The Gustavian Weekly

Season of ups and downs: Men’s Basketball finishes strong after early injuries | The Gustavian Weekly

By Jake Woodrich - Staff Writer | February 26, 2016 | Sports & Fitness

Back in early November, the Gustavus Men’s Basketball team had high hopes for their upcoming season, including goals of a MIAC Conference title. Unfortunately, these goals did not become a reality. The team ended their season last week with a home victory on Senior Day over Carleton College. That victory gave the Gusties an overall record of 12 wins and 13 losses. The team’s record within the conference was 9 wins and 11 loses. The team finished in eighth place in the conference, missing out on the conference playoffs.

“ The season was full of many ups and downs… Once conference season hit, in the first game the injury bug hit us right away with Gary getting injured… That was when we struggled a bit.” —Chris Narum

Non-conference play at the beginning of the season left the Gusties satisfied but wanting more. Once conference play began, the injury bug sunk its teeth as returning All-Conference Honorable Mention senior Gary Cooper got injured in the first game of conference play and missed some crucial games.

“The season was full of many ups and downs. We started out on a pretty good foot, winning some games against non-conference opponents. Once conference season hit, in the first game the injury bug hit us right away with Gary getting injured for an extended period of time. That was when we struggled a bit, continuing through the first rotation,” senior Chris Narum said.


Gustavus’ six seniors helped their team win seven of their last ten games, but unfortunately missed the cut for playoffs. From left: Gary Cooper, Chad Poppen, Chris Narum, Brian Jacobs, Brody Ziegler and Sergio Najera.

“The seniors were the center of our team, they had a lot of experience that always kept everyone together… Next year will feel a lot different because they are all gone.” —Jacob Herd

Despite a sub .500 record, there were a fair share of “up” moments in conjunction with the “downs” this season. Some of these bright spots of the season include a thrilling comeback win over Hamline College, where the team overcame a nearly 20 point deficit to secure an overtime victory at Gus Young Court. Another thrilling victory at home came against St. Johns, where the Gusties edged out a one point victory in the final seconds of the game.

“Going back through the conference the second time we still had a few guys battle injuries, but picked up some momentum winning seven of the last ten games. It is tough to think what could have been if there hadn’t been injuries, but I’m proud of the team for battling the whole season and finishing on a high note,” Narum said.

Both Narum and Cooper, alongside fellow seniors, Chad Poppen, Brian Jacobs, Brody Ziegler, and Sergio Najera will be missed next year. The group taught the underclassmen a lot, ranging from basketball skill to life lessons.

“The seniors were the center of our team, they had a lot of experience that always kept everyone together because no one doubted their opinions because of what they have been a part of in the past and their overall basketball IQ. Next year will feel a lot different because they are all gone. We are going to need some other players step up and take on the leading role that was filled by our seniors this year. Along with their basketball aspects, we will be missing their personalities and friendship. They are all great guys that are fun to be around, so that part will definitely be missed as well,” sophomore Jacob Herd said.

Herd, along with other returning players, feel there is something to prove in the season to come.

“I think a lot of people might be thinking that we will have a down year due to losing six seniors that all played significant minutes, but I believe we are very capable of doing great things next year. So the goal is to compete for a title again and make the playoffs, but overall prove everyone wrong and show that we can be a great team even after losing six great players,” Herd said.

To battle injuries throughout the season and end with a 7-3 record in the final ten games of the season means there is definitely something to be said about the 2015-2016 Gustavus Men’s Basketball squad’s perseverance and work ethic. The team hopes to continue those themes of hard work and dedication in the seasons to come.