ANKENY, Iowa—The last time the Faith Eagles men's basketball team took the court was a memorable moment for the program. Minutes before Coach Fincham's team was set to tip off the opening game of the 2019-20 national tournament in Joplin, Missouri, the game was cancelled due to concerns from the first wave of the coronavirus that was hitting our country. Our lives have never been the same since, but the Eagles hope they can pick up right where they left off a year ago from their succesful run through the conference tournament and regionals.
The 2019-20 National Coach of the Year, Brian Fincham, will have the difficult task of replacing last season's 2nd Team All American leading scorer and rebounder (Nathan Keck), and two of his best post players from a year ago—Tanner Van Beek and Chase Clark. Tanner and Chase were the warriors in the paint for the Eagles, combining for over 20 points and 13 rebounds per game, providing muscle and leadership as seniors.
Much of the success of the 2020-21 Faith Eagles basketball team will rest on the play of a talented backcourt, led by sophomore Jayce Goergen and senior Jason Conable, and a pair of versatile forwards (Kalab Sidlinger and Noah Boyer) who played significant roles in last season's run to a conference tournament and regional tournament championship.
Kalab Sidlinger is the team's returning leading scorer at 14.4 points per game. The lanky 6'7 junior led the team in three-pointers last season, drilling 66 of them at a clip of 31.3 percent. He used his length to create havoc on defense as well, finishing second on the team with 44 steals.
Jayce Goergen looks to capitalize off his terrific freshman campaign as the team's court general. Goergen averaged 11.9 points per game and led the team in assists with 125. He was second on the team with 41 made three-pointers, connecting on 32.5 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.
Noah Boyer, a sophomore, is the team's third top returning scorer at 6.2 points per game a season ago. Boyer will look to take on a more prominent role, having served as one of the team's top reserves last season.
Jason Conable is the lone senior on Faith's roster and will bring 28 games of starting experience from last season's run to the national tournament. Conable averaged 3.4 points per game and 4.6 rebounds in 2019-20.
The fifth starter for the Eagles will likely be based on matchups, according to Coach Fincham. That position, along with the team's depth, will come from one returning player from two years ago (Christian Brown) and a slew of freshmen players, including Jared Pearson, Tyler Carson, Brendan Pearson, Joshua Forgie, Carson Odle, and Luke Owensby.
Coach Fincham is excited to get things rolling after an offseason filled with uncertainty. The Eagles open play with a scrimmage tonight against Grand View University JV, followed by the season-opening Faith Classic Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Faith. The Eagles will face Ozark Christian College at 8 p.m. on Friday, and Trinity Bible College at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
"We're so thankful we can play," said Fincham. "We have a lot of scoring we will have to replace from last year, and this year's team will be a work in progress, but every game we get to play will be considered a victory due to the coronavirus."