2012-13 Season Outlook
The men’s basketball program continues to find its identity and style as it enters the 2012-13 season. Last year the program made a transition to new head coach Brandon Nicol, who introduced his perspective and philosophy. This year they adjust to a large change in the roster personnel with the graduation of eight seniors from a year ago. In addition they face a challenging new schedule with the merging of the two divisions in the conference that creates an extensive and competitive CCAC slate.
Despite the changes and adjustments Coach Nicol is very confident in where the program is at and what this year’s team can accomplish. He believes that they have the personnel and talent to do well and that they style change will be more evident this season. He expects to see improvement over last year’s 11-20 record as well as be challenging for one of the top finishes in the conference.
“I am excited for what we can do this season and ready to take on the challenge that our schedule brings,” said Nicol. “We have the talent to execute a quicker style of play and the personnel to compete in our competitive schedule.”
The varsity roster this season consists of 16 players of which just six are returners. Of that group of returners only one is a senior, four are sophomores, and one is junior, who mainly played on junior varsity last year. The new group coming in brings only three upperclassmen, thus creating a relatively young squad.
“Overall we are a fairly young team and will be counting on a number of players who were not on the court for extensive minutes last year,” said Nicol. “I am confident in our returners as well as in the recruiting class. The key will be how quickly we can all come together and buy into the system.”
Coach Nicol believes that the team has the all the weapons needed to execute his system and to be highly competitive. They will be solid all the way around with the ability to shoot from the outside, the quickness to attack the rim, and inside presence to score in the paint. In addition, a key to their success will be their ability to guard at a high level of intensity. The talent is not limited to the starting five and Nicol will be able to go deep into his bench.
The team has a number of key players that includes returners and newcomers. Leading the Trolls is senior guard BJ Wortham (Frisco, Texas), who is the only returning starter. Last season he earned CCAC all-conference second team honors and led the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game while averaging 4.6 rebounds. Other returners that will factor into the starting line-up and get court time are group of sophomores. Tyler Brunschon (Huntley, Illinois) logged significant minutes as a freshman last season and provided long-range shooting at .348 percent from the arc with a 6.9 point average. Mike Sutter (Woodstock, Illinois) was also a regular on the court last year and, with his aggressive play, he averaged 5.3 rebounds a year ago. With his quickness and ball handling ability, Mark Davis (Orlando, Florida) will step into the point guard role after gaining experience last season.
A number of players who will make an immediate impact are new to the roster this season, but have experience with the team. Juniors Jeff Jefferson (Cypress, California) and Joel Morris (Country Club Hills, Illinois) spent last season with the team as red-shirt players. Jefferson will factor into starting line-up with this speed and ability to distribute the ball and to get to the hoop. Morris is a strong defender who can also score on the offensive end. Sophomore Ezekiel Odonkor (Accra, Ghana), who transferred to Trinity last spring, has the size and strength to provide scoring and rebounding in the post.
Also factoring into the mix and playing significant roles will be returning sophomore Logan Vos (Ripon, California) and junior Jake Van Den Berg (Waupun, Wisconsin), and newcomer sophomore Cody Rhorer (Indianapolis, Indiana). Last season Vos gained experienced coming off the bench to provide valuable minutes while Van Den Berg played a full junior varsity schedule. As a transfer Rhorer, who did not play basketball last year, will provide additional fire power with his shooting ability.
The depth of the team extends to include a group of players who have a variety of experience with the team. In the post is senior John Bennett (Chicago, Illinois), who was a part of the basketball program in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons and sophomore Marcus Devers (Lynwood, Illinois), who played on the junior varsity team last year.
The remaining players are freshmen who will also be a part of the junior varsity roster. Caleb Dutton (Lafayette, Indiana), David Buffham (Grand Rapids, Michigan), and Justin Ragsdale (Harrison, Tennessee) strength the guard position and all provide good shooting ability. Luke Brady (Knoxville, Iowa) will use his long frame as back-up in the post.
The Trolls have a challenging schedule this season that is loaded with conference games. With the Division I schools joining Division II, the CCAC schedule occupies 24 of the team’s 30-game schedule. It also adds highly competitive teams such as Saint Xavier University, Olivet Nazarene University, University of St. Francis, and Indiana University-South Bend into the mix for the conference title. The Trolls will not be able to let up in any conference game as they strive to get to the top of the standings. The conference schedule begins in their second week of play with the Trolls opening in a home game on November 7 against Purdue University-Calumet.
The Trolls’ non-conference schedule will not provide any breaks with six games against teams that were all in the national rankings a year ago. They open their schedule at preseason ranked No. 25 Indiana Tech. In December in a tournament at Grace College, they face No. 8 Grace and the University of St. Francis (IN), who is receiving votes. Later in that month they go up against Mount Mercy University, another team receiving votes, and No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan University. The Trolls concluded their non-conference schedule in February with a game against Robert Morris, who ended last season as the No. 3 team in the Division I ratings.