Rose ready to take new-look Titans into 2011-12 season 

2011-12 Preview

November 11, 2011

by Bob Quillman,

Victor Davis is one of many young players Ron Rose is counting on in 2011-12


Season Schedule, Links to All Opponents  


2010-11 Schedule, Results

2010-11 Stats - Top 25 poll (official school site)

Division III Conference Guidebook (

Past Season Previews:  2010-11   2009-10   2008-09   2007-08    2006-07     2005-06     2004-05    2003-04     2002-03     2001-02     2000-01  

Setting the Stage

At Illinois Wesleyan University's gradution ceremony last May, 56% of the points, 47% of the rebounds, and 63% of the assists from the 2010-11 men's basketball team walked across the stage. With Sean Johnson, Doug Sexauer, Travis Rosenkranz, Matt Schick, Duncan Lawson, and Edmond O'Callahan gone, sixth-year head coach Ron Rose is days away from trotting a new-look Titans squad out for the 2011-12 opener.

Hoping to reload, not rebuild

"Our program is in a place where, even though we lost a talented group that meant a lot to this program, we have players within the program who are ready and eager to have the opportunities the class of 2011 had," said Rose.  "Our sophomore class is very deep and talented.  Those young men waited their turn, learned from the upperclassman, and gained great experience on the JV level and are ready to step into those roles."

Fortunately for Rose, he has four seniors who are all expected to be in the middle of things this year, led by returning All-CCIW performer Jordan Zimmer (11.8 ppg), a 6-5 guard.  

"We're lucky to have a captain who is a high-character young man and a tremendous leader," said Rose.  "I feel great taking the floor with Jordan Zimmer leading the way.  He is capable of having a huge senior year now that he is our primary scoring threat."

6-6 wing John Koschnitzky (8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg), 5-9 point-guard Eliud Gonzalez (3.8 ppg), and 6-3 combo guard Stephen Rudnicki (3.0 ppg) also return and are expected to play prominent roles.

Go-to guys?

Rose has certainly had his fair share of questions about the 2011-12 season since IWU's playoff loss to eventual national champion St. Thomas last March.

"The biggest question going into the season for me was how do we replace Sean Johnson and Doug Sexauer, who have taken the majority of big shots over the course of the last three years?" he explained.  "The last three years, when the offense has stalled, they have been able to score by making tough shots, or creating offense on their own. We don't have anyone this year who has been asked to do that in the past."

After a month of practice, the IWU skipper seems to be answering that question day-by-day.

"We may not score the same way we did last year, but we have a number of players who are capable of being scorers," said Rose. "Scoring is not as big of a concern today as it was before our first practice."

In addition to Zimmer, Rose points to Koschnitzky and sophomore Victor Davis as players capable of filling the offensive void left by Johnson and Sexauer on a consistent basis.

New Look

The Johnson/Sexauer/Rosenkranz-led Titans of the last three seasons were extremely skilled and balanced offensively.  They were not a high-flying group that rattled a lot of rims, but in big situations, you always knew who was going to handle it, who the low-post scorer was, and who would take the big perimeter shot.  Roles were very well defined.  Rose is quick to point out that his 2011-12 team will have a different look and least in the early going. 

"Within any quality program there is consistency in what you do, but also the adjustment to emphasize the strengths of each group. We've pushed the ball in transition the last few years, but I think we can push it more this year. The offense will be similar, but the focuses will be different. Defensively we have a lot of interchangeable parts and versatile players and that will allow us to do a few different things. This group has a much stronger defensive mindset and is more athletic than what we've had the last few years.  It's going to look different out there, no question about it. "

Injury Bug

Unfortunately, the Titans did not make it out of the preseason unscathed.  6-4 sophomore guard Brady Zimmer, brother of Jordan, suffered a shoulder injury that will require season-ending surgery.

"It's a big blow for our team and for the Zimmers," said Rose.  "I can't tell you how much Brady wanted to play with Jordan this year, and he would have.  Brady would have played a lot of minutes for us this season.  We look forward to a healthy Brady Zimmer next year."

Below we will break down the 2011-12 cast, the projected rotation, and take a look at the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin.

Rose with last year's seniors, L-R Travis Rosenkranz, Sean Johnson, Doug Sexauer, Duncan Lawson, Ed O'Callahan, Matt Schick

The 2011-12 Cast

(Listed by projection of depth chart position heading into the season.)  

Point Guard

PG Eliud Gonzalez 5-9/170 Sr. Oak Lawn, IL (Richards H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “A natural leader…a great perimeter defender…outstanding competitor who is willing to do whatever he needs to do to help the team win…has waited for this opportunity and is ready to take advantage of it.”


PG David Molinari 6-1/180 Fr. Peoria (Notre Dame H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “Fierce competitor…has all the tools you want from your PG…for a freshman, well beyond his years on the defensive end…a coach’s kid who is extremely intelligent on the floor...David is going to be a good player at Illinois Wesleyan."


PG/SG Connor Wheeler 6-1/185 Fr. DuQuoin, IL (H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “Hard-nosed competitor who is just a basketball junkie…a coach's kid who really understands the game and has a passion for it…multi-talented kid who can handle it, pass it, and has the ability to score in different ways…strong defensive desire as well.”

Shooting Guard

G/F Jordan Zimmer 6-5/190 Sr. Delavan, IL (H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “Our captain...coming into his 4th year as a varsity player…one of the top shooters in the country, regardless of division…counting on him to be a strong leader…high character kid who has always been about the team first…every year has added pieces to his game to develop.”


PG/SG Stephen Rudnicki 6-3/173 Sr. Evanston, IL (Evanstan Township H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “A future coach who brings that mindset to the floor…strong understanding of the game…will do anything the coaches ask him to do…has deferred to older guys in past years but has comes out very aggressive this year and shown a lot of confidence."


SG Dan Oswald 6-2/190 Jr. LaGrange Park, IL (Riverside-Brookfield H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “Sat out last year because of severe tendinitis in his knees…has worked diligently to get as healthy as possible…in preseason has been knocking the rust off and proving when healthy, he is a tremendous shooter and scorer…all about the team.”


PG/SG/SF Dylan Overstreet 6-3/169 Fr. Paxton, IL (Paxton-Buckey-Loda H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "A real pleasure to coach in the preseason…as a freshman has laced them up every day and done whatever we have asked…soaking it all in…I think he is going to have a nice career at Illinois Wesleyan because of his ability to play all 3 perimeter positions…has more athletic ability than most give him credit for…just a solid young man and leader.”


SG/SF Randy Azuogu 6-2/187 Fr. Scottsdale, AZ (Desert Mountain H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “An eager learner…plays very hard…a nice addition to our program.”


Injured - out for season (shoulder)
SG Brady Zimmer 6-4/175 So. Delavan, IL (H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “Multi-dimensional threat on the offensive end…at 6-4 is able to get to the basket and score and can shoot it from outside…gained valuable experience handling the ball as JV point-guard last year…brings a lot to the team because of his versatility on the floor”

Small Forward

SF/PF John Koschnitzky 6-6/205 Sr. Oak Forest, IL (H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: “Coming into his 4th year of playing significant varsity minutes…hopeful we can keep him healthy…has not had an entire season where he has been healthy…when he has been healthy has really played well for us, and a difference maker, due to his versality on the perimeter and in the post…hoping to have him play his more natural position, the 3, and create mismatches with him.”


SF/PF Eric Dortch 6-3/210 So. Evanston, IL (Evanston Township H.S.)...Wilbraham & Monson Academy prep school Player Page

Ron Rose: “Tremendous athlete who we think can be a defensive stopper…a guy who can create on the offensive end and create real problems for the opposing defense due to his ability to finish at the basket…also a strong rebounder.”


G/F Mike Mayberger 6-6/220 So. Chesterfield, MO (St. Louis University H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "Has grown an inch or two and gained 15-20 pounds since his freshman year, but that has created some tendinitis issues with his knees, so he is battling that right now…such a fundamental, smart player that if we can get him healthy, he makes any team he is on better…a very hard worker, very coachable, and very determined."


SF/PF Brandon Heyen 6-7/185 Fr. Paxton, IL (Paxton-Buckley-Loda H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "A long, athletic 3 man that has a world of potential…our goal for Brandon is similar to Nick Anderson a year ago in that we need to get him stronger and have him gain experience at the college level…we're very excited about his work ethic and potential."

Power Forward

PF Victor Davis 6-5/225 So. Galesburg, IL (H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "A lot more comfortable than he was a year ago while he was adjusting to college…playing with a lot more confidence right now…gives us a very versatile 4 than can step out and shoot the ball or use his athletic ability and explosiveness around the basket…very powerful…has a rebounding mindset that we really need."


PF Andrew Ziemnik 6-5/225 So. Oswego, IL (H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "Just a tough, tough kid…willing to do all the little things that make your team better, like setting screens, boxing out, taking charges, and at the same time really sees the floor well and can shoot the basketball…just a high motor player."


PF Drew Blumenshine 6-8/230 Jr. Washington, IL (Peoria Notre Dame H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "A big, strong freshman that comes from a winning program…a tremendous defender, can really guard 3 different positions…willing to put his body on people…strong offensive skill set but does not have a low-post scorer mindset yet because he played alongside a Division I big guy in high school…we are going to ask him to become aggressive on the offensive end."


PF Josh Wiggs 6-8/200 Fr. Dix, IL (Woodlawn Community H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "Pre-med student…very intelligent young man and a hard worker…high character player…adjusting to the physical play of college basketball."


F/C Kevin Reed 6-7/225 Jr. Arlington Heights, IL (Prospect H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "In the best shape of his life and it has showed in his play in the preseason…has shown a lot of maturity in his approach to this season…very versatile post player that has great feet…very active and very quick…can play either post position."


C Nick Anderson 6-9/200 So. Edwardsville, IL (H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "Has made enormous strides from a year ago…probably 30 pounds stronger than when he walked in the door last year…has worked very hard to get stronger…has been slowed by a strained abdominal in the preseason…gives us a real presence in the post area…has an enormous upside that we will see as the year goes on."


C Parker Musselman 6-8/245 Fr. Bloomington, IL (Normal Community H.S.) Player Page

Ron Rose: "Understands the game beyond what a freshman typically does…sees the floor, finds the open man, can really pass the ball…has soft hands, a soft shot…a big body that is learning how to use it at this level…an "oil guy" that just makes things run better offensively." Rotation Analysis

Projected Initial Varsity Rotation

G - Eliud Gonzalez, 5-9 Sr (David Molinari, 6-1 Fr)

G - Jordan Zimmer, 6-5 Sr (Stephen Rudnicki, 6-3 Sr) (Dan Oswald, 6-2 Jr)

F - John Koschnitzky, 6-6 Sr (Eric Dortch, 6-4 So)

F - Victor Davis, 6-5 So (Andrew Ziemnik, 6-5 So)

C - Kevin Reed, 6-7 Jr (Nick Anderson, 6-9 So)

Position Battles to Watch in the Early Going

1) Kevin Reed vs Nick Anderson at the 5 - The 5 was wide open heading into the practice seasons but sounds like Reed owns a small edge right now.  This is one to keep a close eye on - sounds like this spot could change based on game-to-game performance.

2) David Molinari vs Stephen Rudnicki  vs Dan Oswald - Molinari is a pure point-guard, Oswald is a pure shooting-guard, and Rudnicki is a combo guard.  With Oswald easing back in after missing last season, he's probably not capable of playing big minutes initially.  However, if Oswald gets healthy, he could push either Rudnicki's or Molinari's minutes.

3) Andrew Ziemnik vs Kevin Reed & Nick Anderson - Ziemnik will definitely be on the floor at the 4 whenever Victor Davis is out, but in certain situations you might see Ron Rose go small and play Ziemnik and Davis together.

Kevin Reed defends Nick Anderson

Projected JV Rotation

G - Connor Wheeler, 6-1 Fr (Dylan Overstreet, 6-2 Fr)

G - Dylan Overstreet, 6-3 Fr (Randy Azuogu, 6-2 Fr)

F - Michael Mayberger, 6-6 So (Brandon Heyen, 6-7 Fr)

F - Drew Blumenshine, 6-8 Fr (Josh Wiggs, 6-8 Fr)

C - Parker Musselman, 6-9 Fr

College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin

2010-11 CCIW Finish                     2011-12 Preseason Coaches Poll
North Central 11-3 Augustana (47), 5 1st place votes
Augustana 11-3 North Central (42), 2 1st place votes
Wheaton 9-5 Wheaton (39), 1 1st place vote
Illinois Wesleyan 9-5 Illinois Wesleyan (28)
Carthage 9-5 Carthage (27)
North Park 4-10 North Park (18)
Elmhurst 3-11 Elmhurst (16)
Millikin 0-14 Millikin (7)


CCIW Capsules

* returning all-CCIW player

Augustana (27-4 overall, 11-3 CCIW)

Season Preview

Starters Returning: (4) F Bryant Voiles*, 6-9 Sr (12.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg), PG Brian DeSimone*, 6-1 Sr (9.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.9 apg), G Chris Anderson, 6-4 Sr (8.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg), F George Dexter, 6-7 Jr (4.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg)

Starters Lost: (1) F Kyle Nelson, 6-9 (13.7ppg, 6.6 rpg - 1st Team All-CCIW)

Top Returning Reserve: G Troy Rorer, 6-2 Sr (6.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg)

Projected Starting Lineup:

G – Brian DeSimone, 6-1 Sr* (3rd Team)

G – Chris Anderson, 6-4 Sr

F – Bryant Voilles, 6-9 Sr* (2nd Team)

F – George Dexter, 6-7 Jr

C – Luke Scarlata, 6-9 Jr


Carthage (16-9 overall, 9-5 CCIW)

Season Preview

Starters Returning: (4) G Malcolm Kelly*, 6-0 Jr (13.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg), C Tyler Pierce*, 6-5 Jr (9.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg), F Mitch Thompson, 6-6 Jr (8.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Max Cary, 6-4 Sr (8.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.0 apg)

Starters Lost: (1) PG Steve Djurickovic, 6-3 (21.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.6 apg - 1st Team All-CCIW, CCIW "Most Outstanding Player", 1st Team All-American)

Top Returning Reserve: C Nick Bauch, 6-7 So (3.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

Projected Starting Lineup:

G – Max Cary, 6-4 Sr

G – Malcolm Kelly, 6-0 Jr* (2nd Team)

F - Mitch Thompson, 6-6 Jr

F – Luke Johnson, 6-9 Fr

C – Tyler Pierce, 6-5 Jr


Elmhurst (8-17 overall, 3-11 CCIW)

Season Preview

Starters Returning: (4) G Zack Boyd*, 6-3 Sr (14.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg), G James Robertson, 6-3 Jr (8.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg), G D'Ante Foster, 5-11 Jr (4.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg), F Eric Dornfield, 6-7 Jr (4.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg)

Starters Lost: (1) F Joe Acosta, 6-3 (3.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg)

Top Returning Reserve: G Mike McCurdy, 6-0 Sr (8.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

Projected Starting Lineup:

G – Mike McCurdy, 6-0 Sr

G - James Robertson, 6-3 Jr

G – Zack Boyd, 6-3 Sr* (3rd Team)

F - Jerome Robinson, 6-6 Sr

F - Eric Dornfield, 6-7 Jr


Illinios Wesleyan (20-9 overall, 9-5 CCIW)

Starters Returning: (2) G/F Jordan Zimmer*, 6-5 SR (11.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg), F John Koschnitzky, 6-6 SR (8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg)

Starters Lost: (3) G Sean Johnson, 6-1 (16.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.2 apg), F/C Doug Sexauer, 6-7 (13.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg), PG Travis Rosenkranz, 6-0 (6.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.7 apg)

Top Returning Reserve: PG Eliud Gonzalez, 5-9 (3.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.8 apg)

Projected Starting Lineup:

G – Eliud Gonzalez, 5-9 Sr

G – Jordan Zimmer, 6-5 Sr* (3rd Team)

F – John Koschnitzky, 6-6 Sr

F - Victor Davis, 6-5 So

C – Kevin Reed, 6-7 Jr


Millikin (1-23 overall, 0-14 CCIW)

Starters Returning: (2) G Rodney Clark, 6-0 Jr (6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 apg), G/F Nikko Robertson, 6-4 So (6.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg)

Starters Lost: (3) C Kyle Taylor, 6-6 (12.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg - 3rd Team All-CCIW), G Jacob Shasteen, 6-4 (7.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg), G Justin Thompson, 5-10 (5.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.5 apg)

Top Returning Reserve: G Matt Merrigan, 6-0 So (6.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg)

Projected Starting Lineup:

G - Rodney Clark, 6-0 Jr

G - Matt Merrigan, 6-0 So

G - Aaron Hall, 6-3 Fr

F - Nikko Robertson, 6-4 So

C - Brock Van Nordeck, 6-9 Jr


North Central (15-11 overall, 11-3)

Starters Returning: (3) F Landon Gamble*, 6-6 So (14.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg), F Derek Raridon*, 6-6 Jr (13.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg), PG Kevin Gillespie, 5-11 Sr (8.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.2 apg)

Starters Lost: (2) G Brian Evans, 6-3 (6.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.7 apg - 3rd Team All-CCIW), F Jack Burchett, 6-6 So (5.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

Top Returning Reserve: G CJ Goldthree, 6-0 So (9.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg)

Projected Starting Lineup:

G – Kevin Gillespie, 5-11 Sr

G - CJ Goldthree, 6-0 So

F - Derek Raridon, 6-6 Jr* (2nd Team)

F - Aaron Tiknis, 6-6 Jr

F - Landon Gamble, 6-6 Fr* (1st Team, Midwest Region "Rookie of the Year")


North Park (11-14 overall, 4-10 CCIW)

Season Preview

Starters Returning: (2) C Emanuel Crosby*, 6-7 Sr (10.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg), G/F Kendell Greer, 6-4 Sr (5.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg)

Starters Lost: (3) G Clayton Cahill, 6-0 (10.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.2 apg), G Shaun Collins, 6-1 (6.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg), F Nick Hoekstra, 6-5 (5.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

Top Returning Reserve: PG Roshawn Russell, 5-9 Sr (6.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.0 apg)

Projected starting lineup:

G – Roshawn Russell, 5-9 Sr

G – Kendall Greer, 6-4 Sr

F - Mark Holmes, 6-6 Jr

F – Mike Gabriel, 6-8 So

C – Emmanuel Crosby, 6-7 Sr* (3rd Team)


Wheaton (18-8 overall, 9-5 CCIW)

Season Preview (including video)

Starters Returning: (4) F Tim McCrary*, 6-6 Sr (16.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg), PG Jeremy Pflederer, 6-0 Sr (9.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.6 apg), F Spencer Schultze, 6-6 (9.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg), G Jon DeMoss, 6-3 (8.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

Starters Lost: (1) G Andrew Jahns, 6-2 (15.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.8 rpg - 2nd Team All-CCIW)

Top Returning Reserve: G Tyler Peters, 6-4 So (6.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

Projected Starting Lineup:

G – Jeremy Pflederer, 6-0 Sr

G – Jon DeMoss, 6-3 So

F - Tyler Peters, 6-4 So

F – Tim McCrary, 6-6 Sr* (1st Team, 4th Team All-American)

F – Spencer Schultze, 6-6 Sr

Final Thoughts

IWU's head coach has many questions about his team as they prepare to tip-off the 2011-12 season, but it's clear he doesn't question their commitment.

"Our guys are very hungry, very coachable, and very eager to get better," said Rose. "How that correlates once we start games and are under the lights with the clock ticking is yet to be seen, but it has been an enjoyable group to go to practice with every day because of their desire to be good. I think that is a critical starting point for any team. Our guys believe that we can be a very good basketball team."

The last three seasons Rose always pointed to the defensive side of the floor in identifying the "key to the season."  This year he went a different direction.

"This team is going to win as a team," said Rose. "They are so receptive to coaching, they are receptive to doing dirty work on the floor, receptive to serving each other and being unselfish and caring about each other and caring about the team and putting that first. If we are able to maintain that 'team' attitude as we gain experience on the floor, I think we could develop into a really dangerous team."

Best of luck to head coach Ron Rose and the Illinois Wesleyan Titans as they prepare get another season underway.  Go Titans!