New Beavers to fill leadership roles
STORM LAKE — The Buena Vista Beavers men’s basketball team, coming off a 14 win season a year ago, is ready to erase the five-game skid that derailed the train at the end of the season. Head coach Brian Van Haaften is back for his 23rd year at BVU, 21st as the main man roaming the sideline. The Beavers lost four seniors from a season ago, but Van Haaften isn’t concerned.
“We always get new leaders in place,” he said. “We have four good seniors that are going to step up this year.”
Seniors David Jeffries and Thomas Wisecup are expected to contribute heavily this year for the Beavers. Jeffries, a junior transfer a season ago, won the IIAC defensive player of the year award and averaged 13 points a game on 55 percent shooting. He also averaged two steals a game and nearly five rebounds. Wisecup has seen improvement through his first three seasons with the Beavers, averaging a shade under 14 points a game last year, and he shot a team-high 44.5 percent from behind the 3-point line. He led the team in assists per game as well with 3.7 and outing. Van Haaften added that the two other seniors, Adam Juhl and Grant Wright, are also both good defenders.
Some other returning contributors from last season are junior Connor Winkelman who averaged 6.3 points a game, sophomore Timothy Jeffries and sophomore Canyon Hopkins.
BVU saw another impressive crop of freshmen come in this season which includes three local products in Michael Demers from Storm Lake St. Mary’s, Ryan Radke from Alta-Aurelia and Trey Valentine from Cherokee. Van Haaften doesn’t expect any of three local young men to see a lot of playing time, if any, in their first season unless the injury bug strikes.
Van Haaften is looking forward to seeing what Hopkins and sophomore Matthew Goodman, who comes in at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, can do in the post this year, taking over for departed seniors Kennedy Drey and Sean Morgan.
“Hopkins can do a lot for us. There aren’t a lot of weaknesses in his game,” he said. “Goodman is a load in the post. Not too many guys are going to move him off of the block.”
One of the strengths of this year’s BVU squad will be their ability to score points. Van Haaften stated that his group this year can shoot well. They have good post players and will not turn the ball over. However, on the flip side, there is some inexperience that might hold the Beavers back at the beginning of the season. The Beaver coach expects the leadership to aid in fixing the inexperience.
Van Haaften wants to see his guys play together as a team. If they can do that, he believes they can make a good run in the conference this year. He keys the defense as another area that they could work on through the season which will bode well in another year in the tough Iowa Conference.
“Every team will be good this year,” Van Haaften said. “I think we’ll see all the teams have an overall winning record. A lot of teams are bringing back experience, and every game will be tough.”
BVU has an exhibition game against Morningside on Nov. 11 with a 4 p.m. tipoff time. The regular season begins on Nov. 15 when the Beavers travel to Bethany Lutheran. The official home opener is on Nov. 18 against Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 4 p.m.