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The University of Northwestern – St. Paul’s men’s basketball team is off to a great start in their 2021-22 season. The team, led by Coach Tim Grosz, has racked up 17 wins and six losses so far. The crew took first place at last year’s NCCAA tournament and wants to achieve even more this year. Because of the pandemic, the men’s tournament was cancelled last year for the NCAA DIII. UNW would have qualified to go to the tournament, which has more teams and better competition, but elected to attend the NCCAA tournament instead because of the cancellation. The Eagles proved their dominance by winning the whole thing.

The UNW men’s basketball team holding their 2021 NCCAA championship banner

All signs are pointing to another qualifying year for the Eagles. The difference is that it looks like there will be an NCAA tournament to go to this year. Currently, the Eagles are 11-1 in conference play, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down. If they’re able to maintain this pace, they will win the conference and earn a spot in the playoffs. At that point, they’ll have to win a few more games to earn their bid into the NCAA tournament.

Aaron TerHaar, a returning sophomore, says “the culture and atmosphere of the team last year was incredible and was a huge part of our success. Going into this year I was unsure if the team would have the same chemistry as before, but it’s been amazing how the new guys have blended with the returning players so well.” TerHaar also added that there is a strong sense of player led accountability, leading players to motivate one another to be better on and off the court. TerHaar’s teammate, Caleb Hoilien thinks that this squad is “a special group of guys” because of their bond, commitment to excellence, and the continuity of the roster.

Hoilien shooting the ball in game

The men’s team has enjoyed a successful start to the season, and has hopes of keeping it going, but the road won’t be easy. As always in collegiate sports the competition will be difficult, but the reward will be well worth the hard work. “Right now, we just take it one game at a time, but I know we’re all ready to make another exciting run,” says TerHaar. Buckle your seatbelts, Eagles fans, because this is going to be another great year for UNW basketball.