By Cody Schuman
This Tuesday the Adams State men’s basketball team officially kicks off their season here at Plachy Hall against Oklahoma Panhandle State. The team is going to look for a repeat performance of last year’s match up in which the Grizzlies topped the Aggies 85-77.
Head Coach Mark Murdock has the same expectations for this year’s team as he does every year. “We want to win a National Championship,” he said.
The Grizzlies are looking to improve from last year’s four win season with nearly a completely transformed roster. Big time contributors Seth Heinbaugh, Nate Ingbreston, and Eric Miller return from last year’s squad, but the team loses two of their top three scorers. They will look for a good blend of returners, transfers, and freshmen to find a winning combination.
Look for a number of new faces to make big impacts this season. Robby Hanzlik brings in some Division I experience after transferring here from the Maine Blackbears. “He brings that D-I experience and work ethic to this team,” Murdock said. The 6’2″ guard is the son of former NBA player Bill Hanzlik.
Xavier Lewis, another new face on the team, will join returning guard Stratton Solomon in the Adams State back court this season. Lewis transferred here during the middle of the season last year and will bring strength and quickness to the guard position. Kek Biel, a 6’5″ junior, has recovered from last year’s devastating wrist injury which sidelined him all of last season, and is ready to go. “His versatility makes us much deeper,” Murdock says of Biel.”All those guys are very dynamic and can play multiple positions.”
Junior forward, Seth Heinbaugh, said, “With a deep bench of guys that can step in right away, that makes us that much better.” Heinbaugh started all 27 games last season for the Grizzlies and is expected to have another great season.
The Grizzlies also bring in a very talented and strong freshmen class. Nick Fox, Colton Lauers, and Jack Osborn are all expected to contribute immediately. Fox and Osborn are expected to bring a strong low post game to the floor with their size and skills. Lauers, Alaska’s top recruit from last year, brings a good mixture of size and ball skills to the team.
Adams State traveled to Southern Utah, where despite a quality effort, fell short to their division I opponent 71-56. “We are still incomplete due to injuries.” Coach Murdock said of the exhibition game. Eric Miller has yet to play this season due to an ankle injury.
Last year, the team struggled in close games. “We have to get off to a better start this season,” Murdock said. “We can’t put ourselves in a position where we have to come back in the second half.” The Grizzlies lost a number of games in the final minutes last season. “If we have to work hard for 40 minutes instead of just 20 then we won’t have that problem of playing in close games. If we do that with this team this year, you’ll see more games in the win column instead of the loss,” Heinbaugh said.