The MSOE men's basketball team took a stride forward in the conference last season when it posted 14 NACC wins and finished third in the standings.
Head coach Brian Miller is confident that his Raiders can build on that success with three starters and five of the team's top six scorers all back on the team.
Palesse took control of the offense last season and became a leader on both ends of the floor. The ball was in his hands at crunch time and that led to W's for MSOE. He was second on the team with 12.5 points and dished out a team-high 5.0 assists per game. He also led the team in steals and grabbed 4.3 rebounds per game.
While Palesse was driving the offense, Kirmse seized control of the finishing. He emerged as the league's top three-pointer last season with 3.3 made three-pointers per game on his way to a team-best 16.1 points per game. He shot just under 39 percent from beyond the arc and played his way into All-NACC First-Team honors last season. Despite being just a junior, he's already in shooting distance of 1,000 career points (635) and the school record of 220 made three-pointers (has 133).
Senior Gabe Wear rounds out the returning starters, providing a steady presence in the starting five as a junior. He logged just over 17 minutes per game and contributed 4.6 points per contest.
Not all of the team's production came out of the starting lineup as a trio of reserves played key roles last season off the bench. Juniors Jake Gebert and Travis Ballard played in all 26 games and sophomore Sammy Linn appeared in 24.
Gebert was the workhorse off the bench, registering over 21 minutes per game. He was the team's fourth-leading scorer at 7.7 points per game and topped the squad with 6.2 rebounds per game. He deferred the scoring duties elsewhere on most nights but was efficient when called upon with a 52.6 percent field goal percentage and 78.1 percent clip at the free throw line.
Ballard played more inside when called upon and was a reliable scoring option down low. He ended the season with 5.7 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting, demonstrating an ability to get to the basket as well as step out and hit a mid-range jumper.
Linn was another member of the front court who showed flashes of some enticing potential. Very comfortable with the ball, he posted averages of 5.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 13.1 minutes per game.
Sophomore Bailey McDaniel was able to ease into the college game with established guards Palesse and Kirmse leading the charge. Nonetheless, when he played some valuable minutes at key times and showed glimpses of what Miller and his staff can expect with an extended role this season. McDaniel averaged 3.0 points in 8.4 minutes per game last season, shooting over 54 percent on shots inside the arc.
Junior David Llorente and sophomore Josh Herzog also return in the back court. Llorente is in his third season in the program and has earned minutes earlier and earlier in games. He's on the verge on cracking the regular rotation after appearing in 11 games last season. Meanwhile, Herzog got his first taste of the college game with 10 appearances off the bench in which he chipped in 1.4 points per outing.
Sophomore Anthony Bartman and junior Matt Powers also return to add depth in the front court. Each made four appearances in their first seasons in a Raider jersey in 2017-18. They have been vying for minutes that are up for grabs with the graduation of constants in the post like Tegan Miles.