An amazing week comes to an end

The Muskies are home. It was another marathon travel day – Prague to London to Chicago to Lakeland – some 16 hours in all. There was a lot more sleeping on the return flight home. A combination of the early wake-up call on Saturday, plus the hectic, but rewarding schedule that filled the week caught up with everyone.

Traveling Lakeland player

Part of the value of a trip like this is certainly the experiences. All 11 student-athletes were enjoying their first time on foreign soil, and Prague was a good selection. A lot of people in the city speak English, but you’re surrounded by enough discussions, signs, etc., in Czech to remind you that you’re far from home. That made navigating the subway and tram and ordering off a menu a bit tricky sometimes, but all the more fun. To their credit, the players embraced the opportunity and ran with it, seeing and doing as much as they could stuff into a week, learning plenty and having fun in the process.

What made this trip even more special, and it’s something the players talked about all week, is the people. You could see the bond between this team, already pretty tight, growing stronger. It was an especially fitting way for graduated seniors Trevor McKown and Sam Schroeder to end their time at Lakeland together. Despite coming to Lakeland from towns nearly 900 miles apart (Sam from Shawano, Wis., and Trevor from Hot Springs, S.D.), the two have become best friends. Their mothers also made the trip, and they talked about seeing one another again some day when each of their sons gets married, because Sam and Trevor are certain to be in each other’s wedding. When the group parted ways in the parking lot outside Lakeland’s Wehr Center, there were plenty of hugs and best wishes for a great summer. The memories will last each time they glance at the hundreds of pictures taken this week, and during stories sure to be told over and over when the players return to campus in August, and when the parents re-connect at games this season. The two games the Muskies played were neat experiences, but when the student-athletes recall the trip years from now, no doubt the memories and stories will focus on what happened both on and off the court.

For our final two videos, we turn to freshman Michael Koeppen and junior Jake Schwarz to wrap up the trip.

Lakeland heading to Prague

Lakeland Sports Information Director David Gallianetti is blogging the team’s trip to Prague.

In a few hours, the journey for the Lakeland College men’s basketball team begins as we head to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for nearly an eight-hour flight to London Heathrow, then a two-hour flight to our destination – Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. We’re scheduled to land in Prague at 10:55 a.m. on Sunday, and we’ll be here for six nights to play some basketball and take in all the amazing things this 1,100-year-old city has to offer. Now approximately 20 years removed from Communist rule, Prague is a hotbed of culture and history in Central Europe, and we’ve got plans to make the most of it during our stay.

The Muskies are scheduled to play three games, and will spend the rest of the time seeing the sites including the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, the Lennon Wall and the Communism Museum (to name a few). Some of the 44 people in our travel group will likely check out the 10th annual Fringe Festival, a nine-day mix of comedy, theatre and music with companies from across the world. We’ll also be there for the final week of the 66th Prague Spring International Music Festival, a showcase for the world’s best symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles.

The team making the trip has a roster of 11 student-athletes, including nine returnees and two seniors who recently graduated, Trevor McKown and Sam Schroeder. Coaches, family members and some Lakeland alumni and friends round out the group.

The trip is through Moose Tours, which has booked international basketball experiences for teams at all levels since it was founded in 1972 by legendary Lakeland basketball coach and athletic director Duane “Moose” Woltzen. Woltzen’s son, Scott, a 1982 Lakeland graduate, is president of Moose Tours today and will be joining the Muskies on this trip.

This trip is a throwback of sorts, and many alumni who played for Moose will remember that trips to major U.S. cities and international play were a staple at Lakeland under Moose. He took Lakeland teams on trips in 18 of his 23 years at Lakeland. The Muskies played in Denmark, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and Aruba.

One of Lakeland head basketball coach Aaron Aanonsen’s goals is giving his players the best college basketball experience possible. “We want to offer opportunities that aren’t possible with every program,” Aaron said. “Coach Woltzen made trips like these a priority, and I’ve spoken to our alumni who still talk about the value of those trips. We’re excited to be able to provide a similar experience for our players this year.”

Two of Lakeland’s 11 players have been to Canada, but no one has been outside of North America. “This will be a memorable cultural experience for these young men, and having a chance to do this with their teammates and members of their family will make it extra special,” Aaron said. “Playing against teams in Prague will be a unique experience on the court, and getting a chance to explore a city with such a long, rich history will be an incredible experience off the court.”

That’s it for our first installment. I’ll post again Sunday night (Prague is seven hours ahead of Wisconsin time) to recap the trip and get some early reaction from the players on their first trip to Europe. This is going to be fun!

Hot springs, sea bass and whitewater rafting

Oglethorpe is on the road, all the way to Central America. They’re checking in with occasional blog posts. Rising senior Andrew Steioff checks in.

OglethorpeHalfway through our excursion through Costa Rica has our team feeling cultured and a bit tired.

The past couple days have been filled with a game against the five-time defending champs of the top professional league in Costa Rica, a community outreach activity, sightseeing of an active volcano, a relaxing night indulging in natural hot springs, and a whitewater rafting trip.

Our game against Barva was highly anticipated by me and my teammates to see how we stacked up against top flight international competition. We would not be disappointed as the Barva team was one of the biggest and most athletic teams I have personally ever played against on the collegiate level. Undersized and considerably younger (most of Barva’s players were around 28 or 29 years old), we struggled to compete early as Barva jumped out to an early double digit lead. Our team once again showed tremendous heart and defensive effort as we clawed back to take the lead halfway through the third quarter, only to eventually fall to the Barva squad. Barva’s best player, a wing from Panama, was one of the most athletic and best physical specimens I have ever shared the hardwood with.

Once again Alec Pitts was named the MVP followed closely by Sam Purdy who was once again lights-out from 3-point range. Two other players rounded out the night with double figures: freshman Tyler Courson and myself.

The next morning we embarked on a community outreach activity at a local children’s center in San Jose. We came bearing gifts of candy, coloring books, clothes, and of course some stuffed “Peteys” to share with the children. Unanimously, the most rewarding part of the trip thus far was when we spent a few hours with the kids playing on the playground, with the most favorite activity of the children being carried on our shoulders throughout the playground. Not to be outdone, Coach Ponder had a record crowd as he shared with the children some of his famed magic tricks.

VolcanoWhen the time to depart came it was hard to tell who was more upset we were leaving: the children or the players. After departing the center, we began our 4-hour bus ride to the famed Arenal volcano located in the rainforest region of the country. The scenery throughout the ride was breathtaking as we climbed through the mountainous terrain to views that were dubbed “postcard worthy” by Price Hamilton. We arrived at the base of the volcano to take some snapshots of the scenery and to explore the surrounding lake.

Later that night we traveled to a resort to experience some of the natural hot springs formed by the active volcano. The resort included 11 different hot spring pools of various temperatures with the hottest being a scorching 122 degrees. The most popular aspect of the resort was by far the three water slides which we rode for a good 2 hours straight. The most popular slide had a steep 10-foot drop that resulted in a few injuries as Coach Tulowitzski claims he experienced a slight concussion and I proceeded to inflame my bursa sac in my elbow that is still considerably swollen more than 24 hours later. Overall, the hot springs were a great experience that helped restore our sore bodies as well as relax us from our long day of travel.

At the lakeToday we began our day with a whitewater rafting trip through the rainforest. With some views that seemed to be taken straight from the “Jurassic Park” series, we traveled more than 30 miles downriver that we all enjoyed except maybe for Alex Vital whose screams of terror from the rapids echoed throughout the forest. We ended our trip in a traditional lunch that included everything from chicken, beef, to fresh sea bass which I found to be extraordinarily delectable.

Exhausted from our rafting workout and a long day in the sun, we are now enjoying a few hours of relaxation at the hotel before another great meal later tonight. Tomorrow we leave bright and early for Playa Hermosa on the Pacific coast of the country to partake in a couple of days of sun and zip lining through the rainforest canopy which has been giving Tyler Cerone nightmares for the whole trip thus far. So far, the trip has been much more than advertised and by far the best vacation I have ever had the privilege to be a part of.

Oglethorpe leaves for Costa Rica

OglethorpeOglethorpe is on the road, all the way to Central America. They’re checking in with occasional blog posts.

My name is Andrew Steioff, a rising senior and communications major from Duluth, Ga., and a member of the Oglethorpe men’s basketball team which is embarking on a week long tour of the country of Costa Rica.

Before the trip, my teammates and I were all anxious and excited to see what the trip had in store for us. Little did we know that our first day would end up being a little hectic. We departed for the airport at 6 a.m. Monday. Needless to say, it was a little earlier than most of us were used to waking up, but our excitement had our whole team wide awake. That quickly changed, however, as the majority of us were already asleep on the plane before takeoff. The plane ride was quite turbulent and it was funny to see my fellow senior Tyler Cerone freaking out at every patch of turbulence we hit along the way.

Shortly after touching down, we ran into a major speed bump when Sophmore Alex Vital could not find his bag that he checked. Even worse, the bag contained his uniforms, shoes, change of clothes, and the majority of his spending money. After frantically searching for the bag, we came to the conclusion that a man named “Lester” had accidentally taken the wrong bag, since his was still at baggage claim.

Accepting defeat for the moment, we called Lester to inform him of the mix up and continued to go check into our first hotel, the Barcelo San Jose Palacio, which is one of the nicest hotels most of us have ever stayed in. The view from our windows overlooks the whole city of San Jose.

We proceeded to have our welcome lunch with a selection of many of the native foods. We figured out quickly that we would be spoiled as far as meals went on this trip, considering our plates were overflowing with some of the best food many of us have ever had, along with the freshest fruit I have ever tasted. During lunch our tour company showed us a powerpoint presentation, including many interesting facts about Costa Rica along with the itinerary for our trip. We then had some time to hang out in our rooms before dinner and our first game later that night.

Dinner was not to be outdone by lunch, continuing the trend of amazing meals, and as a team we devoured the selection of fresh veggies, fish, and according to Christian Molinet, the best chicken dish he had ever tasted.

The last thing on our schedule for the night was our first game against Escazu, a professional team that finished second in the top professional league in Costa Rica. Even after a whole day’s worth of international travel, we came out on fire against Escazu, hitting 12 3-pointers in the first half. Lead by Brandon Jovaag and Sam Purdy, we raced out to a 49-31 lead at halftime.

We more or less hit a wall in the second half as Escazu adapted to our pace coupled with the fact we only hit two 3-pointers in the half. We stayed strong as a team, though, hitting clutch free throws down the stretch along with key defensive stops to squeak out a win 74-71.

Alec Pitts was voted MVP of the game by our opponent and awarded the trophy of a red Powerade.

Satisfied with our win, we were eager to get back to the hotel and take advantage of some well deserved sleep, considering we had been going basically non-stop since 6 am that morning.

Tomorrow we have a city tour scheduled followed by a game against the team that finished first in the top Costa Rican league. We are all anxious for the sights and for the challenge of some top-flight competition as we continue our trip tomorrow.

NCAA’s final regional ranking

Here’s the final NCAA Division III men’s basketball regional ranking, the one used to select NCAA Tournament teams.

In-region record is first, followed by overall record.

1 SUNY-Purchase 23-4 23-4
2 Ramapo 19-4 20-6
3 St. Joseph’s (L.I.) 20-6 22-6
3 Kean 17-6 18-8
5 New Jersey City 17-8 19-9

1 Oswego State 23-4 23-4
2 Ithaca 19-6 20-6
3 Rochester 19-4 20-5
4 Buffalo State 18-6 21-6
5 Stevens 19-7 19-7
6 Skidmore 18-8 18-9

Great Lakes
1 Wooster 23-2 26-2
2 Marietta 22-3 25-3
3 Hope 18-2 22-6
4 Penn State-Behrend 23-3 23-4
5 Wittenberg 16-6 19-8
6 Wabash 19-6 20-6

1 La Roche 24-2 25-2
2 St. Mary’s (Md.) 20-3 22-5
3 Cabrini 22-5 22-5
4 Gwynedd-Mercy 20-5 21-6
5 Franklin and Marshall 20-5 22-5
6 Lebanon Valley 18-7 20-7
7 Keystone 21-6 21-6
8 Alvernia 17-6 18-6
9 Scranton 19-5 20-5

1 Augustana 23-3 24-3
2 Concordia (Wis.) 21-3 23-4
3 Manchester 20-5 21-6
4 Hanover 19-7 19-7
5 Illinois Wesleyan 18-8 19-8
6 Benedictine 20-6 21-7
7 St. Norbert 20-5 20-5
8 Edgewood 18-8 18-10

1 Middlebury 22-1 25-1
2 Williams 23-2 25-2
3 WPI 22-4 22-5
4 Becker 23-4 23-4
5 Amherst 21-3 22-3
6 Western Connecticut State 20-5 21-5
7 Rhode Island College 19-7 19-7
8 Elms 18-6 20-7
9 Eastern Connecticut State 17-8 19-9
10 Bridgewater State 18-8 19-9
11 MIT 19-7 19-8

1 Virginia Wesleyan 23-4 21-4
2 Randolph-Macon 24-4 23-4
3 McMurry 20-6 21-7
4 Mary Hardin-Baylor 21-7 21-7
5 Texas-Dallas 20-5 21-6
6 Ferrum 20-5 23-5
7 Eastern Mennonite 16-5 22-5
8 North Carolina Wesleyan 16-4 21-6

1 Whitworth 26-1 26-1
2 St. Thomas 23-3 24-3
3 UW-Stevens Point 23-3 24-3
4 Chapman 16-1 24-3
5 UW-River Falls 18-6 20-7
6 Carleton 18-6 18-8
7 Whitman 14-6 19-8
8 Lewis and Clark 12-6 18-8
9 UW-Whitewater 16-9 17-9

For a PDF of the regional score reporting form click on the links below: 

Atlantic  |  East  |  Great Lakes  |  Middle Atlantic  |  Midwest  |  Northeast  |  South  |  West

Women’s rankings

1. Kean 19-2 22-4
2. Mount Saint Mary 25-2 25-2
3. William Paterson 22-3 23-3
4. Baruch 22-4 23-5
5. Gallaudet 22-3 24-3
6. Richard Stockton 16-9 17-9

1. UW-Stevens Point 25-2 25-2
2. Illinois Wesleyan 20-3 23-4
3. UW-Whitewater 18-6 21-6
4. UW-La Crosse 19-7 20-7
5. Chicago 22-3 22-3
6. Washington U. 17-4 20-5

1. Geneseo State 23-2 25-3
2. Rochester 18-5 20-5
3. Medaille 22-4 22-4
4. Keuka 23-2 24-2
5. Ithaca 19-5 20-7
6. Oneonta State 20-6 21-7

Great Lakes
1. Thomas More 27-0 28-0
2. Calvin 20-1 24-4
3. Hope 24-2 26-2
4. Denison 26-0 28-0
5. Hanover 24-1 25-1
6. DePauw 22-2 25-3

1. Lebanon Valley 25-2 25-2
2. Juniata 21-3 21-6
3. Johns Hopkins 21-5 21-5
4. Muhlenberg 21-5 21-5
5. Messiah 19-6 19-7
6. DeSales 19-8 19-8

1. Amherst 26-1 26-1
2. Bowdoin 22-4 22-5
3. Colby 19-5 21-5
4. Williams 19-5 21-5
5. Babson 25-0 27-0
6. Western Connecticut State 23-3 23-3
7. Eastern Connecticut State 20-6 20-8
8. Bates 15-7 17-8
9. Tufts 17-6 18-6
10. Salve Regina 23-3 25-3

1. Christopher Newport 23-3 25-3
2. Greensboro 25-2 26-2
3. Louisiana College 23-3 25-3
4. Randolph-Macon 22-4 22-6
5. Howard Payne 20-7 21-7
6. Roanoke 19-7 19-8

1. Coe 23-3 24-3
2. George Fox 17-3 22-5
3. Chapman 16-3 22-5
4. Lewis & Clark 17-4 21-6
5. Simpson 19-5 21-6
6. Concordia-Moorhead 21-6 21-6