Saturday, February 27, 2010

Good day to be a Tiger

So far it's four games and four wins for Dakota Wesleyan's sports teams today. The biggest one was the seventh-ranked Tiger men beating Briar Cliff 73-55 in the GPAC Tournament semifinals. DWU will host the rival University of Sioux Falls in the championship game Tuesday at the Corn Palace after the Coo came back to force overtime, and beat Hastings 113-108 in OT.

However, Dakota Wesleyan's had a great day on the diamond as well. The Tiger baseball team avenged yesterday's loss with an 8-2 win over Bacone University to improve to 3-1. Steve Gust's team is on the field right now playing another game against York College. DWU also plays York tomorrow at 12:30.

And congrats to Marie McCarthy and the Tiger softball squad. The young team opened the season with two wins today, beating Sterling college 4-3 and 7-2 in Wichita, Kan. DWU will try to make it 4-0 tomorrow against Friends University.

However, since I wasn't at either of the baseball or softball games, I'll predictably keep today's thoughts to the Tigers' win over The Cliff today on the hardwood. It's hard to find words to describe the first half, but the ones that keep coming up are "weird" and "strange." There wasn't a lot of flow either way, but DWU clearly played better in the final 6 minutes of the half, and Preston Broughton's late 3-point play and Darrin Dorsey's long three just before the buzzer seemed to give the Tigers some great momentum and it got the crowd going.

That momentum appeared to be short lived, as Briar Cliff scored four quick points to tie the score, and then the team's traded baskets, but then DWU played possibly its best 12 minutes of the season as it took over with a 16-0 run, and the rest was history.

People I talked to had a range of opinions on how we'd fare against a Briar Cliff team that was fighting for its only shot into the NAIA DII tournament. Some thought we'd be in real trouble. However, I was in Sioux City for the teams' first meeting and the Chargers just don't match up well with us really at any spot. Their stars - Kyle Semprini, Chase Vander Feen and Matt Geelan - all average more than 11 points per game, but today they combined for just 24 (7, 1o and 7, respectivey). Perhaps the best move by the Tiger coaches was putting Dorsey on Geelan, who is kind of a point-forward, and letting Mitch Bain and Chase Walder/Jake Kneeland
stay in the face of Semprini and Vander Feen, who are basically just shooters. DWU's defense, which can be up and down, looked downright dominant in both matchups with the Cliff, and a lot of that has to do with matchup advantages at almost every spot.

How efficient has Preston Broughton been in the playoffs? 19.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg on 17-for-20 shooting (.850). One other underrated aspect of DWU's home games is how loud the crowd gets when one of the supporting cast makes a big basket. Two of the loudest ovations Saturday came after huge 3-pointers from Kneeland and Bo LaCroix.

So Sioux Falls comes to town Tuesday. I'll save my analysis for this game for another blog either tomorrow or Monday...but start planning to get to the Corn Palace early. Fill that place up to the rafters and enjoy one of the great rivalries in small-college basketball. The first two games were outstanding, and with the GPAC title on the line, expect the rubber match to be another instant classic.

As always, keep up with DWU athletics on our Web site: and on Twitter:
If you're reading the blog, please leave a comment or a question. I'd love to do a "mailbag" type entry if I get a few inquiries from Tiger fans! I'd also love to get suggestions of what you'd like to see in the blog...more of the same? More coverage of a certain sport? Ask and you shall receive (within reason).

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