Viking boys play Edgerton Tuesday
The Minneota boys' basketball team will open the season at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday at home against Edgerton.
The game was to be held last Thursday but was postponed because the Viking boys had just returned from Football's Prep Bowl.
The B squad starts at 6 p.m. followed by the varsity game.
Minneota Coach Dave Busselman had just two words for his team going into the new season ....
In fact, they are so high there’s the hope this sport, one of only two to never make it to a state tournament, will break through.
The two are softball and boys’ basketball. All the rest have tasted the sweet smell of “The Big Show.”
Minneota is back in Class A this year in Section 3A. Among the teams judged to be section contenders starting the year are: Dawson-Boyd, Minneota, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and Westbrook-Walnut Grove.
Among them, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton is probably the favorite going in — but the Vikings are more concerned with “coming out” of the Section 3A Tournament.
It didn’t hurt winning a state football championship. “The guys are feeling like winners. They brought that culture with them,” said Coach Busselman.
“They know what it takes to win and we’ll be trying to get things done,” said the coach.
While others are likely to rise — at the start, the concern is Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, a team also fresh from the state football tournament and loaded for competition in the 2017-2018 basketball season.
“We don’t play RTR until later (Feb. 1 and Feb. 20), so that gives us time to prepare for them,” said the coach.
If there’s one area where Busselman hopes to excel over others, it will be in the “depth” of this team.
It’s pretty easy to write down the top five or six: Isaac, Thomas and Jacob Hennen, Nolan Boerboom, Logan Sussner, Jarod Josephson all come to mind.
“While most teams might be able to go seven or eight deep, we should be able to go 10 deep,” the coach said.
Behind the first unit are Tristan Sorensen, Sam Buysse, Mitchell Rost, Alex Saltzer and Grady Moorse. Not that any of these might not find their way to the starting lineup — because they may.
But with Minneota adopting a new style of offense that will dare opponents to keep pace, the Vikings will need extra bodies.
Much like the team Minneota faced in the Section 3AA Tournament last year, Jackson County Central, this Minneota team hopes to push the ball hard up the court and make it hard for opponents to handle them.
“We won’t mirror JCC, but will play something like that,” he said.
On defense, “We’ll pick up a little more full court pressure.”
The Vikings won’t be looking to score in the 50’s and 60’s, but instead the 70’s and 80’s.
“That’s what we’d like to do, to make us tough to handle.”
Brothers Thomas and Jacob Hennen spent last summer travel to basketball camps across the country and both at this time are setting their sites on college basketball careers.
Sprinkle in their senior cousin Isaac, a 6-3 rebounder and inside threat, the sophomore tandem of Logan Sussner and Nolan Boerboom and you’ve got a pretty salty, and experienced crew.
A year ago Boerboom was injured and ill alot and didn’t get a chance to develop.
Now, “He’s really working hard and is showing us a lot more under the basket,” said Coach Busselman. Boerboom likes to shoot, but he’s adding an inside presence to his game.
Sussner has already become “a ton to handle” inside, and with Boerboom and Isaac Hennen also there — well, opponents may have more than a handful.
“We tend to forget Nolan (Boerboom) was only a freshman last year — albeit in an older players body.
Meanwhile, the Hennen boys, Jacob and Thomas can light up the outside and Busselman’s new offensive sceam is made to use the offensive skills of the Hennen brothers.
Not wanting to pin-hole any of his shooters into a certain position, Coach Busselman thinks his team may not use a “true point guard,” but will handle that job by committee.
Thomas and Jacob Hennen could handle the job — but that may not free them to shoot from the corners as much.
So they, Buysse, Jarod Josephson and who knows who else, may all contribute.
Down low, Sorenson, an improved Mitchell Rost and Saltzer are expected to get some time on the court.
“It’s nice to have some depth because we can work into a rotation,” said the coach.
Unfortunately, Foreign Exchange student Amos Tu has used up his eligibility in his native country, but will serve as a team manager and will suit up for practices to use his skills to help improve his teammates.
“It’s too bad, he could have helped us,” said B squad Coach Mike Hennen.
But that doesn’t mean Tu’s ability won’t help the team — he just won’t be seen on the court.
“Our goals are to compete with everyone on our schedule. We don’t think there is anyone we can’t compete with,” the coach said.
“Hopefully, when we play RTR, we will be deeper than eight people deep. I can’t imagine any other teams will be as deep,” the coach said.
Fans can come expecting the Vikings to “push the ball up the court,” and since this summer, they’ve been scripting a “new brand” of run and gun they hope will leave opponents in their dust.
The key to “run and gun” is to do it under control, “With a little bit of flow to it.”
The coach predicts, “We’ll be fine. We start with a few home games and we hope to get better from there.”
PREVIEW OF COMPETITION
Junior guards Carter and Cooper Hansen are the key to this team with their speed, solid defense and ability to score.
The twins are the sons of former Minneota teacher and softball coach Jeff Hansen.
But the Hansens are hardly all the Knights have. Senior forwards Jared Baartmen and Westin Kirk return after good junior years, plus seniors Garrett Kern and guard Jonah Johnson return to this team.
Other juniors likely to help Coach Ted Kern are Jack Kerr, Brett Kelley and Tucker Baune.
Kern’s teams always shoot well and like to push the ball up the court.
Always a pain in Minneota’s side, the Blackjacks bring back Alex Swenson, who also quarterbacked the team in football, 5-11 Tyler Franzky, 6-3 Bentley Boike and senior guard Colton Husby.
At 6-3, Seth Stratmoen is now a senior.
Joe Anyasike and Keaton Schuelke are senior likely to see alot of action along with junior Jake Lee and Kolten Lindblad plus guards Braden Thompson and Eli Weber.
This is a big team that went as far as the section finals last year. Center Parker Freeburg at 6-7 keys this team along with guard Tyson Elzenga, Kyle Kuehl and senior Matt Deprez.
Shooter Sawyer Hansen returns along with Tyler Kack, Maverick Maynard and Brandon Bursack. But tall juniors CarterWent, and sophomore Adam Durfee could make this a representable team.
The Lakers have had Minneota’s number in the past few years.
Always tall, they return 6-9 Tyson Merkins, 6-4 Reid Bot and 6-4 Tate Varpness. Senior Jon Wyffels may be set to lead this year that also has 6-0 Aaron Loe and senior Kailen french and junior Tyler Imes.
MACCRAY: Seniors Riley Cronen, Braden Hoekstra at 6-3 and Kevin Miles at 6-3 could be the core of this year — but they are young and could have some sleepers among the youth.
Other Section 3A Schools who could present formidable competition are:
Ellsworth, Hills-Beaver Creek, Southwest Minnesota Christian of Edgerton and Wabasso.
Coach’s vision greatly improved
While he’s still struggling with eye problems, Coach Dave Busselman reports he has good vision in his right eye.
Last year at the end of the season he was struggling with his vision in both eyes.
Now, “I had stitches in his right eye and he is seeing much better. But he has practically no vision in his left eye.
“For about a month this summer it was a struggle with headaces. But all the doctors said it was going to be fine. And it’s worked out,” he said.
He’s not sure if he’ll ever get vision back in his other eye, but at least he’s able to continue coaching and working at the Lumberyard in Lake Benton.
Coach Busselman is wearing glasses to also help his vision.
Also on the coaching staff this year are former Minneota head coach Mike Hennen, helping as B squad coach and newcomer Mitchell VanWestin.
One advantage of having Hennen as the assistant coach is that he’s coached all these players as they were growing up.
He’s coached sixth and seventh grade teams and has helped in the maturation of many of these athletes.
No doubt that will help as the Vikings make an attempt toreach their “High Expections” of this new campaign.