MITCHELL, S.D. – For many years, the Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team has relied on size to overpower and defeat opponents. The 2018-19 season might be a different story as the Tigers will rely on speed and quickness to wear down the opposition. One thing will remain the same – DWU will look for new ways to continue its strong tradition in hopes to finish near the top of the competitive Great Plains Athletic Conference and return to the NAIA National Tournament for a fifth straight season.
Since the 2005-06 season, DWU has landed 18 players on the NAIA All-American list, including seven players making the list multiple times. Those members include Brock Seim, Preston Broughton, Brady Wiebe, Darrin Dorsey, Jalen Voss, Kris Menning, Tate Martin, Trae Bergh, Jason Spicer and Ty Hoglund. Of those players, six of them have also been named the GPAC Player-of-the-Year and nine have scored 1,000 points in their careers at Dakota Wesleyan.
"We are returning a number of players from last year's team, and I think our size will be comparable to previous years, but the way our size plays will be different," said head coach Matt Willber."
Although the 2018-19 team might not have the same size as previous seasons, they do bring a plethora of experience to the table. Hoglund will look to lead the Tigers in his junior campaign. Through Hoglund's first two seasons, he has amassed 1,173 points and shot 51.6 percent from the field. The Dell Rapids, S.D., native has been a back-to-back All-GPAC First-Team selection and a two-time NAIA All-American nominee.
"There is no question Ty is the leader of this team, and he was emerging that way last year," Wilber said. "As a coach, I feel really good about him in that role, and I feel our roster does as well. He has a great presence about him in everything we do and brings a tremendous work ethic and attitude to all of our workouts."
Joining Hoglund on the court will be junior Nate Davis. The 6-foot guard returns after missing the 2017-18 season due to injury. He started in 29 games and played in all 33 games his freshman season, averaging 7.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
In his senior year, Aaron Ahmadu will provide depth at the guard position after playing in 27 games last year. Ahmadu averaged 3.1 points and 1.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 43.5 percent.
Providing size to the Tiger frontcourt will be Collin Kramer and Samuel McCloud. Kramer started in 27 games and played in 33 games last season. The Volga, S.D., native tallied 6.9 points per game and led the team with 5.8 rebounds per game. Kramer has proved he is more than just a big body down in the post, he can also step out and shoot the 3-point shot as well, as he recorded a career-high 19 points on five made 3-point attempts against Northwestern College last season. McCloud is another body that provides size on the perimeter. At 6-foot-8, McCloud nailed 22 shots from beyond the arc and shot 35.8 percent from the field in his first season with the Tigers.
"If we are going to be a consistent program year in and year out, our returners (regardless of their last name) have to carry the load of expectations and production in the preseason and offseason," Wilber said. "I feel good about this group this year. Without having any idea about how our win and loss record is going to shake out, I still like what our guys were able to accomplish as individuals and as a group this offseason."
A new face to the Tiger roster this season will be Nick Harden, a Midland University transfer. In his lone season with the Warriors, Harden made an impact with 6.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He tallied a career-high 19 points against Mount Marty College in his freshman season at Midland.
Another transfer to DWU is junior Tristan Teichmeier, a Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School graduate who played his previous two seasons at the University of Sioux Falls. In his sophomore season with the Cougars, he shot 41.2 percent from the field and snagged 21 rebounds.
Other new faces that look to make an impact include freshmen Mason Larson and Koln Oppold. Larson was the South Dakota Class "B" Player-of-the-Year from Langford, S.D. He tallied 1,598 career points while shooting 48 percent from the field. Larson will provide depth and size to the Tiger lineup at 6-foot-7. Oppold was an All-State Second-Team member from Sioux Falls Christian High School, where his team won the South Dakota Class "A" State Basketball Tournament title.
"While the returners are going to have to carry the bulk of the load for us this year, I am excited about the addition of our freshmen and our transfer guard, Nick Harden," Wilber said of his additions. "Nick joined us at the semester break last season but sat out and will be counted on this year at the point guard position. Koln Oppold and Mason Larson are two freshmen who could be in our rotation."
DWU kicks off the season on Oct. 29 against Bellevue University who begin this season ranked No. 14 in the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Coaches' Top-25 Poll, followed by a trip the next day to Vermillion, S.D., to battle NCAA Division I opponent in the University of South Dakota. The Tigers play their home opener against Sisseton Wahpeton College on Nov. 12 and play Dordt College two days later for the conference home opener.
"Our opening schedule definitely will be tough and has been scheduled to be that way," said Wilber. "We are playing a very challenging nonconference schedule, and the GPAC regular season is always as difficult from top to bottom as any conference in the country."
After the Tigers went 2-0 at the Trip Sports Las Vegas Hoopla two years ago, DWU returns to Las Vegas to take on Cal Miramar University and the University of Antelope Valley on Dec. 19 and 20, respectively. After returning to GPAC play throughout January, the Tigers head north to battle Valley City State University in a late season non-conference matchup on Feb. 13 in Valley City, N.D.
"I am looking forward to seeing what this group will be able to accomplish. Every year brings new, interesting challenges, and our group has gone through some adversity even before our first contest," said Wilber." But we again have a roster filled with great dudes who are excited to make the mark on the tradition and history of the DWU program. I am looking forward to working with them daily and seeing what we can accomplish."