November 8, 2011

Deep, veteran squad yields high hopes for Edgewood College

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Preseason interview with Todd Adrian (courtesy of TheBig1070.com)

MADISON, Wis. – The NCAA Tournament was so close last year, the Eagles could almost hear their name on the selection show off in the distance. Last year's Edgewood College men's basketball team came up one game short of an automatic bid, but the 2011-12 team has the personnel to take the next step. The Eagles and their three returning senior starters know that the upcoming season is their best shot yet for a conference title and first NCAA Tournament berth since 2005.

In a season where the Eagles went 18-10 overall and posted a 12-4 mark in the Northern Athletics Conference's North Division, Edgewood College did not have a winning streak longer than four games. The Eagles earned the fourth seed in the NAC Tournament and after winning the quarterfinal game, they had to travel to 21st ranked and No. 1 seed Concordia University Wisconsin. Edgewood College earned the upset victory, but fell short in the championship game the next night, dropping a 70-59 decision at Benedictine University.

Head coach Todd Adrian returns four starters and 77 percent of the Eagles' scoring from a season ago. Seniors Ben Wisniewski, Kent Faurote and Derek Nkemnji, along with fellow starter Cashton Craig should led the Eagles in 2011-12. Both Wisniewski and Faurote garnered all-conference recognition last season, with Faurote earing first team honors and Wisniewski being named to the second team.

Wisniewski led the team with an average of 16.1 points per game, ranking him sixth in the NAC, and Faurote averaged 14.6 points per game. Nkemnji and Craig tied for the team lead with an average of 3.0 assists per game. Nkemnji finished second in the NAC with a shooting percentage of 62.5 while Craig averages 11.7 points per game.

Other key returners will include senior Jake Guziewski and junior Michael Janusek. They each played in all 28 games, making two starts apiece. Junior Tony Cates and sophomore Justin Williams will also vie for time at forward. Cates' season was cut short due to injury in 2010-11, but he still appeared in 15 games and made seven starts while Williams played in 19 games for the Eagles, all coming off the bench.

Along with this group, the Eagles welcome five newcomers, including sophomore transfer Tal Diekvoss. Diekvoss played last season at Lakeland College.

Edgewood College was picked to finish second in the NAC North Division behind Concordia University Wisconsin in a narrow preseason coaches' poll tally. The Falcons received seven first place votes and 64 points in the poll, while the Eagles earned six first place votes and totaled 63 points. Aurora University was chosen to win the NAC South Division with eight first place votes.

Edgewood College opens the 2011-12 campaign on November 15 at Lake Forest College. The Eagles' first home game comes on November 25 when they host Westminster College (Mo.). Edgewood College's annual Jam the Gym event is scheduled for January 28 when the Eagles host Dominican University.
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