Sports / The Prairie Fire / November 7, 2012

Prairie Fire men’s basketball preview

For the first time in three seasons, Knox will start the year without Tanner Carlson ‘12 slated to start in the point guard position. The two-time All-Midwest Conference honorable mention point man is gone to graduation as is Knox’s all-time leading three point shooter Ben Wetherbee ‘12. Knox also lost leading scorer Joe Kozak ‘12, so the Praire Fire will have a lot of production to make up for in order to  move forward.

The man in charge of helping with this task is first year head coach and Knox graduate Kevin Walden ’01. Walden replaces former head coach Rob Purlee, who went 9-83 in four seasons at Knox.

Walden will likely rely heavily on senior Lukas Shaw, who led the Prairie Fire in rebounding last season and is Knox’s top returning scorer.

Senior Lukas Shaw goes for a layup in the game against Lawrence University on Jan. 20 at Memorial Gym. (TKS/Archives)

Shaw is the only senior on the roster to have played a full four years at Knox: senior Tyler Olson transferred in last season, so look for him to be the emotional leader of the team as well. Joining Shaw down low is junior David Jones, who will need to provide more production with Kozak no longer in the lineup.

In the backcourt, Knox will rely on a mix of youth and experience. Olson averaged 20 minutes of play last year and will combine with sophomore Armand Stricklin and transfer junior Eric Miller to make up the production lost with Carlson. Sophomore Mitch Murphy returns as Knox’s most potent threat behind the arc but will also need to provide ball-handling skills in the Knox offense.

The Prairie Fire have struggled mightily in close games the past two seasons and are going to have to get better at closing games if they want to compete in the Midwest Conference. The conference will be extremely competitive amongst the mid-level teams, which realistically is the best case scenario for the Prairie Fire in terms of placement.

Tags:  armand stricklin david jones eric miller joe kozak kevin walden knox college men's basketball lukas shaw mitch murphy rob purlee tanner carlson tyler olson

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Jackson White
Jackson White is a senior double majoring in political science and secondary education. This is his third year as a sports editor for TKS. Over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year, Jackson worked for, writing feature stories and columns about high school and college baseball in central Illinois. Outside of the Publications Office, he is an information assistant for the Knox College Sports Information Department and a two-time all-Midwest Conference baseball player. Jackson is the recipient of five awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including two first place awards for sports game coverage and sports page design.

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