The men’s basketball season is set to conclude this weekend on Feb. 17 and the team stands with a 9-14 overall record with three conference wins.
With a season riddled with injuries, the team was forced to adapt and work through the challenges they faced.
This season the men’s basketball team was struck by injuries early on and throughout the season.
Within the first few weeks of the season two senior starters, Carson Bartlette and Andrew Beaty experienced season-ending injuries.
In the latter part of the season, two other starters suffered injuries, juniors Dustin Bowser and Colin Wester, they eventually returned to the court.
“I feel like with the amount of injuries and troubles we’ve had this season, losing four of five starters has been rough on our team but we stuck together through it,” Wester said. “We proved our toughness this season because of the things we went through.”
Wester is a junior shooting guard who averaged about 16 points this season for the Boxers until he had an ankle injury that took him out for a short time during this season.
He is back and optimistic about the future of the team. Wester said he thinks they will shock the Northwest Conference because they are keeping many of their core players and will have more experience and will become closer as a team.
The lone senior on the team, forward Robby Babek, remarked on his final season playing for the Boxers. He said that even though the men’s record isn’t a good indication of their hard work, in the end that’s not what people should take away from it.
“Overall, maybe our record doesn’t show how hard we worked because even though we had a lot of injuries, everyday all the guys came in and give it 100 percent, which is kind of a hard thing to do when you’re having a poor season,” said Babek.
The physical therapy major said the team showed a lot of character this season. Babek is the only four year player on the team and he said what he will miss most is being around his teammates.
Head Coach Tim Cleary said about the season, “I was really happy with the progress that the programs made overall this season, we got a lot better as a group, we had a lot of adversity.”
Cleary went on to say that when a team loses players due to injuries not only do the other players have to step up and fill those spots, but they have to also learn to play without the injured players.
The injuries this season gave the players who may not have played as many minutes this season the opportunity to have more playing time and to develop, said Cleary.
He admits that they were not where they wanted to be on a wins and losses standpoint but they did obtain some goals this season such as having a strong recruiting class with transfers and freshmen, developing a work ethic and maintaining positive attitudes.
“It’s been a year of adversity and struggle but it’s been great to go through it with this group of guys because they are a great group to coach and they have continued to work hard, I’m excited about the future of the program,” Cleary said.
At this point, Cleary said he had a system in place and he has the players.
He hopes to recruit a few impact players for the program and build on the foundation they have laid out this season.
“Next year could be a break out year,” said Cleary.