Tommie Sports - Men's Basketball

Men's Hoops 27-Game Notes/March 5

March 05, 2008

Action pic
Joe Scott (12) has been a consistent scoring threat for the Tommies. (Greg Smith photo)

2007-08 St. Thomas Men's Basketball 27-Game Notes/March 5:

--NEXT UP: The No. 18-ranked Tommie men's basketball team (23-4 overall) will play at home this weekend and host a four-team grouping in first- and second-round NCAA Division III playoff action. The Tommies (23-4) will play Friday at 8 p.m. vs. Iowa Conference champion Buena Vista (21-6) of Storm Lake, Iowa. That follows the 6 p.m. game between the University of Chicago (18-7) vs. UW-Stevens Point (22-6).

Friday's winners play Saturday at 7 p.m. for the right to move on to the Sweet 16.

--WEBCASTS: All Tommie games this week in the NCAA playoffs will be webcast live by UST's broadcast partner, Minnesota Sports Broadcasting Network (MSBN) and can be accessed at:

--PLAYOFF BUZZ: St. Thomas is making its ninth NCAA playoff trip and fifth since 2000. The Toms' 1993-94 team reached the Division III Final Four. For the third year in a row, St. Thomas won the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference automatic berth. But this year has been a surprise after graduating a two-time All-American and three other starters last season... UST's 28th-year head oach Steve Fritz has had a memorable season. Not only did he reach 500 career victories in January, but his team beat Division II power Winona State last November in overtime. Winona State is now 30-1 and has won 84 of its last 86 games... St. Thomas won its grueling 20-game conference race by a three-game margin... The Tommies needed comebacks to win both conference playoff games -- they used a 9-1 game closing run to edge Bethel, 69-68, then took the lead for good with 1:16 left in a 76-73 win over Gustavus... Over the last 20 seasons, St. Thomas is 26-9 in home postseason games... UST is 12-0 at home this season and has a 34-game home conference win streak.  

--WEBCASTS: All Tommie games this week in the NCAA playoffs will be webcast live by UST's broadcast partner, Minnesota Sports Broadcasting Network (MSBN) and can be accessed at:

--TICKETS: St. Thomas students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and fans must purchase tickets in advance for Friday night's NCAA men's basketball first-round games. Tickets will go on sale at UST starting Thursday morning in room 220 of O'Shaughnessy Hall in the athetic department office... St. Thomas will have an allotment of 800 tickets for Friday's games... Ticket sales start Thursday at 9 a.m. and will continue until they're sold out. If any tickets still remain -- or if any tickets are returned by competing schools -- they will go on sale Friday at 9 a.m. There will be a limit of four adult and four student tickets... Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens (65 and over). Children age 3 and older must have a ticket. A sellout is expected for Friday night, and if the Tommies win, a Saturday night sellout is also likely... Competing institutions Buena Vista, Chicago and UW-Stevens Point will sell their allotted tickets this week on their campuses... Tickets for Saturday will go on sale in the arena ticket office immediately after Friday's 8 p.m. game between St. Thomas and Buena Vista. (The 6 p.m. winner between Stevens Point and Chicago will have a school representative sell tickets in the UST facility starting at Friday at 8 p.m.)

--MIAC PLAYOFF TALK: The Tommies are the first team to sweep the regular-season and playoff titles three consecutive years in the 23-year history of the format... The Toms used a 9-1 game-closing run Thursday night to beat No. 5-seed Bethel 69-68... The Tomas also needed a comeback to beat Gustavus 76-73 in the finals before a sellout crowd of 1,600... The Toms are the first team to win three consecutive MIAC men's regular-season titles since St. Thomas claimed four in a row from 1988-92... UST was in the conference playoffs for the 20th time in 21 seasons and reached the finals for the fourth year in a row and 12th time in the last 17 seasons.

--UST POSTSEASON HISTORY: Last season, St. Thomas made its eighth NCAA playoff trip -- all in the last 18 seasons. UST's all-time NCAA playoff record is 9-9, including a 9-4 home record. The Tommies also made eight postseason trips to Kansas City for NAIA national tournaments from 1949-74 (5-8 record)... St. Thomas has reached the conference playoffs 20 of the last 21 seasons, and its all-time record of 21-13 includes a 16-6 home record. UST has made the playoff finals 12 of the last 17 seasons. The MIAC
playoff finals have included either St. Thomas or Gustavus for the last 22 years in a row. UST has won its last 10 MIAC semifinal playoff games at home.

--AWARDS: The official All-MIAC teams will be announced March 6... In the College Sporting News' All-MIAC awards announced March 1, three Toms were honored -- Al McCoy was named Sixth Man of the Year and Joe Scott and B.J. Viau were named all-conference. Steve Fritz was named Co-Coach of the Year.

--ETC... Tommie forward Lonnie Robinson has now played on six MIAC title teams in his six seasons in baseball and basketball. Throw in the postseason playoffs, and Robinson has been a part of 11 of a possible 12 championships... UST has three seniors, all backups -- Grant Hennington, Tommy Shimek and Matt Zittlow. Another senior, Robinson, plans to return for his final year of eligibility in 2008-09... The Tommies clinched the program's sixth 20-win season in the last nine years... Since losing 59-58 at Gustavus on Jan. 12, the Tommies are 13-1 with a 14-point winning margin in the 13 victories...  UST is ranked third nationally in FG% (51.4%)... Sophomore guard Joe Scott was chosen MIAC Player of the Week on both Feb. 4 and Feb. 11. Scott averaged 18 ppg in the Toms' recent 10-game winning streak. He's shooting 44% on the season from 3-point range with an MIAC-best 69 made.

--HOME COURT: UST has won 34 consecutive home games vs. conference foes (and 40 of its last 41) since losing to Augsburg 62-59 Jan. 2, 2006... St. Thomas is 46-4 at home over the last four seasons... In its 27 seasons at Schoenecker Arena, UST is 267-74 in men's hoops, including a 27-10 postseason record... St. Thomas is 8-1 in home postseason games over the last three seasons... The Toms' Dec. 3 win over Hamline at home left the Pipers 0-29 all-time at Schoenecker Arena... Rival St. John's has lost 16 of its last 18 games to UST at Schoenecker.

--BUSY COACH: On Jan. 21, Steve Fritz became the 12th active Division III coach to reach 500 wins as the Toms beat St. John's, 71-58. Fritz also won his 400th MIAC regular-season game Jan. 25 in a 75-68 victory over St. Olaf... Part of Fritz' 23-4 start came while he juggled a time-consuming search for a new football coach in his role as athletics director (the Tommies introduced Glenn Caruso as head coach on Jan. 24)... Fritz is among a shrinking breed of college athletic directors who still are head coaches. He's held both posts since 1992. The only other MIAC institutions currently with a dual AD/head coach are St. Olaf (Matt McDonald, baseball) and St. Catherine (Eric Stacey, tennis)... Fritz' 511-237 record (678 win%), includes a 409-148 MIAC record (.730 win%). Fritz has been on the court or sideline (as a player, assistant coach or head coach) for UST men's hoops for 41 consecutive seasons covering 1,106 games in a row. Fritz, who has had just one losing season as a head coach, has won 13 MIAC regular-season championships and seven conference playoff crowns. He's been a part of 12 national postseason trips as he played in two NAIA national tournaments (1970, 1971) and coached in two others (1972, 1973); and has been the head coach for eight NCAA playoff qualifiers (four in last eight seasons). His 1993-94 UST squad reached the Division III Final Four.

--CONTINUITY: The late Tom Feely (417 wins in 26 seasons) and Fritz (511 in 28 seasons) have been UST's only men's basketball head coaches since 1954 and have combined to win 928 games.

--DID YOU KNOW? When Tyler Nicolai scores seven or more points, UST is 18-0; when B.J. Viau has played since Thanksgiving, the Toms are 22-2; When Al McCoy scores eight or more points, the Toms are 11-0... Over the last three seasons, St. Thomas is a league-best 58-8 vs. MIAC foes (two losses in overtime, four others by five or less points)... UST started the same five players all but once this season (the streak ended Jan. 12 at Gustavus when B.J. Viau sat out with the flu)... The Tommies lead MIAC teams in FG% (51.4%), blocked shots (87 in 27 games) and steals (248 in 27 games.)... St. Thomas graduated four starters from a 24-4 team of 2006-07, including two-time All-American Isaac Rosefelt and MIAC career 3-point leader Bryan Schnettler... The Toms have posted a .500 or better finish 26 of the last 27 seasons... St. Thomas has won three consecutive MIAC basketball championships, and swept the playoff titles in each of the last two seasons. (The Toms shared the regular-season crown with Carleton in 2005-06)...  St. Thomas has won six of the last nine, 12 of the last 20, and 20 of its last 43 MIAC championships... UST is 5-1 in overtime games over the last two seasons, including a 83-77 home win over Bethel Jan. 7.

--WHO'S HOT: Al McCoy was named Player of the Week in the conference this week. McCoy averaged 13 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.0 spg and converted 10-of-14 shots from the field in two comeback playoff wins last week. He had the tying basket with 1:55 left and a huge offensive rebound in the last 10 seconds of a 69-68 victory over Bethel, then had 17 points (6-of-7 FG) to lead a 76-73 comeback win over Gustavus. His two free throws and key defensive rebound in the last minute helped UST ice the victory over the Gusties. .. B.J. Viau had a career-high 22 points in a Feb. 23 19-point win at St. John's and came back with 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals le lead the comeback win over Bethel. In the Johnnie win, UST led 35-20 at halftime, had the margin trimmed to 55-50 but posted a 27-13 game-closing run to pull away...  UST freshman point guard Tyler Nicolai had 32 points in an 85-78 road win Dec. 8 at St. Olaf -- believed to be the highest single-game point total by a Tommie freshman. (Sean Sweeney had 30 points in his final freshman game in 2002-03)... In the Jan. 7 overtime win over Bethel, junior forward B.J. Viau scored a career-high 18 points and senior forward Lonnie Robinson had a season-high 16 points... junior backup center Al McCoy had 18 points Jan. 26 vs. St. Olaf and made 33-of-44 shots in January.

--NON-CONFERENCE: UST finished 4-1 in non-conference play. Its lone loss was 85-79 at Wooster (Ohio), now 14-3 and ranked 12th in Division III... Through Dec. 31, conference men's teams were a combined 26-26 in non-MIAC games... In 2006-07 MIAC men's teams went 27-25 in postseason and regular-season games vs. non-conference opponents... In 2005-06 MIAC men's teams went 27-30 in postseason and regular-season games vs. non-conference opponents.

--STUNNER: St. Thomas trekked to Winona Nov. 24 and shocked Division II power Winona State, 83-82 in overtime. It halted WSU's 36-game home win streak. The Warriors won the 2005-2006 NCAA championship, and last season lost just once is 36 games -- in a fluke finish in the national title game.
They came into the contest 63-1 since mid-January 2006. The Warriors, now 29-1 in 2007-08, returned two All-American players... Nicolai had 19 points, including the go-ahead basket with :09 to play in overtime, and sophomore forward Teddy Archer made two free throws with :01 remaining to send the
game to overtime.

Click here to read Winona Daily News story:

--COMPARISONS? The Winona State win will go down as Fritz' biggest upset to date. Two other memorable Tommie road wins came on the same trip in November 1989 -- a 100-98, four OT victory at Division II Cal Northridge, and a 20-point win at NAIA power Grand Canyon that ended the Antelopes' 37-game home win streak. That UST team finished 25-5... Coach Tom Feely's 1957 Tommies upset Division I nationally-ranked Marquette, 67-63.

--BALANCE: The Tommies have displayed good balance and have had as many as 13 players contributing in many games. They average 30 ppg from bench players, up from 18 ppg last season... Thirteen Toms are playing seven minutes or more.

--NEW FACES: Sophomore shooting guard Joe Scott leads the Tommies at 16.0 ppg with 73 3-point baskets. He had a streak of double-digit scoring games end last Thursday as he was held to five points vs. Bethel. Scott started all 26 games last season at D-II Colorado-Colorado Springs and made 58 3-point baskets there... Nicolai was the starting point guard for Hopkins' state championship team in 2005-06. He's averaging 10 ppg and 2.4 apg... Archer played in just four games last season but this season is averaging 5.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 2.0 apg... junior B.J. Viau, who played in 20 games last season, is starting and averaging 8.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg and 2.0 spg... sophomore center David Baker is averaging 6.2 ppg and 3.4 rpg.

--HERE COMES LONNIE: Lonnie Robinson, who is a junior in eligibility for basketball, brings strong defense and athleticism to the starting five. He's averaging 7.0 ppg and a team-best 2.9 apg. In seven February games last season he averaged 7.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg and 3.6 apg. Robinson is also a starting pitcher for the Tommies' nationally-ranked baseball team (13-2 career record) and was voted MIAC Pitcher of the Year in 2007. He broke a modern school record with 15 strikeouts in 2006 vs. Northwestern... Robinson is the lone athlete in MIAC history to play on teams that won MIAC regular-season and playoff championships in two different sports in two consecutive seasons.

--THUS FAR: Before the Winona upset, UST opened with two games in the Wooster (Ohio) tourney on Nov. 16-17. The Toms scored a six-point win over Otterbein and lost by six at No. 9-ranked Wooster (29-5 last season)... UST also beat UW-River Falls on the road by 12 on Nov. 20 and won by 13 at UW-LaCrosse on Dec. 1... In MIAC play, the Tommies have a six-point road win at St. Mary's; an eight-point home win over Hamline; a two-point road loss to Macalester; a seven-point road win at St. Olaf; a 10-point home win over Carleton; an overtime win over Bethel; an eight-point win at Augsburg;
a 59-58 loss at Gustavus, where UST built a 15-point second-half lead before losing on a last-second shot; a nine-point win over the Cobbers; a 13-point win over St. John's; a 100-49 win over St. Mary's; a seven-point win over St. Olaf; a 92-75 win at Hamline; a seven-point win at Carleton; a 100-48 win over Macalester that broke a UST record for home winning margin; a 16-point win at Bethel; an eight-point win over Gustavus; a 72-60 win over Augsburg; a 67-57 loss at Concordia; and an 83-64 win at St. John's.

--TRENDS: Over the last three seasons, UST is 59-3 in regulation games when it scores 68 or more points (The Toms are also 3-2 in overtime games where they scored 68-plus)... Over the last three seasons, UST is 62-4 when it has posted a better field-goal shooting percentage than opponents (the lone losses were 63-59 at then top-ranked Lawrence in the March 2006 NCAA playoffs; 86-80 in March 2007 in the NCAA playoffs vs. Carroll; 72-70 this season at Macalester; and 67-57 last week at Concordia when the Cobbers outscored UST 33-5 at the foul line). In 2005-06, the Toms shot a school-record 51.4% from the field. They shot 50% last season (51.5% in MIAC games) and are shooting 51.4% this season.

--LAST 9 SEASONS: UST is 143-37 in MIAC regular-season games over the last nine seasons (79-12 at home, 64-25 on the road). That's the best mark in the conference in that span.

Since 1999-2000/MIAC Reg. Season Men's Hoops W-L Records
143-37, St. Thomas

134-46, Gustavus

113-67, Bethel;

109-71, St. John's

101-79, Carleton;

80-100, Macalester

79-101, Concordia

73-107, Augsburg

61-119, St. Olaf

49-131, Hamline

48-132, St. Mary's


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