Alexandria boys' basketball: Focused on the finishAlexandria's Logan Doyle is determined to help the Cardinals rebound from a losing season after signing his letter of intent to SDSU
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Alexandria’s Logan Doyle made his college choice official last Wednesday as he signed his letter of intent to play for the South Dakota State University men’s basketball team in 2013. Now he’s ready to prove he deserved that offer by helping his current team bounce back from a losing season.
Doyle knew once his recruitment gained steam that SDSU was the place he wanted to call home. He needed just 24 hours after he got the scholarship offer to give head coach Scott Nagy his word.
Doyle’s signing put the finishing touches on what was a whirlwind past six months for him. The 6’8” forward had almost no interest from college coaches when the summer started. He had 10 scholarship offers on the table when all was said and done after a strong AAU season. The path it took to get here is why Doyle called Wednesday’s opening day of the early signing period in college basketball one of the best days of his life.
“All the time you put in the gym and all the people who have helped me along the way, it’s finally paid off,” he said. “I know when I committed it felt pretty official, but now it’s officially official.”
Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt called it a positive, not only for Doyle, but for the Cardinals program as a whole. Alexandria is coming off a last-place finish in the Central Lakes Conference and a 10-16 season overall.
Witt knows the key to turning that around is getting kids to buy into the importance of improving in the off-season. Doyle has the physical gifts to be a good player in the CLC, but he turned himself into a Division I recruit by getting in the gym. His dream was to play college basketball at the highest level possible. He then went out and made that happen.
“To have a successful program, you have to have successful players and kids that really place basketball as an important part of what they do in their lives,” Witt said. “There are so many things we can teach in athletics and being a head coach, I love to see kids that pave the way…I’m just happy Logan has put himself in that position and hopefully it will rub off on the kids and strike a chord in them that they want that too.”
Both Doyle and Witt say that passion for the game is something that resonates throughout this year’s lineup. Witt lauded the commitment of a group of 15-16 players that he said worked hard to improve this off-season.
“I think the number one thing is commitment,” Doyle said when asked what the key is to turning things around this winter. “I think that we weren’t really committed the most last season. This year, I just think as a team we’re more committed. We did a lot more off-season stuff and it helps having that team chemistry in the summer.”
It is that commitment that has the team optimistic in its ability to turn things around this winter. The Cardinals return just two starters from a year ago, but those two were the team’s leading scorers. Doyle averaged a double-double with 13.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. John Vogeler also averaged double figures at 11.8 points per game.
Witt expects both those guys to see a jump in their game that comes with a year of experience. Surrounding them are guys who need to take on an expanded role at the varsity level, but there is a feeling within the leaders of this team that they are ready to do that.
“I think I’m as optimistic as I’ve been coming into a season in Alexandria because we’ve had a collective group of guys who have put in a large amount of time,” Witt said. “It means a lot to them. I think we certainly have some areas that we need to improve on throughout the year. But when we have two returning starters and David Krivanek, Brandon Bistodeau, Ted Deitz, Kevin Setterstrom, guys who got quality minutes last season, we’re optimistic for sure.”
That doesn’t mean he expects anything to come easy. Witt still feels teams like Sartell, Brainerd and Fergus Falls are the teams to beat entering the CLC season. The Cardinals hope to have something to say about that by the end of the year, though. They want to right what went wrong during a 4-12 run through the league last season.
Doyle is ready to lead the way after officially putting his college recruitment behind him on Wednesday. He knows he will have a target on his back as a Division I recruit in the CLC. He is ready to take on that challenge as his focus shifts from the future to the present and trying to finish his high school career strong.
“I know I have a chip on my shoulder [after last season],” Doyle said. “You never want to come in last. The underclassmen weren’t too thrilled with it, either. I had high expectations for last year and thought we would be pretty good. Definitely coming off a losing season, that makes everyone play a little bit harder. Everyone might look at us as a pushover, but I know we’re going to be a team to contend with every night.”