By Jasmine Smith
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
Kicking off the 2010-2011 season, Cardinal men’s basketball has not only surprised a few naysayers but spread wildfire throughout the Incarnate Word community.
The team began the season with a perfect 11-0 start (fourth-best start in school history), and climbed the NABC/Division II Coaches Poll, reaching their highest point so far this season in the No. 9 slot.
The Cardinals, now 15-3, are currently tied for first place and ranked third in the region.
The team has had some help from every player, with a few shining stars.
Leading the way, so far this season, is 6-foot-6 senior forward Tracy Robinson in both scoring and rebounding with 17.3 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. Robinson has also been honored by the Lone Star Conference as Player of the Week three times within a four-week span.
“I feel the things that I’m doing now for the team are things that are expected out of a fifth-year senior,” Robinson said. “Being recognized and honored for it is just a bonus.”
Leadership also has come from two other strong senior guards, Eric Stewart, averaging 11.2 points a game, and Deleon Hines, whose 85 percent from the candy stripe leads the team.
Despite the Cardinals winning the Heartland Conference the last two years in a row and advancing to the NCAA tournament, Hines said, “this season has been the most exciting and that with the experience and insight that we have brought back this year, we are only showing people what it takes to win.”
The road to where the Cardinals are now was not always paved with gold.
“No one really gave us a chance in the preseason,” Head Coach Ken Burmeister said. “They sort of wrote us off, saying that we would be unable to compete in the Lone Star Conference, which is why we played with a chip on our shoulder.”
The Cardinals, now midway through the season, are looking to continue to excel in their areas of expertise such as fast-paced scoring and hard-nose defense led by sophomore guard Kelcey Solomon, recently named Lone Star Conference Defensive Player of the Week, and junior guard Shaun Umeh.
The only dark spot that has plagued the Cardinals in their losses has been free throws. The team is shooting roughly 70 percent so far this season. Burmeister continues to maintain focus as he knows that “it’s a long season to play and you have to take it one game at a time. The Lone Star Conference is somewhat like the Big East. You cannot really focus on the future — just the next game.”
Burmeister said he and the team really appreciate all of the student support and fans’ intensity at the games.
“It’s a great feeling to be in a gym filled with loud-screaming fans cheering for your team,” Burmeister said.
E-mail Smith at email@example.com