By Samantha Borawski
The Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team is hoping for a better season than last year. After going 5-20 overall in the 2011-2012 season, the Cardinals are only looking up.
Their season officially started this year with an exhibition game against Winona State University on Nov. 11. Since then, it’s been a rocky road for the Cardinals, who are 0-6 overall. The Cardinals are 0-3 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) after taking hard losses from St. Olaf, Hamline and fifth-ranked Saint Thomas.
On the bright side, a couple positives for the team are the return of senior Michael Burfeind and the depth and experience that is seen throughout the entire team.
Although Burfeind missed three games due to a concussion, including the home opener against St. Olaf, his return is a sign of what is to come. In the game against Hamline, he scored a season high of 14 points. He continued this dominant play against St. Thomas, scoring a new season high of 24 points. His return is a sign of relief seeing as he was the team’s leading scorer 18 times last season while averaging 18 points a game.
Other players returning for the Cardinals who received significant playing time last year are seniors Tom Gores, Joe Murray and Josh Bennett and sophomore Evan Pederson. Even with multiple experienced returners, the team has big shoes to fill with the loss of last season’s three seniors, including Pat Freeman who averaged around 11 points a game.
A couple players trying to fill those roles are freshmen Will Swiggum and Mark Schumacher, who are averaging 9 and 11 points respectively.
Off the court, the team has partnered with Gifts for Winona for the annual SMU Men’s Basketball Toy Drive, which took place on Dec. 8 during their game against Crown College. Everyone in attendance was encouraged to donate a toy that was later distributed to boys and girls in the Winona area who are in need this Christmas. This is the 11th year the event has been taking place and helping kids during the Christmas season.