Gene's Blog: UST has elite winter teams, as well
December 19, 2012
Junior guard Kelly Brandenburg has helped the 7-1 Tommie women to a No. 4 national ranking. (Greg Smith photo)
St. Thomas’ 124-day football season was, in a word, remarkable. One inevitable downside: it cast a long shadow on other sports and news from Tommieland.
Let’s do a quick roll call on some UST teams, athletes and notes that have flown under the radar in recent weeks.
Playing the Best
When No. 4-ranked St. Thomas plays No. 5-ranked UW-Stevens Point in men’s basketball this Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Schoenecker Arena, it will mark the 16th time in a seven-week span that the Tommies will have played a team ranked in the top 15 in the nation.
St. Thomas is 9-6 in those previous 15 contests, including a 2-2 record against No. 1 ranked teams.
--Tommie women’s basketball played No. 1 Calvin and the next week's No. 1 UW-Stevens Point;
--Volleyball played No. 9 Elmhurst and No. 1 Calvin.
--Men’s hockey played No. 2 Norwich, No. 5 Plattsburgh and two against No. 12 Gustavus;
--Women’s hockey played twice against No. 3 Gustavus;
--Men’s basketball played No. 14 Whitworth and had an exhibition win over D-II’s No. 11 Winona State;
--Football played No. 1 Mount Union, No. 5 UW-Oshkosh and No. 7 Hobart.
Who Are These Gals?
If you thought you needed a roster sheet to closely keep track of all the new faces throughout the Tommie football season, check out UST women’s basketball. Coach Ruth Sinn’s team has won seven in a row after a six-point season loss to then No. 1 ranked Calvin. And the Tommies have done it with several young players who have stepped up.
Sinn graduated four seniors from a 31-2 team that placed third nationally. The coach then lost a potential All-America, junior center Maggie Weiers, to what could be a season-ending injury. And junior All-America Taylor Young has missed parts of four and a half games with an injury, although it’s hoped she can return in early January.
St. Thomas is allowing just 47 points a game in its 5-0 MIAC start, and it has extended its streak of victories against conference opponents to 29. Senior Kellie Ring, junior Kelly Brandenburg and sophomore Anna Smith are proven talents. Sinn has also received steady play from junior Annessa Hicks, and sophomores Jenna Dockter, Carley Emery, Elaine Warner, Hannah Hughes, Laura Margarit and Alyssa Favilla.
PHOTO: Kellie Ring
Senior guard Will DeBerg has put up a pair of unique stat lines in his last two games for Tommie men’s basketball.
In a Dec. 10 overtime win at Bethany Lutheran, DeBerg scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the game’s last 5:01, including a buzzer-beater trey to force overtime. Five days earlier in Winona, DeBerg drained four 3-pointers in a 2:31 span on the clock to help the Toms pull away from the Cardinals.
The latter is reminiscent of a game from 20 years ago when one of Steve Fritz’ sharpshooters made four 3-pointers in a 2:03 stretch during a postseason win over St. John’s.
That player? Current head coach John Tauer.
The 8-0 Tommies are averaging 88.1 points per game and are on pace to break a 39-year-old St. Thomas season scoring record.
St. Thomas has won eight of its last nine overtime games.
PHOTO: Will DeBerg
2013 Goal? More Goals
The Tommie men's hockey team is tied for the conference lead with 10 games to play. Coach Jeff Boeser's team resumes MIAC competition with a Jan. 11-12 series against Hamline. The Tommies also have a Jan. 5 home non-conference game against MIAC co-leader Bethel in a sneak peek of their Feb. 1-2 weekend series.
At the halfway point of the regular season, St. Thomas (7-6-1) has played solid defense but has been inconsistent on offense. Over the last two seasons, the Toms are 20-2 in games when they score three or more goals. This season, UST is 5-0 in games when it scores three or more goals but 0-5 when it has allowed three or more goals.
PHOTO: Jeff Boeser
St. Thomas women's hockey (4-4 overall, 3-3 MIAC) has 14 games to play, including 12 in the conference. Coach Tom Palkowski's team is looking to post the program's 13th consecutive top-three conference finish.
Counting last week's exhibition wins over Robert Morris (Ill.), the Tommies have allowed just three goals in their last five games, and only 36 goals in their last 29 games.
PHOTO: Tom Palkowski
At the halfway point of the regular season, Tommie men's swimming and diving has already broken three school records.
Junior Nick Johnson broke his own school records in one- and three-meter diving to lead the Tommies to Saturday’s 172.5-68.5 dual-meet victory over St. John’s at Anderson Pool.
Both of Johnson’s six-dive point totals –- 291-1.5 on one-meter and 328.40 on three meter –- also exceed the NCAA Championships qualifying standard.
Earlier in December, freshman Michael Lanz broke his own UST record in the 200 butterfly (1:52.75). Lanz’ best 400 IM time is also just .17 of a second off the school record.
PHOTO: Michael Lanz
Say It Ain't So, Santa
It was 44 years ago last Saturday when Philadelphia Eagles fans threw snowballs and booed… Santa Claus.
It was a bitterly cold day, and the team was ending a 2-12 season. During a dead moment at halftime, a backup Santa (the regular one was kept away by a snowstorm) was asked to entertain the crowd and walk the length of the field with an equipment bag over his shoulder. One snowball flew, and then it became a barrage, with boos cascading down.
In the Vikings’ recent defeat at Lambeau Field, Packer fans tried to join the Eagles’ fans as the Grinches of Christmas. It’s a fact: early in quarter two on Sunday Dec. 2, 2012 the home fans of Green Bay booed… Rudolph.
OK, so it was Vikings’ tight end Kyle Rudolph. He probably deserved it. He caught a TD pass then tried to do a Lambeau leap.
Besides, Green Bay is more of a Buddy the Elf town. Both Packer fans and Buddy wear green and yellow from head to toe, and, ahem, occasionally drink too much.