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DWU men seek return to winning under new coach

There's on the sidelines for the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team in 2013-14, as the Tigers seek improvement over last year.

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The regular season tips off for the Tigers against Trinity Bible College at 7 p.m. today at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. The Tigers play their first six games of the season at the Corn Palace over the next 10 days.

“There is some pretty good competition coming in for those six games, so I’m excited to see how we play,” Wilber said.

Tonight’s game is the first regular season game for new head coach Matt Wilber, who is looking to restore a winning culture at DWU.

“We have a group that is committed to the group,” Wilber said. “The guys believe in each other and believe they have a chance to do something special.”

DWU finished last season 14-17 overall and 9-11 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, which marked the first time the Tigers finished below .500 since the 2005-06 season.

The Tigers were picked to finish ninth in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll last month.

The Tigers have a mix of experience and youth, including juniors Jalen Voss and Luke Bamberg.

Voss was selected as an NAIA All-American honorable mention last year and also earned first-team all-GPAC honors. The Worthington, Minn., native finished last season third in the nation with 17 double-doubles and led the GPAC with 9.9 rebounds per game for the Tigers.

Voss also led DWU in scoring in 2012-13 with 14.2 points per game and recorded a team-high 44 blocked shots.

Bamberg returns to the Tigers after starting 30 of 31 games last season. The Corsica native scored 6.4 points per game and pulled down 6.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

Rounding out the DWU starting roster is point guard Trae Bergh, shooting guard Kris Menning and forward Stephen Lee.

A trio of Mitchell natives — Jade Miller, Tate Martin and Matt Henriksen — figure to see solid playing time for Wilber’s Tigers this season.

“I expect to see some big improvements from some of the younger players including myself,” Miller said.

Martin, a redshirt freshman, returned to Mitchell from the University of Mary after one semester.

“Coming back to Mitchell and playing in front of these fans will be awesome,” Martin said. “There’s not another venue like the Corn Palace and when we get to play our home games there, it’s exciting.”

The Tigers played their lone exhibition of the season Friday against South Dakota State University at Frost Arena in Brookings, losing 96-73.

Voss and Bergh each had 12 points in the loss, but Wilber did see positive signs from his role players, including Henriksen, adding all of his 12 points in the first half.

After the matchup tonight against Trinity Bible College at the Corn Palace, the Tigers play five more games in Mitchell through Nov. 13, including the DWU Fulton State Bank Classic against Bellevue University and Benedictine University Friday and Saturday at the Corn Palace.