The Bethel College men's basketball team begins the 2013-14 season on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. against Holy Cross in South Bend. This annual rivalry game is always intense, especially as Holy Cross looks for revenge after the 121-63 Pilot win a season ago. The Pilots have never lost a game in October in program history (4-0). The Pilots have high expectations this year after winning their seventeenth Crossroads League title last year. They come into the season ranked no. 2 in the Crossroads League preseason rankings. The Pilots have an experienced veteran squad as three of the four leading scorers return from last year's team. That includes senior Ryan Benner, who earned All-Crossroads League Third Team status, averaging 14.4 points per game. He was named the team's defensive MVP after leading the team with 1.3 steals per game. Seniors Michael Mislan and Patrick Oetting will play bigger roles this year as the Pilots look to replace the output received from Jordan Bowerman last season. Mislan set career highs in points, rebounds, assists and blocks last year. He was also one of the leaders in field-goal percentage in the Crossroads League. Oetting has been a spot-starter throughout his career, but he will play a key role this year. As always, defense will be a major factor for Bethel. They were last in opponent's field goal percentage in 2011 (.475) but they were first in the Crossroads League last season (.393). That spurred the Pilots to an impressive turnaround and an eventual conference title. While the Pilots will be led by their group of seniors, which includes guard Landon Booker who makes his return from an injury, two juniors will be major factors in the 2013-2014 campaign. Point guard Matt Schauss has seen significant playing time dating back to his freshman year. Last season, he joined Caleb Laidig as the only Pilots since all-time great Rico Swanson to average at least 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game in a season. Shooting guard Zach Miller set a Crossroads League record for three-pointers made last season, and he will look to continue lighting up the scoreboard this year. Last year, freshmen Jordyn Coon, Travis Smith and Jared Mott all made contributions to the Pilots' success. Smith even became the sixth Pilot to be named to the All-Newcomer team. The Pilots also bring in five freshman: Josh Glass, David Lee, Chris Mitchell, Caleb Oetjen and Ryan Wassink. As Bethel head coach Mike Lightfoot begins his 27th season, he stands just 16 wins shy of joining an elite group of coaches with 700 career victories. Lightfoot would become the first active coach in Crossroads League history to reach the career milestone. I talked with a couple players during practice and filed this video report.