Falcon fans who attend the opening practice of both men’s and women’s basketball tonight, Saturday, October 15, will be part of the first ever Midnight Madness event at UWRF. Part of the anticipation may be dampened upon discovery that former University of Minnesota player, Colton Iverson, did not transfer to UWRF, as announced in my last blog, a stunner, on April Fools’ Day. I say that for the legions of fans who actually believed that he transferred. But that was then.
This is now, and anticipation is high for both the men’s and women’s teams. Festivities begin with a “tailgating” party at Junior’s Bar at 10:30 (p.m., not a.m.). Doors open at Karges Gym at 11:30.
One of the highlights of the evening will be a dunk contest. Several astute judges, all selected on their ability to dunk, will decide the winner. Among them will be Jake Voeltz, last season’s all conference performer for the Falcons; Roger Ternes, UWRF Athletic Director, and I. Coach Berkhof has asked Roger and me not to exhibit our talents as dunkers for fear of intimidating the players. We, of course, will gladly oblige.
The main reason this blog is last minute is that crowd anticipation is so great that I was asked not to give advance publicity in order to ensure that all fans could actually squeeze into Karges.
The women’s team opens the season vs. Simpson College in the Luther College Tournament on November 18. The next night they play Luther College. On November 22, they travel to Concordia University in St. Paul for their third game. Their first home game will be on November 30 against the College of St. Scholastica.
Hopes are high for the Falcon women as they bring back their entire starting lineup, a 16-11 team that finished in a tie for fifth place with Oshkosh on a 7-9 conference record.
The men’s team, 20-8 overall last season, 12-8 in the WIAC and second place finishers to champion Stevens Point, returns four starters: Ollie White, Shane Manor, Brian Kimble, and Aaron Anderson. Manor was named to last season’s All Conference Team. In addition, Wade Guerin, honorable mention All Conference two years ago and out last season because of injury, returns. Also back from two years ago is Colin Utke, a player who saw lots of action as a freshman, and Taylor Peterson, a promising guard who was out all last season with an injury.
Coach Jeff Berkhof, named WIAC coach of the year a season ago, has recruited five promising freshmen, including Shane Manor’s brother Bo of Altoona. Two transfer players, Ethan Thomforde and Chris Palmer, increase the optimism in the Falcon camp. Thomforde comes to the Falcons from Augustana University, a Division 2 school in South Dakota. Palmer played at St. Mary’s University in Winona last season. He finished second in scoring and first in rebounding in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Falcon men open their season at Viterbo University in LaCrosse on November 15, then travel to Bethel College for a two day tournament. They will face Loras College on November 18 and play the following night in the championship game.