The boys’ basketball team is back on the court preparing for the upcoming season. Glenwood returns 99 percent of the scoring from a squad that went 18-6 in 2016-17, making them highly regarded in polls and predictions across the state.
While there is a lot of hype surrounding his team, Head Coach Curt Schulte emphasized that the Rams must keep a level head and stay focused throughout the year.
“We have the mentality of ‘one day at a time,’” said Schulte. “We are just trying to get better from practice to practice and from game to game.”
The Rams will boast a solid lineup of returning starters. Glenwood’s three-headed monster trio features seniors Nate Mohr and Andrew Blum, as well as junior Christian Stanislav. Schulte expects big things from his three stars.
“I think leadership and experience are probably the two top things, especially from our seniors,” he said. “Nate and Andrew have been in big pressure games and I think they need to lead by example and have the younger guys follow in their footsteps. Christian now has a year of starting experience under his belt, and I think leadership will be a key for him also.”
As for numbers, these three guys are statistically some of the most prolific players the Hawkeye Ten has to offer. Mohr ranked second in the conference a year ago with 19.7 points per game and filled up the stat sheet with just under five assists per game (second in the conference) and 2.5 steals (first). The Wayne State commit also knocked down an average of 3.2 three-pointers per contest, which was by far the most in the Hawkeye Ten. Glenwood’s primary sharpshooter emphasized that being a team player and winning games is in the front of his mind headed into this season.
“My role this year is to be a leader and to do whatever I need to do to give us the best chance to win each game,” Mohr said.
Blum is poised to have a big year as well. He dropped an average of 16.9 points and snagged just over eight rebounds per game in his junior campaign. While the big stats are great, Blum emphasized that there is improvement to be made.
“I have to encourage the team to continue to do the little things,” said Blum. “We're full of shooters and people that can score, but sitting down and playing defense and not giving up offensive rebounds are going to be what we really need to focus on.”
After coming off the bench his freshman year, Stanislav took full advantage of his starting spot last season. He averaged 15.8 points per game as a sophomore, and added just one more weapon to Glenwood’s stellar offensive arsenal.
Aside from the Rams’ three superstars, seniors Cody Buresh and Nate Kennedy round out the returning starting lineup, both of whom averaged around six points per game last season. Schulte also mentioned seniors Jake Murtfeld and Blake Von Essen, junior Ryan Leath, as well as sophomore Zach Carr as contributors to Glenwood’s varsity roster this season.
A competitive league proved to be a challenge for the Rams last year, and could test them again this season. Schulte, Blum and Mohr all mentioned Kuemper, Atlantic, Lewis Central and Harlan as potential contenders for a conference title. As likely favorites to win the Hawkeye Ten, Glenwood knows they will have a target on their back.
“Night in and night out we’ve got to be ready to go, we’ve got to be prepared and ready to compete at a high level,” Schulte said.
On paper, Atlantic has the best chance to give the Rams a tough run for their money. Even though the Trojans graduated all-state forward Garrett Franken, they still have plenty of talent coming back. Not only did Atlantic knock off Glenwood twice in the regular season a year ago, but they also notched a thrilling one-point victory over the Rams in the substate final to earn a spot in the state tournament.
Mohr expressed confidence in the team’s work ethic during the opening days of the season.
“Our first two practices were probably the best practices that I've been apart of out of the four years I have been here, so I would say that we are all ready to get out there and prove that we should have made [the State Tournament] the past two years,” said Mohr.
Mohr and Blum are on a mission, as they led the team to State as freshmen but haven’t returned since.
“A trip back to the Well [Wells Fargo Arena] has been on our minds since we first went freshman year. We've been working this offseason and will continue to work to make sure that no one gets in our way of going back,” Blum said.
After dropping two consecutive heartbreaking substate final games, the Rams are starving for a ticket back to Des Moines in February. While it is a ways down the road, there is no doubt what the ultimate goal is for this Glenwood squad in the upcoming year.
“It’s unfinished business,” said Schulte. “They’re hungry, and they’ll definitely be ready to go when tournament time rolls around.”
Catch the Rams in their season opener as they host Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson Friday, November 28.