Bulldogs to take shot at No. 1 Morningside, CIT title

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 20, 2020 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – There should be no problem getting hyped for any of the games on tap this week for the red-hot Concordia University men’s basketball team. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad will host No. 1 Morningside at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday before then shifting focus to the 69th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament. The Bulldogs will open play at CIT on Friday afternoon by taking on Concordia-Ann Arbor. Concordia-Chicago is the host of this year’s event.

Hosted by Concordia University, Chicago in River Forest, Ill. (Geiseman Gymnasium)

CIT links
CU-Chicago tournament page
Advance tickets (available until Jan. 22)
Live webcasts for CIT games
Radio coverage: 104.9 Max Country
Game recaps/interviews
CIT alumni and friends social (Jan. 24)

$15 advanced weekend pass | $20 weekend pass purchased on site | $12 day pass | children under six are free

2020 Concordia Invitational Tournament Schedule

Friday, Jan. 24

·        1 p.m. CST – Nebraska vs. Ann Arbor (women)

·        3:15 p.m. CST – Nebraska vs. Ann Arbor (men)

·        6 p.m. CST – Chicago vs. Wisconsin (women)

·        8:15 p.m. CST – Chicago vs. Wisconsin (men)

Saturday, Jan. 25

·        10:15 a.m. CST – Dance/Cheer competition

·        12:45 a.m. CST – Women’s consolation game

·        3 p.m. CST – Men’s consolation game

·        5:30 p.m. CST– Women’s championship game

·        7:45 p.m. CST – Men’s championship game

Five facts about CUNE men's basketball at CIT

·        The Bulldogs have dominated the Concordia Invitational Tournament, capturing an event record 27 all-time CIT titles. Only two other Concordias have won more than 10 CIT championships: St. Louis (16) and Chicago (14). Under head coach Ben Limback, the Bulldogs have won CIT titles in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

·        The program’s most recent CIT MVP was Chandler Folkerts, who picked up the award in 2016 and 2017. Folkerts is actually the only repeat CIT MVP in CUNE’s history. Folkerts piled up 136 points in his eight career CIT games.

·        Six different head coaches have led the Bulldogs to CIT titles (in order): Reuben Stohs (two), Kent Einspahr (two), Brian Mueller (two), Tom Baack (two), Grant Schmidt (16) and Ben Limback (three). Schmidt’s 16 CIT championships are tied with Eldon Pederson (Concordia-St. Louis) for the most coaching CIT titles in the history of the tournament.

·        The Bulldogs won their first-ever CIT title in 1964 under the direction of head coach Reuben Stohs while being led by MVP Gordon Bredow. CUNE has now won 25 of the past 37 CIT tournaments dating back to 1983. The first CIT was held in 1951.

·        Ben Limback is the only coach in the history of the event to win CIT titles with two different Concordias. Limback also guided Concordia-Ann Arbor to CIT championships in 2006 and 2007 while up against his college coach, Grant Schmidt.

Update on the Dawgs
The winning vibes flowed into last weekend’s matchup at Briar Cliff. A hot second half from senior guard Brevin Sloup helped propel the Bulldogs to the program’s first victory at Briar Cliff since February 2009. CUNE also owns a seven-game win streak for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign. At 14-5 overall, the Bulldogs have their best record after 19 games since the 2004-05 national runner up squad was 16-3 at this point in the campaign. Limback’s Dawgs have moved up to fourth in the GPAC standings while winning six-straight games by double-digit margins. Sloup’s 28 points in the 83-72 win at Briar Cliff represented a season high.

In the new NAIA Division II national poll released last week, CUNE was listed fifth among the “receiving votes” teams. The program last cracked the top 25 during the 2010-11 season. The Bulldogs have caught the attention of voters while following the lead of the likes of Sloup, Carter Kent and Tanner Shuck, each of whom have earned a GPAC Player of the Week award over the past few weeks. Sloup is now the 31st member of the program’s 1,000-point club. Meanwhile, Shuck has moved up to No. 12 on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,361 points. He could move into the top 10 by week’s end with Porter Birtell (1,390) and Scott Beck (1,406) directly in front of him.

Of course the Bulldogs needed to heat up offensively in order to put together a run like they’ve had, but they have also continued to play solid man-to-man defense. Among GPAC teams, CUNE ranks third in both scoring defense (69.1) and field goal percentage defense (.420). It held Briar Cliff to a 41.3 percent clip. In addition, opponents are shooting only 30.5 percent from 3-point range (seventh lowest opponent 3-point percentage in NAIA Division II). The Bulldogs also boast one of the nation’s top shot blockers in Chuol Biel, who averages 1.78 blocks per game.

Up next
Sloup and company obviously can’t afford to peaking ahead to CIT with top-ranked and undefeated Morningside (20-0, 12-0 GPAC) coming to town on Wednesday night. The Mustangs were fortunate to edge the Bulldogs, 72-71, in Sioux City, Iowa, on Dec. 11. In that contest, CUNE got a late go-ahead jumper from Sloup and even held a 71-70 lead in the final 10 seconds before two Alex Borchers free throws made the difference. Head coach Jim Sykes has put together a national title contender that regularly starts four seniors and one junior. Big man Tyler Borchers (16.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) is always a difficult player to handle in the post. Borchers is one of the main reasons why Morningside leads the nation in field goal percentage (.535). The Bulldogs hope to end an eight-game series losing streak.

Wednesday’s game will be covered live by the Concordia Sports Network and by 104.9 Max Country.

The men’s CIT field

Concordia University, Nebraska Bulldogs
Head coach
: Ben Limback, 7th year
Record: 14-5 (7-4 GPAC)
Conference: Great Plains Athletic Conference (NAIA Division II)
Location: Seward, Nebraska
Top player: Sophomore guard Carter Kent has taken another step forward in his second season as a starter. The 2018-19 GPAC Freshman of the Year is averaging 14.7 points per game while shooting 40.4 percent from 3-point range. With 601 career points, Kent figures to be the next Bulldog in line to surpass 1,000.
Key stat: CUNE takes a seven-game win streak into play this week (longest among the Concordias). Over the past six contests, the Bulldogs have won each game by double-digit margins and have made at least 10 3-point field goals in each instance.
CIT titles: 27 (most recent: 2017)

Concordia University, Ann Arbor Cardinals
Head coach
: Ricky Yahn, 7th year
Record: 6-14 (3-9 WHAC)
Conference: Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (NAIA Division II)
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Top player: The Cardinals boast two seniors standouts averaging exactly 14.0 points per game: Greg Alexander and Jerald Booker. A 6-foot-1 guard, Booker has accumulated 1,285 career points while playing in 106 games at CUAA.
Key stat: Yahn has led the program to the CIT championship game three-straight years with its 2018 title sandwiched in between title game losses to CUNE in 2017 and CUW in 2019. Yahn and Ben Limback are the only coaches to win CIT titles at CUAA.
CIT titles: 4 (most recent: 2018)

Concordia University, Chicago Cougars
Head coach
: Steve Kollar, 1st year
Record: 6-8 (5-5 NACC)
Conference: Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NCAA Division III)
Location: River Forest, Illinois
Top player: Senior guard Raushaun Amos has played in all 14 games and has averaged 14.4 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range. The Cougars graduated prolific scorer Mitch Pelissier (1,828 career points).
Key stat: CUC plays up-tempo basketball as its averages of 83.2 points scored per game and 84.5 points allowed per game would attest. The Cougars have been plagued at times by turnovers, averaging 17.8 per contest (-3.0 turnover margin).
CIT titles: 14 (most recent: 2011)

Concordia University, Wisconsin Falcons
Head coach
: Shawn Cassidy, 12th year
Record: 9-5 (8-2 NACC)
Conference: Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NCAA Division III)
Location: Mequon, Wisconsin
Top player: Junior guard Jordan Johnson has been leaned upon to play 35.9 minutes per game and he has responded with 16.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per outing. Johnson was named CIT MVP in 2019 while leading the Falcons to the title.
Key stat: CUW has won each of its four CIT titles over the previous 12 years. Cassidy’s 2019-20 squad could pose a threat once again. It is currently in a three-way tie for first place in the NACC standings.
CIT titles: 4 (most recent: 2019)