Fresh faces join basketball team

Season Preview


Morgan Guenther

Forward Elijah Lambert dribbles the basketball down the court in a home game UW-River Falls Jan. 22, 2022.

Parker Olsen, Men’s Sports Editor

Last basketball season UW-Whitewater made a late push but came up short of a WIAC title and failed to make the NCAA tournament. Now, after a long and emotional offseason, the Warhawks are looking to improve on last season’s campaign.

The team showed plenty of promise in the 2021-22 season. They had wins over then fourth ranked UW-Oshkosh and then fifth ranked UW-Platteville, the two finished first and second in the WIAC standings and tournament. 

Those wins were not the standard for the Warhawks, they finished with a record of 15-11 and went 7-6 in WIAC play. 

The team was notably young last year meaning this year should be more promising. However, the team has lost two leaders in Derek Gray, who died in July, and Gage Malensek, who has chosen to depart from basketball. Sophomore forward Carter Capstran, along with the rest of the team have had to cope together after suffering the loss of Gray.

“It was more than the loss of a teammate, it was like the loss of a brother,” Capstran said. “We’ve definitely done a lot more team bonding, I think bringing the team together through events has really brought us close.”

Making up for the absence of Gray and Malensek will be no easy task.

“JT Hoytink is probably the biggest key for us for guys who have to step up with the loss of Derek and Gage,” said head coach Pat Miller.

The 2022-23 season should be much more consistent now that the team has gained more experienced players than it had in years past.

“We are more experienced, they’re stronger, they’ve been through it, so we should certainly see some progress in their ability to not make mistakes and execute at a higher level,” Miller said.

Junior forward/guard Elijah Lambert and junior forward Trevon Chislom are among the more experienced returners. Sophomore returners who could be impactful include forward Carter Capstran, guards Jameer Barker and Drew Fisher. Joey Berezowitz will be a freshman, eligibility speaking, but he spent time with the team last season. 

There is a large slew of newcomers, both freshmen and transfers, who bring experience to the team. Whitewater High School alumnus Jake Martin will bring over seven feet and 300 pounds to the court for the Warhawks. Jake Quast is another incoming freshman who was highly regarded in high school. 

Transfers include Reyhan Cobb and Nick Pierson, juniors who bring physical and athletic play to the team. Cliff McCray, who was previously at UW-Stout and UW-Stevens Point, and Earl Lewis both are senior transfers joining the team. 

Brothers Miles and Delvin Barnstable join the team, Miles out of high school,  and Delvin as a transfer who averaged over 16 points per game across 28 games last season.

“Miles Barnestable is a freshman, really athletic, good shooter, we expect a lot out of him,” Miller said, “His brother Delvin transferred from Marian. He’s a really solid, good on-ball, physical defender.”

With so many new players it is more important than ever that even sophomores take on leadership roles for the newcomers to look up to. Capstran is one of those looking to assist the new members of the team.

“Some things I’ve done to try to be a leader this year in practice is try to be more vocal in the weight room,” Capstran said. “I’ve tried to keep the focus in practice and stay on task so that our new guys can learn plays and different drills because with a lot of team turnover there’s going to be challenges.”

The team will face a tough schedule. As far as WIAC play is concerned, Miller emphasized the strength of the teams and Capstran expressed the fun of playing in such a competitive league. Outside of the WIAC the Warhawks will take on two NCAA tournament teams in Heidelberg University and Hope College. 

The season tips off in Rock Island, Illinois, against Augustana College Nov. 8. The first home game for the Warhawks is against Hope Nov. 16 at 5 p.m.