Blue Devils under new management
The Riverland men's basketball team will have a new head coach this season as Scott Koenigs takes over control of the program.
Koenigs has been the baseball coach at Riverland for nearly a decade and in the past was an assistant men's basketball coach for the Blue Devils. He has also coached basketball at a few different high schools around the area, so the new bench boss has plenty of experience.
"Getting back into coaching basketball has been fun for me and the guys have been working hard in practice, so I'm looking forward to the season," Koenigs said. "It's going to be a challenging start to the season with some of our better players grounded until the second semester. When we had everybody playing last week, we won our alumni game for the first time in five years."
Shane Barry is the one returning sophomore, who saw action last year and will be on the floor to start this season. Sophomores Jordan Osberg, Andre Birdsong, and Denzel Smith won'y be eligible to play until the Minnesota College Athletic Conference schedule starts in January.
Coming back to the court after taking a few years off from the sport will be sophomores Jeff Clark-Neal and Taylor Morgan. Clark-Neal is a guard who played high school ball at St. Paul Johnson. Morgan is a forward who played a couple of years ago for the Blue Devils and can run the floor.
"We're not real big, but the guys are very athletic," Koenigs said. "We'll run a motion offense and play to their strengths on the court."
A talented group of freshmen will look to keep the Blue Devils competitive until they get their full compliment of players back. Leading the incoming group of players is guard Zach Bunch from Kenosha, Wis.
"Bunch is a bigger guard, so we'll look for him and Taylor (Morgan) to get us the scoring in the backcourt," the coach said. "They're not great three-point shooters, but we have guards that can penetrate to the basket."
The rest of the incoming crew will be a work in progress. Wayne Canady, Keith Thames, and Marcus Ratliff are freshmen guards. Vincent Awoleke will be in the low post and Mark Tuma is a forward. Andrew Kaiser, a freshman forward, showed the ability to score last year while playing in high school for the Austin Packers.
"The main thing is we're trying to install a new attitude and play with more discipline this season," Koenigs said. "We have some decent shooters, so we'll just have to see what happens in the opening weeks of the season. We need to develop consistency."
Riverland opens the season this afternoon against Western Wisconsin Technical College and then, plays Madison (Wis.) Tech on Saturday in the season-opening tournament.
RIVERLAND MEN'S BASKETBALL
Sophomores — Shane Barry (guard), Jordan Osberg (guard), Jeff Clark-Neal (guard), Brandon Sims (guard), Denzel Smith (forward), Andre Birdsong (center), Taylor Morgan (forward). Freshmen— Zach Bunch (guard), Wayne Canady (guard), Keith Thames (guard), Marcus Ratliff (guard), Vincent Awoleke (center), Mark Tuma (forward), Andrew Kaiser (forward).
Nov. 4 — at Minnesota West Classic, 4 p.m.
Nov. 5— at Minnesota West Classic, 2 p.m.
Nov. 9— North Iowa Area CC, 8 p.m.
Nov. 12— Western Wisconsin Tech, 3 p.m.
Nov. 16— Gustavus Adolphus JV, 8 p.m.
Nov. 22— at Fond du Lac, 7 p.m.
Nov. 29— St. Cloud Technical College, 8 p.m.
Dec. 2— Rainy River, 8 p.m.
Dec. 3— Hibbing, 3 p.m.
Dec. 9— at Itasca, 8 p.m.
Dec. 10— at Northland, 3 p.m.
Dec. 14— at North Iowa CC, 7 p.m.
Jan. 4— at Western Wis. Tech, 8 p.m.
Jan. 7— at Gustavus Adolphus JV, 8 p.m.
Jan. 11— Anoka-Ramsey, 8 p.m.
Jan. 14— at Central Lakes, 3 p.m.
Jan. 18— at Rochester CTC, 8 p.m.
Jan. 21— at Ridgewater, 3 p.m.
Jan. 25— Fergus Falls, 8 p.m.
Feb. 1— Minnesota West, 8 p.m.
Feb. 4— at Anoka-Ramsey, 3 p.m.
Feb. 8— Central Lakes, 8 p.m.
Feb. 11— Rochester CTC, 3 p.m.
Feb. 15— Ridgewater, 8 p.m.
Feb. 18— at Fergus Falls, 3 p.m.
Feb. 22— at Dakota County, 7 p.m.
Feb. 25— at Minnesota West, 3 p.m.