One of the most anticipated seasons of the year kicks off on November 13th when the men’s basketball team faces off against Lewis University in an exhibition game. The team will then head to Elmhurst on November 17th for their first official game before their home opener against rival North Central College on November 20th.
Entering this season, Benedictine only has two seniors on the roster: Jaquan Phipps and Carl Singletary Jr. With a lack of seniors, the Eagles will need the underclassmen to mature at a quick pace to help the team.
“With a very young team, the challenge is to get them to pick up our team’s philosophies and the way we do things as quick as possible,” said junior forward Eric Grygo.
Grygo led the returners in points scored last year and was a Second Team All-NACC selection. He also set a Benedictine single-season record for shooting percentage (.636) averaging just over 12 points per game.
Last year, the Eagles were able to put together a fine 17-10 season. However, it will be interesting to see how the team responds after losing seniors Brayden Olson, Shaka Washington, Paul Noack, Zach Gorney, Jens Soderholm and Kejuan Glosson.
“We’ll have to rely on the talent that we have and our effort as a team to make up for the mistakes we may be making early,” Grygo added.
There won’t be much room for error for the Eagles this season as they will need an at-large bid from the NCAA to compete in the playoffs.
“We need to approach every game like it’s our last,” says Grygo. “The raw talent that we have on this roster along with a very experienced coaching staff provides a great combination to put ourselves in a position to win every game and achieve our goal.”
Grygo will be accompanied by Kenny Bogus, another junior and Second Team All-Conference selection. The pair was also selected to represent The United States Division III Men’s Basketball Team during their Brazil Tour in July.
Benedictine is ranked 2nd in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference after the poll was released on November 2nd . Aurora leads the preseason conference rankings after defeating Benedictine in the conference tournament, before they advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Benedictine won three straight conference titles from 2015 to 17, and under the direction of head coach, Keith Bunkenburg, they are in a great position for a shot at another regular-season conference title.
Doing so would help the Eagles’ chances tremendously in hopes of receiving an at-large bid to enter the playoffs. Winning the majority of their non-conference games will be imperative, also.
The Eagles will face off against the Loyola Ramblers in December, who shocked the nation in this year’s March Madness tournament, reaching the Final Four. They will also travel to Tacoma, Washington where they’ll play The University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University.
How Benedictine fares in those three games will have a vast impact on whether Benedictine will reach the NCAA Playoffs, or end their season early for the second straight year.
Contributing Writer: David Carey