FU men feature key returners this season

HANCOCK — Replacing nearly a third of your offense isn’t normally the kind of thing a basketball coach looks forward to.

But Finlandia University men’s skipper Mike O’Donnell feels he has the weapons to make up for the loss of graduated seniors Brandon Robinson and Marcus Geralds.

“Brandon Robinson finished his career here with more than 1,200 points and was a very good point guard,” O’Donnell pointed out. “And Marcus Geralds was a good scorer and rebounder. We’ll miss both of them.”

Junior Brandon Robinette, the team’s top scorer and rebounder two seasons ago, returns after missing all of the last season with a knee injury.

“Getting him (Robinette) back healthy is a big plus,” O’Donnell noted. “He has looked good and appears to be healthy this season. His knowledge of the game and his court smarts will help us.”

The 6-foot-6 Robinette, an Escanaba High product, averaged nearly 13 points and 7 rebounds in his last season.

Another junior being counted on is the 6-foot-8 Austin Carlson. Being the team’s tallest player, Carlson is being looked to inside.

“He (Carlson) worked hard in the offseason,” O’Donnell said. “He’s stronger and more confident in his game. I think he’ll definitely help us this season.”

Carlson had 21 points and 19 rebounds in an exhibition game against Gogebic CC earlier this week.

Ricky Watson, a sophomore who transferred from Wayne Community College, will be asked to take over at the point.

“He (Watson) is a solid player who can handle the ball and take the ball to the hoop,” O’Donnell commented.

A number of other players are vying for time in the backcourt. Freshmen Dylan Underwood and Myles Underwood have looked good in the preseason and are good bets to get time.

Tyler Browner, another freshman, will help in the Lions scheme of things on defense.

“We’ll have pretty good depth overall and it will help us do some things on defense,” O’Donnell said. “We’ll look at more full-court pressure.”

Geoff Smart, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Kingsford who saw time last season, is on the injury list.

Senior Elvis Okeny, who stands 6-foot-6, has also missed time.

Tristan Johnson (Sault Ste. Marie) and Jacob Oom are also in the running for guard duty.

The FU schedule changed due to losing the UMAC affiliation. That will send the Lions on the road (only six home games) for a good part of the time.

“We’re playing as an independent and we’ll have some tough competition,” the FU coach noted. “Right now, we’re looking at being one of the teams who makes it to the postseason tourney and playing some good teams can help us there.”

Finlandia opens regular season play at Lakeland on Nov. 15. They will host Millikin College on Nov. 18 at Paavo Nurmi Gym.