SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia men’s basketball team will look to jump back above .500 overall after a three-game losing streak that has followed a three-game winning streak. With a win in Wednesday’s home matchup with Hastings, second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad (10-10, 5-8 GPAC) would earn a season sweep of the rival Broncos (6-15, 3-8 GPAC) for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. from Walz Arena on Wednesday.
A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network.
Cancer awareness week
As part of cancer awareness week around the GPAC, Limback and his staff will don the ‘suit and sneakers’ look on Wednesday.
Sophomore big man Chandler Folkerts has shown no signs of slowing down since being named the NAIA Division II National Player of the Week on Jan. 6. The native of Milford, Neb., came up with 18 points and seven rebounds while making 8 of 13 shots from the field in last week’s loss at No. 16 Briar Cliff. Over the last five games, Folkerts has averaged 22.8 points and 8.4 rebounds while going 47-for-67 (.701) from the floor. Among all NAIA Division II players, Folkerts ranks 10th in field goal percentage (.608). He’s also been deadly accurate from the free throw line, where he’s drained 73 of 90 attempts (.811).
Jockeying for position
Concordia and Hastings, among others, are in a tight race for seventh place in the GPAC standings. Teams seven through 10 in the standings each have either seven or eight league losses: Concordia (5-8), Nebraska Wesleyan (4-7), Doane (3-8) and Hastings (3-8). Only two of the four are likely to finish in the top eight and advance to the GPAC tournament, which will begin Feb. 24. The Bulldogs are yearning to get back to the league tournament after a two-year absence.
Concordia went 3-4 over the past seven games in what was arguably the team’s toughest seven-game stretch of the entire season. The recent slate has included contests against teams ranked third, fourth, eighth and 16th in the NAIA Division II national poll. That stretch also included the defending GPAC regular-season champion (Dordt) and another team (Northwestern) that has now won five of its last six games. The next six games on the schedule are all against unranked teams and only one opponent (either CU-Ann Arbor or CU-Wisconsin) currently sports a winning overall record.
Next six games
Jan. 21 vs. Hastings (6-15)
Jan. 24 at Grace University (8-12)
Jan. 28 at Doane (8-13)
Jan. 30 vs. CU-Chicago (5-11)
Jan. 31 vs. CU-Ann Arbor (11-7) / CU-Wisconsin (10-6)
Feb. 4 vs. Nebraska Wesleyan (7-9)
Few teams in the high-powered GPAC have had difficulty put points on the board in 2014-15. Seven of the league’s 11 teams average more than 80 points per game, putting those seven in the top 30 among all NAIA Division II teams in scoring. Despite its highest points per game average since the 2003-04 season, Concordia (79.1 ppg) ranks just eighth in the conference in scoring. The Bulldogs have lost all five games this season when scoring fewer than 70 points. On the other hand, they are 6-1 when reaching the 80-point mark.
GPAC scoring leaders
*National rank in parentheses
1. Nebraska Wesleyan – 96.4 (2)
2. Northwestern – 90.2 (5)
3. Dakota Wesleyan – 89.7 (6)
4. Dordt – 88.9 (9)
5. Morningside – 84.9 (14)
6. Midland – 82.8 (22)
7. Briar Cliff – 80.7 (28)
8. Concordia – 79.1 (40)
Averaging a career best 11.8 points per game, senior guard Joel Haywood sits 42 points away from becoming the 26th member of the program’s 1,000-point club. Based on his average, Haywood is on track to eclipse that total at the Concordia Invitational Tournament Jan. 30-31 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The native of Lakewood, Colo., is one of the nation’s most efficient shooters, sporting percentages of 47.2 from the field, 45.1 from 3-point range and 90.2 from the free throw line.
Hastings looks to snap losing streak
Hastings enters Wednesday’s contest seeking its first win since upsetting then No. 20 Tabor College, 84-76, on Nov. 29. Since then, the Broncos have dropped 10-consecutive games, including six against GPAC opponents. Head coach Bill Gavers’ squad features the conference’s third leading scorer in Tobin Reinwald. The Broncos rank ninth in the conference in scoring offense (76.1) and eighth in scoring defense (80.1).