The University of St. Thomas basketball team put together a dominant win over the Leathernecks in a weekend full of news about cancelled conference games
This was the most complete game that St. Thomas has played all season. Period.
It is a real testament to the balance UST has that they led 43-27 at the half, while Riley Miller went 1-6 from 3PM. With time winding down, everyone in the arena knew that the hot-hand Ryan Lindberg was going to take the last shot. He buried a triple with time expiring in the half to send the Tommies into the half up 16. I am going to be working on nicknames for this team (please comment suggestions). I think a lot of credit has to be given to “Kan’t Miss Kevin”. It would be impossible for a team to know a priori that with the right rotation he can be an elite scorer. He had a career game, scoring 13 points in 29 minutes, both season highs. Anders Nelson continues dominate league opponents. What sets him a part from his league competitors is his use of the Mid-Range. In an era where mid-range shooting is dying, Anders scored 60% of his points from inside the arc, and outside of the paint. Anders does not need much room, or time to make a bucket. Miller, Hedstrom, and Lindberg continued their aerial attack against conference teams. This was their first game against a top half team; it is hard to see any team in this league from slowing down their production. It has to be demoralizing for opponents to know that one slip up will mean an open shot for these three elite long range shooters.
Why else was this result so lobsided? A couple of important factors.
Bjorklund is Back
The @reachingthesummit twitter account is apparently a Parker Bjorklund Stan Account now, for good reason. I think there can be a distinction between the best player on UST (likely Miller based on the #’s), and the most important. Parker Bjorklund is the only player on the Tommies roster that changes the way that conference teams will gameplan. His hustle is the x-factor which is why he can be so effective despite his lack of size. The Brooks-Parker big man three point threat is just as potent as the Rocky-Grant combo for the team just up I-94.
WIU Continues their Slide
I really do not want to provide any team’s bulletin board material but the team inside Schoenecker on Saturday was not the one who dominated their non-conference schedule. Rob Jeter, a 52 year old man, had perhaps the most impressive ups of anyone on the court on Saturday reacting to another Trent Massner turnover. They have now suffered two wire-to-wire losses, including a very physical high scoring game on the 29th at Iowa. UST fans should thank a Hawkeye sometime soon for perhaps giving them a team just looking to get home. WIU hosts a beatable UMKC team, before having a challenge facing UST’s next opponent, Oral Roberts.
ORAL ROBERTS PREVIEW
This might be the most entertaining game for a CBB casual observer looking to see intense scoring action. A potential Max Abmas v Riley Miller shootout makes this game a must-watch (in person if you can). A battle between the two best 3 point shooters in the United States of America should be on ESPN, but instead it will be on the much more humble tommiesports.com for free with the incomparable Corbu Stathes on the call. ORU is a sweet 16 team, obviously expected to win this game, but as any UST Student or Alum will tell you: Thursday nights are different. They score 80+ more than they don’t. Strangely, this would be ORU’s first Quad 3 win. They have yet to win a Quad 1 or 2 game, and are undefeated in Quad 4. A little birdie also says that UST hoopers are coming off getting the cold, so perhaps they could be even more effective in this game than versus WIU.
I was at the SHAC to watch the NDSU v SDSU, the biggest rivalry in the Summit League which got me thinking who would be a fitting conference rival for the Toms? I think what makes a rivalry great is distance between schools, great games, and if they are very similar or vice-versa very different. I think Denver fits the bill, both private schools, who each have the same sports (including hockey), and already some great games.
Brooks “Swiss Allen Knife”
The silver lining of Parker being out is the improvement out of Brooks Allen. The improvement was epitomized by the 3 point shot Brooks took in the second half. He has been playing a lot at the 5 spot and still got an open look and took it providing a huge momentum swing for the Toms. Confidence, Decision-Making, and Physicality have come such a long way.
Overheard: Dr John Tauer
Dr John is a sports psychology expert so it is not out of the realm of possibility that JT maybe has an inside scoop on motivating ball players. JT pointed out potential 3 second violations to official Ken Moreland by yelling, “I have a bunch of six-one players out there, how do you expect them to score down low if they keep doing that?” Worth noting that this was when UST was only up 5 in the second half. Anders Nelson must have taken that personally as he scored ten without missing straight after this, giving Ken the answer he never responded with.