Opportunity ahead for men’s basketball season

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Andrea Neff

IVCC men’s basketball player Jazz Drane drives the ball past the Black Hawk defender. The Eagles would fall in the end by three; 66-69.

Freshman Jens Soderholm emerges between two defenders for the shot.
Andrea Neff
Freshman Jens Soderholm emerges between two defenders for the shot.

As students return for the spring semester they will not only see new faces in the halls of IVCC but also on the court. The men’s basketball program has seen significant changes in terms of its roster and starting lineup over the last two months.

Men’s basketball players Alias Roberts-Burnett, Delano Clanton, Keith Thompson, Jaylyn McGee, and Michael McCray have all left the team over the past month, some due to violations of team policy. While this has certainly been the focus from the outside, the focus of the team is in a completely different place, according to coach Chris Herman.

“Our focus is on our preparation for the next game and the rest of the season,” Herman said.

Due to the loss of starters, many other players have stepped up and are competing for playing time and are continuing to improve and grow. In addition to the current players stepping up, the men’s team also added four new players to the roster; Drake O’Donnell, Jimmy Park, Tabor Griglioni, and Adam Thorson.

The changes, and subsequent growth associated with it, are not the focus for the rest of the season in the eyes of coach Herman. “We can surprise a lot of people; we have room for a lot of improvement and chemistry with this lineup.”

Herman also mentioned that players are not just given playing time but must earn it in practice and take advantage of opportunities when they are presented to them.

“Only through the continual process of learning and getting to know the players around us can we grow as a team,” Herman stated.
The men’s team is not only alive in conference play but could still earn a good seed in the regional tournament. This is what the goal is for the end of the season in Herman’s eyes. Use the rest of the season to build and grow as team and be ready for regional play.

Herman also mentioned how imperative the recruiting process is in integrating a team that can perform on and off the court. Academic and personal conduct issues are always a forefront issue in the college athletic scene.

Through recruiting and scrutinized interviews with family and coaches you can get an idea of a recruit’s mindset and behavior. Herman said that he has already reached out to local players and even out of district players to start the recruiting process for next season.

He also mentioned how returning four or five sophomores for next season would be a significant benefit for the incoming freshman. It would provide an opportunity for the sophomores to step up into leadership positions and to show the freshmen players the system.

Torrance Johnson leads the Eagles with 20.6 points per game and 14.5 rebounds per game. Jens Soderholm also has been a significant factor over the last five games averaging 16.2 points per game.

Jazz Drane and Tyree Coe have also been significant contributors with Jazz averaging 3.7 assists per game and Tyree adding 15.5 points per game.

The Eagles traveled to Malta on Jan. 22 to face the second ranked team nationally in Div II, the Kishwaukee Kougars losing in a close match-up 61-70.

The IVCC Eagles currently have a 9-11 record going into late January but are still alive in conference play and have the regional tournament which begins in late February and runs throughout March.

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