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SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs to host Andy Wiersma Alumni game today

MARSHALL — The Southwest Minnesota State University men’s basketball team will open its season with a familiar opponent: their former players.

The Mustangs will host the annual Andy Wiersma Alumni Game for the eighth time today, with the exhibition game beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the R/A Facility.

The game is a part of “Andy Wiersma Day” on campus. Wiersma tragically passed away in an auto accident on July 27, 2008. During his time as a Mustang, Wiersma was a four-year letterwinner at SMSU between 2002-06, scoring 418 total points as well as collecting 237 rebounds in 112 games. He shot 42.6% from the floor (135 of 317), including a 37.7% mark from behind the 3-point line (69 of 183).

After graduation, Wiersma was honored by the program with the “Mustang Award” being renamed the “Andy Wiersma Mustang Award”, which is presented every season to a player that exemplifies the qualities of being a SMSU men’s basketball student-athlete.

The game is free to attend and donations are accepted to help benefit Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) on campus as well as the Andy Wiersma “AW” Memorial Scholarship.

SMSU coach Brad Bigler said the game allows them to honor Andy’s legacy and use his strong faith as a great way to give back to others.

“Having this game allows us to use Andy’s legacy to serve others,” Bigler said. “Anyone who knows Andy remembers how strong he was with his faith and to be able to give this money back to FCA on campus — which he helped start — is such a rewarding experience.”

Since its inception in 2010, the alumni team won the inaugural game, but the Mustangs have taken the last six games in a row. This year’s alumni team will include Drew Osmundson, Taylor Schafer, Turner Moen, Michael Lee, Jordan Miller, Lavione West, Joey Bartlett, Mitch Weg, Carter Kirk and Kolin Bartlett.

Bigler added that this event helps bring together their current players with those who helped shape the path and it creates learning opportunities for their team.

“To have this tradition of having those guys back, it helps connect our current guys with our guys that have helped pave the way,” Bigler said. “And for our guys to come back on campus and tell their stories, it allows our current guys a great perspective of understanding what our program is all about and the values that we’re trying to teach.”

SMSU will play two more exhibition games on Oct. 28 against the University of Minnesota and on Oct. 31 against St. Olaf. As they draw closer to the first games of their season, Bigler is encouraging the fans to come watch their team early on in order to see the growth they can show as a group throughout the year.

“I think with this group, I hope our fans understand to get out and watch us early so that they can see how much this group will grow throughout the year,” Bigler said. “And I truly mean that this group, over time when we have experience, have a chance to do some special things.”

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