Following the Two Rivers boys basketball team’s 60-38 home loss on Saturday night to rival Manitowoc Lincoln, Raiders coach Randy Fredrikson spent time on Sunday wondering how his team would respond at Monday’s practice.
Falling to 0-2 for the second straight season, Fredrikson arrived on Monday to a locker room full of his captains, including seniors Brett Linzmeier and Brett Kasper, ready to reassure him the panic button shouldn’t be hit just yet.
“I had wondered if they were going to be down on Monday. I was ready to explain to them that (Waupun and Lincoln) were tough teams and the earlier you learn how to play tough teams the better,” Fredrikson said. “I got into the locker room and basically they said, ‘Don’t worry coach, we are confident, we know it’s early and we will turn it around and give it our best shot.'”
The Raiders also sustained a 51-45 Eastern Wisconsin Conference road loss to Waupun (4-0) earlier this month to open the season, and Fredrikson said his team has taken away something different from each game. Rebounding was a problem for the Raiders last season, and Fredrikson said that issue popped up against Waupun and Lincoln (2-1).
As a result, boxing out has become a point of emphasis in practices along with defensive positioning. Still, the team understands the tough, early games it plays can be a positive down the road.
“We did make changes to play tougher non-conference opponents early in season because we think it makes you better and stronger for the second half of the season,” Fredrikson said. “Playing a tough team like Lincoln, it’s not just great for the community, but it helps you in the long run.”
The Raiders will look to get back on the right track on Friday as it hosts Kewaskum (1-2) in its EWC opener under first-year coach Keith Traska. While the matchup looks favorable for Two Rivers on paper, Kewaskum features Hunter Flanders and Nate Stockhausen, who are tied with the Raiders’ Brett Linzmeier for the No. 2 spot in points per game in the conference with 20.
“We were able to finish strong (last season). The players understand there is a lot of work throughout the season and they understand the broader picture because (an 0-2 start has) happened (to Two Rivers) before,” Fredrikson said. “I think because we have so many seniors, they know every EWC team is tough on the road, so traveling to Kewaskum, we know they will be tough. We can’t take anything for granted. We just have to bring our best game.”