

Another season of men’s basketball came to a close on March 21 with a loss to UW-Stevens Point.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our team and the season we had,” said head coach Grey Giovanine after the Vikings championship loss.
According to a preseason coaches’ poll, Augustana was favored to win the CCIW conference title.
As predicted, the Vikings became conference champions with a 78-74 win against Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU).
The Vikings also earned 11 nonconference wins at the beginning of the season, including a 96-94 win over UW-Whitewater.
“In many games this preseason we had to really come together and depend on one another, and that made us a much better team,” said junior forward Tayvian Johnson.
Junior point guard Hunter Hill received honors including being named to the preseason All-America second team after an early exhibition win against the Division 1 Bradley University.
Additionally, the United States Basketball Writers Association named Hill its NCAA Division III National Player of the Week in December, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches named Hill in its All-District and All-America teams.
The Vikings later moved to first in the Top 25 list after a 4-0 start to the season and various upsets gained them 16 out of 25 first-place votes.
The Vikings stayed in first place for four weeks and went on to defeat rivals North Central, Wheaton, and IWU in three tight match-ups.
“With this team, we’ve had all year long, I could go through example after example of tight game situations where we know that we have to stick to our system and grind it out,” said senior forward Nic Hoepfner.
Other key returnees who stepped up this season include juniors Brandon Motzel, after suffering a hand injury later in the season, Griffin Pils, who scored a career-high of 24 points against North Central, and Jawan Straughter who shot two game-winning free-throws against DePauw.
“We have great depth on this team, and I think we really wear down teams… We seem to just find a way to pull (wins) out every time,” said Pils.
The Vikings even led Giovanine to his 300th win after defeating Millikin on the road.
After the Vikings received a first round bye in the NCAA tournament, they hosted three unforgettable games in Augustana’s Roy J. Carver Center.
The first game against DePauw ended with Straughter’s two game-winning free throws to end the game at 68-66.
The Vikings sailed through the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 with an 82-69 win over Mount Union and a 100-51 win against Marietta.
The road trip to the Final Four began with the men’s basketball team waving goodbye to the fans who wished them well in Salem, Va.
Fans soon followed on two fan buses driving  down overnight, staying in a hotel to cheer on their Vikings.
As fans cheered for Augustana and Babson during the Final 4 at the Salem Civic Center, the Vikings pulled away to a 68-48 win over the Beavers.
“It clearly gave us a tremendous lift to be this far from home and have those fans create that kind of atmosphere,” said Giovanine.
Out of the 62-team line-up in the tournament, Augustana went on to face UW-Stevens Point in the championship.
After a hard fought 70-54 loss, the Vikings walked away with the national runner-up trophy.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Augustana Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Men’s basketball looks back at this year’s season