2015-16 IWUhoops.com Season Preview

November 11, 2015

by Bob Quillman, IWUhoops.com
Rose Looking for New Leaders to Emerge in 2015-16
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CCIW Titles:






























(photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com)
6-8 junior Trevor Seibring averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds in IWU's final 5 games last year
Past IWUhoops.com Season Previews:
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2015-16 Preseason Poll
2014-15 Finish
CCIW Wins,
Last 5 Years
NCAA Tournament Wins, Last 5 Years
1. Augustana, 48 (6)
1. Augustana, 11-3
1. Illinois Wesleyan, 54
1. Illinois Wesleyan, 12
2. Elmhurst, 44 (2)
2. Illinois Wesleyan, 10-4
2. North Central, 49
2. Augustana, 8
3. Illinois Wesleyan, 35
3. Elmhurst, 9-5
3. Augustana, 48
3. North Central, 6
4. North Central, 32
4. North Central, 8-6
4. Wheaton, 44
4. Wheaton, 5
5. North Park, 26
5. North Park, 6-8
5. Carthage, 36
5. Elmhurst, 1
6. Wheaton, 19
6. Carthage, 5-9
6. Elmhurst, 26
T6. Carthage, 0
7. Millikin, 13
7. Wheaton, 4-10
7. North Park, 14
T6. Millikin, 0
8. Carthage, 7
8. Millikin, 3-11
8. Millikin, 9
T6. North Park, 0
College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Capsule:
Varsity Rotation Candidates:
(listed in order of IWUhoops.com's projection of depth chart position)

PG/SG (1/2)

1. Bryce Dolan (PG/SG), 6-1/165 Sr. (Washington, MO - St. Francis Borgia H.S.)

2. Brady Rose (PG/SG), 6-2/180 So. (Bloomington, IL - Bloomington H.S.)

3. Joel Pennington (PG/SG), 6-0/180 Sr. (Wildwood, MO - Lafayette H.S.)

4. Brian Nelms (PG), 5-11/170 Sr. (Arlington Heights, IL - Rolling Meadows H.S.) *Co-Captain*

5. Spencer Seibring (PG/SG), 6-3/180 Jr. (Normal, IL - Normal West H.S.)

6. Austin Amann (SG), 6-2/180 Jr. (Elk Grove, IL - Elk Grove H.S.)

G/F (3)

1. Andy Stempel (G/F), 6-4/192 Jr. (Buffalo Grove, IL - Stevenson H.S.)

2. Colin Bonnett (G/F), 6-3/195 Fr. (Lemont, IL - Benet Academy)

3. Jaylen Beasley (SF/PF), 6-6/180 So. (Bloomington, IL - Bloomington H.S.)

4. Kevin Connelly (SF), 6-5/215 So. (Indian Head Park, IL - Nazareth Academy)

PF/C (4/5)

1. Mike Marietti (PF/C), 6-8/225 Sr. (Frankfort, IL - Providence Catholic H.S.)  *Co-Captain*

2. Trevor Seibring (PF/C), 6-8/235 Jr. (Towanda, IL - Normal Community H.S.)

3. Ryan Coyle (SF/PF), 6-6/210 Sr. (Lisle, IL - St. Francis H.S.)

4. Alec Bausch (PF), 6-6/210 Jr. (Des Peres, MO - DeSmet Jesuit H.S.)

5. Rob Mahlke (PF/C), 6-8/220 Sr. (Downers Grove, IL - Downers Grove North H.S.)

Junior Varsity Rotation Candidates:
(listed alphabetically)

Perimeter (1/2/3)

Nick Coleman (PG/SG), 6-2/158 Fr. (Berwyn, IL - Chicago St. Patrick H.S.)

Mark Falotico (PG), 6-1/185 Fr. (Arlington Heights, IL - St. Viator H.S.)

Jason Gregoire (SG), 6/4/190 Fr. (Cary, IL - Cary-Grove H.S.)

Ben Sestak (SF), 6-5/180 Fr. (Springfield, IL - Sacred Heart-Griffin H.S.)

Derrick Streety (PG), 5-10/153 So. (Elgin, IL - Larkin H.S.)

Post (4/5)

Danny Baker (PF), 6-5/217 Fr. (Sunset Hills, Mo - St. John Vianney H.S.)

John Carroll (PF), 6-5/200 So. (Ottawa, IL - Ottawa H.S.)

Drew Jones (PF), 6-6/220 So. (Elgin, IL - Larkin H.S.)

Chasen Peez (PF), 6-7/230 Fr. (Aurora, IL - Batavia H.S.)

Isaac Roethemeyer (PF), 6-6/235 So. (Taylorville, IL - Edinburg H.S.)

Max Scholle (C), 6-10/215 Jr. (Foristell, MO - Wentzville Holt H.S.)

Setting the Stage:

Backcourt Losses

Illinois Wesleyan head men's basketball coach Ron Rose hasn't had to worry much about his starting guard spots the last three seasons.  From 2012-13 through 2014-15, Dylan Overstreet started 87 games at point guard and Pat Sodemann 83 at shooting guard.  Behind this starting backcourt, the Titans were 70-20 (.778) overall, 35-7 (.833) in College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) games, with two CCIW championships and three trips to the NCAA Division III tournament.

"Dylan had such an impact on the game because of his leadership, the direction he gave us, and because he was just such a competitive young man," said Rose.  "And Pat was a glue guy.  He shot over 40% from behind the arc in his career, he always made the right basketball play, he fed the post well, and was a big, strong guard.  Those two guys, and what they did together as a backcourt, are very difficult to replace."

Overstreet was named to the All-CCIW team three times, including two 1st Team selections.  As a senior he shared league Most Outstanding Player honors with Augustana's Hunter Hill.

Also gone is guard Jordan Nelson, who in just 49 games as a Titan made 118 3-pointers, good for 12th place on IWU's all-time list.  "Jordan is as talented of a guard as you will find and was instrumental in our 2014 run to the Final Four," said Rose.

"In college basketball you're always going to have guys graduating, positions opening up, and minutes to be earned," said Rose.  "You hope your program is in position to where returning players work hard and prepare to fill those voids or incoming freshman are talented enough to fill those openings."

Heading into the 2015-16 season, it looks like Rose has a little of both as he puts his new backcourt together.

New Talent

A relentless recruiter, Rose added a strong 7-man freshman class to the IWU roster.  Within the group, two perimeter players have stood out during the practice season.

"Colin Bonnett (6-3 G/F, Benet Academy) has a college-ready body and has filled our need for a big wing," said Rose.  "He has shown a competitive side and toughness we like."

Rose has also been impressed with Mark Falotico (6-1 PG, St. Viator H.S.).  "Mark has also shown a physical readiness to play at a high level," he said.  "As he learns the system and gets more and more comfortable, we are confident he is going to be a terrific player for us."

"We really like the freshman class as a whole," said Rose. "It is a competitive group of young men who are great fits for our program."

Playing Differently on the Perimeter

"The last several years, we have been point guard-dominant in terms of advancing the ball in transition," said Rose. "This year we have several talented guys you would call 'combo guards', who can play the point and the shooting guard."  

Two of those combo guards are expected to start for the Titans in 2015-16.  Senior Bryce Dolan has played in 83 varsity games through his first three seasons at IWU, knocking down 124 of 283 3-point attempts (.438).  He sits at 11th on the school's all-time 3-point FG made list and enters this season as one of the best pure shooters in the CCIW.  Sophomore Brady Rose, also a terrific pure shooter, played 12 minutes per game in CCIW play last season. 

Two seniors are expected to play important roles off the bench for the Titans.  Joel Pennington, another combo guard, played 15 minutes per game in 2014-15.  Co-captain Brian Nelms will most likely be the only pure point guard in IWU's guard rotation at the beginning of the season.  Freshman Mark Falotico could end up pushing for time as the season progresses.

"Replacing Dylan isn't going to be a one for one thing," said Rose.  "I expect the entire guard corp to take the responsibilities Dylan had in terms of advancing the ball, beating the press, and the decisions he was asked to make for us," said Rose.

At the wing/small forward spot, 6-4 junior Andy Stempel and 6-3 freshman Colin Bonnett will both bring size, perimeter shooting ability, and dribble penetration.  Bonnett has some low post skills and is comfortable playing with his back to the basket when defended by a smaller player.  Sophomores Jaylen Beasley and Kevin Connelly are knocking on the door at the wing.

Post Rotation Returns

The Titans return their entire 4-man post rotation from the 20-win campaign in 2014-15 -- seniors Mike Marietti (6-8/225) and Ryan Coyle (6-6/210), and juniors Trevor Seibring (6-8/235) and Alec Bausch (6-6/210).  A year ago at this time, this post unit was the big question mark for Illinois Wesleyan.  The group collectively proceeded to average 30.0 points and 18.3 rebounds per game, and shot .551 from the field.

Unfortunately, Marietti suffered a knee injury early in the practice season and isn't expect back until sometime in early-December.

"I feel really good about our bigs," said Rose.  "Obviously I wish we were going into the season with a healthy Mike Marietti, but I like our depth and the combinations we can put on the floor.  When Mike comes back, we will be able to play him and Trev (Seibring) together some and cause matchup problems.

College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin

Perennially one of the elite conferences in NCAA Division III, the CCIW has two teams ranked in the top 10 of D3hoops.com Preseason Top 25 -- Augustana (#1) and Elmhust (#8).  Illinois Wesleyan checks in at #24.

"This will be my 10th season in the league, and this will be the 10th time I've said the league is as good as it's ever been," joked Rose.  "But I think this year is really unique.  It's not uncommon for the CCIW to have 2 teams in the top 10, and it's not uncommon to have 3-4 teams in the Top 25 so this year's no different in that regard.  But to me, it's how strong the CCIW is from top to bottom that stands out."

The CCIW Preseason Poll has Augustana as the league favorite, with Elmhurst #2. "Augie and Elmhurst are known commodities that return an incredible amount of experience," said Rose.  "I voted for those two to finish 1st and 2nd too."

"You also have to look at the league top to bottom though," he continued.  "North Central reloaded their roster and is going to be right in the championship hunt...North Park brings back the majority of their roster including the last two league Freshmen of the Year...Wheaton has some very talented young guys to go along proven returners...you have a Carthage team coached by Bosko...at Millikin, Coach Nadlehoffer's first recruits are seniors now and they have as quick of a backcourt as there is in Division III. 

"Our goal at Illinois Wesleyan is to compete for a conference championship every year," said Rose.  "As good as the league is, we have a team capable of doing that this year."

Ten Years

This will be Ron Rose's 10th season as the head coach of his alma mater.  His teams are 176-82 (.682) overall and 82-55 (.651) in CCIW play.  In the six seasons since his first recruits were juniors, the Titans are 136-45 (.751) overall and 64-20 (.762) in the CCIW, with six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and 20-win seasons.  Rose is one of just three coaches in all of NCAA Division III to lead his team to the national tournament the last six years.

"Where has the time gone? This will complete a decade of being the coach at Illinois Wesleyan, a dream job for me," said Rose.  "I have loved my time here - it is such a terrific university.  Having now coached here long enough to see former players get married, have kids, and be successful in life is just incredibly rewarding."

"I think back and wish I knew in the first two or three years what I know now," he continued.  "As is true in any occupation, you want to grow and learn and improve each year, and I think I have done that.  I feel very fortunate for what we have accomplished the last few few years and where we are headed as a program."

As far as where the Titans are headed most immediately, the 2015-16 season is just days away. 

Final Thoughts:

From and X's and O's standpoint, Rose points to the defensive end of the floor as the key to the upcoming season.

"We're going to have to defend better," said Rose.  "As I looked at last year's team, we did not get the big stops in key moments to go from a very good team to a championship team.  I'm looking for us to develop more of a defensive identity.  We will be so big and strong in the low post that I think our low post defense will be good.  On the perimeter, we will have to be better."

It's clear Rose feels very good about his team offensively in the days leading up to the opener.

"We are very skilled on the offensive end," he said.  "We will have the chance to have three guys who are knock-down 3-point shooters on the perimeter, and we have guys who can score in the low block.  For us to be playing at our highest level on the offensive end, we will need a diverse attack.  We are going to have to get our perimeter and post guys on the same page.  If we do that, we will be a very difficult team to guard."

As far as intangibles, Rose points to the leadership void left by Overstreet's graduation.

"Every team in the country is talking about leadership right now and figuring out within team dynamics who will be leaders," he said.  "We have two seniors who were voted captains by their teammates, Brian Nelms and Mike Marietti, who I know will do a great job.  But they can't be our only leaders.  As a group we have to learn how to compete and communicate at a high level so that through the course of games all of the direction doesn't have to come from those two captains.  The last two years, Dylan has handled so much of our team leadership.  We need new leaders to step up."

"I'll say this," concluded Rose.  "We have another group of highly unselfish players that are only concerned about the team, that want to compete for a conference championship and play in the NCAA tournament.  I don't question our guys' motives right now at all -- they are pure."

The Titans open at the Shirk Center Saturday against Benedictine.  Good luck to Ron Rose and the Titans as the 2015-16 journey begins!

IWU's seniors, from left - Brian Nelms, Joel Pennington, Mike Marietti, Rob Mahlke, Ryan Coyle, Bryce Dolan

My guy @tseibring in the ONU scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/b5I2I26Ym0

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015

Video Clips from October 31 Scrimmage vs Olivet Nazarene:

Brady Rose can shoot it pic.twitter.com/rcCDYgTr81

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Brady Rose:

Bryce Dolan enters his senior season as one of the best pure shooters in the CCIW pic.twitter.com/Q0t1TL8MC7

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Bryce Dolan:

Andy Stempel does a lot of things very well pic.twitter.com/hWOVUuHjYV

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Andy Stempel:
Trevor Seibring:

6-6 senior Ryan Coyle can play in the low post and step out and shoot it. pic.twitter.com/aKp7YmfUKV

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Ryan Coyle:

6-6 Alec Bausch had a breakout soph season. High motor 4 who can step out (46% from 3 last year). pic.twitter.com/yOolgib7GR

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Alec Bausch:

Freshman Colin Bonnett can score inside, shoot the 3, and has a nice mid-range game pic.twitter.com/di24DUUQL8

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Colin Bonnett:

Nice passing by Brian Nelms and Alec Bausch. Titan basketball tips Saturday #d3h pic.twitter.com/ShD34F2r7s

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Brian Nelms:

Senior Joel Pennington can play either guard spot and can shoot it. pic.twitter.com/fK6O6UIdw3

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Joel Pennington:

No player in the program is more intriguing than Jaylen Beasley. Legit 6-6 and long, athletic, can really shoot it pic.twitter.com/YRvfS6GnIf

— Bob Quillman (@IWUhoopscom) November 8, 2015
Jaylen Beasley: