Gene's Blog: Have yourself a merry little notes column
December 19, 2013
Tommie winter sports teams will bring a lot of momentum into January. (Mike Ekern file photo)
Will finals week ever end?
Is there really more snow in the forecast?
Do I really have to wait in that line at the Post Office to mail a package?
Did Aunt Betty really send a fruitcake again this year?
Did our grandmother really get run over by a reindeer?
Does Geico sell reindeer insurance?
Time is not on your side. Here's a quick fix of Tommie winter sports facts to calm your nerves so you can enjoy the holiday week:
Two St. Thomas teams will get stiff challenges in their next games. No. 7-ranked UST men’s hoops (6-1) plays next Saturday night at No. 1-ranked UW-Stevens Point (7-0). No. 6-ranked men’s hockey (8-1-2) plays Jan. 4 at No. 3 St. Norbert (10-2).
Since Friday Nov. 15, when all three teams lost, St. Thomas is a combined 17-0-2 in men’s hockey and men’s and women’s basketball. All three are ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Last Saturday’s 35-point win for UST men’s basketball marked the program’s 24th consecutive home victory, including a 17-0 run last season. The current streak surpassed the previous Schoenecker Arena record of 20 set in 1993-95 when John Tauer was an undergrad player.
The men’s hoops on-campus record win streak is 34 set between 1965 and 1968 in the old upstairs OSH gym.
The UST women’s home win streak record is 43 set from 1989-1992. The Tommies had a 23-game home win streak end last season.
So far this school year, St. Thomas has a 29-8-3 on-campus record in soccer, volleyball, football and basketball.
Tommie swimming and diving will get the honor of being the last team in action during the 2013 calendar year. Coach Tom Hodgson’s team takes a training trip to Fort Myers, Fla., Dec. 26-31.
Tommie men’s hockey has achieved eight wins and a top-10 ranking despite scoring just 2.67 goals per game.
In scoring offense, St. Thomas ranks 53rd out of 72 Division III teams. No UST players rank in the top 99 in Division III points per game.
When it scores the game’s first goal, Tommie men’s hockey is 17-1-1 in games over the last two seasons.
Tommie women’s basketball has won 14 in a row against MIAC opponents and has allowed 47.1 points per game in that streak. St. Thomas ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense (50.0 ppg), 12th in rebounding margin (plus 12.5), and sixth in free-throw percentage (77.9).
Tommie men’s basketball has won 13 in a row against MIAC opponents and has allowed 56.5 ppg in that streak. Nine players are averaging 14 or more minutes a game. St. Thomas has won its last 18 men’s games when it holds teams under 70 points.
Tommie women’s hoops is 76-0 over the last six seasons when it holds opponents under 60 points.
In his last 15 games since last February, junior goalie Drew Fielding has allowed just 16 goals with a 1.10 goals-against average. His four shutouts this season lead Division III, and his 10 career shutouts tie for first among active D-III goalies.
Tommie women’s hockey allowed just five goals in its last four games yet finished 1-2-1 in that span. Coach Tom Palkowski has 98 wins in his seven seasons and plays two games Jan. 4 and 6 on a trip to Maine and Boston.
Did You Know?
UST men’s hockey (8-1-2) needs just four wins and a tie in its last 14 regular-season games to secure the program’s 32nd consecutive winning season.
In the Tommies' 6-1 start, men’s basketball’s Erik Tengwall has a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (27-to-9), carrying on his 2012-13 ratio.
St. Thomas men’s swimmers have five top-five individual times thus far on the MIAC season list. Mike Lanz is seeded second in the 100 fly and 200 fly and third in the 200 free; and Walker Matthews is fourth in the 1,650 and fifth in the 1000 free.
Tommie women’s swimmers have seven top-five individual times thus far on the MIAC season list. Mariann Kukielka is seeded first in the 100 fly and second in the 200 fly; Elise Guenther is seeded first in the 1,650 free; Guenther and Emma Koller rank 2-4 in the 1000 free; and Emily Punyko is seeded fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200 breaststroke. UST is also seeded second in the 200 free relay.
UST’s last seven women’s hockey goals have come from seven different players.
St. Thomas' last 10 men’s hockey goals have come from nine different players.
Numbers Don't Lie
The St. Thomas men’s basketball is shooting 50.3 percent from the field, 79 percent from the line, and average just 10 turnovers a game. UST ranks in the top 16 in Division III in assist/turnover ratio (1.57), FT percentage, turnovers per game and scoring margin (plus 17.0).
Tommie women’s basketball is allowing just 43.8 points per game in its 5-0 MIAC start. In all eight games, UST is allowing just 50 ppg. The Toms are 79-11 against conference opponents since January 2010.
Eagles Have Landed
Eden Prairie High has six boys’ basketball alums currently playing college hoops, four in Division III. Three are at St. Thomas in its current 10-man rotation -– juniors Conner Nord and Dylan Stewart, and freshman Grant Shaeffer.
Nord, Stewart and Shaeffer combine to average 23.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Eden Prairie natives on recent Tommie teams include Brady Ervin, who contributed to the 2011 NCAA title team, and Sam Eicher (Class of 2010).
She's No. 40
Junior center Maggie Weiers has 64 blocked shots in 69 career games. She had four with 15 points and 15 rebounds in last Saturday’s defeat of St. Ben’s. She shares the MIAC lead in rebounding at 10.8 per game.
St. Thomas has won its last 29 conference games when Weiers has been in the lineup.
Thanks to two Final Four runs, the current Tommie men’s basketball senior class has already been a part of 101 varsity games (88-13 record).
Anyone still reading this notes column deserves a reward -- send my your address and you'll get some of my Aunt Betty's fruitcake (while supplies last, offer not valid in New Jersey and Texas.)
Tommie men's and women's swimming and diving teams won the prestigious U.S. Invite last Saturday in Collegeville as they outscored the Johnnies and Blazers.
Before you assume this is some patriotic-themed meet to promote the Winter Olympics, note that the U.S. stands for... Ugly... Sweater... the teams showed off their fine taste in fashion after the competition.
Note that the gentleman in the front row wearing the vest must be a Seinfeld fan... he appears to be celebrating, ahem, "Vestivus for the Rest of Us."