HARROGATE, Tenn. (WATE)- The No. 2 Railsplitters begin a new chapter on Saturday as they open the season with conference play hosting Newberry.
LMU ranks second in the nation in Division II by the NABC heading into the season and is coming off of its best season according to win percentage (.970), carrying over the nation’s longest win streak with 32 games.
While team gets a new opportunity to write their own story, the way last season ended still lingers.
“I think you look at last year (and certainly in reflection, it was the right decision, we understood the decisions for the greater good) but with that being said we didn’t get an opportunity to finish or play in the national championship,” said Railsplitters head coach Josh Schertz. “We were favorites, co-favorites to win the whole thing going in…. not getting the opportunity to go out and compete was very difficult and that, ‘what if’ will hang over forever and that’s something you have to deal with.”
Schertz, who owns the second-highest win percentage (.830) of any head coach in men’s college basketball at any NCAA level (minimum 10 seasons) according to LMU, said while that, “what if” feeling is difficult as the Railsplitters were poised to make a deep run in the tournament to potentially win their first national title—it’s a new season.
“Last year was an amazing chapter In LMU history hopefully we have a similar one this year but there’s a lot of work to do for this team in front of them,” said Schertz. “We’ll focus on coming in, working hard, trying to get better, and trying to be the best we can be in March when it matters most.”
The team lost four key playmakers from last year’s group but returns a lot of talent including a redshirt group that was the best it’s ever been.
“We feel like some of the guys that redshirted last year will be able to step in and play a more significant role,” said Schertz.
The team returns redshirt senior guard Devin Whitfield and redshirt junior guard Cameron Henry who both earned preseason All-American and All-SAC First team honors. Last season Whitfield averaged at least 19 points per game, shooting 50 % from the field and 44% from beyond the arc, amassing 1,541 career points. Henry led the conference last year in steals with 71 and averaged 13.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Four-year letterman Alex Dahling, who has been a staple on the team playing in 93 games and scored double digits six times last season, said while opening their season with conference play is tough, the team is just ready to compete again.
“Conference play is hard; everybody is trying to beat us.” Said Dahling. “This is everybody’s Superbowl playing LMU, if you beat LMU that typically makes somebody’s season at least in our league. We know we’re going to get everybody’s best shot in league play, so we have to step it up and be ready for Saturday, but we’re excited to play.”
Their new chapter begins at 4:30, Saturday, November 21 hosting the Newberry Wolves in front of a limited crowd at B. Frank “Tex” Turner Arena.
“Everybody knows we have that 32-game win streak,” said Dahling. “We don’t want to lose it and we don’t plan on losing it.”
Full look at their schedule: click here