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Men’ basketball team ready to hit the court

November 16, 2006

After going 6-19 overall in the 2005-06 season and finishing in seventh place in the division with a 5-11 record, men’s basketball is starting back up on Nov. 17. The team’s first game will take place at 6 p.m. against William Penn at the Bethel Tip Off Tournament.

The tournament will continue on Nov. 18 when the Falcons take on either Bethel or Dakota State. The first home game will be Nov. 25.

This season brings some changes to the team, the biggest being the departure of head coach Rick Bowen, who vacated the position to become UWRF’s full-time athletic director. Bowen held the head coaching job for 20 years, during which he compiled a 265-249 record, including a conference title in the 2003-04 season. It was the Falcons’ first title since 1950.

Bowen will be replaced on an interim basis by Jeff Berkhof, who was an assistant coach under Bowen for the past 12 years. Before becoming a coach, Berkhof played for the Falcons.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity I have been given,” Berkhof said of his new position. “I have a lot of ownership in this program and I want to continue the very well-respected program Rick Bowen has established.”

Berkhof’s assistant coaches will be Pedro Renta, Kevin Landrum and Kurran Sagan. This will be Landrum’s first season as an assistant coach. He played basketball for UW-Platteville from 1999-02 and worked for the Minnesota Timberwolves for the past three years.

The Falcons lost eight players, including three starters from last season. Guard Hans Hoeg will be the biggest loss after leading the team in scoring and rebounds during the past two seasons.

Forward Scott Kelly and guard Ryan Thompson, both juniors, will be the two returning starters. Thompson led the WIAC with 112 assists last season, and both he and Kelly are expected to play even bigger roles this season.

The Falcons will be adding freshmen Maurice Baker, Jontae Koonkaew, Anthony Williams, Deonte Compton, Jake Voeltz and Nate Robertson to the lineup.

Other new faces include juniors Nicholas Myers and Courtney Davis, both of whom transferred from Mesabi Community College.

Berkhof expects Davis and Koonkaew and Robertson will have a significant impact on the team this season. 

Berkhof hopes for an improvement over last season.

“We are anxious to tip it up and get it rolling,” he said. “Our guys have worked very hard for the past five weeks. It’s time to play some games and see where we are at.”

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