The Hillsdale men’s basketball team kicked off their season last Friday with a 92 – 62 win over Olivet College.
Their strong performance was highlighted by 14 three-pointers as well as 25 assists compared to only nine turnovers. They also dominated the boards, grabbing 46 rebounds to Olivet’s 26.
“I loved the fact that we had a lot of guys that contributed and made plays for us,” head coach John Tharp said.
Redshirt junior and center Tim Dezelski had an impressive game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Point guard Derek Schell, in his first college start, also had a solid all-around performace.
“We were happy that we finally played yesterday because it exposed some of our weaknesses as a team, so that gives us a chance to clean some things up,” Tharp said. “We were really poor defensively in the first half, but in the second half we picked up our intensity and our ball pressure and our team defense improved dramatically.”
Despite losing three senior starters this year (Brad Guinane, Tyler Gerber, and Brent Eaton), the Chargers hope to continue with the momentum of last year’s historic 24 – 6 regular season record and its first berth in an NCAA Division II regional Tournament since 2002.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Tharp said. “The guys’ roles have changed and they’ve been working really hard. We’re pleasantly happy with some things and there’s a lot of things that we need to work on.”
The Chargers expect to compete with such teams as Findlay and Ashland as well as establish a strong presence against teams like Wayne State in the GLIAC’s Northern Division.
“In those early home games we’re going to try to build some momentum for the season, but the league is going to be brutal,” Tharp said.
Tharp is hoping for big things from his returning players this season, particularly senior captains Dezelski, Ryan Choiniere, and Nick Washburn, who missed monday night’s game with an elbow injury, as well as returning starter junior Brandon Pritzl.
Dezelski was a member of the GLIAC All-Tournament Team last year and his scoring and rebounding productivity will be a great asset for Hillsdale in upcoming games. Forward Choiniere will also be a vital part of the Chargers’ lineup .
Entering his fourth season as a starter for Hillsdale, center Washburn ranks seventh in school history in career blocks (78) and was selected to the preseason All-GLIAC South Division Team. He has been a consistent contributor for Hillsdale in past seasons, and the Chargers anticipate a healthy Washburn to make a big impact this season.
At shooting guard Pritzl was named to the GLIAC All-Defensive Team in 2012. He demonstrates a dominant defensive presence as well as scoring ability that will add to his effectiveness on both sides of the court.
Freshman newcomers Kyle Cooper and Lucas Grose will also be expected to make valuable contributions this season.
The Chargers next play at home this Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. for a face-off against St. Joseph’s, a team they narrowly defeated last season, 71 – 69.