Noone, Wittchow lead Titans in loss

Jordan Fremstad

The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team has hit a cold stretch, dropping three of its last four games with a 77-64 loss to Augustana College (IL) Wednesday night.

Junior point guard Charlie Noone and sophomore guard Brett Wittchow lead the evening with 20 points each. Augustana had four players in double figures to help the Vikings to their fifth win of the season.

The Titans dropped to 2-3 early in the year. UWO has faced fierce competition to start the 2016 campaign with matchups against teams with a combined record of 11-2.
Despite the slow start, head coach Pat Juckem said how important early competitive opponents are.

“It’s absolutely imperative,” Juckem said. “We realize fully what type of league we play in and the kind of competition. When you play really good teams in your nonconference it exposes you and stresses your team a little bit, and focuses on those areas that need attention.”

Noone and sophomore guard Ben Boots have been the calling cards for UWO in the stat column. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Noone was averaging 12 points per game and Boots an impressive 21. Both have shot better than 50 percent from the floor, giving the Titans a pair of reliable players that can hit key shots in crunch time.

Juckem had plenty of good things to say about how these two individuals have produced this season.

“Charlie puts a ton of time into his game,” Juckem said. “He is a self-made player. He is one of those absolute gym rats and I am not surprised. He is one of the leaders of this team, and he’d be the first to admit that he can play even better than he is right now.”

Boots’ came from Kimberly High School, a perennial powerhouse in football and basketball. Juckem said he has not been surprised with Boots transition to the college level.

“Ben is another that we are not surprised,” Juckem said. “He has always been around winning programs through Kimberly High School’s football program and basketball program. He has a lot of that it-factor to him, and the only thing that matters to him is winning the game.”

Boots said the offseason work by the entire team helped put him in a position to be successful as an underclassman.

“A lot of guys on our team have really put in the time,” Boots said. “We are just trying to get better and do what we can to put wins on the board.”

Noone emphasized the care the team puts in to ensure stability throughout a long season.

“We have a lot of guys that are willing to put in the time in the offseason and get better in different aspects of their game.” Noone said “They take good care of their bodies, and they care a lot about this team and this program.”

Wittchow has been another productive piece for the Titans, shooting 13 points per game and hitting 40 percent of his shots.

The Titans came up short against Wartburg College (IL) 83-72 and Benedictine University 68-55. Boots supplied 31 points against Wartburg but the team was outscored 50 to 29 in the second half. The Titans were able to pull out a win against Edgewood College 74-63.

UWO shot under 28 percent from three against Augustana. Free-throw-shooting has been an issue for Oshkosh, hitting less than 70 percent of their opportunities.
Noone said guys have to step up in that category by putting in the extra work.

“We don’t do a ton of it in practice, it is something guys have to do outside of practice and put in that extra work,” Noone said. “It is something that gets better as the season goes on.”

UWO improved mightily in that category on Wednesday going 11-12 from the line. Oshkosh has been close to putting consistent play together but coach Juckem said they can play better.

“Our goal is to win them all, and we need to be playing better than we are, but I think our opponents and the quality of the teams we have played is going to help us in the long run,” Juckem said.

The Titans have a little more than a month before Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play begins, but Boots talked about how games like these prepare a team for a tough grind down the stretch.

“I think a really tough nonconference schedule really prepares you for the year in the WIAC,” Boots said. “We will have a lot of tough games week in and week out for about 14 straight games so it’s good to be prepared for that.”

Noone talked about winning the day in practice and games to get them back on track.

“We are just trying to get better every day,” Noone said. “We try to have a great mindset every day. We have played some really good teams here early, so that is going to make us a better team in the long run.”

Boots said the team doesn’t worry so much about records this early in the year.

“The ceiling is very high,” Boots said. “We don’t worry specifically about what our record is going to be. Right now we just have to get back to playing as hard as we can and let the results take care of themselves.”

UWO will have its home opener on Saturday against Calvin College, a team that has dropped three of its last four games.

Juckem said the team will use these early games as lessons and move forward and improve.

Following Saturday, the team will head back out on the road for a matchup against Maranatha Baptist University on Monday.