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New season, same look Morningside men's basketball team
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MORNINGSIDE MEN’S BASKETBALL

New season, same look Morningside men's basketball team

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2019 Morningside College mens basketball media day

Morningside College basketball players, from left, Tyler Borchers, Zach Imig, Matt Hahn and Alex Borchers are shown Monday during the Sioux City college's men's basketball media day. The four are the team's top returning players.

SIOUX CITY -- Morningside senior forward Tyler Borchers had a slightly different look during the Mustangs men's basketball media day on Monday.

Borchers, who was an All-American last season, sported a slight mustache. His hair was grown out a little bit more and slicked back into a small man-bun. Still, he's the same 6'7 center who has scored 1,428 points in his career at Morningside.

The same can be said about the Morningside men's basketball. While there are some slight changes -- the graduation of guard Brody Eggers and a few key bench players -- the Mustangs have almost the same look as last season, which is a positive for Morningside since they advanced to the NAIA Elite Eight last season.

The rest of the Great Plains Athletic Conference hasn't noticed much of a change, either, since the coaches picked Morningside to win the conference.

[Read more: Morningside women's basketball hoping to learn from end-of-season miscues.]

Morningside men's basketball coach Jim Sykes is no stranger dealing with preseason expectations. Sykes, who has 334 career wins, said the expectation is the same as the last few seasons regardless of what the preseason polls say.

"It's for us to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season. Whatever that means, it means," Sykes said. "If we can perform in the top third of the conference, you usually have a chance to make it to the national tournament. We are going to get everyone's best shot, we know that.

"I love these guys. We have a big group of seniors that have been here for four years but they've seen it all. They know how hard it is to win in this league and how hard it is at the national level. Hopefully, that translates into us being locked in each and every day during practice."

Not only does Morningside return an All-American with Borchers, the Mustangs also have senior forward Matt Hahn (12.0 points per game), junior guard Zach Imig (11.9 points per game) and senior guard Alex Borchers (9.3 points per game).

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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball
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Briar Cliff vs. Olivet Nazarene
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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball
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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball
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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball

While there has been some national title talk, Tyler Borchers said the team isn't focused on that to begin the season.

"We are returning a lot of guys and there are high expectations being picked (number) one," Borchers said. "That's a lot to live up to and we just come to the gym ready to work and trying to get better. It should be a fun year. The most important game is the next one and for us, that's the first one. Just try and keep our eyes on the next game in front of us and roll with the punches."

The focus is going to be on Tyler Borchers since he averaged 16.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He's hoping to improve his free throw percentage this season (.654 last season). That's really the main change teams can expect out of the senior center this season.

[More preseason basketball: Healthy Tyler Hagedorn has USD basketball thinking big.]

"I am really trying to figure out the free throws. I'm hoping I have that down better," Borchers said. "Otherwise, it's the same old thing. Try and do my thing inside and find guys open on the perimeter."

Tyler Borchers has plenty of options on the perimeter to kick out to if teams decided to double-up on him. Last season Morningside shot 37.7 percent from behind the arc and even though Egger, who shot .388 from three, graduated, Imig shot .361, Alex Borchers shot .414 and Hahn shot .372.

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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball
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Briar Cliff vs. Olivet Nazarene
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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball
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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball
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Briar Cliff University vs Olivet Nazarene University NAIA men's basketball

"I think that's one of our best things. We shoot the ball so well on the perimeter," Borchers said. "It gives me and Trey (Brown) a chance to go one-on-one on the inside and not allow the teams to drop down on us too much."

Tyler Borchers will have some help down low, too, with junior forward Trey Brown, who averaged 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. While the two played together at times, Brown also proved to be a valuable option off the bench if Borchers ever got in foul trouble.

"Trey has had a quality summer and fall. We are very fortunate because he could probably start on every other GPAC team," Sykes said. "To have that luxury, if one of them gets into foul trouble, we don't lose anything on either end of the floor."

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Basketball NAIA Morningside vs. Antelope Valley
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Basketball NAIA Dordt vs. IU Northwest
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Basketball NAIA Morningside vs. Antelope Valley
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Basketball NAIA Morningside vs. Antelope Valley
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Basketball NAIA Morningside vs. Antelope Valley

The Mustangs do have some holes to fill, though, and Sykes thinks some of the freshmen could fill those sports. The Mustangs have six freshmen on the main roster - Le Mars grad Will Pottebaum, Connor Hill, T.J. Schnurr, Zach Martinek, Trey Powers and Jacob Fierst.

"We have a very strong freshman core, we just don't know what that will look like yet. It's still a work in progress," Sykes said. "I can tell you there are some newcomers who will see the floor, just to what degree, we don't know yet."

And that's what Sykes likes about the team. He's had fun coaching them and he knows the team can go two-deep at any position, making the Mustangs a dangerous team to have to defend.

"I feel really good with where we are at right now. The only thing is some of the younger guys won't have experience but the only way you get that is by doing it," Sykes said. "We will give it a run and see where it takes us."

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