Gene's Blog: Back stories illustrate Tommies' success

These days in St. Thomas athletics, the back story is as interesting as the headline.

 

Headline:

Tommie Men's and Women's Basketball collectively rank with the best of all NCAA institutions again this season for winning percentage.

Back Story:

Despite a couple of key injuries earlier this month on the men's side, these two UST hoops teams are a combined 17-1 since Dec. 10. Both teams are in a share of the conference lead.

Over the last three seasons, Tommie Women's Basketball has a 72-5 record. That includes an 0-3 combined record against Wheaton, Wartburg and Thomas More; a 7-2 mark against Bethel and St. Catherine; and a 65-0 record against all other opponents.

Over the last two seasons, Tommie Men's Basketball has a 42-7 record. That includes a 9-7 mark against St. Olaf, Carleton, Augsburg, Hamline and River Falls, and a 33-0 slate against all other opponents.

Both the St. Thomas men and women have reached 20 or more wins in each of the last seven seasons. They will combine to play their 400th games of the decade this weekend, and have a combined record of 342-54

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Headline:

The St. Thomas Women (16-0) are one of just 19 NCAA men's or women's basketball teams at all NCAA levels still unbeaten. That includes eight Division III women's squads.

Back Story:

The MIAC (St. Thomas and Gustavus women) and NESCAC (Tufts and Amherst women) are the lone conferences at any NCAA level with two unbeaten basketball teams.

The only regular-season meeting between Gustavus and St. Thomas will be Feb. 1 in St. Peter. The lone regular-season clash between Tufts and Amherst is Feb. 4.

The only unbeaten Division III men's basketball team is 17-0 Whitman (Wash.), the nation's No. 2-ranked team. Whitman's last loss was was 99-73 to St. Thomas last March in the NCAA playoffs Sweet 16 round on a neutral court in Illinois. The Blues also fell at home to the Tommies 96-86 early in the 2014-15 season

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Headline:

It's been a big season for milestones with UST sports teams.

Back Story:

This is the 40th season of Tommie women's basketball, and UST is now 830-259 all time... WBB coach Ruth Sinn recently surpassed 250 career wins... Men's Hockey coach Jeff Boeser recently surpassed 100 wins... WBB's Kaitlin Langer plays her 100th collegiate game Wednesday night against Macalester... MBB's Grant Shaeffer played his 100th game last week at St. Mary's... Women's Hockey's Kathryn Larson is on pace to play her 100th game next Saturday at home against St. Ben's, and teammate Hannah Bird will hit No. 100 in early February... WBB's Lauren Fischer and Kaitlin Langer have each started 46 consecutive games, while Paige Gernes has 45 starts in a row.

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Headline:

The Jan. 27-28 weekend will feature Tommie-Johnnie showdowns in hockey and basketball.

Back Story:

The hockey teams play Friday Jan. 27 in Mendota Heights (7:30 p.m.) and again Jan. 28 at St. Cloud State (7 p.m.).

All four Tommie-Johnnie hockey clashes last season went to overtime. The Tommies and Johnnies have played each other 26 times in the past 10 seasons, eight of which went into overtime and 15 others were decided by one goal. UST is 13-7-6 against SJU in hockey over this stretch. Each of the last nine meetings have ended either in a tie, a one-goal win, or a two-goal win with an empty-net tally.

Either St. Thomas or St. John's has won or shared the conference championship in 22 of the last 28 seasons. Augsburg (20 points) leads St. Thomas (19) in the current MIAC standings.

The Tommie-Johnnie basketball rematch is Jan. 28 in Collegeville (3 p.m.). UST won the first meeting Dec. 10 at Schonecker Arena. The two teams start this week in a three-way tie with Bethel for the conference lead.

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Headline:

Tommie Basketball teams can win with efficiency... with defense and rebounds... or with extra offense.

Back Story:

The St. Thomas men are 11-1 when they score 66 or more points. UST sank 43 field-goal tries in last Wednesday's 100-65 road win at St. Mary's. That was the most made field goals by a Tommie team in at least 16 seasons.

The Tommie men have won their last 51 games dating back five seasons when they allow 62 or less points. They are averaging 90 points in their last three games.

The Tommie women have won their last 70 games when they allow 65 or fewer points.

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Headline:

Good basketball teams protect their home court, but win regularly on the road, too.

Back Story:

Over the last two seasons, Coach John Tauer's men's team is 23-2 in games away from Schoenecker Arena... while Coach Ruth Sinn's women's team is 24-2 away from campus (18 victories in a row).

Three of the next four games for both the Tommie men and women will come on the road.

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Headline:

WBB senior center Kaitlin Langer is pushing for another postseason of conference, regional and national honors.

Back Story:

Langer surpassed 1,000 points and 500 rebounds on her college career and averaged 24.5 points and 13 rebounds in two wins last week. She collected her 22nd career double double, and has scored in double figures in 29 consecutive games.

In 99 games (five as a freshman at Winona State), Langer has 1,008 points and 510 rebounds.

Langer is on pace to become just the third Tommie (after Laurie Trow and Maggie Weiers) to surpass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocked shots.

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Headline:

St. Thomas has built a championship identity in all sports in most cases with talented but unselfish role players.

Back Story:

UST senior guard Gabby Zehrer scored a career-high 27 points -- 17 in the first quarter -- in last Wednesday's 20-point win over St. Mary's. St. Thomas is 16-0 in games on her career when Zehrer scores 11 or more points.

When junior forward Lauren Fischer scores nine points or more in games on her career, UST is 26-0.

When senior point guard Paige Gernes has four or more assists in games on her career, the Toms are 17-0.

When sophomore guard Lucia Renikoff has eight or more points in games on her career, the Toms are 12-1.

Senior center Jordan Burich is averaging nearly seven rebounds a game.

Guards Grant Shaeffer, John Veil and Paige Gernes each has a near 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Despite having no players ranked in the top 100 nationally in scoring or assists, Tommie Men's Hockey is in the thick of the MIAC race with eight games to go, just one point behind leader Augsburg.

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Headline:

January thaw helps Minnesotas cope

Back Story:

Think spring? Tommie Tennis teams have begun practices, while UST Baseball and Softball start workouts in approximately 10 days.

In less than 10 weeks, on March 30, Tommie Baseball (doubleheader against UW-Stout) and Tommie Softball (doubleheader vs. UW-La Crosse) are scheduled to play their first games on campus for 2017.

Get your peanuts... popcorn... sunscreen.

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Gene's Blog is a sports column penned by UST sports information director Gene McGivern. Gene is working in his 23rd season at St. Thomas and 29th overall in the MIAC. He blogs periodically on various topics regarding the Tommies, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and Division III sports.

If you have comments or questions, e-mail Gene at ejmcgivern@stthomas.edu