Twelve different starters, twelve different starting lineups used, multiple players lost and an early six-game losing streak.
Given that information, one would figure that team had a rough season. However, that was not the 2011-2012 Benedictine men’s basketball team, as the Eagles were able to capture their second straight Northern Athletics South division title despite all of the hardships.
Behind a six game winning streak and going 8-3 in their last 11 games, BenU was able to claim the number two seed in the NAC tournament. Their season ended in the second round with a loss to the eventual NAC tournament champions, Edgewood College.
“The season was up and down, but we came together at the right time,” said junior forward Mark Pace, who was second on the team in scoring (8.7 per game), and rebounding (4.7 per game).
“I would call it successful,” he added. “We got a conference title, but it could have been better.”
The late season run was led by senior guard Nate Green, who closed out his illustrious Benedictine career by scoring over 20 points in seven of the team’s final nine contests. He led the team in scoring (18.5 per game, second most in the NAC), rebounding (5.4 per game) and assists (4.7 per game). For the second straight season, Green was named to the All-NAC first team.
“It was a great honor,” Green said, “and I would like to thank my team and coaches for helping me achieve the award.”
In addition to Green’s honor, freshman big man Tim McGinty was named to the NAC’s All-Freshman team. McGinty finished the season averaging 5.1 points per game and was one of five Eagles to play in all 27 games this season. The Chicago native improved as the season went on, as he averaged over 8 points per game in the team’s final seven contests.
Also, senior guard Kyle Bickler capped off his BenU career by being named to the NAC’s All-Sportsmanship team. Bickler played in 21 games with eight of them being starts, both career highs.
The Eagles will lose three key players next season to graduation in Green, Bickler and forward Davey Bernard, but they also return a large portion of their team. Sophomore guard Michael Woolf emerged as the team’s top three-point shooter late in the season (shot 49 percent from beyond the arc). He along with guys like McGinty, sophomores Alex Edmondson and Andy Crtuchfield and juniors Ralph Ogelsby and Jamison Montgomery are expected to be the core of next season’s team.
“We feel like we have a good enough core coming back where we’re going to be the team to beat not only in the NAC South, but the whole NAC conference,” Montgomery said.