The Indiana Tech men's basketball team had a lot of growing pains to endure before the season started.
Coach Ted Albert is in his first year, coming in after his time at Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference rival Cornerstone.
The roster, too, consists of many newcomers.
“We have a lot of older guys, we just don't have experience together,” Albert said. “There's a difference between having experience and having experience together. We're formulating that as we go and learning on the fly.”
The season is now about a month old. The Warriors are 9-2 and 4-1 in the WHAC with losses against Walsh and No. 2 Cornerstone.
“We need to focus in practice, we need to know our scouting reports and be able to follow the game plan and execute,” point guard Joel Wincowski said. “I think we've fallen off that in the last few games. We really need a win here to get back on pace and build some momentum.”
The team managed to get back on the winning end with an 86-56 win at Aquinas on Wednesday. Nic Williams led the Warriors with 17 points, Max Huber had 13, Wincowski 12 and Mitch Morken, Dylan Phair and Scott Schwieterman each added 11.
While the losses have caused the team to reflect on their shortcomings, the confidence is boosted by wins over defending national champion Union and crosstown rival Saint Francis.
“It was a good start for us,” Albert said. “Obviously it was a tough weekend. We had a lot of different matchups on two different nights, so it was a lot of adjusting from one night to the next. I think it gave us some confidence going into our next few nonconference games. And now that we've started conference, we had a couple tough ones in a row, and we have to respond to those losses appropriately.”
The team knew on opening weekend that it was capable of competing with anybody. It was a matter of proving it to everyone else.
“With the preseason conference rankings coming out (Tech was tied for sixth), we were the underdogs coming in,” senior Scott Schwieterman said. “We expected to win, but I don't think anyone else expected us to come in and get those wins, back to back. I saw a lot of camaraderie, we came together as a team, it was just two huge team wins for us.
The Warriors entered the NAIA Division II rankings at No. 5 after an 8-0 start.
“I think that it gave us a little more confidence considering that people were starting to notice what we were doing collectively but at the same time, I think we have to keep it in perspective,” Albert said.
“It doesn't matter where you're ranked right now, it matters where you're ranked in March. Obviously, it's a nice program thing for us. It's good for us, it's where we want to be, now we have to fight to stay there, otherwise we won't stay there for very long.”
There's still three months left in the season. That's plenty of time to continue the success or fall flat.
“The past couple weeks, we haven't been playing as well as we should have been playing,” Schwieterman said. “We had a team dinner and players came together and just to refocus. It's a long season, can't get too high, can't get too low. We just need to refocus and get back to how we were playing those first couple games of the season.”