Expectations are high heading into 2020-2021 season for Fairmont State men’s hoops

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Tim Koenig was a quick study when it came to the history of the Fairmont State men’s basketball program when he took over as head coach in June 2019. He’s spoken at times about acknowledging, honoring, and continuing that history when his team steps on the court.

But a recent tweet made him (and a lot of other people) realize how historic his program really is — and likely increased the expectations for this season.

“Did you see that tweet that we have the seventh most wins in the history of Division-II basketball?” said Koenig in an interview over Zoom on Friday. “Obviously, we expect to be at the top, but shoot seventh is pretty darn good. I didn’t know that. Seventh is pretty darn special. Yeah, I mean the expectations are pretty high.”

Fairmont State owns the seventh-most wins, all-time, in NCAA DII men’s basketball at 1,605, according to the tweet.

Koenig talked about moving up that list, and given the team he has this year, the Fighting Falcons certainly appear capable of moving closer to that No. 6 spot.

Fairmont State returns all five starters from a year ago, eight of the nine top scorers from 2019, and has added some pieces that many believe give this team improved depth and even more scoring options heading into this year.

Some of the names will be familiar to those that have followed this team.

“Dale (Bonner) looks a lot. Cole (VonHandorf) looks better,” said Koenig.

Another name that will be familiar is James Madison transfer, and Fairmont Senior graduate, Zyon Dobbs, who Koenig says is greatly improved heading into his second season of college basketball.

“Zyon Dobbs is a big surprise. I knew he was really good. He’s better than I thought,” said Koenig. “To his credit he’s worked his tail off. He shoots the ball way better than I thought. He’s our leading rebounder, and he turns the ball over the least amount on the team. So he’s got the ball in his hands a lot and he doesn’t turn it over. And he rebounds at a high clip.”

This offseason has been far from normal.

The Fighting Falcons have only been together roughly eight hours a week for some time now. More frequent COVID-19 testing began recently, though they have been tested sporadically throughout the offseason.

It’s been a longer build up to a season that still doesn’t have an announced start date.

“We’ve taken a step, and analyzed what we can do,” said Koenig, and then described a new approach or philosophy that was given to him in the offseason. “For five to ten minutes here’s what we’re guarding. For five to ten minutes, here’s what we’re going at. Media timeouts in our league are every five minutes, so we try to break things up in five minute segments to plan, prepare and play in these segments.

Some Division-II conferences have begun playing, as have a majority of Division-I conferences.

The Mountain East Conference has not yet released schedules for winter sports. When the MEC announced in October that winter sports would be postponed, it said that they would not begin, “no earlier than January 1, 2021,” according to the statement.

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