Coach Ty Platt has the university’s men’s basketball team in prime position entering the month of December. The Foresters have blown through their non-conference schedule thus far on their way to a 7-0 record as of Nov. 17. This included capturing the Ness Bros. Hall of Fame Classic Championship Nov. 8-9 in Platt Arena.
The Foresters have been displaying a strong bench presence in the early season, particularly from the freshman class.
“Derek [Hinen], Daniel [Woll] and Drew [Benedict], along with all of our freshman, have had an immediate impact on our team,” Platt said”. All are performing like we expected them to. They are a special class.”
The young players are not only impressing Platt, but they are also earning the trust and respect of the more seasoned players.
“There is no doubt that we have very talented freshmen and that has been displayed already in the first couple of games,” senior forward TJ Short said. “Experience helps, but if you have the athleticism and knowledge of the game, you’ll be just fine and that has been proved so far. We have a very high basketball I.Q. team.”
Hinen has been starting at point guard this season, moving junior Ryan Boester into the shooting guard position.
“Derek will be the point guard when he is in the game,” Platt said. “He does a nice job of running the show, but Ryan can do it as well. It is beneficial for our team to have Ryan play more in the two guard position due to his ability to shoot the ball.”
“It has been different going to the two guard. I’m still in the process of trying to get comfortable in that position with not having the ball in my hands as much as I did the first two years,” Boester said. “But at the end of the day it’s about winning, and this year we can put any combination of five guys out on the court with the confidence that the job will get done.”
The Foresters have hit the century mark twice this season. They defeated Indiana University East in the championship game of the Ness Bros. Hall of Fame Tournament 102-76. They also topped Ohio State University Mansfield 110-56 Nov. 16. However, as conference play nears, the Foresters believe that defense needs to be their focus.
“Our defense has come a long way over the past couple years but this season we have brought it to another level and still aren’t satisfied with it,” Short said.
“Defense needs to be our backbone,” Boester said. “We might come out some games and not shoot well, but we can’t allow ourselves to get beat because of that.”
The Foresters will play three Crossroads League games beginning Nov. 26 against Marian University at 7 p.m. in Platt Arena. The following two games will be against Spring Arbor at 7 p.m Dec. 3 and Mount Vernon Nazarene at 3 p.m. Dec. 7, both on the road. They will then face four more non-conference foes during the month of December before entering back into league play against Taylor Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. in Upland.
“It’s going to be an exciting conference season,” Short said.