Season to tip off at Lake Forest on Saturday with expectations high

Maroons look to tip the ball in their direction and start the season out fast

By Sarah McNeily

Coming off a 15–10 campaign in their 2013–14 season, the Maroons look to take this season by storm, beginning with their tip-off against Lake Forest this Saturday.

This first game marks the beginning of the non-conference season, and the Maroons are itching to get back in the swing of things. Chicago lost to Butler 88–45 on November 1, but it was an exhibition game, so it doesn’t affect the Maroons’ record.

The South Siders have lofty goals for this season, as they are looking not only to win the UAA title for the first time since 2008, but also to make an NCAA tournament run.

The team was recently chosen as the overall favorite to win this year’s UAA title by the annual UAA Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which comes as no surprise with the impressive talent returning to the roster this year.

“We had a decent year last year, including some big wins and some not-so-bad losses,” said third-year forward Alex Voss. “We want to improve on team consistency this year.”

The consistency the Maroons need will come from the veteran work ethic and composure of their returning players, along with the energy brought by the new additions to the squad. This year’s team promises to be a healthy mix of tough, talented guards and forwards who have the potential to dominate in the post.

The Maroons are led by fourth-year forward and captain Ian Joyce, who is returning to the floor after missing last season due to injury. Point guard Royce Muskeyvalley is the only other fourth-year on the squad, but he’s currently sidelined with an injury.

But the lack of fourth-years on the squad does not mean that this team lacks leadership and experience. Third-year guard Jordan Smith is returning this season after putting up 11.2 points per game last season. Joining him will be third-years forward Nate Brooks, guard John Steinberg, and Voss. Rounding out the third-year squad is forward Eric Robinson, who is still recovering from an injury, and point guard Scott Herlihy, a promising walk-on, ready to bring new energy to the team.

The depth of the third-year class is complimented by a promising slew of underclassmen.

Second-years forward Waller Perez, point guard Tyler Howard, forward Alex Gustafson, and forward Blaine Crawford are returning to the team looking at more playing time and a larger individual responsibility in the new season.

The Maroons are also welcoming lots of new talent to the floor this season, with five promising first-years on the roster. Jake Fenlon and Porter Veach will come in as guards, while Collin Barthel and Ryan Shearmire add to the Maroons’ depth in the post spots. Guard Erik Muelheims joins Robinson and Muskeyvalley on the injured list.

While the incoming prospects look good, the Maroons know that nothing is set in stone until they hit the courts themselves.

“Against Lake Forest, we need to come together as a team and play team defense,” Voss said. “Lake Forest is a good team, but we are going into [the game] with confidence in our ability to win.”

Tip-off is at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Lake Forest.