By Will Telingator
The Grinnell College men’s basketball team is in the midst of another winning season, and they hope to finish strong as they head into the final weeks of conference play. One of the key factors behind their success this season is Hannes Kogelnik, a dynamic 6-foot-7-inch first-year guard from Glen Echo, Maryland.
The Grinnell men’s basketball team is known throughout the basketball community for its unique style of play, dubbed “The System.” Although Grinnell is credited with being the first to introduce The System, it quickly gained popularity and was adopted by programs across the country. The System is characterized by a fast-tempo pace, constant defensive pressure with a full court press, a reliance on three-point field goals and the frequent substitution of players, similar to line changes in hockey.
Even as a first-year player adapting to the competition at the collegiate level, Kogelnik has quickly become one of the most prolific scorers on the men’s basketball squad. He has no reservations about pulling up from several feet behind the three-point line, and this combination of Steph Curry-like confidence and a sweet shooting stroke means that the ball often finds the bottom of the net. Kogelnik has put up double-digit point totals in nearly every game, and he has surpassed the thirty-point threshold on a couple of occasions, including his career-high of 32 in a game against Illinois College last week.
Kogelnik enjoys playing within Grinnell’s System, and with such impressive offensive abilities, there is no question as to his primary responsibility on the court.
“My role is to score, really. Pushing the pace on offense as the point guard and trying to score as quickly as possible,” Kogelnik wrote in an email to The S&B. He also acknowledged that playing within The System gives him a unique opportunity to test the limits of his scoring abilities. “Nowhere else could I get away with all the shots I take here, specifically the deep threes.”
Unsurprisingly, Kogelnik’s previous basketball experiences have been quite different than what he has experienced at Grinnell.
“Definitely the pace is different. Particularly with The System, everyone is constantly sprinting and pushing the ball up the court or pressing the other team. [It is] very different from a half-court based high school game with no shot clock.”
Just like all college athletes, Kogelnik has had to make some adjustments to his game in order to compete at the collegiate level. While the best part of his game is his ability to hit the long three-point shot, he explained that the biggest change he has had to make would be “taking shots and being alright with taking a few shots that were contested or off-balance.” Additionally, Kogelnik hopes to continue to work to improve his game inside the three-point line.
As a first-year student athlete, Kogelnik is tasked with adjusting to college life both on and off the court. In the classroom, Kogelnik proclaims himself to be “very science-oriented, currently. [I’m] interested in studying physics particularly. Possibly also some math and/or chemistry.”
He also wrote that Grinnell’s academic reputation played an important role in his decision to come to play here, as Grinnell offered him the opportunity to continue his basketball career and also pursue a high-quality education.
“Grinnell seemed really interesting in basketball and [is] obviously very strong academically, which is more important at the end of the day.” However, Kogelnik has not been immune to the struggles that many college athletes face as they attempt to balance both their academic and athletic obligations.
“Definitely adjusting to the Grinnell workload has been the hardest [part of being a student athlete] and balancing that with the team,” Kogelnik wrote.
Although he has not yet completed his first full season of college basketball, Kogelnik looks to be a staple of the men’s basketball team in the years to come. He already boasts one of the most dangerous three-point shots in the Midwest Conference, and as he continues to develop his game, opposing teams should be wary of a free-shooting 6-food-7-inch guard who is only improving.