The Simpson men's basketball team begins the 2012-13 season Friday at the Perkins Tip-Off Tournament in Arden Hills, Minn., hosted by Bethel.
The Storm will face the host Royals in Friday's second game, beginning at 8 p.m. If the Storm win, they will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday; if they lose, they will play at 6 p.m. on Saturday. UW-Stout and St. Scholastica begin the tournament with a 6 p.m. tip Friday.
The Storm return three starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's 12-14 team that placed sixth in the Iowa Conference. The Storm were chosen fifth in the Iowa Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.
Leading Simpson's group of returning players is point guard Elijah Knox. Knox has started each of the last two seasons and perennially places himself among the top players in the conference in assists, steals, and assists-to-turnover ratio. Last year he averaged 9.2 points, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game to go along with a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. His career-high 23 points helped Simpson upset third-seeded Dubuque in the first round of the conference tournament.
Olu Rotibi returns for his senior season after transferring to Simpson from Minnesota-Crookston prior to last season. A forward, Rotibi started 13 games a year ago, averaging 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Drew Bentley will provide a versatile threat for the Storm and will cause matchup problems for opponents. The 6-6 junior forward is dangerous beyond the arc, hitting 40 3-pointers a year ago to lead Simpson's returners. He transferred to Simpson from UW-Platteville and started 12 of Simpson's last 13 games in 2011-12.
Third-year head coach Charles Zanders also expects to get solid contributions from returning letterwinners AJ Arrington, Charles Swain, Eric Lande and Ryan Stumbo. Arrington transferred to Simpson at semester last year and averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 16 appearances. Swain came off the bench in 24 games as a freshman last year, hitting 7 3s. A junior, Lande came off the bench in 24 games to average just over one point and one rebound. Stumbo is a three-year letterwinner who saw action in 18 games a year ago.
Simpson lost three all-conference players to graduation: Zack Barragan, Chad Boston and Cornelius Mosby. Barragan was a first-team pick after leading the IIAC with 72 3-pointers, Boston was a second-team selection after averaging 13.5 points and shooting better than 51 percent from the field and Mosby was an honorable mention player after averaging a double-double with 12.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, the only player in the conference to do so.