The 2021 NSIC men's basketball season was over almost before it started.
Todd Eisner and the Winona State Warriors were thankful to be able to play, but a seven-week season is one of the shortest Eisner has had in his lengthy career both as a player at Creighton and as a long-time coach.
The 2021 season was fulfilling for Eisner personally, as he notched his 500th career victory. The Warriors came up short of their goals, though. They finished 7-6 and didn't advance to the NSIC Tournament.
"Obviously, I'm very fortunate to do something that I love to do," Eisner said. "Very fortunate to coach a lot of really good players. That’s what it comes down to. Been at schools that have supported us and been fortunate to have a lot of players buy into the vision that we have. We try to work hard and give ourselves a chance. I'd like to win at a little higher level here. We’re still working on that."
The offseason will be key for Eisner's vision of NSIC dominance to return.
Here's a player-by-player breakdown of the potential roster next year, including some of the new faces that the Warriors will welcome into the program.
Kevion Taylor: The senior guard led the Warriors with 20.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and his return next season is a major boon. Taylor took on a huge role this season and his efficiency suffered a little bit (42 percent from the floor, 33 percent from 3-point range), but he finished as the No. 3 scorer in the NSIC. He's going to return as one of the best players in the conference and the unquestioned leader of the Warriors.
Andrea Lo Biondo: Lo Biondo, a senior forward, averaged 10.5 points and 6.4 rebounds. The Italian big man shot 41 percent from 3-point range. He came on strong down the stretch, notching double-doubles in the two games against Upper Iowa to close the season.
Luke Martens: Martens is as tough as you'll find. The gritty junior guard also closed the season with two of his best performances of the season. He scored 19 points in the finale and finished averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Owen King: It was going to take some time for King to get adjusted back to playing high-level hoops. The former Caledonia star found his groove down the stretch and bought into his role. The South Dakota State transfer fit right into the culture and finished the season on a 7-for-16 streak from 3-point range. King, a junior, finished his first season with Winona State averaging 8.9 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Devin Whitelow: The return of Whitelow will definitely make help Eisner sleep a little easier at night. The ball moves better when Whitelow is on the floor. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior is a pitbull defensively and a straight-up winner.
Connor Dillon: Many around the program believe Dillon has a chance to be special. He's an electric scorer. When he gets rolling, he's so hard to stop. He hit five 3-pointers against Upper Iowa and then six against Wayne State. It was tough for freshmen to walk into the building and try to learn the system and understand the defense when practice time was stunted all year long. A whole offseason will be huge for Dillon. He's got a super bright future.
Alec Rosner: Rosner fought back and found his way back onto the floor after suffering a partially torn ACL. The fact that he averaged 7.5 points per game after missing so much time was pretty remarkable. Getting fully healthy would be huge for the 6-2, 195-pound junior guard.
Nick Klug: Klug, a 6-1 junior guard, didn't get a ton of playing time (11.2 minutes per game) because of the veteran guards in the Warriors backcourt. He'll need to cut down on his turnovers and show that he can be a viable offensive threat to get more playing time in the future.
Declan Dillon: The freshman guard is more of a point guard than a shooting guard. He's got a good feel for the game and is more than capable of filling it up, too.
Bill Flowers: The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard out of Chicago was injured down the stretch. He'll have to compete for playing time yet again next year among a bunch of talented guards.
Carson Arenz: Arenz earned some minutes because he hit the glass hard and competed at a high level. The 6-5, 190-pound freshman is one to watch in the future.
Malik Abdul-Wahid: An hour after the season had ended, Abdul-Wahid was back in the gym getting up shots. The 6-foot-6 wing has such a high upside. But the backcourt is a little crowded in the immediate future.
Carter Lomas: Lomas played in four games this year but didn't score in five minutes of playing time.
Electric recruiting class
Connor Drew: The Ballard (Iowa) High School star averaged 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds and shot 40 percent from 3-point range. "Connor committed to us in July after visiting our campus twice to watch us play last season," Eisner said. "We really like his toughness and his ability to shoot the ball."
Drew Adams: The 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward out of East Ridge High School (Woodbury) was a great shot-blocker in high school and will give the Warriors more much-needed size on the interior. "Drew is a gym rat who is always working on his game," Eisner said. "Drew can knock down perimeter shots and is productive in the paint at both ends of the floor."
Dustin Beauprey: Winona State loves shooters and Beauprey absolutely fits the bill. He scored more than 4,000 career points at Mountain Top Christian in Horicon, Wis. "Dustin is someone that we watched play a lot this summer with the Wisconsin Crusaders program and he impressed us more every time we watched him," Eisner said. "He has tremendous size already, can score the ball at all three levels and has tremendous vision as a passer."
Alou Dillon: The 6-foot-8 South Dakota State transfer sat out the entire season instead of trying to rush back from an injury. Dillon easily could've been a top-two player for the Warriors this season, and would've given the Warriors some much-needed size on the interior. But he's so skilled and a menace in transition, too.