By Brian Kalish

November 14, 2018

Wausau– To say that the 2017-18 season was rough for the Newman boys basketball team would be an understatement.  The Cardinals got battered in the Marawood South, where they finished in the cellar with a 2-14 record, a full eight games behind next-closest team Edgar.

Overall, Newman won just three games while dropping 20.

While no one inside Newman’s gymnasium is making excuses, there are a couple of factors that contributed to their misery.  On the top of that list would be inexperience. Newman did not have one senior on its roster in 2017-18.

This year, it’s a different story, and there is plenty of reason for Newman fans to be optimistic.

The Cardinals return their entire team, including five seniors. That experience and overall depth should prove to be an asset.

“Having everybody back helps,” said head coach Dan Garrett. “They know what we need to do when the drills are called. Pretty exciting to get back with this group this year.”

The Cardinals were led in scoring last season by Ben Bates and Ben Leischer, both of whom are returning.

Bates is a junior this season and has athletic ability to spare.  He was an All-State selection at quarterback by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association this fall and will be one of the primary scoring threats for Newman with two years of varsity experience under his belt.

“Ben’s the captain of the football team,  so we’re looking at him (to step up this year),” Garrett said. “He’s a three-year starter for us.”

Garrett said that Leischer and Cade Kimball, both seniors, will be expected to provide leadership for the team.

Leischer and Kimball identified team chemistry as a strength.

“We’re a close group,” Leischer said. “We’re tight knit; we’re all good friends in and out of school.  I think it will be good chemistry.”

“Everyone really knows everyone really well,” Kimball said. “So we know how to push each other and get the most out of everyone to the best of their ability.”

So what kind of style of play can we expect to see from the Cardinals this year?

“Definitely a fast break (style),” Kimball said. “Very quick pace offense. Trying to get teams off guard, trying to steal a couple of possessions from them too.”

The road in the Marawood is never easy, and that will likely be the case again in 2018-19. But the Cardinals have learned a lot after being knocked around, and they’re eager to return the favor this time around.

“Playing in the Marawood Conference definitely tests you,” Garrett said. “Going on the road in places like Auburndale and Marathon gives you a test. We’ve been battle tested.  We’ve been through that. So the guys know what to expect.  So I’m expecting the guys to respond positively.”

“Last year we didn’t do as well as we wanted to,” Kimball said. “But we’re here to prove everyone wrong and hopefully have a better bounce back year.”

Newman kicks off its season at Auburndale on November 27.

Stay tuned to CWS for Newman boys basketball coverage and visit our YouTube channel for more Newman sports videos throughout the year.