Roland-Story may be young, but the Norsemen have a lot of talent and size as they get ready to begin the 2019-20 boys’ basketball season.
Roland-Story went 10-12 a year ago and finished fourth in the Heart of Iowa Conference with a 6-8 record. Roland-Story lost six seniors that played regularly on that team, including its three leading scorers.
But the Norse get back 6-6 center Nic Hansen, who missed last year with an ACL injury, and have five other players who stand at least 6-3 in seniors Wyatt Bunn (6-3) and Gabe Nady (6-3) and juniors Sam Skaar (6-4), Zach Twedt (6-3) and Adam McIlrath (6-3). They also bring back one of their top guards in senior Dylan Ihle, who was fourth on the team in scoring last year at 6.9 points per game.
“We know we’re a young team, but I think we’re a very talented and very long team and we like to play fast,” Ihle said. “I think this will be a pretty good team.”
Defense will be the biggest strength for the Norse. They gave up 52.8 points per game last year and held teams to 39.3-percent shooting from the field.
“With all of our length and speed I think we could be a pretty good defense,” Ihle said.
Roland-Story will take advantage of its size by running a lot of zone defense. The Norse will mainly operate out of a 2-3 zone.
“I think size will be a big thing for us,” Hansen said. “Just running our zone and keeping our hands up and always tipping stuff. That’ll be a huge factor in the long run.”
A strong defense will give the offense time to gel. Roland-Story averaged 54 points shooting 38 percent from the field, 31 percent from 3-point range and 59 percent from the line last year.
Ihle will run the show for the first time.
“I’m trying to be more of a vocal leader,” Ihle said. “I tend to be a little quite sometimes, but I’m trying to make sure I talk to my teammates and lead them in the right direction.”
He is also a weapon from outside, hitting 32 3-pointers last season.
Skaar averaged 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds, McIlrath 3.1 points and 1.9 rebounds and Twedt 1.6 points and rebounds apiece. They will be counted on to step up their games this season, as will Nady and Bunn.
It is also nice to have Hansen back in the fold.
“It’s great to be back,” Hansen said. “The knee is feeling good. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Caleb Markwardt, Dhanil Patel, Jacob Van Brocklin and Blake Lebeck join Ihle, Hansen, Bunn and Nady in forming a large senior class for Roland-Story. Junior Nolan Faber, sophomore Will Bunn and 6-2 freshman Luke Patton will be the other underclassmen looking to contribute.
Roland-Story wants to move up in the Heart of Iowa Conference standings and challenge for the conference title this season. But it won’t be easy with defending champion South Hamilton and Gilbert looking strong.
“We have those games circled on our calendar,” Ihle said of South Hamilton and Gilbert. “We’re preparing for those ones.”
The Norse also hope to be able to build a lot of momentum heading into Class 2A district play at the end of the season.
“I think we’re going to win a lot of games this year,” Hansen said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
Roland-Story opened the season yesterday at East Marshall. The Norsemen host Nevada for their home opener Friday in Story City.