Chicago, IL – After losing 5 senior starters from an Elite Eight run a year ago, this year’s squad may look a little more like the Vikings from Rock Island with their youth and raw potential. This will be most evident in the backcourt, as the coaching staff has been unable to pull in a bona fide point guard in the last few recruiting seasons. The team is full of guards with adequate to above average ball handling and passing, but no true lead guard. Early foul trouble amongst any of the guards could spell trouble for the team. Considering the Vikings have long played a vaunted full-court press defense, this is a risky proposition. The coaching staff will have their job cut out for them massaging minutes out of this crew, especially if they hope to break through to super talented freshman Timothy Wilson and improve his work ethic.
The frontcourt will be a strength with last year’s JUCO recruits locking down the paint. They may not score too much (even though Bench hit a game-winner in the season opener!), but they will be rebounding and defensive stalwarts. Both of their rebounding and defensive ratings just turned black after the off-season, so each should continue to improve drastically as the season progresses. The staff brought in another pair of twin towers this offseason who should eventually be as good or better than Crim or Bench. Harold Flock will redshirt this season, but the pairing of Flock and Crouse should rival Augustana’s young frontline and provide stellar defense and rebounding for years to come.
North Park administration was surprised to be so highly ranked in the preseason and hopes this year’s team can live up to the hype and the successes of prior teams. It will be difficult given the youth movement, but the Vikings should fall in right behind Martin Luther in the South division. That should be good enough for a 7th consecutive NT berth.