Vikings no.1 in pre-season

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A recent poll by The Sporting News placed the Augustana men’s basketball team as the #1 team in the country  for this upcoming season.
Head coach Grey Giovanine was proud of his team for earning this accomplishment.
“I’m thrilled and honored that we were ranked no. 1,” Giovanine said. “It’s something you aspire for.”
The Vikings will be returning all five of their starting line-up for this year, including senior and captain Hunter Hill who was named to The Sporting News’ All-America team.
While Hill was honored for both the team and his own recognition, he’s keeping the achievement in perspective.
“It’s a great recognition for our team,” Hill said. “It shows how far this senior class and especially the senior class last year, came since we were freshman and sophomores. But at the same time, we have to get back to work. It just didn’t happen because we showed up. It happened because we came to practice every day and worked hard.”
With the #1 ranking comes the worry the Vikings have huge targets on their backs from other teams.
Hill said the ranking won’t negatively impact the team.
“I think when you have such a high ranking, you’re going to be targeted by other teams,” Hill said. “We have the mentality that we are gonna go out and do what we do.”
Giovanine, while happy with the achievement, said it won’t mean anything once the season starts.
“Once the ball goes up on Nov. 13, it’ll mean nothing,” Giovanine said. “You can either reject it or embrace it, and we’ve talked as a team and said ‘embrace it and let’s go validate the expectation.’”
When the season ended last year, the Vikings went right back to the work, training during the spring and the summer to get ready for this upcoming year.
Giovanine remarked some of the guys stayed in Rock Island over the summer to practice together.
They’ve been training for the first game of the season, which will be on Nov. 13 against University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse.
Giovanine is awaiting for the ball to fly up for tip-off on Nov. 13.
“The most important game for us is UW-Lacrosse because that’s the next game,” Giovanine said. “That’s our first game, and the only one we can impact. The most important opponent is the one in front of ya.”
Besides UW-Lacrosse, the Vikings will be going be having a rematch with defending NCAA Division III champions, the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point, within the first few weeks of the season as well as other highly national ranked teams, Washington University (St. Louis) and UW-Whitewater.
Giovanine said the schedule for the Vikings will be difficult and intense.
“It’s probably the most difficult non-conference schedule we’ve ever had,” Giovanine said. “When you talk about Wash U, Whitewater and Steven’s point, those are three national champions and repeat champions at that. We are playing the best teams in the country.”
While the schedule may be difficult, the Vikings are looking to maintain the #1 expectations, hoping to return with a national championship trophy this time around.