Men's basketball plays host to Northwestern on Saturday

By on Jan. 8, 2015 in Men's Basketball

Men’s basketball plays host to Northwestern on Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – After having its three-game winning streak snapped by No. 8 Midland on Wednesday, the Concordia University men’s basketball team will aim to get back into the winning column when it hosts Northwestern (10-6, 3-5 GPAC) on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. from Walz Arena. In last season’s meeting in Seward, the Bulldogs toppled the Red Raiders, 95-75, marking the largest victory margin over Northwestern in program history.

A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network.

National player of the week resides in Seward
On Tuesday sophomore post Chandler Folkerts was named the GPAC and NAIA Division II national player of the week after averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds over a trio of wins, including one over No. 3 Northwood University. It was the first time a Bulldog men’s basketball player had been named national player of the week since Jon Ziegler earned the award in February 2007 following a program single-game record 47-point performance. Folkerts picked up where he left off by netting a career high 26 points to go along with eight rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to Midland.

The 6-foot-8 native of Milford, Neb., has built upon a solid freshman campaign. This season he’s averaging 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals while shooting 58.9 percent from the floor and 81.7 percent from the foul line.

Offensive outbreak
In a league chalk full of teams capable of filling up the net, head coach Ben Limback’s squad has shown the potential to keep up. Concordia’s scoring average of 78.1 points per game marks the highest figure for the program since the 2003-04 squad averaged 79.5 points and went 20-9 overall. In terms of national placement, the Bulldogs rank sixth in free throw percentage (.759), 27th in 3-point field goal percentage (.388), 33rd in field goal percentage (.474) and 47th in scoring. Individually, Joel Haywood ranks sixth among all NAIA Division II players in free throw percentage (.898) and Folkerts rates 16th nationally in field goal percentage (.589).

Team scoring averages since 2003-04
2014-15: 78.1
2013-14: 70.2
2012-13: 69.7
2011-12: 72.1
2010-11: 70.3
2009-10: 72.5
2008-09: 69.8
2007-08: 69.0
2006-07: 70.5
2005-06: 67.5
2004-05: 73.7
2003-04: 79.5 

On the rise
Concordia’s three-game spike last week showed the program’s rapid growth in just a short time under its second-year head coach. Last week’s thrilling run included victories over third-ranked Northwood as well as Dordt, the defending GPAC regular-season champion and national tournament qualifier each of the past three seasons. The Bulldogs have already surpassed their overall win total and conference win figure from last season. They continue to aim at the program’s first winning season since the 2010-11 team went 16-13 overall. The victory over Dordt snapped a nine-game skid in the series with the Defenders.

Thomas returns to lineup
Leading scorer Robby Thomas returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after sitting out the win over Dordt due to injury. In his return, Thomas posted a line of nine points, five rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot as the Bulldogs came up short against No. 8 Midland. On the other hand, sophomore Max Wegener missed his fourth-straight game and has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Haywood enjoying career year
Guard Joel Haywood provides leadership as Concordia’s lone senior on this year’s roster. He also provides solid production across the board. He is averaging career highs in scoring (11.4), rebounds (3.7), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6). He also sports career best shooting percentages from the field (.482) and from the free throw line (.898). At 929 career points, the 2011-12 co-GPAC freshman of the year needs 71 more points to become the 26th member of the program’s 1,000-point club.

Respected GPAC program invades Walz Arena
Fourteenth-year head coach Kris Korver has guided Northwestern to eight GPAC regular-season titles and to five trips to the national semifinals during his impressive tenure. This year’s Red Raider squad is 3-5 in conference action but has shown the ability to compete with the nation’s top teams. Northwestern topped second-ranked Cardinal Stritch University (91-83) and has suffered close losses to No. 8 Midland (103-99), No. 12 Morningside (84-82) and No. 24 Briar Cliff (105-101). Sharpshooting guard Colton Kooima leads Northwestern with a scoring average of 15.6 points per game. He shoots 45.6 percent from 3-point range.