The phrase “two is better than one” has new meaning at Augustana.
Two teams, that is. The men’s basketball program has added a new developmental team this year, meaning players who are not ready for a college level varsity team will get playing time and experience instead of sitting at the end of the bench.
Chad Hettermann, head coach of the developmental team and former Augustana basketball player, said he hopes the new players will strengthen the depth and stability of the basketball program. In the past, the men’s varsity has faced injuries, such as a hurt ankle or shoulder, leaving the team with too few players.
The coaches of the developmental team will have practices structured like the varsity, along with the same coaching style. They will run the same plays and do the same ball handling and shooting drills. Both teams will also practice “the same offensive and defensive schemes” and have the same workouts, Hettermann said.
The coaches hope that if the varsity team needs a player, the other players will know what to do when they step on the court.
Players from the developmental team will move up not only if a player on the varsity is hurt, but also if he is ready. At colleges and universities with a developmental team, it could take a player up to two years to earn a spot on the varsity team. Hettermann said that is not the case at Augustana.
“There is no time limit,” Hettermann said. “It’s about dedication. Prove to us that you deserve a top sixteen spot.”
The coach said he wants to develop players into the best they can be.
“We want the last guy as strong as the first guy,” Hetterman said.
As of now, the developmental team consists of eight men from freshmen to juniors. Hettermann said it was not enough players to have tryouts, but if the numbers grow, tryouts will be held.
Developmental players were recruited, but others contacted Augustana in the hopes of joining the program.
The latter was true for freshman and California native, Noah Forrey. Forrey had been recruited by several Division III schools but wanted to play at a higher level.
He said he heard Augustana had a “great basketball program,” and he wanted to learn more. In June, Forrey came to Augustana to do workouts with Coach Hettermann and tour the campus. Forrey said he “loves” it at Augustana.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity,” Forrey said.
The two teams have been practicing together, but Hans Hoeg, a graduate assistant coach and the assistant coach of the developmental team, said once the season starts the teams will practice separately.
“There are special things for each team to work on,” Hoeg said.
Hettermann said those things include having the teams “work on our defensive principles and offensive sets so they can both be ready for the upcoming games no matter which ones that might be.”
The developmental team has 11 games scheduled for the 2013-14 season. They will play Presentation College, Dordt College, Dakota Wesleyan University, Northwestern University, Jamestown College, and South Dakota School of Mines.
Unlike the varsity, the developmental team will not be part of a conference.
Players on the developmental team are not allowed to receive athletic scholarships according to rules set by the NCAA, but they are allowed to receive academic scholarships from Augustana, Hoeg said. Varsity players are allowed both.
Varsity sophomore Darren Glover thought the new team was a good idea.
“It’s great,” Glover said. “It gives them opportunities.”
Glover also said the athletes from the developmental team get to play pick-up games with the varsity, which adds variety in playing styles.
“It’s like playing against another team,” Glover said.
Augustana has never had a developmental team before, which makes Hettermann excited to see how this new addition will affect the men’s basketball program.
Hettermann said he thinks the program will get better, and he “hopes the players enjoy playing and get a great education.”
Hoeg said the developmental team is “great for the players and great for us as a coaching staff.”
Hettermann said Tom Billeter, head coach of the varsity team, plans to be involved with the new team and will come to their games.
“He wants it to be a benefit to the program,” Hettermann said.