Men’s basketball: Blue Devils are hoping to get back to the postseasonPublished 7:51pm Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Riverland Community College men’s basketball team is hoping to end its postseason drought this season.
The Blue Devils, who started off their season with two wins over the weekend, haven’t made the state tournament since 1998 and they’ve had just one winning season in the last 40 years, but head coach Scott Koenigs is hoping things will be different this time around.
RCC missed the state tournament by one game last season.
“We should’ve made the tourney last year. Hopefully this year we will make it,” Koenigs said. “These are my guys that I brought in and that helps. All five of our starters had experience last season.”
The Blue Devils will have a legitimate go-to player in Andrew Lau, a 6-foot, 5-inch center out of Glenville-Emmons, who averaged 31 points and 8 rebounds in his first two games this season.
“Andrew’s improved so much,” Koenigs said. “He’s a Division II guy and he can play at the next level. He can shoot, post up and his defense is a lot better. It’s his team now.”
Lau said that the Blue Devils can play better than they did in their first two wins and he sees the playoffs as a definite possibility for this year’s squad.
“We think that we have a better team than last year,” Lau said. “Everyone’s starting to click, but the freshman are still trying to get the hang of things.”
Lau is joined by returnees Guillermo DeDiego, a 5-10 point guard from St. Francis High School in Milwaukee, Goliath Oboyo, a 6-5 forward from Austin, and Brandon Kowalski, a 6-3 guard from Mankato East, who missed last season with an injury.
Oboyo said he feels much more comfortable in his second year of college basketball.
“We’ve got better chemistry this year. Last year was all over the place,” Oboyo said. “I’m a little more confident coming in because I know what to expect. I’m even passing on some knowledge to some of the younger guys.”
The Blue Devils have struggled with perimeter shooting over the past few seasons, but they brought in Bobbie Stephens, a 5-8 sharpshooter from Hayfield, to help out in that department this season. Stephens, who graduated from Hayfield in 2012, finished 8th in Minnesota history as he hit 326 3-pointers in four years and he finished his Hayfield career with 1,231 points.
Stephens focused on bowling last year and now he’s adjusting to the increased pace of the college game.
“I’m getting the rust off and getting used to game situations. It’s a whole different ball game from high school,” Stephens said. “Everybody here is talented, otherwise they probably wouldn’t be here. Lau has a lot of talent and he can do anything.”
Koenigs is hoping that Stephens can spread out the defense once he gets back in his rhythm.
“Bobbie’s definitely going to help us out,” Koenigs said. “He’ll take some time to get used to the quickness of the game, but he can shoot and be’ll a zone buster.”
RCC will play three more road games before it hosts NIACC in its home opener Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. That will be the first of four straight home contests for the Blue Devils.