Men’s Basketball team has roller coaster season topped by historic win

By Carter Howe

howethom@grinnell.edu

Last week the Men’s Basketball team beat St. Norbert College, whose team is ranked 9th place nationally. The Pioneers’ first win against them since 2013 put their record at 15-7 as the season winds down. After losing 73-100 in their last game against St. Norbert earlier this season, this victory was over the highest ranked team they have ever beaten.

Good chemistry, high energy and better defense were important factors in the team’s victory, according to Andrew Redhead ’18. “We played very good defense, it was definitely a lot lower scoring game than it usually is versus them … everybody who got into the game contributed and did their part and we were just flying around the entire game,” he said.

Even though six players from last year’s team transferred out and many did not think the Pioneers would perform well this season, Redhead said this year’s team atmosphere is much more positive, which helps explain their success.

“Last year was definitely a down year … this year not many people outside of our team thought that we had any chance to do anything,” Redhead said. “We had the talent last year, for one reason or another it didn’t come together, but this year you could tell the chemistry’s better, the energy is way up. Anyone that’s around us can tell the difference.”

Contributed photo. Julian Marx ’17 was close to edging out Vinny Curta ’19 for the top scorer spot.

The large and spirited crowd at the game was another reason for the Pioneers’ success. “There were a lot of people there. It was a good student environment, and you could tell that when St. Norbert walked out, they were a little intimidated,” said captain Michael Porter ’17.

“I remember almost the entire football team was there, almost the entire baseball team was there and even non-athletes. There were a lot of non-athletes, a lot of people from town came. It was definitely the most packed I’ve ever seen. You could just tell [from] the atmosphere, everyone was live and it was fun to be a part of,” Redhead added.

The win was also a boost for the team, as they were forced to forfeit six games and will no longer be advancing to the playoffs.

“Because we weren’t going to make it to the playoffs and the real championship, we really saw this game as our championship and beating a team like them, we’re happy with the result,” Porter said.

Redhead agreed, citing the team’s excellent record since the forfeit.

“We were firmly in the playoffs and then immediately you get taken out of it …we’re not going to get in the tournament, but at the same time since we’ve heard the news we’ve gone three and zero. We have one more game left and we beat a top ten team in the country,” Redhead said.

Despite losing three senior captains this year, Redhead is confident about the prospects for next year’s team. “I feel like we set a new culture definitely … everybody on the team wanted to play. We have six juniors right now … so we’ll have a pretty senior laden team and I think the leadership will definitely be there and the culture won’t change.”