New Ulm, MN - The party on campus is just winding down after the Knights' second title in five seasons. When the students awaken from their drunken daze, they'll realize four key contributors to that title team have graduated. However, one key name returns. Chad Brown is only a junior but he might already be the best player in the country. The other returning starter, Charles Marks, should form a nice inside-outside scoring combination with Brown. The key to the season though may be junior Carl Vasbinder. His ceiling isn't far under that of Brown, and now he'll finally get the extended minutes he needs to reach it. By season's end Vasbinder will be the third link in what should be a very potent 1-2-3 scoring punch.
Until then, the offense will struggle, particularly after the loss of both lead guards. Glasper was a great creator as well as a scorer, and the passing of Joseph Wiles really helped the offense run smoothly. Bench scoring will be an issue as well (as in, right now it doesn't exist). That issue should improve as the season progresses and the youngsters develop their scoring skills.
As usual, MLC will hang their hats on defense while the offense comes around. The starting five is one of the best defensive units MLC has seen. Donald Shimp fills Brett Mitchell's old role as lead rebounder, though he doesn't have a partner to rival the devastating Mitchell-Shimp rebounding combo that formed at times down the stretch last year. His backup, Ronald Cosentino, walks on to campus as the most athletic player in MLC history. He's one to watch for the future.
Overall this roster is a step down from last season's group. Brown is ready to take Glasper's role as a championship-caliber superstar, but Freddie was surrounded by a deep, talented bunch that filled their roles perfectly. Chad doesn't have that. It would take a lot of in-season development and a bit of luck to successfully defend the title. But it's been a decade since MLC finished outside the national top 15, and Brown and company are plenty talented enough to keep that streak alive.