Broncos Gear-Up For Hoops Season

The Broncos basketball team enters the 2004-05 campaign on the heels of one of their best seasons in history at 26-5 including a MAC title, an NCAA appearance and non-conference wins over USC, Arizona State and College of Charleston. With thoughts of a repeat on their minds the Broncos begin their preparations with exhibition games against Kalamazoo College and Quincy.

In their quest to repeat as MAC champions Steve Hawkins' Western Michigan team will have to replace the likes of MAC Player of the Year Mike Williams and the inside dominance of Anthony Kann.

The quest for that MAC crown will not happen however until the Broncos go through the ringer of a tough non-conference schedule. Highlights of that schedule include the Top of the World Classic in Alaska with games against New Mexico State, Portland and Northwestern. "The tournament in Alaska I'm really excited about," said head coach Steve Hawkins. "To get three games up there is great."

Other games include a trip to College of Charleston and a trip to USC and Virginia Tech. At home the Broncos will have rematches with Loyola, Detroit and South Alabama. "Detroit gave us one of our losses last year," said Hawkins. "It's a very challenging non-conference schedule, but it's a non-conference schedule that will help us prepare for the rigors of the MAC."

K-College:

In reaction the NCAA changing its rules regarding exhibition games Division 1 schools will no longer be able to prepare for their seasons against teams like Marathon Oil or Athletes in Action.

The Broncos choose Kalamazoo College to open their exhibition schedule tomorrow in university Arena at 2pm.

"The one huge advantage to these games with other 4-year schools is that they're organized," said Hawkins. "They're going to try and run an offense and they're going to try and run a defense and I think that is very good for our team."

The following week the Broncos will take on coach Hawkins' old team, Quincy. This was originally schedule at Quincy as part of a Coaches Against Cancer fundraiser and a treat for Quincy to host a Division 1 foe. Due to an archaic NCAA rule that game is being forced to be played here in Kalamazoo.

New Comers:

The Broncos have added a strong freshman class to their roster along with a junior college transfer and a redshirt freshman who'll see his first action.

Joe Reitz, Dan Hess and Kristof Kendrick join the Broncos as freshmen with Hess being the only one expected to take a redshirt year. In Kendrick's case he played a year of Prep School ball, which takes away his chances at a redshirt year, and Reitz is such a force in the paint he will be competing for a starting job right away.

Transferring from Fullerton Junior College is Stane's Bufford who has a knack of finding the open lane to the basket.

Andrew Hershberger returns to the team this year after a redshirt season and is expected to back-up Levi Rost at Mike Williams' old spot.

"We have a lot of kids who will be seeing time on the court for the first time this year," said Hawkins. "I think there are a lot of players that are going to be a surprise."

Look for a full feature on Hershberger tomorrow on Broncos Illustrated.

Expectations:

So what are the Broncos' expectations for this season? "I fully expect to be good again," said Hawkins. "How good? I can't put an estimation on how many games we're going to win… but I didn't know it at this time last year either."

Can the team repeat as MAC champions? "I like our talent level and I think this year's team is deeper then last year's team. I know it is. But we just don't know how we're going to end up developing as the year progresses," Hawkins finished with.

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