Men’s basketball begins quest for conference crown


Morgan Feltz / the Advance-Titan — UWO Guard Eric Peterson (0) surveys the court in Oshkosh’s 76-63 victory over Lawrence University on Nov. 8.

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team, fresh off a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference basketball championship last season, will look to compete for a fourth conference title in five years during the 2022-23 season.

The Titans, who went 23-4 last season before falling in the second round in the NCAA Tournament, were picked to finish top of the conference in the WIAC preseason poll.

UWO, who entered this year ranked third in the nation by, is coming off a dominant season where they went 10-2 in the WIAC, defeating UW-Whitewater and UW-Platteville to capture the conference tournament crown.

Senior forward Levi Borchert said the team is focused on winning the next game and not about repeating as WIAC champs.

“Obviously that’s the goal (to win the WIAC) but it’s not something that we’re worried about too much right now,” he said. “We’re just trying to win every single game and that will get us to the WIAC championship again.”

Head coach Matt Lewis will oversee the Titans for his fifth season and has led UWO to a national championship in 2019, two regular-season WIAC titles and two WIAC tournament championships during his tenure. Lewis, the 2021-22 WIAC Coach of the Year, will have 14 returning letterwinners and will keep four of the starting five from last season.

Borchert will lead the Titans on the floor this year after being named the 2021-22 WIAC Player of the Year in a season which saw him average 18.1 points and 10.7 rebounds a game. Borchert, who was named to the preseason All-American First Team, led UWO with a 61.9 field goal percentage and had 15 double-doubles last season.

“I think we have more physicality inside this year which is going to help us on the defensive end,” Borchert said. “We gave up a lot of points in the paint last year so we’ve got bigger guys in the rotation now and that’s going to help us keep points out of the paint.”

Guards Hunter Plamann and Quinn Steckbauer return for their senior season with the Titans after having career-best numbers last year. Plamann, named to the WIAC First Team last season, averaged 13.4 points and four assists per game in the 2021-22 campaign. Steckbauer was named WIAC Honorable Mention last year after producing 10.6 points per game for Oshkosh.

 Coach Lewis said the team has a lot of depth and versatility this year.

“We usually play about 10 guys, but there’s easily another handful of guys that can contribute if called upon,” he said. “Our practices are incredibly competitive because of that so we’re just trying to get better each and every day and thankfully we’ve got guys that, so far, have bought into that idea.”

The Titans kicked off the season with a 76-63 victory over Lawrence University at the Kolf Sports Center behind a 20-point, 11 rebound performance from Borchert on Nov. 8.

“I have teammates that look for me and look to get the ball inside,” Borchert said after his double-double. “I’m always looking to hunt for rebounds during the game.”

UWO fell to Calvin University 59-56 on Nov. 11 before taking down Hope College 67-56 after a 17-point game from Borchert on Nov. 12 in Michigan.

Borchert said dominating the paint has been a point of emphasis for the team since they started practicing back in October.

“We got guys more in the rotation now that are bigger and more physical compared to last year when we played a little bit more small ball so that’s been a big emphasis this year,” he said.

Both Lewis and Borchert said that defense is always a huge priority for the Titans.

“We spent the vast majority of our time discussing the defensive side of the basketball and then we try and recruit those guys to build that culture where we stress the defensive end,” Lewis said.

“We emphasize defense a lot in practice,” Borchert said. “We do a ton of defensive drills and that’s something that we try and pride ourselves on.” 

Oshkosh fell to the University of Saint Joseph 60-44 in the first game of the Small College Basketball Champions Classic in Aberdeen, S.D. on Nov. 18 before winning three games in a row.

During the three game win streak, UWO took down Nebraska Wesleyan University 63-57 in their second game in Aberdeen before defeating Edgewood College and Illinois Wesleyan University 79-52 and 66-47, respectively, at the Kolf Sports Center.

Coach Lewis said the team has brought great energy to start the season.

“Obviously it’s still very early and early in the season that’s what a lot of teams are doing (bringing the energy), and the challenge is to continue to practice at a championship level each and every day,” he said. “Our guys have done a great job and now we need to continue that every day.”

UWO, currently ranked 15th in the nation, will take on UW-Platteville tonight at Bo Ryan Court in Platteville at 7 p.m. and will face UW-Stout at home on Dec. 3 at 5:00 p.m.