By Nick Barene, Sports Writer
The 2013-14 Pacific Lutheran University men’s basketball team will rely on the strength of its underclassmen, including eight first-years, and look for leadership from its three senior players this season.
“We have a saying in our locker room that’s an old African proverb,” head coach Steve Dickerson said, “which says that ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.'”
Togetherness and teamwork are exactly what the Lutes need in order to have success this season. They will need to overcome the loss of their leading scorer and rebounder from a year ago, Cameron Schilling.
Much of that work will come from the trio of seniors made up of Johnny Tveter, Arvid Isaksen and Kai Hoyt. Dickerson spoke highly of his three seniors.
“Arvid [Isaksen] may go down as one of the best captains I’ve ever had. Johnny Tveter is our Swiss army knife — he can play all the positions — and Kai [Hoyt] is so athletic,” Dickerson said.
Some key underclassmen will support the leadership from those seniors, including two guards, junior Terrell Williams and junior Daniel Landram, who both saw extended playing time last season. The Lutes’ roster also features eight first-year players, some of who will see considerable amounts of playing time this season.
Dickerson said he is confident that the mix of senior leadership and youth will prove to be a winning combination.
“We have really good chemistry,” Dickerson said. “We’re really excited about that.”
After an 8-17 finish last season, the Lutes have been picked to finish seventh in the conference in the pre-season coaches poll. But the Lutes aren’t letting that bother them. They have their sights set on even loftier heights — the playoffs.
“We made the playoffs as freshmen” Tveter said. “It really lit a fire under us and we really want to make the playoffs again.”
Hoyt spoke to the strengths of this year’s squad.
“We’re really quick. We’re athletic. We’re going to be really tough on defense, and we have more height this year, and that will work to our advantage,” Hoyt said. “We’re capable of making the playoffs.”
The Lutes will have their work cut out for them if they want to unseat the defending champion, the Whitworth Pirates, who have won the conference title for the past four seasons and have been picked to do so again this year.
The Lutes tipped off their season on Wednesday, taking on Division I Portland State in an exhibition game.
Their non-conference schedule also includes a game against Seattle University at Key Arena. The team will play their home opener against St. Mary’s on Black Friday, Nov. 29, and will then open Northwest Conference play during the first week of January with home games versus George Fox and Lewis & Clark.