Gene's Blog: Steady Smith shines on the court
January 03, 2012
Sarah Smith (left) has been a steady inside force for the Tommies. (Greg Smith photo)
Sarah Smith had another monster stat line on Monday for the high-flying Tommie women’s basketball team. The senior forward from Grand Forks, N.D., had a career-best 15 rebounds along with 17 points in St. Thomas’ 69-40 win over St. Ben’s.
Just twice in the last 10 seasons has a St. Thomas player recorded more than 15 rebounds in one game – Rachel Booth (2008-09) and Erica Opdahl (2005-06) each had a 17-rebound performance.
Monday was Smith’s eighth career double-double for points and rebounds, and UST is 8-0 in those games. The Tommies are 19-3 when Smith scores in double figures on her career.
“Sarah is a delight to coach,” said UST head coach Ruth Sinn. “She’s just so consistent. She’s steady, smart, and fundamentally sound. She is versatile -– she shoots the three, she moves, cuts, rotates and plays defense. She’s a big reason why we’ve been so successful, and you can count on her to help the team win.”
In 90 career games, Smith has 606 points and 481 rebounds, while shooting 55 percent from the field and 75 percent from the foul line. She’s averaging 12 points and nine rebounds a game thus far in 2011-12.
The Tommies have won eight in a row after a season-opening road loss to No. 7-ranked UW-Stevens Point. They share first place with Bethel in the MIAC standings. Since mid-January 2010, the Tommies are 35-7 against conference opponents.
St. Thomas has allowed just 46.8 points in its first six MIAC games, all victories. Over the last four seasons, St. Thomas is 43-1 when it holds opponents under 60 points.
The Tommies received votes in this week’s national poll by D3hoops.com and just missed cracking the top 25. It’s believed that the last nationally-ranked Tommie women’s team was back in 2001-02.
UST’s current eight-game victory streak is tied for the longest in Sinn’s seven-year era. It’s also the most consecutive wins by a Tommie women’s team in 10 seasons. The Toms will go for nine in a row Wednesday night when they play at St. Catherine.
"Sarah and all of our senior class is very focused right now," Sinn said. "January will be a big month for us with 11 games in 29 days."
A Business/Accounting major with a 3.84 gpa, Smith will be nominated for Academic All-District. She plans to attend graduate school next year.
The Tommie men’s basketball team played without injured senior center Tommy Hannon in Monday night’s 68-66 loss at St. John’s. Freshman Conner Nord started in his place.
Prior to Monday, Hannon had started all 42 games over the last two seasons and had played in all 69 games in his three seasons on the varsity. He averaged 12 points and seven rebounds in four previous games vs. the Johnnies.
Hannon was coming off his fifth career double-double for points and rebounds with 22 and 12 in a 72-66 loss Dec. 22 at No. 18-ranked UW-Stevens Point. The Tommies are 23-2 in his era in games when Hannon scores 12 or more points.
UST dropped five spots to No. 18 in this week’s D3hoops.com poll, which was compiled before Monday’s defeat. The Toms, who have a Wednesday bye, play at home Saturday afternoon vs. Augsburg.
The Tommie men’s hockey team added two forwards to its roster this week. Freshman Sam Olson of Anchorage, Alaska, played two seasons of Juniors hockey at Austin, and had 10 goals last season. Freshman Loren French graduated last spring from Hill-Murray High, where he tallied 16 goals in 28 games last winter for the Pioneers’ No. 1-ranked team. French was slowed by an injury this fall.
The Toms (8-3-2) play a non-conference game Saturday against Bethel. Game time in Blaine is 7 p.m. They resume MIAC play Jan. 13-14 with a series against Hamline.
Baseball Sets Schedule
The Tommie baseball team has announced its 2012 schedule, and several tough challenges await. The Toms, who won 20 of their last 24 games to finish 28-17 last season, are ranked No. 29 in the top-30 Division III preseason poll by Collegiate Baseball News.
The Metrodome was out of commission for the 2011 season due to the collapsed roof. St. Thomas will play 11 games in the remodeled Dome this season, including four doubleheaders to start the season from Feb. 27-March 13.
Coach Chris Olean’s team will open Feb. 27 with a 5 p.m. Metrodome twinbill against No. 18-ranked St. Scholastica. The Tommies also have Dome doubleheaders set for March 5 (UW-LaCrosse), March 8 (No. 7-rated UW-Whitewater), March 13 (UW-Oshkosh) and March 31 (Hamline). UST will play the Minnesota Gophers in one nine-inning Dome game on May 1.
UST is scheduled to face No. 12-ranked UW-Stevens Point and five other teams on its March 17-24 spring trip to Florida. The Toms will also play the annual exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins Rookie team.
The Toms have six on-campus dates beginning April 7 with a doubleheader against St. Mary’s.