SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Men’s Basketball team will look to grab a pair of victories during its final road trip before Christmas break. Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad will be at Midland on Tuesday before making the trek up north to take on Jamestown this Friday.
Concordia (9-3, 6-2) at Midland (3-8, 1-7)
Tuesday, Dec. 15 | 8 p.m.
Wikert Event Center | Fremont, Neb.
Webcast/Live Stats: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/midland/
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentator: Evan Jones
Concordia (9-3, 6-2) at Jamestown (8-3, 4-2)
Friday, Dec. 18 | 8 p.m.
Harold Newman Center | Jamestown, N.D.
Webcast/Live Stats: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/jamestown/
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentator: Evan Jones
*2020-21 NAIA national rank in parentheses
-NOTE: 157 of 231 NAIA men’s basketball programs have played at least one game this season.
Scoring Offense: 83.3 (59th)
Scoring Defense: 70.3 (34th)
FG% Offense: .463 (T-73rd)
FG% Defense: .427 (T-58th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .343 (T-84th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .352 (T-111th)
Rebound Margin: +7.25 (35th)
Turnover Margin: +1.67 (60th)
Scoring Offense: 71.5 (144th)
Scoring Defense: 73.8 (60th)
FG% Offense: .433 (T-113th)
FG% Defense: .478 (139th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .341 (T-89th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .330 (T-77th)
Rebound Margin: +4.8 (57th)
Turnover Margin: -3.0 (T-157th)
Scoring Offense: 87.27 (37th)
Scoring Defense: 73.6 (58th)
FG% Offense: .509 (19th)
FG% Defense: .434 (T-73rd)
3-pt FG% Offense: .382 (32nd)
3-pt FG% Defense: .349 (109th)
Rebound Margin: +12.4 (12th)
Turnover Margin: -0.8 (123rd)
Visiting fan policies
At Midland: Visiting fans will not be allowed to attend the game at Midland. The athletic department at Midland put this policy into effect beginning on Nov. 30.
At Jamestown: Capacity inside Jamestown’s arena will be limited to 600 fans. Visiting fans can assure themselves of tickets by purchasing them online: https://www.jimmiepride.com/tickets.
--NOTE: All GPAC events require fans to wear face coverings. To review specific COVID-19 protocols for the GPAC and its member institutions, visit: http://www.gpacsports.com/gpac-covid19-fan-protocols.
Last time out
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs it was a familiar outcome to years past as they dropped their tenth straight series matchup to Morningside 86-64. Early turnovers by Concordia allowed Morningside to race out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half. The Mustangs took a nine-point lead into intermission and then grew their lead to 24 in the closing minutes, thanks to a hot-shooting second half. Overall, Morningside shot 58.1 percent (36-for-62) compared to 43.6 percent (24-for-55) shooting by Concordia. Carter Kent led the Bulldogs in scoring with 18 points, while Justin Wiersema also pitched in with 16 points in eight rebounds. The Bulldog bench was also a bright spot as three players collected six or more points: Noah Schutte (seven), AJ Watson (six) and Thomas Young (six).
The pecking order
Concordia currently sits in third place in the GPAC standings. Morningside jumped the Bulldogs due to the Mustangs victory over Concordia last Saturday. Dakota Wesleyan is still in first place as the Tigers are the only undefeated team left in conference play at 6-0.
Wiersema continues standout play
Justin Wiersema’s game has taken off. The native of Loveland, Colo., is the pulse of a team that has been noted for its never-stop-hustling style on the court. Among GPAC players, Wiersema ranks sixth in steals per game (1.50), fourth in scoring (17.42) and field goal percentage (.614) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (.444). The 6-foot-3 guard has been incredibly consistent, having scored no fewer than 11 points in any one game this season (with a high of 23 versus Manhattan Christian College). Wiersema has improved significantly with his scoring averages jumping from 5.4 as a freshman to 10.8 as a sophomore to 16.6 as a junior this season.
Board man gets paid
Gage Smith is an animal on the boards. He just missed his fifth double-double of the season when he recorded 16 points and nine rebounds versus Dordt. Over the first seven games, Smith has turned in respective single-game rebound totals of 10, four, 11, 19, 12, 18 nine, five, 13 and five, respectively. The native of Elizabeth, Colo., is another player coming into his own in year three in the program. Smith is averaging 12.8 points and 10.9 rebounds after comparative averages of 4.7 and 4.5 last season.
Bulldogs can board
Rebounding was a key question for Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad coming into the season. With the loss of their big men due to graduation and a small lineup, many people wondered how Concordia would look cleaning up the glass. In large part, due to the efforts of Smith (10.9 rebounds per game), Concordia has cleaned up the glass with ease as its +7.25 total rebound margin ranks 35th among all NAIA teams.
Midland has struggled mightily in GPAC play as the Warriors are 1-7 in conference play. Concordia had opened GPAC play against Midland this season back on Nov. 10 when the Bulldogs decimated the Warriors 82-55. The majority of the problems have come on the offensive end for the Warriors. Midland ranks toward the bottom of all NAIA schools averaging only 71.5 points per game which is 144th nationally. Poor shooting can be the reason for the low scoring average as the Warriors rank 113th nationally with a field goal percentage of .433. The Warriors were picked to finish tenth in the 2020 GPAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The Jimmies (8-3,4-2) are coming off an impressive 91-74 win over Dordt back on Dec. 8. Offense has been the key for Jamestown so far this season as the Jimmies possess one of the most lethal offenses in the nation. Jamestown averages over 87 points per game and ranks in the top-50 nationally in every offensive category. The Bulldogs will need to protect the glass as the Jimmies own a rebound margin of +12.4, which ranks 12th among all NAIA teams. Jamestown’s Mason Walters leads the GPAC in scoring with an average of 23.7 points per game. Allante Pickens (12.2) and Marco Kjos (12.3) also average double figures for the Jimmies. Jamestown was picked to finish fourth in the 2020 GPAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll while garnering one first-place vote.
Projected Starting Lineups
Concordia (9-3, 6-2)
G – Carter Kent, Jr. (12.4)
G – Sam Scarpelli, Sr. (7.9)
G – Justin Wiersema, Jr. (17.5)
F – Ryan Holt, Sr. (8.4)
F – Gage Smith, Jr. (12.8)
Midland (3-8, 1-7)
G – Laurence Merritt, Sr. (13.6)
G – Bo Sandquist, Jr. (9.9)
G – Jake Rueschhoff, So. (8.0)
F – Colby Tichota, Fr. (7.3)
F – Bo Sandquist, Sr. (8.9)
Jamestown (8-3, 4-2)
G – Allante Pickens, Sr. (12.2)
G – Marco Kjos, So. (12.3)
F – Jack Talley, Sr. (8.8)
F – Brady Birch, Sr. (5.44)
F – Mason Walters, SO. (23.7)