Mongeese poised for basketball playoff run

BY ETHAN SEBERT | MARCH 01, 2010 7:30 AM

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What began as an infatuation with an animal is now a force to be reckoned with on the intramural courts.

“I’ve always liked the mongoose, and I wondered what the plural form was,” junior Tom Beecher said. “So I came up with the Mongeese, and that’s what I’ve tried to name every team I’ve been on since my eighth-grade fantasy football team.”

Beecher, fellow junior Ben Pohl, and senior Joe Clarke formed the team last year after meeting as resident assistants in Hillcrest. Being RAs helped them meet the other members of their team, juniors Marcus Cavanagh and Calvin Clothier, and sophomore twin brothers Nick and Travis Ellerbroek.

Currently, Mongeese is 3-0 in Men’s Open League play — a familiar place for the squad. Last season, the team went undefeated only to lose its first game of the playoffs.

“We didn’t show up,” Travis Ellerbroek said. “This year, we’re in a tougher pool, so that will help. Plus, we’re more serious about it, and we know what to expect.”

Other advantages the team has over last year include added fan support and some expert coaching. The Mongeese uses Facebook to help drum up followers, and so far, it’s worked. The players often expect to get anywhere from 12 to 25 fans in the stands.

“It’s the Mongeese fans who get all the credit for our intramural success,” Beecher said. “A lot of our fans are females, so I’m trying to impress them, but I think we all kind of feed off the crowd.”

A couple of fans do more than just cheer for the Mongeese. Iowa freshman basketball player Brennan Cougill and UI senior Kyle Schwarz help coach the team and give the squad motivational support. The two take their jobs seriously and even dress up for some games.

Clarke said Cougill’s involvement began when at halftime of one of their games, he came down to offer pointers to the team.

However, the Mongeese players aren’t always receptive to Cougill’s advice.

“Sometimes, he’ll yell stuff, and some of our players will just tell him to shut up,” Cavanagh said.

One thing the Mongeese and their coaches agree on is their up-tempo offense, which they liken to that of the Phoenix Suns. The Mongeese always try to get up and down the court and set a high pace with their run-and-gun offense.

“We try to drive in the lanes or kick it out and shoot 3s,” Nick Ellerbroek said.

Defensively, the Mongeese usually play man-to-man, trying to pressure their opponents.

“Our defense spurs our offense,” Beecher said. “We try to get a steal and set up the fast break.”

The players hope to use their high-paced offense and stingy defense to go further in this year’s playoffs. They have clinched a spot in the playoffs, but they are still preparing for a big game against Ole School in their last game of pool play.

“Win or lose, that game will be a good game for us to get ready for the playoffs,” Cavanagh said.

The rest of the Mongeese agreed their game against Ole School on March 7 will measure their game.

They also agreed they have learned from their mistakes last year and are set to make a run in this year’s postseason.

“Last year, we showed up flat,” Clarke said. “This year we want to make it further. It’s my senior year, and I want to play in Carver.”

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