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October 28, 2009

2009-10 Season - Vikings seek fourth CCIW title in five years

In 2009-10 Augustana will be looking to return to its perch atop the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin standings. The Vikings went 18-8 in 2008-09, finishing third in the league with a 9-5 record and ending a string of three consecutive outright conference titles from 2005-06 to 2007-08.

Head coach Grey Giovanine has compiled a 183-79 (.698) record in his 10 seasons at Augustana, capturing four regular season CCIW championships as well as two conference tournament titles. This season he will have to replace six graduated seniors. That group includes the school’s sixth all-time leading rebounder, Chandlor Collins (8.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game), a first team All-CCIW selection last year. Other losses include guard Jordan Delp (8.2 ppg) and sixth man Brett Wessels (10.6 ppg), both of whom earned all-conference recognition during their careers, and Alex Washington (9.0 ppg), who twice shared the team’s defensive MVP award with Collins. Starting post player Justin Bertrand (9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and reserve forward Jeff Becker (3.3 ppg) also graduated.

In a year when the Vikings enter the season with relatively little experience, the conference’s other top teams from a year ago find themselves in a similar situation. CCIW champ Wheaton, Elmhurst and North Central, the three teams who, along with Augustana, qualified for last year’s conference tournament, all suffered significant losses as well.

Matt Pelton (Bloomington, Ill. Central Catholic HS, Houston, Texas), a 6-3 senior who earned second team All-CCIW honors in 2008-09, is Augustana’s lone returning starter. He averaged 7.3 points and 2.5 rebounds last year, shooting .415 from three point range and .848 from the free throw line. He led the team with 59 assists and 41 steals. After three seasons at point guard, the 41% career three-point shooter may see more action off the ball this year to make room for 6-2 sophomore Brian DeSimone (Buffalo Grove HS, Wheeling, Ill.). DeSimone averaged 15.9 minutes a game backing up Pelton as a freshman. He averaged 3.0 points and 1.3 rebounds a game and had 43 assists and 23 steals. He shot .375 from long range and .920 from the free throw line. Junior Mike Avallone (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.), a 6-4 junior, lends experience and a keen shooting eye to the backcourt. He averaged 5.4 points a game off the bench a year ago while connecting on .452 of his three-point attempts. Drew Croegaert (Geneseo HS, Geneseo, Ill.), a 6-1 junior and two-time junior varsity MVP, could see minutes at the point.

Two 6-foot-9 juniors, Kyle Nelson (Deerfield HS, Deerfield, Ill.) and Bryant Voiles (Byron HS, Byron, Ill.), are the top returners in the frontcourt. Nelson averaged 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16.3 minutes a game last year. A .547 field goal and .733 free throw shooter, he will be one of the keys in replacing Collins and Bertrand. Voiles, who’ll serve with Pelton as a co-captain, can play inside or create matchup problems for opponents at small forward. He came off the bench last year to average 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds while connecting on .513 from the field, including .467 from behind the arc. Also in the mix for minutes in the post will be 6-10 senior Terrence Green (M.L. King HS, Chicago, Ill.), who missed the entire 2008-09 season with an injury.

That group will be joined by a solid core of players who gained experience at the junior varsity level a year ago. Leading the way will be Chris Anderson (West Carroll HS, Mt. Carroll, Ill.), an athletic 6-4 wing, and Troy Rorer (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa), a 6-2 guard. Both sophomores saw limited varsity action last year as did 6-2 sophomore guard Griffin Dwyer (Hersey HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.). Also looking to crack the varsity roster this year will be sophomores Pete Wessels (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf), Eric Safranski (Putnam County HS, Mark, Ill.) and Josh Evans (Niles North HS, Skokie, Ill.).

An outstanding crop of freshmen big men including 6-8 Luke Scarlata (Morton HS, Berwyn, Ill.), 6-7 Brandon Kunz (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, Ill.), 6-7 George Dexter (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) and 6-6 Kameron Norton (Downers Grove North HS, Downers Grove, Ill.) could be in the running for frontcourt minutes as well. 6-7 freshman Kevin Waibel (Morton HS, Morton, Ill.) and 5-10 sophomore point guard Floyd Mays (Mooseheart HS, Chicago, Ill.) round out this year’s roster.

The Vikings, who are 108-21 (.836) at Carver Center under Giovanine, open the season by hosting Simpson on November 16. By the time the 2010 CCIW season rolls around, the team should be well-seasoned by an extremely ambitious non-conference schedule. On December 9, Augustana will make the trip to Spokane, Washington for a game with Division I Gonzaga University. The Bulldogs went 28-6 last year, reached the sweet sixteen of the NCAA tournament, and were ranked 10th in the final Associated Press poll. The Vikings follow that up with a game three nights later at two-time defending Division III national champion Washington University. Also on the slate are road games with Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference power Wisconsin-Whitewater (23-6 and ranked 7th in the nation a year ago) and defending Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion Buena Vista (23-3 with a final ranking of 20th).