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New coach, same goal for Comets' Staebler

Mayville State's Eric Staebler releases a pull up jumper against UM-Morris during the 2016-2017 season. Staebler is a Morris Area High School graduate. (Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times)

Mayville State University’s Eric Staebler heads into his sophomore season with the Comets’ basketball team with similar goals as last season despite the program getting a new head coach this past April.

The Mayville State University’s mens’ basketball program will be under new direction as Darren Tighe replaces former coach Dan DeWitt, who was with the Comets for five years. Mayville State is in Mayville, North Dakota.

At first, Staebler, a Morris Area graduate, was uneasy about the change in coaching staff, but quickly realized that Tighe was the right man for the job.

“My initial reaction to coach DeWitt leaving the program was disbelief. We were pretty close and I have a lot of respect for him so it was tough,” Staebler said. “I would say myself and a lot of the team were scared of the search for a new coach because of all of the unsureness. Would the selecting committee pick the right guy? How many players was he going to bring in? Will I still have a spot next year? These were all things that were running through my head.”

That unsureness withered shortly after the hiring of and getting to know Tighe.

“I first met with coach Tighe in a player meeting when he came to campus for the interview. I was a little nervous at first, but it didn’t take long for me to see that he is a great guy,” Staebler said. “He will be a great fit.”

Tighe knew of Staebler from his days playing at Morris/C-A. While Tighe was the coach at Ridgewater, he tried to recruit Staebler to play for him.

“I watched Eric play in high school and was really hoping we would be able to get him at Ridgewater,” Tighe said. “His intelligence and kindness are two things about him that strike you right away when speaking with him. Eric is just an outstanding student and person not to mention a heck of a basketball player.”

Besides basketball, Staebler has enjoyed other aspects of his first year at Mayville, a town of roughly 1,800, citing that the hunting in the area made for a good breaks on non-basketball playing weekends.

“I love the Mayville area, it is a nice little town,” Staebler said. “It is far enough away from the freeway that it is nice and secluded, yet it doesn't take long to get on the freeway and go somewhere.”

Balancing school work, basketball, and a life outside of basketball can be a struggle at times, but Staebler quickly learned that time management would be the key to finding that balance and being successful.

“The end of my first semester wasn’t very fun,” Staebler said because of his lack of time management. “I had to do a lot of work towards the end of the semester. We had study tables for basketball, which gave us a chance to get caught up. Another great thing about Mayville is its size, it’s small enough that students are able to meet with their professors pretty easily.”

As a reserve in the 2016-2017 season, Staebler led the Comets in rebounds (143) with an average of 5.3 boards per game. He also scored 7.5 points per game, which was the third highest average on the team, and was second in free throw percentage, knocking down 53-of-61 attempts for 86.9 percent. Staebler plans to lead in rebounds and to expand his role in the 2017-2018 season.

“One of my goals is to earn a starting spot on the roster,” Staebler said. “Another goal is to lead the team in rebounds again next year. It's up to me whether or not I attain these goals based on how hard I work to try and get better going into next year.”

Tighe sees Staebler’s potential and looks forward to working with him this offseason and coming season.

“[In the offseason], we are focusing on his leg strength for added speed and explosiveness, ball handling, and pushing back his shooting range more this summer. This will just make him an even bigger weapon in our system,” Tighe said. “His size and strength for our area and region is uncanny. He moves very well for his position and has really expanded his game since high school. We have very high hopes for him as he continues to improve with every skill session.”

With Staebler’s help along with the rest of the Comet returners, Tighe hopes to turnaround the team that had just nine wins in the 2016-2017 season.

Brooke Kern

All photo inquiries to bkern@morrissuntribune.com or photos@morrissuntribune.com.

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