SEWARD, Neb. – Following a fruitful first week of conference play, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team has an opportunity to make a statement this week. The Bulldogs will host No. 10 Jamestown on Tuesday in a matchup with the highest-rated team in the GPAC. Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad will also make a trip to Kansas City this weekend to take on NCAA Division II Rockhurst University in an exhibition for Concordia. Last week, the Bulldogs knocked off Midland at home and held off Dordt on the road.
By the numbers
· Concordia bounced back nicely from what remains its lone loss of the season – a 65-48 clunker at Briar Cliff on Nov. 13. The Bulldogs shot better than 50 percent in both of last week’s outings, which included victories by scores of 80-63 over Midland and 84-82 at Dordt. Gage Smith led the way in the victory over Midland, powering in 24 points. Meanwhile, Justin Wiersema added 18 points, six rebounds and four assists and Carter Kent totaled 16 points and nine rebounds. In the win at Dordt, Concordia led virtually the entire game and then withstood a late push from the Defenders. Noah Schutte stepped up big with a career high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds and three steals. It was Schutte’s theft in the final seconds that sealed the win. Wiersema notched 19 points and moved past 1,000 for his career.
· Wiersema became the 33rd player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark. His total currently rests at 1,017. The native of Loveland, Colo., joins teammate Carter Kent (1,264) as current Bulldogs with more than 1,000 career points. Last week, Kent moved up to 17th on the program’s all-time scoring list, rising above Bret Walter (1,248) and former teammate and current graduate assistant coach Brevin Sloup (1,246). Gage Smith ranks third among active Bulldogs with 611 career points. The program’s all-time leading scorer remains Jon Zeigler with 2,099 points accumulated from 2004-07.
· Concordia has become a mighty tough out when playing at home. The Bulldogs are 20-1 over their past 21 games played inside Friedrich Arena and currently own a seven-game home win streak. Many of the games played at home during the aforementioned 21-game stretch have not been competitive. Of the 15 home victories occurring since the start of the 2020-21 season, 13 have come by double-digit margins. The only team to win inside Friedrich Arena since late January of 2020 has been Morningside.
· With Ryan Holt and Klay Uher sidelined last week, Schutte was inserted into the starting lineup. The native of Laurel, Neb., is coming into his own in his second season inside the program. Last season Schutte saw action in 17 games and averaged 2.9 points per game. So far this season, Schutte is averaging 11.1 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 50.0 percent (34-for-68) from the floor. During an impressive high school career, Schutte totaled more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds and led Laurel-Concord-Coleridge High School to a Nebraska Class D1 state championship.
· A win over Jamestown is the type of quality victory Concordia needs to make a jump into the NAIA top 25. In the latest poll released on Nov. 17, the Bulldogs were again listed among others receiving votes. While Jamestown landed at No. 10, Morningside checked in at No. 22. In addition, Northwestern is also receiving votes.
Jamestown was not considered the favorite in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll, but it just might be the favorite now thanks to an 8-0 start. Head Coach Danny Neville’s squad owns a win over Vanguard University (Calif.), a squad that was receiving votes at the time. The Jimmies entered this season with momentum having advanced to the national quarterfinals last season. Jamestown can’t be talked about without mentioning reigning GPAC Player of the Year Mason Walters, who is averaging 23.1 points and 11.9 rebounds this season. The Jimmies can also shoot from the outside. They are hitting on 40.7 percent of 3-point tries.
Saturday’s exhibition (for Concordia) will be held inside the Mason-Halpin Field House in Kansas City. Rockhurst competes as a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference in NCAA Division II. The Hawks are 1-4 so far this season and are coming off a 9-13 campaign in 2020-21. Jake Auer leads the team with an average of 14.6 points per game. Head Coach Drew Diener is in his seventh season leading the program.
GPAC play will resume on Dec. 1 as the Bulldogs play at No. 22 Morningside. Concordia will then host Northwestern on Dec. 4.