Ron Rose led Illinois Wesleyan's men to their first Final Four appearance last year since 2006. (Photo courtesy IWUSports.com)
By Eric Stock
The 2011-12 season was one of the most successful and memorable in Illinois Wesleyan basketball history.
The Titans were among just four programs in Division III history to make both the men's and women's basketball Final Four, with the women's team claiming its first title.
Men's coach Ron Rose knows the success from last year doesn't carry over into the new campaign, which opens in the Titan Tip-Off Classic tonight against Coe at Shirk Center.
"This is a new group. One of the things as a team we have to understand is last year's group, the success we had in the tournament last season doesn't guarantee anything this year," Rose said.
Rose will be leaning on the experience of his frontcourt with starters Victor Davis, Kevin Reed and Andrew Ziemnik returning.
The Titans could be without Truman State sophomore transfer Pat Sodemann, who suffered a groin pull in practice. Junior Brady Zimmer is battling back pain, which has limited his practice time. He missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. David Molinari has been showing symptoms of a concussion. He missed several games last season because of a concussion.
Rose says despite an inexperienced and injury-depleted backcourt, the Titans still plan to play up-tempo.
"We are going to play a similar style with a different emphasis. We've got big guys who can run. I still think we have a high skill set with our team, so we aren't going to change the tempo with which we play," Rose said.
The Titans are picked at No. 8 in the D3Hoops.com preseason poll.
You can listen to the game at 8 on WJBC 1230 AM and 93.7 FM. The first game of the classic pits Millikin against Loras at 6.
IWU women open in Indiana
The defending NCAA Division III champion Titan women begin their title defense in North Manchester, Ind. tonight in a tip-off tournament against Mount Union at 5. IWU ousted the Raiders on their home court in Alliance, Ohio on a buzzer-beating jump shot by Olivia Lett in the Round of 16 last March.
The Titans are ranked No. 4 in the USA Today/ESPN Division III Top 25. Mount Union is ranked No. 6.
The Titans returns two starters and five letterwinners from last year's team that had a 28-5 overall record. Returning starters include senior guard Melissa Gardner (13.0 points per game) and junior guard Colleen McMahon (6.3 ppg).
The banner dropping for IWU men’s basketball semifinal finish last March will be Nov. 17 prior to the Titans' 4 p.m. game against Loras.