The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

April 25, 2014

MSU men's basketball rebuilding seems to be on pace

The Minnesota State men’s basketball team won a program-record 30 games last season, but three starters and a top reserve will have graduated by the time practice starts again in October.

For most programs, that significant rebuilding project would bring concern to the coaching staff and fan base, but coach Matt Margenthaler and his assistants rarely seem to be without an answer.

Last fall, the Mavericks added a pair of high-schoolers, Alex Herink and Thomas Kopelman, who are the all-time leading scorers at their respective programs. This week, the roster was supplemented with two Division I transfers that Margenthaler nearly landed out of high school that should fit right in and give the Mavericks the potential for another 30-win season.

Joe Aase, a 6-foot-8 forward, was a two-time all-state player at Austin who couldn’t resist that lure of Division I Davidson for one season. But wanting to return to Minnesota to play closer to his family, he is joining the Mavericks, potentially filling the role of Connor O’Brien.

Aase is probably a more consistent shooter than O’Brien, but we’ll see if he plays with O’Brien’s aggressiveness, especially in rebounding and shot-blocking. O’Brien rarely had great numbers, but he almost always had good stats, and his attitude and energy was often the key to victories. He won’t be easy to replace.

But Aase is a good fit, and he has three seasons here.

Connor Miller, who played high-school ball at Eau Claire, Wis., before spending three seasons at Division I Samford, is the 6-4 shooter who could replace Tanner Adler. Miller has made about one-third of his 3-pointers in college, which is below the 42.9 percent that Adler shot from long range last season, but Adler was streaky.

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