UW-Platteville Men’s Basketball Team


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

The men’s basketball team at UW-Platteville hopes to carry on their success into the 2021-22 season. Anticipation builds as new rankings predict the team is likely to win the WIAC conference for the third year in a row.

When asked about how the team plans to execute a successful season, Head Coach Jeff Gard said, “I think it’s a matter of us stepping up to our standards, our expectations … on a day-to-day basis we’re coming in, we’re ready to go whether it be practice or whether it be games.” The Pioneers have had great runs over the past few seasons, and they look to continue that success this year in a new environment.

The Pioneers bring back four starters this year, which will provide continuity and experience to a previously successful team. UW-Platteville has only lost two starters over the past two seasons. Coach Gard says, “The leaders we’d look at (are) the four fifth year seniors: Quentin Shields, Alex Ranney, Braden Neis and Justin Stovall. Four guys that have obviously been a part of the program the last four years.” Shields and Stovall averaged about 15 points per game each last season and look to bring another conference championship to Platteville. 

The Pioneers bring experienced players onto the court who have played in postseason games before. Alex Ranney, a fifth year senior guard, said, “We roll out on the floor, and we’ve always got guys that have played in the NCAA tournament, which most teams don’t have.” With no tournament last year, UW-Platteville looks to host another regional like they did in the 2019-2020 season. 

Coach Gard likes his team this year and the qualities that they possess saying, “They’ve got a winner’s mentality. Not only are they winning on the floor, this group has won off the floor as well (with) what they are doing academically. (The) team’s GPA last year (was) above a 3.0.” Last year UW-Platteville student-athletes had an average GPA of 3.275 and all 16 varsity teams had a team GPA above a 3.00. 

According to d3hoops.com, the Platteville Pioneers are also ranked fifth nationally in Division III basketball. The Pioneers look to start off hot against non-conference opponents before beginning conference play in December.

The conference will be tough this season with teams like UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh also ranked within the top 25 in the nation. Ranney states, “Our goals are very high … we’re striving for greatness.” The team must overcome those tough opponents to capture the conference title. 

Hunter Rogers, a student at UW-Platteville, believes that the Platteville community can contribute to the team’s success, stating, “To pack Bo Ryan Court would be a big momentum swing … be a little intimidating for the away team.” This year Platteville welcomes back fans to a full capacity gym, restrictions permitting. 

“Success breeds more fans,” Rogers states. The Pioneers had an 8-2 record in a shortened season last year and a 23-5 record in the 2019-2020 season. Last season UW-Platteville went a perfect 5-0 at home. Coach Gard is no stranger to success, having led the Pioneers to a 180-116 overall record over his past 11 seasons as head coach.

Platteville started their season on Nov. 8 against non-conference opponent Blackburn College. The Pioneers got off to a great start in that game jumping out to a 26-9 lead with 7:54 remaining in the first half and never looked back. They led 43-21 at halftime and won 83-44. 

The Pioneers were led in scoring and rebounding by Kyle Tuma who scored 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Platteville’s defense was too quick for Blackburn as the Pioneers forced 19 turnovers and scored 25 points off those turnovers. The team distributed the ball well as they recorded 12 assists throughout the game. UW-Platteville shot 88.2% from the free throw line and 47.8% from the field.

The Pioneers also recorded a win in their most recent game against Gustavus Adolphus on Nov. 13. The team was led in scoring by Justin Stovall who scored 22 points and grabbed eight total rebounds. 

Platteville shot 46.8% in the game and had a 12-10 assist to turnover ratio. The Pioneers went back and forth with the Golden Gusties in the first half and led 34-27 at halftime. Platteville came out in the second half and jumped to an early 18-point lead. The Pioneers won the game 77-62 with the help of Kyle Tuma and Logan Pearson, who both added 15 points, which helped the team secure a 3-0 record.

Platteville has four nonconference games left before they begin conference play on Dec. 1. Three of the next four games will be at home for the Pioneers before they travel to La Crosse for the first conference game of the year.