Lancers, Broncos up next in final pre-New Year's GPAC action

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 6, 2021 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – An overall light month in terms of conference action, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team will wrap up GPAC play for the month of December this week as it hosts Mount Marty on Wednesday and visits Hastings on Saturday. Currently situated just outside of the NAIA top 25, the Bulldogs could position themselves for a return to the national rankings with a couple of victories. Concordia went 1-1 last week with a 79-77 loss at No. 18 Morningside and a 95-78 home win over Northwestern. Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad currently sits at 9-2 overall (4-2 GPAC).

This Week

Wednesday, Dec. 8 vs. Mount Marty (3-11, 0-6 GPAC), 7:45 p.m.
--Live Webcast/Stats | 104.9 Max Country

Saturday, Dec. 11 at Hastings (6-5, 1-3 GPAC), 3:45 p.m.
--Live Webcast/Stats | 104.9 Max Country

By the numbers

·        In the official polls released last week, the Bulldogs checked in at third in the GPAC (behind Jamestown and Morningside) while being listed third amongst “others receiving votes” in the NAIA coaches’ poll. The snub from the official top 25 comes despite Concordia being rated much higher by other sources – 14th by Massey Ratings and 19th by the NAIA Hoops Report. The Bulldogs continue to seek their first top 25 ranking in the coaches’ poll since the 2010-11 season. The next national poll will be unveiled on Dec. 15.

·        Ever since the loss at Briar Cliff on Nov. 13, Concordia has clicked offensively. Over the past five outings (4-1 record), the Bulldogs have posted respective shooting percentages of 54.0, 50.7, 50.8, 51.8 and 55.7. Nationally, Concordia ranks 21st in free throw percentage (.760) and 23rd in field goal percentage (.496). The Bulldogs will attempt to improve upon their 33.8 percent shooting from 3-point range. However, Concordia has been adept at getting quality looks inside the arc and ranks seventh nationally for fewest turnovers per game (9.4).

·        Carter Kent appears on track for his best season yet. The Crete High School product totaled 52 points on 18-for-33 (.545) shooting from the floor last week. His 32 points in the win over Northwestern represented a career high, topping his previous best of 29 points in a win last season at Mount Marty. Kent continues to rise up the program’s all-time lists having moved to No. 10 in career 3-point field goals (203) and to 17th in career scoring (1,331). With 169 more points, Kent would become the ninth player in program history to reach 1,500 career points. On the season, Kent is averaging 16.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.73 steals per game.

·        The bulk of the offensive production comes from a starting lineup with all five averaging 9.8 points or more per game: Kent (16.9), Justin Wiersema (14.2), Noah Schutte (13.7), Gage Smith (13.1) and AJ Watson (9.8). The emergence of Schutte continues to be a major storyline this season. After playing a much smaller role last season, Schutte has moved into the starting lineup. He has averaged 20.8 points per game over the past four outings with a high of 27 points in the win over No. 10 Jamestown. As for Wiersema, he has run his career point total to 1,052.

·        The home success has been astounding recently with the Bulldogs winning 22 of their last 23 games (including 10 in a row) played inside Friedrich Arena. During the current 10-game home win streak, Concordia has outscored its opponents by an average margin of 17.2 points. Only one of the 10 victories has come by a single-digit margin. With the exception of Morningside, every GPAC team has lost its most recent trip to Seward.

The opponents
Mount Marty has a first-year head coach in Collin Authier, previously the assistant coach at NCAA Division II Augustana University. The Lancers have slipped from a win-loss standpoint since going 20-12 during the 2019-20 season. Mount Marty has begun this season with six-straight losses to open up GPAC play, although it lost by only seven points at No. 18 Morningside, 82-75, this past Saturday. Mount Marty is averaging 71.3 points while allowing 77.9 points. The team’s top two scorers are Nick Coleman (13.8 ppg) and Tyrell Harper (13.4 ppg). Concordia swept last season’s two meetings from the Lancers and has won three in a row in the series.

Bill Gavers is in his ninth season at as head coach of his alma mater. The Broncos are improved from last season when they struggled to a 6-19 overall record (2-18 GPAC). Hastings owns a win this season over Mount Marty and played closely with No. 10 Jamestown in a 91-88 loss this past weekend. The biggest standouts for the Broncos are Dashawn Walker (16.5 ppg) and Karson Gansebom (15.2 ppg). Hastings is looking to snap an 11-game series losing streak against the Bulldogs.

Next week
Concordia will take a break from conference play as it looks forward to a trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., for games on Dec. 19 and 21 versus the likes of No. 23 William Jessup University (Calif.) and Rochester University (Mich.).