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Men’s basketball prepares for ’07-’08 season

November 7, 2007

The 2007-08 Falcon men’s basketball team hopes to rebound from a disappointing season last year in which they finished 10-16 overall and 5-11 in the WIAC.

While the Falcons lost one of their starting five from last year, the core of the team will be returning along with some promising new recruits.

Senior forward Scott Kelly and senior guard Courtney Davis will be back along with sophomore guard Jontae Koonkaew and sophomore forward Nate Robertson.

Head coach Jeff Berkhof said he has not named starters yet, but expects all four to be major contributors.

Both Koonkaew and Robertson had standout seasons as freshmen last year and earned honorable mentions on the All-WIAC team.

Robertson was also named to the Division III News All-Freshmen Team.

“I was pretty honored to get the national recommendation,” Robertson said. “I didn’t see it coming at all.”

Robertson led the team with 142 field goals, a .573 field goal average, 364 points, 28 steals, 43 blocks and 170 rebounds (47 offensive and 123 defensive).

Having a strong freshman season also raises expectations.

“It puts pressure on me to have a better season this year,” Robertson said.

Koonkaew was equally impressive, leading the team with 96 free throws and 82 assists, and was second to only Robertson with 342 points.

Senior guard Ryan Thompson will not be returning for his senior year after a transfer to Jamestown (N.D.) College.

Senior guard Erik Olson and senior forward Tim Pearson, who both played frequently in non-starting roles last season, will also not be returning.

Thompson’s starting spot could be filled by one of the incoming freshmen or transfer students, Berkhof said.

The Falcons added three transfer students this year, senior guard Willie Wright, junior guard DiJon Reese and junior forward Steve Farmer.

Wright is a transfer from the University of Missouri-Rolla. Prior to that he attended Anoka-Ramsey Community College where he was an All-State selection during the 2004-05 season, according to the Falcon basketball Web site.

Reese is also a former All-State selection, earning it during the 2006-07 season at Riverland Community College.

They will be joined by four incoming freshmen: guards Brady Hannigan and Danny Johnson, and forwards Alex Whittenberger and Wade Guerin.

“Coach did a very good job addressing our needs from last year,” Robertson said. “[They are] all very capable of playing this year.”

Guerin was an All-Conference selection his senior year and Johnson and Hannigan were twice All-Conference.

Hannigan was also named to the Academic All-State team his senior year.

“We like all of our four freshmen a great deal; they’ve looked very good at practice,” Berkhof said. “We’ve got big plans for them.”

With the new additions this season, the Falcons could be a very much improved team, especially on offense.

“[We are] athletic enough to compete with anyone in the nation,” Robertson said. “Offensively, I don’t think we can be stopped.”

The Falcons start their season 3 p.m. Nov. 10 with an exhibition game vs. Bemidji State. The first regular season game will be at the Concordia-St. Paul Classic Nov. 16 vs. Macalester.