Sports Odds and Ends
Two seasons ago, Macalester made a surprising run and finished as MIAC runners-up. That was Abe Woldeslassie’s third season as head coach at his alma mater.
Woldeslassie has led Mac since his hiring in 2018 and has increased the team’s winning percentage in each of his first five seasons at Macalester. The Scots’ 15 wins last season were the school’s third-most victories over the past 40 years.
After graduating from Macalester in 2008, Woldeslassie began coaching in 2010 and has held coaching positions at Siena College, Davidson College, Dartmouth, and Bowdoin College before taking over the Scots program, which only had 35 wins in its previous 10 seasons as his first head coaching opportunity.
Last week, the Scots made its first-ever appearance on the D3hoops.com top 25 national preseason poll, receiving votes as one of two MIAC schools [Carlton, last season’s league champs is the other] to receive votes.
During our sit-down interview, Abe Woldeslassie (AW), was very optimistic about his squad going into his 2023-24 season:
MSR: What is your overall outlook on this year’s team?
AW: We finished fourth in our conference last year [15-11 overall, 11-9 MIAC]. We have… all five starters back. We feel we have a great chance to win the conference this year.
MSR: Briefly give us a thumbnail prospectus on some of your returnees.
AW: Caleb Williams (6’2” junior guard) was third in the MIAC in scoring (21.5 PPG):
“He has a great chance of being player of the year in the conference.”
Coby Gold (6’2” junior guard) joined Williams as All-MIAC last year: “We feel that he’s got a chance to not only be all-conference but also an all-region player.”
Tom Andreae (6-foot junior guard) is team captain for the second consecutive season: “One of the best offenders in the conference.”
Noah Shannon (6’5” sophomore forward): “He started for us as a freshman. He’s like a Swiss Army knife—does a little of everything.”
Badou Ba (6’7” junior forward): Perhaps the team’s most improved player; Ba led the MIAC in blocks and was the league’s defensive player of the year.
MSR. What is your main emphasis in your preseason preparation?
AW: We talk a lot about playing discipline on both ends. Last year, I felt we took a lot of OK and maybe shots but not enough great shots. Defensively, we want to be aggressive in passing lanes but with some discipline.
MSR: Since St. Thomas left the Division III MIAC for Division I in 2019, there have been three different league champions.
AW: We got to go out and do it. I believe this year it will be us.
MSR: You are going into your sixth season at Macalester as the MIAC’s only Black head basketball coach and longest-tenured Black male coach at Minnesota colleges and universities. Minnesota’s Ben Johnson is the second longest-tenured Black coach going into his third season. But unlike Johnson, your job currently seems secure. Are you under any pressure to produce a winner?
AW: I would not say pressure. I [do] feel I have a responsibility to perform well. Not just for myself and my career but for my players—for my AD, president, and parents of our players. The alums.
MSR: Macalester’s 2023-24 regular season begins on November 8 at home against UW-Superior.
AW: All our home games [at Leonard Center in St Paul] are free admission. Maybe you can’t attend other [area] sporting events… We encourage people to come see us play.