With a majority of players returning and the team’s leading scorer coming back from an injury, the Pointer men’s basketball team was set for a great season; but no one expected this.
The Pointers have not lost a game yet, compiling a 20-0 record. Senior guard Tyler Tillema has come back from injuries last season to now lead UWSP in scoring, rebounding and assists.
“We always have high expectations, but to start off the year 20-0 is something that I think even surprised us,” Tillema said.
Senior guard Trevor Hass, new record holder for number of points in a single game, explained that a perfect record was never really on the team’s mind.
“We knew that we had to come in each day and work on getting better and it just happens to be that we are 20-0 at this point,” Hass said. “There is a lot of season left yet so we aren’t satisfied with anything.”
One of the biggest factors in the Pointers success is just the talent that is present on the team. Both Tillema and Hass agree that this is the best team that they’ve been a part of.
Pointers men’s basketball assistant coach, Kent Dernbach, went into detail about why UWSP has achieved its success up to this point.
“We stressed the importance of defense at the beginning of the season, and it’s really playing a big role in us being here,” Dernbach said. “Recently we’ve had some games where the offense wasn’t at its best, and the defense stepped up.”
With the team continuing to win, there always is the question; could the Pointers run the table and finish off an undefeated season? Coach Dernbach and his players say they don’t really think about it.
“We try to go 2-0 every week and just try to focus on that,” Tillema said. “We have a long way to go yet to make this happen but we are striving to get better each day in practice,” Hass said.
“The coaching staff and our players don’t really talk about it,” Dernbach said. “The players stay humble, learn from every game, and try to improve every day.
When asked about the pressure that an undefeated record can hold, Dernbach explained that the team wasn’t feeling pressure at all.
“I think with each win, our team gains more confidence that they can continue to find a way to win,” Dernbach said.
Even undefeated teams have things to improve on, that’s how they stay undefeated. The Pointers know that they can improve their game as a whole.
“We can improve our rebounding, we have gotten outrebounded a few games in a row lately and that is something we have been emphasizing in practice,” Tillema said.
Dernbach believes that fans haven’t seen the best from this team yet.
“We’ve had games where three or four of our guys have had great games together,” Dernbach said. “If this team has seven, eight or nine of our players playing at their best, we could be even better.”
The coaching staff and players always talk about the great fans at UWSP, and this season is no different. Dernbach stated that the team is averaging roughly 1,700 fans in attendance per game.
“These big crowds don’t only bring out the best in our guys, they get the other team excited, so we’re getting their best effort as well,” Dernbach said. “It provides us with a great level of competition.”
“We love playing in Quandt, our fans are awesome every single game. It is definitely an advantage for us when we get to play in front of them,” Tillema said.
“The fans play an important role in our success,” Hass said.
The players believe that this team could a run to the national championship.
“Making it to the national championship game would make this season a success because that was what we all worked for in the offseason,” Hass said.
“We really feel that we have what it takes to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament and get to the final four in Virginia,” Tillema said. “That has been the goal since day one.”
The Pointers undefeated record was broken Wednesday night when they lost to UW-Whitewater 81-76 in overtime.