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Experience limited at MVL

November 28, 2012
Jeremy Behnke - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Journal

NEW ULM - The Minnesota Valley Lutheran boys basketball team is looking for some senior leadership.

The only problem is that they don't know exactly where that leadership will come from.

MVL is coming off of a season in which it went 11-16 last year. This year, the Chargers have four seniors, including guards Ryan Grunke and Kris Goetzke, who could step up and show the aforementioned role.

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MVL coach Craig Morgan is hoping that perhaps one of those two players steps up and takes over the point guard position, a spot where the Chargers need to have a leader right away.

"Right now that's up in the air," Morgan said. "We're going to see who's going to step up and that point guard needs to take some ownership and some leadership. In the last couple of years, I think that's where we've been lacking and I we're developing that in our lower levels. But this year one of these guys is going to have to step up."

The Chargers have four seniors, including Grunke and Goetzke, along with guard Justin Bruns and forward Rick Jensen.

The Chargers graduated their top four scorers from a year ago. Morgan for one expects Grunke, who averaged 7.7 points per game last year, to become more of a leader on the court.

"He's gotten a lot stronger and faster," Morgan said.?"He's more confident and more vocal, which has been very good to hear. He's been helping guys out and giving guys some tips and helping them with offense and defense. That's been nice to hear. That's what I would call senior leadership, where guys are not afraid to talk to someone and help each other out."

Morgan also expects Goetzke (3.2 ppg last year) and Bruns (2.4 ppg) to help create turnovers that lead to fast-break points for MVL.

"Both of those guys are fast and if we can get them to help contribute more defensively with their quickness, that'll help create some more turnovers we're hoping," Morgan said.

While the Chargers are short on valuable varsity experience, they're also short physically. This means they'll have to push the tempo, so guard play becomes even more crucial for them.

"This year it's going to be more of a guard-dominated team," Morgan said. "We're going to be smaller than we have been in years and we'll have to rely on our guards and see what they can do for us."

Juniors include guards DeAndre Parker, Ryley Davis, Nate Wong, Grant Wilson and Mike Panitzke and forwards Chad Lease, Jacob Grunewald and Nick Dewanz. Sophomores Josh Koelpin (G), Seth Kroells (F) and Eric Westphal (F) round out the team.

Because there isn't a lot of experience coming back, Morgan says the practices have been much more competitive as players are trying to fill those valuable roles for the upcoming season.

"I think so, I look at our group that we have - it's created a lot of competition in practice because guys are pushing each other for spots and guys are pushing to get better each and every practice," Morgan said.

Morgan isn't sure how the Tomahawk Conference will shape out, but he expects Sleepy Eye St. Mary's and Cedar Mountain/Comfrey to be two of the top teams.

The Chargers open the season on Friday when they host West Lutheran in a tournament game held at Martin Luther College. The tournament resumes on Saturday.



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