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Men’s basketball team expects successful season

February 3, 2011

The UW-River Falls men’s basketball team has used its undefeated confrence record to gain national attention, including in Div. III polls.

The team is returning 11 players from last year’s 9-16 team.  The Falcons are currently 19-2 on the season and 12-0 in the conference. The team is placed first in conference and also ranked tenth in the nation in Div. III, according to the NCAA website.

Team chemistry is making a big difference for this year’s UW-River Falls men’s basketball team, according to senior Jake Voeltz.

“It seems more like a brotherhood.” Voeltz said. ”Everyone gets along.”

The new brotherhood mentality could be attributed to several factors, noted Falcon teammates.

“Transfer students and our new assistant coach have helped out a lot,” senior Brady Hannigan said.

Senior Danny Johnson said that a lot of the team’s success is due to a different playing style.

Head Coach Jeff Berkhof said the team won games early in the season that gave them the confidence they needed to succeed.

“We also have four seniors that are doing everything possible to make sure we have a successful season,” Berkhof said.

Berkhof also said the biggest challenge so far this season has been that the Falcons are seeing every team’s best effort and they have to be ready to play every night.

Hannigan said that dealing with the team’s success has been a good challenge to face this year. It’s tough to be on top and stay on top.

Voeltz said the change has to do with the team’s demeanor. “We are a confident group, but we are not arrogant. We handle it nicely,” he said.

The team set goals at the beginning of the season and are looking forward to seeing those goals met as the season wraps up.

“Our goals for this year are to enjoy the season and to make it to the NCAA tournament,” Berkhof said.

The biggest game of the season so far was Dec. 4, when they played last year’s Div. III national champions, UW-Stevens Point. Stevens Point was also ranked first in the nation at the time. The Falcons won at home 73-60.

“The game against Stevens Point was the best, but we still haven’t put a full game together,” Voeltz said. “Our best complete game is to come.”

With only one home game remaining, the team encourages students to come out and support them. “The crowd has been getting bigger and we appreciate it,” Johnson said.

“We feed off the crowd’s energy,” Voeltz said.

“When they’re excited, we are too,” Hannigan said.

Dave Hanson, a Falcon basketball fan majoring in health and human performance said that he wants to see the team keep winning and improving, but also remain healthy.

“Their biggest strength is that their line-up goes deep, so they can sub in and out and still have a strong base and keep up the tempo, “ Hanson said.

Another Falcon basketball fan, Bryant Moore, majoring in economics, said that he thinks their greatest strength is pushing the ball up the court.

“I would like to see them continue to get better, improve their shooting percentage and continue their up-tempo play,” Moore said.

Berkhof said that he enjoys the team’s chemistry and looks to finish a successful season.

“We have a great bunch of guys that enjoy each other’s company, work hard everyday, have a great coaching staff and we are looking for bigger and better things to come this season,” Berkhof said.

The Falcons will finish the season with games on Feb. 5 at home against UW-Whitewater, Feb. 12 at UW-Stevens Point Feb. 16 at UW-La Crosse and Feb. 19 at UW-Platteville before heading into the WIAC tournament.