Men’s basketball unofficially tips off season vs Bradley

Steve Watts, Managing Editor

Illinois Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team lost an exhibition game to the Division I Bradley Braves to unofficially start their season. The Titans held their own against the Braves and lost 79-64.

Head Coach Ron Rose was excited at the opportunity to play a Division I opponent. “The more competitive games we play, the more we will understand how to reach our highest level of play and full potential,” Rose said.

Rose commented on the team’s mentality heading into the interdivisional matchup. “Although I believe this year’s team has a tremendous amount of potential, seeing the grit and competitive spirit of the group during the Bradley game did nothing but confirm my expectations,” Rose said. 

Potential is key for the Titans this year. Last year, IWU fought their way into the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division III Tournament before losing a heartbreaking game to Wabash. That run was largely led by forward Matthew Leritz and guard Luke Yoder, both of whom are not on this year’s team. 

Coach Rose doesn’t plan on letting the loss of the two stars deter the team, though. “The success of last year’s team, and more importantly, the understanding of why the team was successful is a big advantage for our group this season. 

“I don’t have to try to explain the commitment, team work, and unselfishness needed to play at an elite level as the players who were a part of last year’s team already know that,” Rose said.

In their exhibition against Bradley, IWU found offensive success in senior guard Lucas Heflen and sophomore forward Harrison Wilmsen, who scored 12 and ten points, respectively. Sophomore guard Nick Roper also showed promise, earning a team-high six rebounds and adding another six points for the Green and White.

The Titans’ official start to the season will come on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12-13 during the Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational. IWU will face off against Yeshiva and UW – Stevens Point/Webster. 

“The start of a season is always exciting and this group has worked hard to be ready for our first game this weekend.  To be able to start our season at home in the Jack Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational adds to the anticipation.  

“Our players fully committed themselves to improving this off-season, and I am looking forward to sharing another season with our incredible supporters,” Coach Rose said.