BLOOMINGTON — About 10 minutes before Saturday's game at Shirk Center, Illinois Wesleyan will raise a banner commemorating last season's NCAA Division III Final Four appearance.
"All six seniors (from last season) will be back," said IWU basketball coach Ron Rose. "It will be fun to see them and their families."
What also is fun for Rose is having a healthy team at his disposal. The Titans, ranked No. 22 in the D3hoops.com poll, face Carthage in a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin contest at 7 p.m.
IWU (9-4, 1-1 CCIW) is coming off a grind-it-out 77-68 victory at Wheaton on Wednesday led by Jordan Nelson's season-high 20 points. Carthage (5-7, 1-1) also earned its first league win on the same day by beating North Park, 67-60.
"This is the healthiest we've been all season long," said Rose. "It has been the longest period of time where we've had everyone in practice. We've had some opportunities to get on the same page and prepare as a group.
"I'm hoping we can start showing some improvement because of the consistency we've had here the last couple weeks."
IWU snapped a two-game losing streak by rallying past Wheaton. The Titans trailed, 62-47, with seven minutes left before mounting a comeback. Nelson sank four of IWU's 11 3-pointers, while Pat Sodemann and Ryan Coyle added 10 points each.
"I thought it was a great win at Wheaton because it still wasn't a perfect performance, but in the second half I loved how we competed as a group. That was tremendous progress," said Rose.
Reese Hearth, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, was Carthage's leading scorer during the nonconference portion with a 13.2 average, but left the team before opening CCIW play.
Another senior, 6-6 forward Cameron Van Wyk, averages 10.9 points and 4.8 rebounds. He contributed 14 points and eight rebounds against North Park, while 6-5 sophomore forward Brad Kruse added 12 points.
"When you think about Carthage with Coach (Bosko) Djurickovic on the sideline they always have some tricks up their sleeves," said Rose. "His teams are always going to play hard and they're going to put you in difficult positions defensively because of their spacing."
Women's soccer banner: At halftime, another banner will be unveiled for the IWU women's soccer team, which advanced to its first NCAA Division III Final Four in December before losing to unbeaten and eventual national champion Lynchburg in a semifinal match.