By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
CEDAR RAPIDS ? College basketball is officially underway, and both Iowa Wesleyan basketball teams will tip their season off tonight (Wednesday) in Cedar Rapids.
The Tiger men and women will start up their non-conference schedule on the road against Coe College, a team that swept the Tigers last season. The Kohawks topped IW 71-60 in the women?s game and 98-92 in the men?s game, exactly a year ago today at the Tigers? 2016-17 home opener.
The IW men come into this season after going 19-9 in 2016-17. The Tigers finished the year with a 13-5 SLIAC record, which tied them with Westminster for second place. Greenville topped the men?s standings last year with a 14-4 record.
The Tiger men will be without their two All-Conference selections from last season. Stephen and Michael Soukup were both lost to graduation.
IW does bring back two double-digit scorers from last season. Among those returning for the Tiger men this year are junior Brock Butler, who scored 16.2 points per game last year and senior Mitch Drey, who scored 11.8 points per game.
The IW women will be making their debut under new head coach Jack Bruns. The Tiger women went 10-13 overall last season with a conference mark of 9-7.
IW tied with Fontbonne for fourth place in the SLIAC in 2016-17. Eureka took the top spot in the conference, going 14-2.
The IW women lost three players to graduation last season. Among them was All-SLIAC second-teamer Cairece Allen (13.3 PPG). She is one of two double-digit scorers lost from last season, the other being Jaimie Hurd (10.7 PPG).
The Tigers do bring back a handful of players from last year, including junior Darby Massner, who made the all-conference third team in 2016-17. Massner scored 11 points per game last season, which was second on the team. Lastella Slack, the team?s fourth leading scorer will also return. She will enter her senior year.
Both Tiger teams will enter the year with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. The IW women were picked to finish seventh in the preseason SLIAC poll, and the men were picked to finish eighth.
Tonight?s games in Cedar Rapids will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the women playing first.