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MBB's Tauer, Nelson get major West Region awards

MBB's Tauer, Nelson get major West Region awards

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D3Hoops.com news release

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St. Thomas Men's Basketball, the MIAC champion, received two of the three major awards for the Division III West Region announced Monday by D3Hoops.com. There are 48 West Region institutions.

John Tauer was named West Region Coach of the Year -- his third such honor, and the fifth D3Hoops.com COY honor in 11 seasons for Tommie Men's Hoops.

Freshman point guard Anders Nelson was selected Rookie of the Year. Nelson is the first Tommie named the West Region's top rookie in the 13-year history of the award. Nelson averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.6 steals while converting 80 percent at the foul line and sinking 45 treys.

Tauer won this award in 2013 and 2016, and he was a top assistant coach when his mentor Steve Fritz was selected West Region Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2011.

After a 14-12 finish in 2017-18, the Tommies were picked for fourth place in the preseason conference poll last November. Unranked nationally, the Purple built a 21-game winning streak to take control of the MIAC race. That helped St. Thomas break into the top 25 rankings and zoom all the way to No. 5 nationally.

St. Thomas eliminated No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Nebraska Wesleyan on March 2 in the NCAA tournament second round. The Toms lost 80-73 to Guilford (N.C) on March 8 after building a 39-30 halftime lead, and closed 24-5 with a tie for ninth nationally. They still broke a 45-year-old record for scoring average as they averaged 84.5 points. They went 20-0 in games when they allowed 75 or less points.

Tauer guided his 2018-19 team to a 10-win improvement, the most by a St. Thomas men's hoops team in 99 seasons. The 1918-19 St. Thomas squad won only once, and the next season St. Thomas jumped to 11 victories.

He's now 185-47 in eight seasons, with an NCAA title in 2016; one other Final Four trip; and seven MIAC regular-season titles.

St. Thomas graduates three seniors, all starters -- Connor Bair, Michael Hannon and GT Johnson -- but could return as many as 15 varsity players.