The Minnesota State University men’s basketball team is under way with their 2016-2017 basketball season. Last season, the Mavericks had a successful winning record of 22-10, but they ultimately fell in the second round of the Division-II NCAA Tournament. Returning for his senior season, forward Jon Fuqua is looking to lead the team. Last season, Fuqua was second on the team in points per game, averaging 15.7. He also finished first on the team with an average of 7.7 rebounds per game. Another notable returning player is sophomore guard Joey Witthus. He averaged 12 points per game last season. This year’s squad will rely on a mesh of young players and older ones, as they look to improve from their 2015-2016 season.
Head coach Matt Margenthaler heads into his 16th season, and he has had an illustrious career so far. During his time with the Mavericks, he has an overall record of 330-133. He has been named the conference coach of the year six times, has qualified for the NCAA tournament 11 times, and has won the conference championship seven times.
The Mavericks stand at 1-1 overall this season, as they have played a tournament in St. Cloud, MN. In their first game, MNSU defeated Pittsburg State 85-80, where Fuqua led the team with 23 points and nine rebounds. Witthus also added 20 points and five boards in the game. The sophomore also shot 67 percent from the three-point line, as the Mavericks shot a nice 43.8 percent from beyond the arc as a team. The Gorillas were also out-rebounded by the Mavs, 35-23.
In their second game against the Missouri Southern State Lions, the Mavericks lost a close one in double-overtime, 109-103. Witthus led offensively, recording 30 points and six rebounds. Fuqua recorded his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Senior-transfer from the University of Northern Iowa Aarias Austin also made an impact, putting up 25 points and eight assists. The Mavericks actually shot better than the Lions in the game, hitting 52.9 percent from the floor compared to MSSU’s 41.9 percent. The 21 turnovers were the Mavericks’ downfall, as the Lions had 13 steals in the contest. It is also worth noting that Fuqua was honored Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division Player of the Week with his performance over the weekend.
Next up, the Mavericks travel to Seattle, WA. to face off against non-conference opponents Seattle Pacific and Central Washington. MNSU’s first game will be on Friday night against the Seattle Pacific Falcons. This will be their second all-time meeting against each other. The only other time these two teams met was ten years ago where the Falcons won, 72-63.
The Falcons enter the matchup currently standing at 2-0 this season and are led by first-year head coach Grant Leep. One player to watch out for is Coleman Wooten, who is leading the Falcons in scoring and rebounding, averaging 22.5 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game. Joe Rasmussen is also averaging over 20 points per game so far this season.
Their next game will be on Saturday, as they face the Central Washington Wildcats. This game marks the third time these two teams have ever faced each other. The series is split 1-1, with the most recent game going in the Wildcats’ favor back during in the 2004-2005 season. Central Washington is currently 2-0 this season, and is led by head coach Greg Sparling, who is coaching in his 22nd season with CWU. The Wildcats are led by Dom Hunter, who is averaging 26.5 points per game so far this season.
Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. against SPU on Friday, and 2:30 p.m. against CWU on Saturday.