Cedars, April 2018

April 2018 18 SPORTS by Tim Miller T he Cedarville men’s basketball team could have easily finished as a top team in the G-MAC last season. How- ever, after losing its star player in Patrick Bain to injury, the team stumbled, dropping five of its eight games without Bain. Head coach Pat Estepp believes the team could’ve won 17 games had it kept the services of Bain and that last season’s out- come was underwhelming. “We did not exceed expectations,” Es- tepp said. “I think our guys were planning on at least being in the top half of our con- ference, and I would say if Pat doesn’t get hurt, that happens.” Now looking ahead to the 2018-19 sea- son, the team’s identity will change after losing one of the best players to go through the program in recent memory. Estepp said the team will look much different than it did last season, but the Yellow Jackets return the two players who stepped up during Bain’s absence: senior guard Grant Zawadzki and sophomore forward Conner TenHove. Zawadzki and TenHove mirrored each other in scoring in the final eight games of the season, finishing with 14.8 points per game. Zawadzki had four games with 18 points or more, while TenHove tallied four games with at least 17 points. Estepp said he had high expectations for TenHove coming into the season, and the freshman from Valparaiso, Indiana, sur- passed Estepp’s highest hopes. “I personally thought he should have been freshman conference player of the year,” Estepp said. “I thought he had one of the best freshman years I’ve coached. In my 10 years as head coach, I don’t think I’ve ever had a player average 11 points per game in a season.” TenHove recognized his role as a fresh- man was more expanded than most freshmen get. Even so, TenHove thinks his role will be even larger going into his sophomore season. “I had a very large role this past season, especially coming in as a freshman,” Ten- Hove said. “That especially grew when Pat got injured. I expect to have a larger role and to improve my consistency next season.” Zawadzki was named a team caption by Estepp for next season this spring. Zawadz- ki will not only be a leader in major statisti- cal categories, but also in a support role for the team. “I’m excited for the challenge,” Za- wadzki said. “I always dreamed of leading a team at the college level so to prepare for that role is exciting. I know there is a lot of responsibility and learning, but I know that with the help of our coaches and my men- tors I will be equipped to do so.” The Yellow Jackets won each of their final two games of the season on the shoul- ders of Zawadzki and TenHove. Estepp said the strong finish to the season has given the squad extra vigor to get better during the spring and summer. “I think it got them excited to get to work this offseason,” Estepp said. “They’re work- ing really hard, and they were in the gym the first day they could be in the offseason.” Estepp is excited about a large re- cruiting class coming in for next season, along with the possible emergence of highly-touted redshirt freshman Quinton Green. Although Green did not play last season, Estepp has raved of his athleti- cism since he arrived on campus for his redshirt season. Green likely will not be an all-confer- ence player next winter, but Estepp said he has plenty of room to grow as a role player. “He’s got the ability to be a really good wing player,” Estepp said. “He’s got to learn to play through contact a little more, but he can shoot the ball and rebound as well as anyone we have right now.” The coaching staff prioritized recruit- ing size in this class, and that is a strength Estepp points to for next season. Incoming freshman point guard Bran- den Maughmer has good size for a one- guard at 6-3. Isaiah Speelman, a 6-6 for- ward, was named division and conference player of the year in his senior season. Es- tepp says 6-8 forward Kollin VanHorn is more athletic than his frame shows and al- ready has good size for a freshman. The team will also add junior transfer Seth Dittmer, who comes to Cedarville from UW-Milwaukee. Dittmer was a walk-on at Milwaukee but will contribute minutes right away at Cedarville as a 6-9 post. “Our size will be really good,” Estepp said. “We didn’t graduate size, so we’re gon- na look a lot bigger. The challenge will be get- ting to know those guys and their strengths.” Estepp has confidence that the team can produce a quick turnaround after a less than stellar season. He was blunt in that assertion, saying the newcomers could lead the team to more success than it’s seen in years. “We’ve got a chance to flip the switch really quick with who we have coming in,” Estepp said. TimMiller is a sophomore marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys hav- ing a baby face, sipping Dunkin Donuts cof- fee and striving to be the optimal combina- tion of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson. Men’s Basketball to Rely on Change in 2018 Photo by Lydia Wolterman Grant Zawadzki (52) will have the offense on his shoulders next season.