Vikings men’s basketball begin season opener on a slow start


Mina Garner

First-year Matt Hawkins runs through a hole in the University of Dubuque’s defense down the baseline at the Carver Center on Friday night.

Silas Gilklay

On Nov. 6, the Vikings men’s basketball lost their season opener against UW-Oshkosh in a non-conference game. The season opener began to a disappointing start for the Vikings as they fell to UW-Oshkosh 70-90.

It was the team’s first game in front of a huge crowd in almost 2 years, but unfortunately, No. 17 Oshkosh maintained their dominance when the Vikings failed to buffer their defensive play, allowing the home team to grow their lead and even stretch the margin to seal their win in the season opener.

Coach Tom Jessee believes that for his team to win, the players need more experience.

“We just need to get more experience playing against high-level competition,” Jessee said. “Defensively, we absolutely need to get better. Our players know that we’re not where we need to be on the defense.”

Jessee pointed out that his team’s biggest setback in the game was their inability to keep the ball and play with aggressiveness.

“We didn’t handle the ball very well,,” Jessee said. “We turned the ball over 21 times, so we need to develop our strength and aggressiveness.”

Despite the loss, some players rose to the occasion. One such player is junior Dan Carr. He scored 19 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and clocked 21 minutes. Commenting on the loss, Carr also believes the team was not aggressive in the opener because they didn’t intensify their defensive tactics as a team.

“I would say it was just being more aggressive in certain areas,” Carr said. “I think we needed to be a bit more assertive and look to attack against the free throw lines, as well as on the defensive and offering a bit more resistance to their All-American players.”

First-year Matt Hawkins was another standout performer for the Vikings in the game against Oshkosh. He scored 14 points and lasted 21 minutes in his first college game.

Hawkins is determined that teamwork and hard work can change the result from the first game. He maintains that if the team plays with a well defensive formation and a development mindset, they can pocket more wins throughout the season.

“We just didn’t execute a few things defensively,” Hawkins said. “We got a lot of young new faces, and we are trying harder to get to know each other’s game. Defensively, we just need to get a little bit better, use practices to correct the errors and certainly keep working harder to get better at what we do.”

Meanwhile, Jessee, who just earned the head coach position after 21 years as an assistant, was also impressed with the team’s offensive display in the season opener.
“We did some good things offensively and I’m impressed with that character on the court,” Jessee said. “If we can do that every single day, improvement will be tremendous and wins will take care of themselves.”

Jessee’s men will be up against another top notch opponent in their first home game of the season on Nov. 12. They will face off with Dubuque in front of home fans for the first time since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.