Meet the 'Fresh Four' of UP basketball

By The Beacon | January 30, 2013 9:00pm

Freshmen guards Jake Ehlers, Bryce Pressley, David Ahern and Oskars Reinfelds talk about their bond, not only as the new kids on the block, but also as close friends

Freshmen guards Oskars Reinfelds, David Ahern, Jake Ehlers and Bryce Pressley already feel like family on the men’s basketball team as they get an early chance to show their skills as they are already being heavily relied on. (Stephanie Matusiefsky | The Beacon)

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

UP men's basketball has brought together four guys who might have never met: Guards Jake Ehlers from Corvallis, Ore., Bryce Pressley from Sacramento, Calif., David Ahern from Novato, Calif. and Oskars Reinfelds from Riga, Latvia.

Coming from very different places did not stop these four from bonding on and off the court.

"All four of us are all together all of the time," Pressley said.

Although they are best friends, one thing they do not agree on their favorite part of basketball.

"Shooting," Reinfelds said. "Just taking shots, one right after the other."

Reinfelds has taken 140 shots in the 21 games he's played this season, averaging 43.8 percent.

"I like playing in front of big crowds and the atmosphere," Ahern and Ehlers both said.

The Pilots draw about 1,900 fans per game, usually led by the men of Schoenfeldt Hall.

"The feeling of winning," Pressley said.

The team is 8-14 this season, with one more win than last year already. They have nine more games to play, four of those at home.

It is not common to find a basketball team that uses freshmen like the Pilots do. Men's basketball Head Coach Eric Reveno has never been afraid to play younger players. The majority of the team is underclassmen, which means Ehlers, Ahern, Pressley and Reinfelds are key pieces to the team's success.

"We really call upon them to do more and contribute more," Reveno said.

After 24 games, Reveno doesn't consider the freshmen to be freshmen. He sees them as the future of the team.

There are no walls between the freshmen and the upperclassmen that exist on many other college basketball teams. Instead, the freshmen felt a part of the team right away. One way they do this is by joking around, intentionally and unintentionally.

Much of the joking lands on the freshmen, particularly the two funniest: Ehlers and Reinfelds.

"The things that I do are funny," Reinfelds said. "I don't try to be funny, it's just my actions that are funny."

Ehlers and Reinfelds do not try to be funny, but they leave the team laughing anyways.

"It's probably the accent," Pressley said.

Although most people refer to the basketball players as just that, they do almost exactly what every other college student does - there's just basketball added to it. Do not forget their wardrobe filled with sweatpants. The team practices daily and has games twice a week, so comfort wins over fashion. Unless it is Jake Ehlers.

"I don't really wear sweatpants because my mom always buys me the wrong size since I don't shop for myself," Ehlers said.

"And that's why Jake is the funniest," Pressley said.

They are looking forward to taking on Gonzaga again, this time in Spokane on March 2. The big crowd is something they all look forward to. Gonzaga averages 6,200 fans per game, making it one of the largest crowds the Pilots will play in front of.

"It's going to be bumping," Ehlers said.

Winning big games against powerhouses like Gonzaga and Saint Mary's is the next big step towards achieving their goals. The biggest goal, Ahern said, is to win the WCC Championship and make it to the NCAA tournament. The Pilots have not won the WCC since 1996, the last time they made it to the NCAA tournament. The team is hopeful in building a strong base for this to be possible. Everyone on the team, especially the four freshmen, wants this goal to become a reality.