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Men’s basketball program grew ‘every week’

Coming off a rollercoaster season with the men’s basketball team, coach Jared Ronai is choosing to focus on the high points.

The Cougars finished the 2015- 2016 season with a 6-12 Crossroads League record and a 14-

16 overall record.

“This team improved in all aspects of the game each and every week,” Ronai said. “When you start such young players, you’re going to go through your ups and downs.

“These ups and downs are highlighted especially in the Crossroads League which, in my opinion, is the best league in the country at our level.”

Photo of Jeremiah Roberts by Noah Torralba

The Cougars will return 12 of their 14 players next season, seven of whom are currently freshmen.

Senior Eric Roby led the Cougarsthis season with 14 points per game, but MVNU’s younger players show a lot of promise.

Freshman Brett Vipperman scored 11.8 points and grabbed 5.2 rebounds per game, while freshman Jeremiah Roberts put up 9.5 points per game and played impressive defense.

Junior Josh Ashwill scored 12.7 points and pulled down 7.7 rebounds per game while grabbing third place in the nation in total assists with 192.

Sophomore Joey Schmitz, who averaged 11.8 points per game while making 78 percent of his free throws, also played a big role for the Cougars offense throughout the season.

This season saw the Cougars earn a university record of six Crossroads League wins.

“To do that with such an inexperienced team is exciting for the future,” Ronai said. “I think this group earned the respect of some of the ‘big dogs’ in this league this season, and that is a big step forward for our young kids.”

Ronai said he likes the direction his Cougars are headed.

“The fight and perseverance this team continued to show, playing their best basketball down the stretch, excites me about where we’re headed and the true character of this young group,” he said.

This season was also highlighted by two wins over nationally-ranked Marian University, a big 87-47 win over Spring Arbor University and a late-season thriller that saw the Cougars take Indiana Wesleyan University to the wire.

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