If you had been to the Sports Center during the afternoons preceding fall break, you would have heard the thud of dozens of balls dribbling against the floorboards of Flood Arena echoing down to the weight room. Or the squeal of fresh kicks as players draped in mesh jerseys cut from line to line.
There can only be one explanation: it’s basketball season.
The Buccaneer men’s basketball team sacrificed their break and began preparation for the new season under seventh-season Head Coach Brian Vraney. Last Wednesday (Oct. 23), the Midwest Conference released the 2013-14 preseason polls with the Buccaneers squad picked to finish third. Returning MWC champions St. Norbert College and Carroll University were ranked in front of the Bucs, who finished the 2012-13 season 12-11 overall and 10-8 in MWC.
“My expectations (for the upcoming season) are that we come to compete our hearts out at every competition,” says James Lazarcik’14. “If we do that, everything will fall right into place.”
Lazarcik, from LaCrescent, Minn, is not only a team leader, but also a driving force on the court. During the 2012-2013 season, he was named First Team All-MWC and third-team All-Midwest Region and earned Second Team Academic All-American laurels. (Hear more about James here.)
He led the team in 13 different categories, topped NCAA Division III in field goal percentage, and earned the honor of Record-Breaking Performance of the Year at Beloit’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) banquet. He was also recently awarded the Janssen Award, which recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of junior student-athletes for the athletic year, as voted on by the head coaches in the athletic department.
“The awards make me think that teams may focus on me more than last year, so I have tried to work on the weakest parts of my game and to be able to fit into any role I am able to,” says Lazarcik.
A recent release from DIII News, a monthly publication that covers NCAA Division III basketball, reported that Lazarcik has earned Honorable Mention Preseason All-American honors. He was also projected as the MWC Player of the Year in the publication’s annual preseason preview.
“I would consider myself a leader. We all lead each other at different points in the season, so we really have 20-plus leaders,” Lazarcik said.
The Bucs will open the season with a week on the road, traveling to Dominican University on Tuesday, Nov. 19 and Wisconsin Lutheran College on Thursday, Nov. 21. Their home and MWC opener is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 5:30 p.m. against Ripon College.