Men’s basketball sweeps West Coast contests

Every year, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville men’s basketball team travels to a different area of the United States over winter break.  This year, the team enjoyed the warmth of California.  Hosted by the University of La Verne near Los Angeles, the men had the opportunity to play against Colorado College and La Verne.

The Pioneers defeated La Verne 70-61 and beat Colorado College 61-59.

Head coach Jeff Gard said these annual trips are a great time for team bonding.

“This is a time when there’s no school going on,” Gard said.  “We’re all on a plane together and living together.  It helps with the brotherhood.”

The team fundraises to pay for the trip, and Gard said he thinks the fundraising makes the experience better for the players.

These trips started while Coach Gard was still an assistant coach, and he said he has noticed an impact on some of the players.

“Some of these guys have never been on a plane before or have never left the Midwest,” Gard said.  “It’s an exposure, a learning experience.”

Gard said he was pleased with the two victories.

“We were coming off 15 days since Oshkosh (a 86-48 win),” Gard said.  “This was a time for shaking off the rust and preparing for the final stretch in the conference.”

There was plenty of time for sightseeing and fun as well.  The team was able to take in a Clippers game, hung out on Malibu and visited Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park.

Junior guard Eric Gerber said he enjoyed getting to tour and practice at UCLA and Pepperdine more than the amusement park.

“It was a blast,” Gerber said.  “It was nice to get away from the cold.”

Senior Rob Stallion said he felt the trip was a success.

“This was one of our best trips,” Stallion said.  “We didn’t have our best games, but we walked out with wins.  The warm weather helped keep us loose.”

Stallion had a unique experience while waiting in Chicago after he was unable to make the flight with the rest of the team.

“I saw Tim Allen in the bathroom,” Stallion said. “We had a short conversation given the situation; I didn’t want to end up in his next stand-up routine.”