Exhibition win kicks off season

Calvin Skalet

The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team opened its season with an exhibition victory over Lawrence University by a score of 89-66 at Kolf Sports Center on Monday. The exhibition matchup helped hurricane relief as all proceeds of Monday’s game went to the American Red Cross to provide help to struggling cities and countries affected by recent natural disasters.

Notable returning Titans are UWO senior guard Charlie Noone and junior guard Ben Boots. The two guards are coming off seasons in which they led UWO in scoring with both averaging 13 points per game in the 2016-17 season.

In the first half, the Vikings kept in range of the Titans after the first half ended with the favored Titans leading by just seven points. As the half ended, UWO had a lead over the Vikings by a score of 39-32.

From that point forward, the Titans never looked back, outscoring the Vikings in the second half 50-34 in route to an 89-66 victory.

The Titans got good contributions from their guard play after Noone, Boots and junior guard Brett Wittchow combined for 37 points on Monday. Boots and Wittchow each gave the Titans 14 points while Noone registered nine points.

However, UWO received big contributions from their forwards as well. UWO starting sophomore forward Jack Flynn led the Titans in scoring with 16 points and also was aggressive on the glass, getting four rebounds in the game.

UWO also saw good contributions from sophomore Adam Fravert as the six-foot-seven forward registered ten points while leading the team in rebounds with six. But Fravert also showed his court awareness as the forward led the team in assists with five.

Offensively, it started out as a struggle for UWO, as the Titans were shooting just 40 percent from the field and just 33 percent from 3-point range.

The Titans shot the ball much better in the second half, shooting 53 percent from the floor and 50 percent from the 3-point line as UWO was 6-12 from beyond the arc in the second half.

Flynn said the chemistry between himself and Fravert goes further than the basketball court and that the connection between the two forwards has deep history.

“We’ve been roommates since freshmen year, and we’re roommates right now,” Flynn said. “We just hang out all the time, and it’s just a connection that you don’t often find.”

Flynn said he is willing to do whatever it takes to help his teammates out and to further the team in whatever way he can.

“Anything the team needs,” Flynn said. “Getting rebounds, getting my shooters open, anything I can do to help us win.”

Noone said there is a leadership role when starting a fourth year at UWO, but noted the team doesn’t look to one specific person to be the voice of the team.
“We kind of do [leadership] by committee,” Noone said. “It’s not really one guy above everyone else, everyone’s got a little part in it. That’s just kind of how we do things.”
Although it was a standard exhibition game on the court, this contest game had a little extra meaning as the game proceeds went to the American Red Cross to aid hurricane relief efforts both in the United States and the Caribbean.
UWO head coach Pat Juckem said the game was much more than two teams finally meeting up on the court to start the season, but rather a platform to spark change.
“It’s amazing what has gone on in this country in the last three to four months,” Juckem said. “We’re fortunate; obviously, we’re not dealing with that up here so in a sense we’re protected.”
Juckem said giving back to the community is not something that should be optional and said his team understands that some things are bigger than the game of basketball.
“I tell our guys this all the time, play a role in your community,” Juckem said. “Make a difference with the people around you. And if we have a chance to make things better for one person or a lot of people then we have a responsibility to help. We’re very blessed to do what we do and hopefully we made a difference tonight.”
UWO and Lawrence University requested a waiver from the NCAA earlier this week to play an exhibition game. It was granted, provided all the charitable donations go to hurricane relief efforts.
UWO will kick off its first regular season game next Wednesday, Nov. 15, as the Titans will host Benedictine University (Ill.) at 7 p.m.