Gene's Blog: Past and present Toms find success

PHOTO: Grant Shaeffer (4) played in the recent Reese's Division III All-Star Game in Salem, Va. He had eight points and three assists. (Photo by Keith Lucas)


Today's blog looks back... and looks ahead:


Way Cool

Former St. Thomas men's basketball shooting star Bryan Schnettler capped off a record-setting season as head coach of Wayzata boys' basketball. The Trojans are the largest high school in Minnesota, yet hadn't qualified for the eight-team state basketball tournament since 1959.

But Schnettler's 2017 team made a great run all the way to the state semifinal round before losing a close game to eventual runner-up Champlin Park. Wayzata edged Maple Grove for third place and finished 28-4.

With Tommie hoops alums Josh Peltier and Jake Dammann as his assistant coaches, Schnettler saw his three-year record at Wayzata climb to 70-19. Prior to that he was head coach at Rosemount High.

Schnettler graduated from UST in 2007 after setting school and MIAC records for three-pointers in a season (109) and a career (297). Despite only playing three seasons at St. Thomas he scored 1,415 points. A 91-percent career free-throw shooter, he was named all-conference (2006, 2007), All-Region and honorable mention All-America (2007) while helping the Tommies to MIAC championships his junior and senior seasons. He also was voted MIAC Sixth Man of the Year in 2005, and team MVP as a senior in 2007.

As a senior he made 74-of-80 free throws (92.5%) to finish fifth among all NCAA division players and second in Division III. He was one of just two NCAA players to make 110 or more treys and convert at 46% or better. His 117 3-pointers ranked him ninth in all NCAA divisions. Schnettler made at least one 3-point basket in each of his last 75 college games. When you add in his 16 treys made as a freshman playing for UW-Superior, Schnettler's collegiate 3-point total was 313-of-696 for 46% in 108 games.

Directors' Cup

The updated 2016-17 Division III Directors Cup all-sport scoring totals for fall and winter will be announced later this week.

The Tommies scored nationally in five of a possible six fall sports and finished that season in sixth place among 440 Division III programs.

St. Thomas added points in five of eight winter sports -- women's and men's basketball; women's hockey; and women's and men's swim-dive. UST will look to remain in the top 10-15 going into spring sports.

UST, which placed ninth in the final Cup standings last school year, is attempting to finish in the top 15 nationally for the ninth time in 10 years.


Play the Best

Five Tommie teams so far in 2016-17 had their seasons end in the postseason with close losses to teams that reached the NCAA championship game:

  • Men's Soccer lost 2-1 in the national semifinals to eventual champion Tufts (Mass.);
  • Football lost 34-31 in the national quarterfinals to eventual national runner-up UW-Oshkosh;
  • Women's Basketball lost 60-57 in the national semifinals to eventual runner-up Tufts;
  • Women's Hockey lost 4-2 in the national quarterfinals to eventual champion Plattsburgh (N.Y.);
  • Men's Basketball lost 77-74 in the NCAA first round to eventual NCAA runner-up Augustana (Ill.);

4 AAs hoops-hockey

In a rare awards haul for one institution in one season, five Tommie winter-sport standouts received both All-America distinction and conference Player of the Year honors in their sport. The five, all seniors, are all native Minnesotans:

  • Women's Swim-Dive: senior Emma Paulson;
  • Men's Basketball: senior Grant Shaeffer;
  • Women's Basketball: senior Kaitlin Langer;
  • Men's Hockey: senior Thomas Williams;
  • Women's Hockey: senior Kathryn Larson.

Paulson has a strong chance to repeat as a CoSIDA Academic All-America selection, and Larson (3.91 gpa in Exercise Science) has a chance to receive the same honor next May.


Target Field

The 2017 Tommie-Johnnie football game is less than six months away, and tickets sales continue on pace to shatter the Division III attendance record.

The Sept. 23 contest will be the first football game played at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis.

Minnesota Twins Communications manager Mike Kennedy recently told KSTP-TV that approximately 16,000 tickets have been sold. Tickets run between $15 and $35. Student tickets will go sale later this summer at $10 each, and that segment is expected to help push sales towards the 20,000 figure.

Six of the top-14 largest crowds reported for a Division III football game have involved Tommie-Johnnie contests. The 2014 game at St. Thomas' campus in St. Paul drew a stadium record crowd of 12,483. That game outdrew 42 of the 54 FCS (I-AA) games played on that weekend.

The 2015 game in Collegeville drew an announced gate of 17,327 -- a record for Division III. That crowd also surpassed the attendance at three FBS games on the same day: Army at Eastern Michigan; Marshall at Kent State; and Georgia Southern at Idaho.

That D-III attendance record was broken Oct. 10, 2016 when UW-Whitewater had an announced crowd of 17,535 for its win over UW-Oshkosh in a battle of top-five ranked teams.

Purchase Tommie-Johnnie tickets here


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 [email protected]