Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Every new beginning is some other beginning's end

A little Semisonic as a title for this edition of the Tiger Talk blog, anyone? I thought it was a pretty clever idea, not going to lie. Anyway...

I got the idea for my oh-so-creative title because the football team is starting to wind down its season with just two more games on the slate, but the men's and women's basketball seasons are just beginning theirs! These next two weeks are some of the busiest of the year because of the football/basketball overlap, and then wrestling starts and cross country and soccer are into the GPAC championships and playoffs. They are some of those weeks when sleep trumps all other non-work related activity, whether it be eating, reading, watching TV, having a life, etc. But, I also love these two weeks because there's such a variety of sports!

We'll start with football. The Tigers have, unfortunately, lost their past three games, which knocked them out of the NAIA Top 25 poll and, therefore, the playoff picture. DWU hosts Nebraska Wesleyan this Saturday and ends 2011 with a trip to Midland Nov. 12. After the Morningside heartbreak, the Tigers came up just short again against Doane. They were down big early, but Jon Bane and Anthony Muilenburg connected for three fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a one-point lead. Doane scored again, and DWU had the chance to win, but Bane's pass just missed Muilenburg's fingers (from what I'm told).

Those two losses, which came by a combined seven points, seemed to push DWU over the edge last week when they got beat 34-0 by Northwestern. I listened to most of the game on the radio, and it just didn't sound like we had any life in us. I don't think we got our first first down of the game until midway through the second quarter, we couldn't seem to stop anything they did and we gave up a few easy touchdowns. Josh Endres ran for 128 yards and was the one bright spot on the day for DWU, which was held to around 200 yards of total offense. We average more than 300 yards per game through the air, and didn't even get 150.

Hopefully that loss snaps the boys out of whatever funk they were in. We can still end the season 7-3, which isn't as good as 10-0 or even 9-1, but it's still a winning season, and nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, we probably could have won all three, but that's the way it goes sometimes. A win would be a good way for the seniors to go out, too.

And while football is wrapping up its season... basketball is getting ready to start! The men's first home game is this Thursday at 7 p.m. vs. Black Hills State. DWU won 96-94 in double overtime last year, but BHSU lost almost all of its key guys from last year. The Tigers are kind of a new team this year as well. They lost Brady, Larry and Chase - their top three scorers. Replacing Wiebe is going to be tough, and coach Murphy knows it can't be done by one guy. Sounds like freshman Jalen Voss has been doing pretty well so far, and I would bet he sees a lot of minutes as a freshman. Murphy said in their scrimmage against USF, some of the Cougars' more seasoned guys had no answer for Voss when he was on his game. Of course, playing that consistently so early in his college career will be an issue, but that's good to hear.

Transfers Mike Lee and Carde Pennington look to play a big role this season, and both are listed as probable starters for Thursday. Carde is small but quick, and Mike is a tall, fast basketball player. Sounds like health is a bit of an issue with him, but Murphy had good things to say about both guys. Then, of course, there's German Madueno, Jordan Long, Jake Kneeland, Bo LaCroix, Justin Nelson, Kris Wilson, et. al. German (who is wearing Brady's No. 32, which will be weird at first) will likely have a bigger role and be looked to for scoring. He had a good season last year, and without Brady that gives him the green light for more shots and scoring opportunities. Jordan and Jake have both been here four years, and will hopefully have big senior seasons.

Bo is poised to have a big junior year. He showed flashes of brilliance last year, and Murphy is hoping he puts it all together this year. Nelson and Wilson both played the point last year, and Nelson took over as a starter as a sophomore, so he will be a good guy off the bench (depending on the rotation, who's healthy, etc.). All in all, should be an interesting year! Starting with BHSU is exciting, as that's a good rivalry, even if Black Hills is in the transition to NCAA DII.

Women's basketball starts Saturday at Trinity Bible College... I'll do more on them later this week. This post has gone on long enough.

One final note: the men's soccer team earned the No. 2 seed (highest in school history) in the GPAC playoffs and hosts its first-ever GPAC playoff game tonight at 6 p.m. Semifinals are Saturday if the Tigers win, and the championship is next Thursday. Big night for Tiger soccer, come cheer! Who ya rootin' for?!

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