Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Can Concordia, Hamline Challenge Tommies Men?

The St. Thomas men have now won 7 straight MIAC titles (tied with Carleton in 2006 and 2011 and tied with Gustavus in 2012). This ties the record previously held by Hamline from 1947 to 1953 (tied with the Tommies in 1949).

St. Thomas went on to win the post-season playoff title in 6 of those 7 years, losing only to Carleton in 2010. In 2011, despite tying for the MIAC regular season title, the Tommies won not only the MIAC post-season title but the NCAA D3 title as well. Oddly enough, both Hamline in 1949 and St. Thomas in 2011 ended up winning the national championship--Hamline in the NAIA, the Tommies in NCAA D3--in a year in which they hadn't won an outright state conference title.

The Tommies lead Hamline 26-19 on the all-time regular season MIAC titles list, but Hamline hasn't won since 1960. St. Thomas has won 23 regular season titles titles just since 1960.

Enough History Already, What about 2012-2013

Well, as the Tommies go after their record 8th straight MIAC title, they could get some strong opposition from none other than the long-suffering Hamline Pipers and/or from the Concordia (Moorhead), who have not won an MAC title since 1983. What do you think?

Concordia (Moorhead). The Cobbers have size in 6-10 junior Jason Huus from Perham, 6-7 sophomore Scott Flotterud from Zumbrota and 6-4 junior Brandon Fisher. Huus and Fisher return 21 points and 12 boards, while Flotterud made his mark mostly as a shot blocker. The guards include 6-4 junior Ebo Nana-Kweson from Coon Rapids, 5-11 junior Dewon Mackenzie from Cooper and 6-foot guard Andrew Martinson from Chaska. McKenzie and Nana-Kweson return 22 points and 4 assists. So this is a well-balanced group with a quality head coach in Rich Glas, now in his 4th season in Moorhead.

Hamline. The Pipers also return a cast of thousands, though there's nothing like Concordia's size here. The forwards are 6-5 junior Noah Aguirre and 6-5 sophomore Dior Ford, who scored 20.5 ppg between 'em. The boss man is 6-3 swing man Mike Campbell, from Richfield, who scored 14 points with 5 boards and a league-high 3 steals. The pure guards are Tyler Pannell, a 6-foot sophomore, Brand Reig, a 5-8 senior, Al Tillman, a 5-11 junior from Richfield, and 5-10 senior Levi Wenrich. Pannell and Reig are 3-point specialists, while Tillman hit 52 percent of his FG attempts, not bad for a sub-6-foot fellow. This is a great shooting team. But can they keep the other guy from scoring?

St. Thomas. The Tommies return 5 of last year's contributors and they are mostly guards. But here's the scary part. Tommy Hannon, 6-5 center for the 2011 national champs, is back due to medical hardship, missing most of what otherwise would have been his senior season in 2011. Guards Will DeBerg, John Nance and Eric Tengwall, and forward Zach Reidemann would have contended for the MIAC title without Hannon. With Hannon? Well, nobody got rich betting against the Tommies.

1. St. Thomas
2. Concordia
3. Hamline

The rest of the fellows are going to have a tough go of it, some tougher than others.

4. Carleton. Lost Caleb Rosenow but returns 6-0 all-MIAC guard Tom Sawatzke from Monticello, 6-6 senior wing Scott Thiesen from Champlin Park, and 6-3 sophomore wing Shane McSparron from Eastview (named to the all-freshman 5 a year ago).

5. Bethel. Returns 6-8 senior forward Taylor Hall from Spring Lake Park, J.D. Robinson, 6-6 senior wing from Armstrong, and Kyle Zimmerman, 6-3 wing from Champlin Park.

6. Macalester. The long-time doormats of the MIAC promise to make a move this year under 4th year coach Tim Whittle. Though in truth, the optimism revolves mostly around 6-5 senior swingman Pierce Peters from Minnewaska, the league's top returning scorer at 19 ppg who also contributes 7 boards, and shoots 88 percent from the line and 41 percent from long distance. Peters was here when Whittle arrived. But Whittle has brought in 6-5 Sam Marshall, who scores 12 ppg with 6 boards, and 6-foot sophomore point guard Hans Erickson, with 3 assists per game a year ago.

7. Gustavus. Doesn't return much but I can't quite put a Mark Hanson team any lower than this. Guard Ben Biewen from Armstrong will carry a heavy load.

8. Augburg. Lost a ton. Rebuilding but around a superstar in senior guard Tyler Schmidt, who scored 14 ppg with 91 percent shooting from the line and 44 percent from long-range last year.

9. St. John's. Lost a ton. Rebuilding around guard Seth Marx at 9 ppg wityh 4 boards and 38 percent from long range.

10. St. Mary's. Mike Burfiend is back but without much help. Burfiend scores 18 ppg with 5 boards. Point guard Even Pederson recorded 3 assists and a steal as a frosh and is the long-term linchpin if the Cardinals can get off the mat. But, not this year.

11. St. Olaf. OK, now these guys really lost a ton, mainly Bobby Fong and Stuart Neville. Dan Kosmoski's toughest challenge ever.


Tommy Hannon, St. Thomas, 6-5, senior, post, Player of the Year
Pierce Peters, Macalester, 6-5, senior, forward-guard
Scott Thiesen, Carleton, 6-6, senior, wing
Taylor Hall, Bethel, 6-8, senior, forward
Mike Campbell, Hamline, 6-3, senior, forward-guard

2nd Team

Will DeBerg, St. Thomas, guard
John Nance, St. Thomas, senior, guard
Tyler Schmitz, Augsburg, 6-3, senior, guard
Mike Burfiend, St. Mary's, 6-5, senior, forward
Kyle Zimmerman, Bethel, 6-3, senior, wing

3rd Team

Dewon McKenzie, Concordia, 5-11, junior, guard
Jason Huus, Concordia, 6-10, senior, post
Seth Marx, St. John's, senior, guard
Sam Marshall, Macalester, 6-5, junior, forward
Hans Erickson, Macalester, 6-0, sophomore, guard

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