1) Will, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
Before we begin, some of our readers may not know about Wheaton
College. Could you tell us a little bit about the school, and both
its academic and athletic reputation?
Wheaton College, located in Chicago's western suburbs, is a
liberal arts college focused on its commitment, as the College
Mission states, "to do all things 'For Christ and His Kingdom'."
Academically, it has a national reputation, and many of the athletic
programs do too.
2) You're from Poughkeepsie, NY. How did you end up playing
ball in Illinois? What other colleges did you consider going to out
of high school?
It had been my childhood dream to attend Princeton or Harvard,
but when my senior year of high school arrived, I decided to focus
my search to strictly Christian schools. With that decision made,
Wheaton was the frontrunner since it is widely considered the most
academically rigorous Christian college, and it has a very good
basketball program at the D3 level. In the end, my decision came
down to choosing either Wheaton or Messiah College (Pa.), but
Wheaton simply seemed a better fit.
3) Could you tell us a little bit about your hoops career
I played four years of varsity ball at Arlington High School, the
last three as a starter and an All-Section selection. Personally, my
biggest accomplishments there were amassing just over 1200 rebounds,
and winning the Dutchess County academic player of the year
Outside of high school ball, I was twice a member of the Hudson
Valley scholastic team for New York's Empire State Games. As for
AAU, I first played for St. Pats out of Monroe, NY, and finished top
20 at nationals. The summer before my senior year, I was involved
with the Nike-sponsored Albany City Rocks, which was an awesome
experience. Who wouldn't want to travel the country and play against
future NBA players? I'll always be able to tell my kids that I
blocked an NBA player's dunk, though I might conveniently forget to
mention I got called for a foul!
4) The CCIW(College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin) is an
extremely competitive league, with top teams like Carthage and
Illinois Wesleyan, and also some of the best fan support in the
country. Do you get pumped up playing before big crowds? Also, do
you guys have one rival team that everyone gets especially ready
It's always better to play for big crowds. In fact, it's a lot
easier; there's probably nothing harder than trying to mentally pump
myself up to play in front of just a handful of people. What makes
it more difficult is the tendency for a team's ability and crowd
attendance to be directly proportional. Though it's not true in
every case, the better teams naturally have a lot of fans, so it's
easier to get pumped up. However, teams that aren't doing so well
usually don't draw as well, and that's when it becomes hard to
Fortunately, Wheaton home games are usually played in front of a
good crowd - I think that in the last dozen years, Wheaton has been
in the top ten for D3 attendance ten times, and was eleventh another
As for our biggest rival, there's absolutely no doubt about that
one: Illinois Wesleyan. For much of the 90s, it was one of us at the
CCIW's top, so the modern rivalry is rooted in some very good
competition. In fact, a couple of years ago, the two teams were #1
and #2 in the country when they faced off.
5) Do you think returning almost all of the team's leading
players, except former captain John Helm, will be able to put the
Thunder at the top of the CCIW this season?
Unfortunately, I wish I could say we only lost John Helm. John
Carl Williams, our starting center for a majority of the season,
also graduated, and Kevin Blomstrom, our leading scorer and
rebounder, transferred to Westmont College. That doesn't hamper my
hopes for this season though, because we still have a strong
nucleus, a quality incoming class, and the possibility of a
high-impact player making a comeback. If things go well and this
year's group of guys gel, both on and off the court, like last year,
I think we might surprise some people once again.
6) Is there any one game that sticks out in your mind as being
your best performance of last season? Could you tell us what made
it so special.
Our game against Wittenberg was the game that sticks out in my
mind. I had 13 of my 19 points in the second half, and hit two free
throws with nineteen seconds left to clinch the victory. It was the
championship game of our very own Lee Pfund Classic - a two-game,
season-opening tournament. Coach Pfund (most wins for a Wheaton
basketball coach, and coach of our national championship team in
1957) was there, and no one on our team had won the tournament; the
last time Wheaton won was the year before Helm's class came. To see
the smile on Coach Pfund's face as he handed Helm the team trophy,
knowing the senior class won the tournament once, and making the
all-tournament team was a great feeling.
7) What about this years incoming class? Do you know anything
about the new players? Got a chance to play with them?
From what I've heard and seen, our incomers could contribute
straight from the start. Three true freshmen guards and one transfer
forward are coming. Though I can't accurately predict how much of a
varsity contribution each one will make this season, I've played
with the three guards, and they should make an impact in the next
8) Wheaton is considered one of the top Liberal Arts Colleges
in the country, how hard is it to balance your time in a challenging
I've always been a person to take on a lot - in high school, I
used to run track as well as play travel soccer and AAU basketball
during the spring - so balancing my time has never been excessively
difficult. The transition from high school to college was a smooth
one, and I thank my high school teachers for that. Though the
balancing act was something I didn't need to develop once I got to
college, it certainly has been a continued practice in personal
discipline. Even though basketball takes up a lot of time, I
honestly allocate my time more wisely when I have less to allocate.
9) Is there anything special you'd like to tell Wheaton fans, or
hoops fans in general?
To any Wheaties who may read this: Be sure to check us out early and
often this year! And Specifically to the football team: you guys
rocked the stands last year. I can't wait to see and hear what you
come up with this year!
To the posters in the CCIW section of the d3hoops.com forums: If
any of you read this, thanks for adding an alternate scene to the
league. You're conversation certainly keeps things interesting all
year round. I hope I haven't said anything here that might cause a
CollegeHoopsNet: Thanks for not neglecting the small colleges! My
best wishes to your website and staff.
Everyone else: Don't forget to support your small-ball teams.
There's a lot of quality basketball being played throughout the
country, and it's not necessarily restricted to the professional or
D1 level. We may not be playing for scholarship, but there are many
of us who could have, and the love of the game is deep within us
all. Take the time to check out Wheaton at
http://www.wheaton.edu/athletics/mbasketball some time and tune
in to one of our games over the internet if you get the chance!