Regents ready to leap up in standings
Saturday, November 14, 2009
By Jay Taft
Posted Nov 14, 2009 @ 11:37 PM
Last update Nov 14, 2009 @ 11:50 PM
ROCKFORD — Last year’s Rockford College men’s basketball team took what head coach Ryan Rebsom called a couple of “nice steps” toward getting the program to where he wants it to be.
This year, with four starters and six seniors returning, he expects to take some “giant jumps.”
“Last year we felt like we should have been playing for a conference championship. We were that close,” said Rebsom, the Regents fifth-year head coach. “Now we have some lofty expectations for ourselves. The guys know it, and they’re ready to start showing they deserve it.”
Rockford lost starting point guard Renell Taylor, a go-to guy late in games who had three game-winning shots in the Regents’ six wins during the first half of last season. But back is leading scorer Danny Armelin (17.7 points per game), and his backcourt mate Andrew Weber, a former Boylan standout who set a single-season Regents’ record with 81 steals in 2008-’09. Those are two of the team’s seniors who believe it’s now or never.
“With all of the seniors we’ve got on this team, there’s no way we’ll ever start thinking about next year. There is no ‘Next year’ for this team,” Weber said. “We went at it hard all summer and fall; we started from the first day. This year I think the guys are coming back more motivated, and ready to play hard for an entire 40 minutes.”
Rockford won six in a row and battled its way to the Northern Athletics Conference tournament semifinals last year, where it fell 76-66 to Wisconsin Lutheran. The strong finish helped Rockford to a 17-10 overall mark and a 10-6 NAC record, and with nine total returners, it also helped them start to build a winning attitude.
Some of the players are even using that final loss as extra motivation for this year.
“It got to a point where every time we’d step into the gym that score (76-66) would be up on the scoreboard, or somewhere,” Armelin said. “It hurt. It hurt. We have to go out and make it better this year.”
Rebsom expects to run up and down the floor with this team, and he expects to score a lot of points every night. He plans on using the talent he has returning as much as possible.
Garrett Staniec started 26 games last year, and led the team with 7.8 rebounds an outing. Randon Williams averaged 7.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, and Taylor Stinson was sharp from the outside, draining almost 40 percent of his 3-point shots.
Also returning is Tyler Nauman and Robert Malone, two key role players last year, as well as new talents Leon Alford and DeAndre Steward.
“If we can stay healthy, and get better every day, this could be a very special year,” Rebsom added. “Heck yea, we can win a title. A lot of things have to fall our way, but I wouldn’t be doing these guys justice if I didn’t believe they can win a conference title. We’ve got the pieces.”
The Regents open the season with three straight home games, starting with Monday night’s opener against Greenville. They won’t wait long for the conference to kick in, heading to Concordia (Wis.) for a Dec. 1 matchup.