GLENDALE (WITI) — The Marquette and Wisconsin basketball teams have been sort of up and down this season, but that’s not the case at Cardinal Stritch. After winning a national championship last year, the Wolves haven’t lost a game in 2014.
“Big Sem” is a big reason why Cardinal Stritch basketball is rolling again this season. He is senior guard Derek Semenas.
“He’s a guy who may be the best player in the country — in the NAIA. He’s always making big shots, always wants the ball in his hands late,” Wolves Head Coach Drew Diener said.
Derek Semenas is “Big Sem” because the Wolves also feature freshman Tyler Semenas.
“I definitely can’t shoot as well as him, but I would say I can definitely jump better than him,” Tyler Semenas said.
Derek Semenas jumped from Laconia High School to Division I ball at UW-Green Bay. Because he redshirted in one of his years there before transferring to Stritch, the brothers are able to play on the same team for the first time. Their age difference isn’t obvious given their resemblance.
One of the brothers is right-handed, and one left-handed.
“Our point guard is pushing and both Sems are on the wings flying. That’s usually a good feeling when we have a three-on-two with both Sems on the wings,” Diener said.
There’s no problem with these guys putting the ball in the basket. Derek Semenas is one of the leading scorers in the country, while his younger brother just led the team in scoring a critical game last weekend.
“Everybody always says even around our hometown, there’s not enough shots to go around when there’s a Semenas on the court. It’s hard to divvy up. Now, he’s a younger player, so he’s got his years. He can hold back unless I’m struggling, then he can take over,” Derek Semenas said.
Basketball aside, spending so much quality time together is deepening the bond of these two brothers.
“It’s helped a lot. When we were younger, we really didn’t get along, but as I’ve gotten older and more mature, it patches up and builds a stronger relationship, and now that he’s here, it’s made our relationship even stronger,” Derek Semenas said.
“Ever since we were little kids, we were playing basketball in the house with those little portable basketball hoops on the doors, playing with our friends outside against each other five-on-five. It’s always been both of our dreams to play past high school basketball,” Tyler Semenas said.
Derek and Tyler are playing college basketball for a guy who can appreciate their situation. Drew Diener is a member of Fond du Lac’s first family of roundball. Dick was the coach, while Drew, Drake and Travis all played high level college hoops, and all still make their living in the game.
“I think of it a lot when I see those two guys interacting and playing together, teasing each other and things — coming to games with their families and extended families being around. It does remind me of my playing days and my family being together,” Diener said.
Cardinal Stritch is ranked first in the NAIA Division II national poll.