Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tournament Time

Sorry for the lack of blogs after the onslaught of them in Branson, but the truth is that National Tournament can be draining. I'm sure some people think it's all golf courses and hospitality rooms for an SID at the National Tournament, but I felt like I was working almost the entire time we were there, and after the deflating way it came to an end, I think everyone involved needed a little break.

Plus, I always have some scheduled vacation for right after the National Tournament. Since college, my friends make a point to all get together for the first four days of the NCAA tournament, and this year was no exception. I spent a long weekend in the Minneapolis area watching basketball, seeing some great people I don't get to see often enough, and finally relaxing after the hectic stretch that is fall and winter sports. Spring sports are busy too, but not the way the fall and winter are. It was great to stop and catch my breath before moving on to spring. Oh, and I got to go to an open house at Target Field. That was OK, too.

It was back to business in a big way yesterday with both the DWU baseball and softball home openers. I hope the softball team will be encouraged with the way they play in a pair of 2-0 and 4-0 losses to Dordt College. Simple enough, the Tigers need to hit. I was impressed by their freshman pitchers, Roni Nekrassoff and Kelsey Timmons, and the defense was solid save for one crucial inning, but if DWU's bats can come around, they can win a lot of games with that pitching and fielding. I like the athleticism in the outfield, and if this core sticks around, this could be a great team in a year or two. They could use a finished press box at their new field, too, so I can actually block some of the glare that made my computer nearly impossible to see.

I got over to the baseball doubleheader just in time for the drama of game two. In a tie game in the bottom of the seventh, it appeared like DWU had stolen the winning run into scoring position with one out, but the umps called the runner out on batter interference and despite a great bit of arguing out of the Ron Gardenhire or Lou Pinella's book by head coach Steve Gust, the call stood and Southwest Minnesota State dodged the bullet.

However, it couldn't dodge the big bullet an inning later when Casey Solem blasted a walk-off home run, setting of a classic home-plate mobbing. What a way to end the home opener. I don't want to brag either, but that blast was called by a certain SID up in the press box. That makes me 2-for-2 this year after also predicting Anthony Muilenburg's kick return for a touchdown during football season. Now, there are probably some people who are going to say I misfired on a few calls during the year during football, volleyball or basketball (quiet down, Clint Farrar and Jon Hart) but as far as I'm concerned, I'm still batting 1.000.

Getting this blog going during the NAIA National Tournament has re-energized me for this type of writing, so I'm hoping to start another blog soon. I'll keep this one purely Tiger related, and I'm hoping to use the other as an outlet to share some thoughts about my other favorite teams - the Twins, Gophers, Packers, etc. - as well as music and entertainment. To start to get in the flow, here are some of my quick hit thoughts about the NCAA Tournament thus far.

-There's no "I" in "Team" but according to Digger Phelps there's an "R" in "Washington."

-When will CBS figure out the dream announcing team for the Final Four and Championship game is Gus Johnson with Bill Raftery. They're the best. Give Jim Nantz some time off to get ready for The Masters. Nantz is perfect for golf, chess and the national spelling bee, but give me Gus and Raftery for any big basketball game.

-Thursday was probably the single best day of First-Round action I can ever remember. I loved the first day in 2000 too, when you Mitchell people will recall Mike Miller's game-winner to help Florida beat Butler, but almost every single game this Thursday was excellent. And I partly loved that 2000 tourney becasue that's where the March Madness tradition was born with my friends, crammed into Room 169 in Frontier Hall at the University of Minnesota. Since then, it's been my favorite time of the year.

-I was born and raised a Big Ten guy, and I love seeing them put the most teams in the Sweet 16, even with Michigan State and Purdue missing their stars. And Evan Turner is hands-down the best player in college basketball this season. Hands down. However, the maroon and gold that runs through my veins had me rooting hard for Wofford, and silently celebrating Cornell's thrashing of Bucky. I'm a fan of any situation where Andy Bernard celebrates, and Bo Ryan (a great, great coach) goes back to selling used cars.

-I am so sick of that "Bags Fly Free" commercial. And every single ad for that movie where the girl is out of the guy's league. Awful.

-It's 7:27 p.m. on Thursday, Syracuse just got a huge alley-oop dunk off an inbounds pass and Gus Johnson just yelled "INSIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE!" He's the best.

-What's your favorite "little" aspect of a basketball game? Mine is when a jump shot hits only backboard and comes flying back off. Always hilarious.

Alright, that's enough for now. I'll check back in this weekend with my final thoughts from the NAIA tournament. Good luck to all the DWU teams on the road, and if you're like me, enjoy the next four days of college hoops!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quick Pregame Update

Checking in quick from courtside before DWU tips off. Indiana Wesleyan is beating Eastern Oregon and former Tiger coach Adam Tyhurst 57-46 with 4:09 left, and I am inclined to call Indiana Wesleyan the best team I've seen here so far. I haven't seen a few squads like No. 1 Walsh, but Indiana Wesleyan appears to have it all ... and they've hit some clutch shots here down the stretch.

The game before this was No. 2 Oregon Tech vs. No. 15 Saint Francis, and St. Francis pulled off the upset to advance to Saturday's Elite Eight. The winner of our game will meet St. Francis tomorrow at 6 p.m. If you remember, one of our five losses came to the Cougars in Chicago at the St. Xavier tournament, so if you're going to play anyone without any prep time, it might as well be someone you've already seen. For the box score of that game, click HERE.

Tonight's game against Cornerstone will be a tough one. They're a good, versatile team with lots of size, but if we play well, I think we've learned that we're as good as anyone else at this tournament. Hopeully our guys are focused and ready to go.

There's 2:20 left in this game now, IWU still up 10. Looks like they'll move on. Time to sign off and get ready to watch the Tigers hopefully play their way into the Elite Eight. Again ... who ya rootin for?

QUICK NOTE: Up until this point, Darrin Dorsey is leading the tournament in assists per game. Let's hope he keeps that up.

Another photo blog

Hello from the Keeter Gymnasium's media room. I've been wanting to post these pics, and finally got some time now while our coaches are scouting the Oregon Tech-St. Francis game, because we'll hopefully face the winner tomorrow night in the Elite Eight.

Anyway, here a look at some of Tuesday's best moments.

It's possible that Associate A.D. Cory Aadland and I were able to get in 18 holes of golf on Tuesday. We played at John Daly's Murder Rock up in the mountains, and fortunately we picked the nicest day. It was a little windy, but I was in shorts and a polo shirt and won't complain compared to the weather in Mitchell.

DWU A.D. Curt Hart, with the Tiger team as his backdrop, addresses and thanks the crowd at our pre-game reception at the Hotel Grand Victorian Tuesday afternoon. Roughly 100 fans showed up to with the Tigers luck before the game that night.

Our Honorary Coaches, Eric and Chris, run out for introductions before the game. They run the best Mexican restaraunt in Branson, Cantina Laredo. Actually, it could be the best Mexican restaraunt anywhere.

Mitch Bain is introduced to the crowd.

Kevin Ball recevies a Champion of Character award before the game.

The Tigers take the court for tip off.

Cue One Shining Moment...."The ball is tipped..."

Coach John Hemenway gladly answers questions from Tim Smith and Bob Sprang during the postgame interview on KMIT. Always easy to go on the radio and talk about a great win.

And finally, DWU Associate A.D. Cory Aadland said he was leaving Thursday to head back to Mitchell, but if that's true, then why was he suited up for Virginia Wise? Curt, you better look into this.

Photo by the talented Matt Culhane.
I'm gonna run and watch the second half of OIT and St. Francis, so I can have some insights in case we end up playing one of them tomorrow.
I'll end this post with a quick story from today. On the way back from our noon shootaround, everyone on the bus heard a car horn frantically honking. We looked up, and in the Wal-Mart parking lot we saw some dedicated DWU fans all hanging out of a van and going crazy cheering for the bus. It's possible they were Tiger football players. But as we got off the bus a minute or two later, everyone was still laughing and smiling, and Coach Hemenway even said, "That just made my day." Just a glimpse at the great fan support we're getting down here. Tiger Fever is spreading throughout Branson!
Tip off in two hours. Who ya rootin' for?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another eventful day

I'm sure today was a great off-day for the DWU players and coaches to get rested, refocused and ready to take on No. 10 Cornerstone tomorrow in the Sweet 16. It didn't feel like much of an off-day for me, though. At least I got to sleep in.

Today the Tigers had a short shoot-around with a little bit of prep at Branson High School. It was pretty low-key, and with the possibility of playing both Friday and Saturday if all goes well, it seemed like a good idea to get in the gym and loosen up a little, but stay away from anything too taxing to conserve our energy for Cornerstone and, hopefully, beyond. One interesting thing about these type of events is some of the connections out there. Embry-Riddle from Daytona Beach, Fla., had the court before us, and one of their players was exicted when he saw Brady Wiebe take the floor for our shootaround. Apparently this kid had spent a year at Dakota State in Wiebe's hometown of Madison before transferring to Embry-Riddle. You wouldn't think players from DWU and schools in Florida would know one another, but as that scary ride at Disney taught me, it's a small world.

After that, I had the pleasure of typing our entire box score from last night into our stats program. Without getting too boring, our conference uses a program called Stat Crew for all our sports statistics. The NAIA uses a different program (and other conferences do as well) so I can't use their stat file at all...I need to make my own. Which means typing in each players' stat line and all the team stats. Exciting, right? Thanks, NAIA.

For all you stat-heads out there, you may have noticed that our stats from last night aren't good. I don't know exactly who was doing them, but Preston Broughton had to have more than three rebounds, Mark Mingo got a steal that didn't make it in, Brady Wiebe was down for a missed 3-pointer, but I don't remember him ever letting one fly from that far out. One would think that a National Tournament would take things like official statistics very seriously, and maybe our game was an anomaly, but I'm hoping it's better Friday night.

After getting our stats squared away, I wrote my official preview (link at the bottom) for tomorrow's game. I put most of my limited analysis on Cornerstone into that preview, but here are some things I didn't include ... Their big guys are very good, and they do a lot of different things for them, and the whole team plays really hard. However, I really like our guards to have big games. This seems like the type of game where Darrin Dorsey could really control things the whole way, and I think Mitch Bain could also have a big night. If our big guys can just play their post players to a draw, which is entirely possible, I think our guards can win it for us.

Having said that, we need to avoid foul trouble. Brady Wiebe and Preston Broughton need to be on the court. I wrote down the time when each guy picked up his second foul in the first half of Wednesday's game, hoping those times would end up being insignificant, which they did. However, they'll have to do a good job again Friday of staying on the floor. On the flip side, if we could get their three bigs into foul trouble, that could really swing things in our favor.

Finally, I was not impressed with the way Cornerstone handled itself down the stretch. The Golden Eagles just never seemed comfortable or poised in the win over Ozarks. They were up six with just over a minute left, and I said to a few different people that they would be lucky to win, and they were. Ozarks hit a 3, got a turnover, scored and then had the ball and a chance to win but didn't execute on the final posession. I didn't like how Cornerstone handled its posessions down the stretch. They didn't run enough clock or take very good shots, and they even passed up some WIDE open looks from the perimeter. Meanwhile, we've been extremely poised in crunch time and have played well in the final minutes of close games since New Years, so even if we're behind and the clock starts winding down...have faith.

After getting some work done, I joined our coaches at the Eastern Oregon-Davenport game. Congrats to Coach Tyhurst and Eastern Oregon on a good win after Davenport shot the lights out from the outside in the first half. Then we had dinner at our sponsor's restaraunt, Cantina Laredo, which was amazing. They've been great hosts as part of the "Honorary Coaches" program, where the tournament pairs a business or two up with each team so you can feel connected to the community. Our honorary coaches - Chris and Eric - have been great since we arrived, and seriously, if you like Mexican food and are in Branson, go there. It's down on the landing (link also coming later in this post).

At dinner I got caught up on how the players' expedition to the go-kart/mini-golf place was this afternoon. I'm happy to report that everyone surivived the go-karts without injury. And according to Mitch Bain, he was the best at mini golf, while Darrin Dorsey and Bo LaCroix were the worst.

Finally, I finished my night back at the gym. Northwesern College's SID, Matt Bos, runs the media room at the National Tournament and writes most of the content for the NAIA site about the tourney. While I'm down here, I volunteered my releases for our games to help him out and I also offered to write the NAIA story for the Hastings-Cardinal Stritch game. I went back to the gym a little early and caught the end of the Jamestown-Oklahoma Wesleyan game. Jamestown had good chances but couldn't make free throws or threes down the stretch, and this is not the same OWU team that won the title last year. It's still a very good team, but not quite as good as the 09 version.

Here's my shameless plug for this blog: I flashed some pretty quick hands catching an errant pass at the press table in the second half of the Hastings game. Cardinal Stritch's SID, David Sneig, was doing their radio broadcast right next to me and even gave me a shoutout for the catch on the air and I got thumbs-up from Tim Smith and "The Coach" Bob Sprang from their seats. However, it was quickly forgotten as minutes later a Stritch player crashed through Pete Hansen's TV monitor on the press table and into the first row of seats while trying to save a loose ball. Fortunately, the player went back in after a quick examination and the TV monitor was restored to working order.

Hastings won, making a 3-0 sweep for the GPAC in the first round. It definitely helps our conference's national rep that we've got three of the Sweet 16. However, the Broncos made it interesting by shooting just 3-for-28 from three. Their freshman center took over and had a huge game, including 14 points in the final 5 mintues as Hastings came back from 15 down in the second half. If you're scoring at home, DWU is the only GPAC team that DIDN'T need a miraculous comeback to advance. Hopefully that will have us fresher for Friday.

Alright. It's bedtime. Here are some links:

CLICK HERE for my preview of DWU and Cornerstone.

CLICK HERE for LA Sports Riot's latest pod cast, featuring DWU head coach John Hemenway, which was taped this evening while we were at dinner at Cantina Laredo. You may recognize some of the info Logan Anderson uses during the interview as things that were broken first by this blog...

CLICK HERE for College Fanz' video highlights of DWU's first round win. (if it will play for you...still loading for me).

CLICK HERE for the DWU Tiger Fan Blog...lots of great updates about the tourney.

CLICK HERE for the Daily Republic's preview of the Cornerstone game.

CLICK HERE for Leah Rado's Tiger Zone blog as she makes her way to cover the team in Branson.

And finally, Cantina Laredo's site. Delicious, and now great friends to the Tiger program.

Now I'm really going to bed. Final thought...

Best comment to an official at the tourney so far: (while holding up a cell phone) "This must be your phone because it has three missed calls!"

Looking back a great win

So the monkey is off our backs, the cat is out of the bag or any other dumb saying you can think of. Regardless, DWU has a tournament win and is hopefully just getting started. Last night the Tigers played great in stretches and just OK in stretches - including a long field goal drought in each half - but they did enough to win pretty convicingly and were hopefully working out some of the nerves and getting acclimated to their surroundings. It was a great win, we had an oustanding crowd, and people will remember this win for a long time.

Here are some links with stories from last night:

CLICK HERE for the official DWU release

CLICK HERE for the Mitchell Daily Republic's story

CLICK HERE f0r the NAIA's story ('s a lot like mine!) and a good picture of Darrin Dorsey

CLICK HERE for the NAIA's Day One recap, featuring a photo of DWU's devoted fans

I'm heading to the gym now to watch former DWU coach Adam Tyhurst's Eastern Oregon team, then we have dinner at our sponsor - Catina Laredo (highly recommended if you're in Branson and like Mexican food). I'll check in later with a look ahead to Cornerstone and some pictures from last night's game. It sure feels Sweet to be in the Sweet 16.

Before I sign's yesterday's Observation of the Day from DWU A.D. Curt Hart...

"Wow, this is a nice campus. They even have a house for their geese!"

It's true, Ozarks has a pond on campus, with a little house on an island in the middle of the pond.

Finally, thanks to all our fans for the great support yesterday and for the great turnout at our reception at the hotel. There were around 100 Tiger fans in attendance, and it was a great way to kick off the tournament.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And we're off...

Hello from a luxury courtside seat at the first game of the tournament. Two of our od friends, Sioux Falls and Grand View, are playing about how you'd expect for 8:30 a.m. ... sluggish and pretty sloppy. Sioux Falls led 16-8 early, but Grand View is up now 25-24. Today's most frequent officiating trend thus far: the carry. Keep that hand on top of the ball tonight, boys.

It's about 12 hours til tip off, so here are some previews of tonight's game.

CLICK HERE for the official DWU preview.

CLICK HERE for the Mitchell Daily Republic's preview.

CLICK HERE for McPherson College's preview.

Grand View is still a step ahead of Sioux Falls, 35-33 with 11:33 left. High scoring is not how one would describe this game.

For fans who made the trip, just a reminder to come to today's social in Bransn at the Hotel Grand Victorian at 4:30 p.m. The team will be there from 4 to 5 p.m. and the athletic department will have refreshments on hand.

If you're still in Mitchell, the Sherman Center will be showing the game tonight, with the doors opening at 9:30 p.m. for the 9:45 p.m. tip off.

Whatever you do, wear blue and white and think positive thoughts for our first National Tournament win since 1947. Go Tigers!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Practice Pics

Here are the photos I took at today's practice. The official DWU SID camera isn't necessarily equipped to take top-notch action photos, but you get what you pay for. Still, here's a good look at the Tigers' Tuesday workout at Branson East Elementary School.

The team gets loose at the start of practice as the coaches have a deep conversation in the background.

Brady Wiebe and Chase Walder do some tandem stretching as a Branson East gym class looks on.

The Tigers huddle up to officially get the workout started in front of a captive audience.

Preston Broughton throws one down.

Darrin Dorsey dunks. Elementary school kids cheer.

Bo LaCroix gets in on the dunking fun.
The Branson East PE class looks on attentively, save the girl second from right.
Someone should have told her the Tigers have the longest active winning streak in the nation.

Jordan Long, Preston Broughton and Chase Walder go for the rebound on a Darrin Dorsey free throw.
The National Tournament tips off tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. with USF/Grand View. There may also be a top-notch breakfast in the hospitality room. That means it's bed time. Goodnight. Go Tigers.

Preview and Practice

It's been an eventful day in Branson, and I'm happy to report that the Tigers appear ready and poised to open tournament play tomorrow. I'll post links to all the previews I can find for tomorrow's game when I get up in the morning (likely from the gym during USF's 8:30 a.m. game), but here's a quick idea of what to expect from McPherson.

Athletic. Quick. Up-tempo.

The Bulldogs are a guard-oriented team led by six players that all average between 7 and 13 points per game. They'll press, they'll run and they'll hit the glass extremely hard.

One thing they won't have is two All-Americans in the front court. They do have one very good, very athletic 6-6 big man in senior forward Antowine Lamb (10.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg), but DWU will counter with Brady Wiebe (18.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg) AND Preston Broughton (15.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg). My guess is Lamb matches up with Broughton because of both player's athleticism, which should leave Wiebe with a pretty favorable matchup inside. McPherson hasn't played a lot of zone, but they might have to try it against the DWU frontcourt. And typically, when you force teams to do things they're not accustomed to doing, it's almost always a good sign.

That doesn't mean DWU's guards aren't also capable of having great games. Darrin Dorsey (18.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 5.0 rpg) and Mitch Bain (10.3 ppg) should match up pretty well with McPherson's good backcourt of Mike Reece (13. ppg) and Marlon Dominique (9.9 ppg). If the Tigers can control penetration and avoid getting killed on the offensive glass, they should have a great shot to win and advance for the first time in the DII tourney.

Today's practice at Branson East Elementary was a good one for the Tigers, and coach John Hemenway said he was pleased with the way his guys got after it and prepared. I've seen quite a few DWU practices over the last three years, and one thing I took away from today's session was the Tiger coaches do a great job of tweaking even basic fundamental drills so they help the players prepare for an opponent or a style of play. They did a lot of little things that should help against the press, and there's just a little different feeling this year. A little more confidence, a little more focus. Dakota Wesleyan is ready to go.

The other thing I took away from today's practice - with how good DWU's starters are, it's easy to forget just how talented and athletic some of the reserves are. I was particularly impressed after getting an extended look at freshmen Bo LaCroix and Matt Dykstra. Both are MUCH more athletic than I thought, and both have shown flashes of their potential this season. I think big things could be ahead for these two as their playing time increases throughout their careers.

One interesting twist at practice: since it was at Branson East Elementary, the Tigers had 2nd and 4th grade PE classes observing from the sidelines. A couple dunks really excited the young crowd, I just hope none were taking notes and giving them to Ozarks in case that's our second-round matchup.

The best off-court story today? Darrin Dorsey's desire to ride the Branson Ducks. While the team was planning how to spend the afternoon after practice and lunch, Dorsey actually started a "Ducks" chant on the bus. Some people might ignore this, but I think it's a good sign that DWU's star is embracing all Branson has to offer. Hopefully Dorsey and his teammates can keep us here awhile so he can see all the sights. Quack...quack...quack...

I'm gonna post this quick, then try to follow with some pictures from today's practice. Enjoy!

Lucky Charms

Hello from the Hotel Grand Victorian in Branson. I'm checking in with a short post before Coach Hemenway and I have to run over to the College of the Ozarks for our respective S.I.D and coaches' meetings in about a half-hour. I'll check back with more later, including pictures and thoughts from today's practice and more.

So it's no secret the Tigers enter the National Tournament with the nation's longest active winning streak at 16 game. To the casual fan, it may appear that the team's talent, balance, coaching and cohesiveness are the factors that have led to such a remarkable run. But that's where the Tiger Talk blog can take you behind the scenes to the REAL answers. There are two much bigger factors that have come in to play to make this winning streak happen.

Earlier this season, assistant coach Matt Culhane deicded to wear a a chain with a St. Christopher medal on it for the road game at Morningside, which the Tigers won. He donned it again for the big home win against UW-LaCrosse. However, Cully didn't have the chain for the team's December games, which included losses at Sioux Falls, at the St. Xavier Christmas Tournament, and at the Tigers' home classic against Cardinal Stritch.

After the calendar flipped to 2010, Cully made the lucky charm part of his every-game wardrobe, and the Tigers haven't lost since. If you're scoring at home, St. Chris is 18-0.

The other huge factor is assitant coach Andrew Duffy's hair. Early in the season, Duffy was bringing some serious class to the Corn Palace with a slicked-back Pat Riley-style hairdo. After a loss, Duffy re-evaluated his look, and its affect on the team, and he's been au natural ever since.

That loss that made him make the swtich? To Cardinal Stritch on Dec. 29. Since the slick disappeared, it's been 16-straight Tiger victories. As you can see above, Coach Riley is pumped the Tigers are winning, and he's happy to have his hairstyle all to himself again.

Feel free to ignore this and give all the credit to the players and their hard work if you want. I just know I'm not going to tell St. Christopher he hasn't played a part in the streak, and I'm definitely not giving Duff a tube of hair gel. Let's hope the team can continue to ride these ridiculously good omens Wednesday night and beyond.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Need more Dorsey?

Hello Tiger fans. I'm coming to you today from the passenger seat of a DWU chrysler sebring as myself and Assoc. A.D. Cory Aadland are on our way to Branson for the Men's Basketball National Tournament. Just to start rubbing it in, we're just south of Kansas City and it's 63 degrees here with no snow in sight. It is a little cloudy. Oh well, maybe we'll get even better weather tomorrow. It's not like our golf clubs are in the trunk or anything...


A quick update on the DWU baseball team ... though the Twins don't want the Metrodome anymore, we'll take it. Last night/early this morning the Tigers swept Hamline University out of the Twin Cities by the scores of 6-3, 3-2. DWU came from behind to win both games, and Clayton Grimstad and Ryan Santiago both went yard in the doubleheader to put us at 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the Dome. Cadwell's great, but we should just start using the Dome as our home field til the snow melts (aka May). Although that may mean we'd have to play more games like last night's 10:45 p.m. doubleheader. I was confused all day. I thought it had to be 10:45 a.m. I received the stats from Hamline's SID at 3:30 a.m. I'm actually kind of surprised we haven't played at this time before, with how in-demand our Wellness Center is!


The men's basketball team isn't the only one at nationals this time of year. Our wrestlers had a tough run this weekend in Oklahoma City. All four ran into an opponent ranked No. 7 in the nation or better, and the close matches just didn't go our way. However, Malik Stewart finished off his career with an NAIA Scholar Athlete honor, and 2009 All-American Jordan Harer also wrapped up an outstanding, record-setting career. Congrats to Coach Matt Sedivy and his guys for a great season and thanks to the seniors for your great Tiger careers.

Also, Coaches Pat Belling and Casey "Tibbs" Collins had the Tiger track team at Indoor Nationals in Johnson City, Tenn., where there were some good performances. Natalie Wipf set a new school record in the 200-meter dash and all the Tigers represented the school well. Congrats, and good luck in the outdoor season.


With the national tournament about to begin, I know exactly what you're thinking. You want more of GPAC Player-of-the-Year Darrin Dorsey. Well, you ask and I deliver...

CLICK HERE to read Leah Rado's column about Dorsey from this weekend's Daily Republic. (Hurry and read it online today before my former employer charges you for it!)

CLICK HERE to find the lastest LA Sports Riot Podcast with Logan Anderson and his special guessed it...Darrin Dorsey. A great interview. (It's in the podcast player in the top right corner)


Since I'm in the car, and have been working for about the last three hours, I'm just going to provide some links and log off for now, and I'll check in again soon from the south's version of the Wisconsin Dells (that's the only thing I can think each time I go to Branson, being a Wisconsin native - although you have to replace "waterslides" with "country music").

CLICK HERE for the National Tournament page I put together, and add this one to your favorites. I recommend checking out the PDF of the DWU National Tournament media guide for a good look at the season so far. This will be the place for any and all DWU National Tournament info.

CLICK HERE for a press release about DWU's special events surrounding the National Tournament, and make sure to come to our pregame get-together if you're in Branson.

CLICK HERE for our Twitter feed, which will be updated often during our stay in Branson.

CLICK HERE for the DWU Tiger Fan Blog...Jon Mueller does a great job with the fan's perspective of Tiger basketball and offers some great insight and lots of great links. I check it daily.

That's it for now. Probably my turn to drive again. See you in Branson, or I hope we can hear you cheering all the way from Mitchell.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Putting all the pieces together...

Another busy day in the athletics office with Branson nearing every day and two teams off at nationals today. I haven't gotten any updates from wrestling or track nationals, but check back for updates/results.

As far as Branson goes, we just planned a social for any fans heading down there to support the team. It will be at our hotel, the Grand Victorian, in the breakfast room Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. The team will be there from 4:30 to 5 p.m. and there will be refreshments. If you're in Branson, make sure to swing by this event to wish the team luck before its game!

Today I worked on finishing up the media guide supplement for the national tournament and the "Track the Tigers" tournament Web page so there is one online location for all your DWU tournament needs. I'll link to both when they're online and ready to go.

However, I will give you a sneak preview of the media guide. Here's the outlook I wrote for the media guide supplement about the season so far. Enjoy...

A Season of Firsts
Sports Information Director

The Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team has been associated with the word “first” a lot throughout the 2009-10 season. As in: first place, first-ever Great Plains Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles, first automatic bid to the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Tournament, first team in school history to win 27 games overall and 16 games in conference play and first team in Tiger history to win 20 or more games for four-straight seasons.

However, there’s still a big “first” looming for head coach John Hemenway and his talented squad on March 10 – the first round of the National Tournament. This will be Hemenway and the Tigers’ fourth-straight trip to the National Tournament, but they’re still looking for that first win.

Dakota Wesleyan enters the tournament with high hopes after an unforgettable regular season. The Tigers knew they had plenty of talent heading into the 2009-10 campaign, but questions of chemistry and depth swirled around the team’s preseason expectations, even as they were picked to win the GPAC and ranked fourth in the nation in the Preseason Top 25. How would All-American Preston Broughton bounce back after missing last season with a knee injury? What kind of impact would newcomer Darrin Dorsey have? Could returning All-GPAC players Brady Wiebe, Mitch Bain and Chase Walder continue their progress? How will all the talented pieces fit together?

Four months later, those questions have been answered with a 27-5 overall record, a 16-2 GPAC mark, GPAC regular season and postseason tournament championships, a No. 7 national ranking and a boatload of individual honors. Prior to this season, the Tigers had knocked on the door of both GPAC championships, but this year they didn’t just open that door and go inside. Dakota Wesleyan kicked it down, took both titles and now head to the National Tournament looking for more.

However, the Tigers didn’t have the answers to all those questions right away. This year’s team was a work in progress over the first two months, then a juggernaut over the next two. Broughton got back to 100 percent after knee surgery kept him on the sidelines in 2008-09, but it took him a little while to get all the way back to form. Dorsey showed flashes of his immense potential from the start with a triple-double in his first game, but it also took some time for the playmaking guard and his teammates to learn how to maximize all of their talents. But once the calendar flipped to 2010, everything clicked into place as the team began an incredible run.

After a Dec. 29 loss to Cardinal Stritch University, the Tigers sat at 11-5 overall, however, the team bounced back to beat a good Jamestown College team the next night and they haven’t lost since. Now, 16-straight wins later, DWU enters the National Tournament with the nation’s longest winning streak and more momentum and confidence than the team could have ever imagined.

The perfect record in 2010 is the result of the talent and balance in the Tigers’ starting lineup. Since New Year’s, Dorsey has become a bona-fide star. The junior from Phoenix, Ariz., became the first player in GPAC history to win both Player-of-the-Year and Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors in the same season (he shared the latter with Hastings College’s Jeremiah Slough). He was joined on the All-GPAC First Team by Wiebe and Broughton, who have become one of the best frontcourt tandems in the country. Bain also averaged in double figures and was named to the All-GPAC Second Team, and Walder continued to hit big shots and play good defense to earn his second-straight All-GPAC Honorable Mention award.

However, even with two GPAC trophies and a school record for wins in hand, the Tigers still have unfinished business. This team isn’t happy just earning another trip to Point Lookout, Mo., for the National Tournament. There are still a couple more “firsts” the Tigers want to cross off their list.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lots of Basketball News!

I don't have much time or energy for an update now, but at least wanted to get all the basic info on here...

Queen said it best. We Are the Champions. DWU prevailed in a predictably intense game over a tough USF team, and Mitchell appropriately celebrated. Another trophy. Another net cutting. Another great footnote on an unbelievable season.

That leads us to today's two big announcements: The All-GPAC awards and the National Tournament bracket. Darrin Dorsey cleaned up, as I hoped he would, with GPAC Player-of-the-Year, Co-Defensive Player-of-the-Year with Hastings' Jeremiah Slough, and a spot on the All-GPAC First Team. Brady Wiebe and Preston Broughton joined Dorsey on the First Team and finished second and sixth on the ballot, respectively. When three of the top six players from a 13-team league are on one team, that teams goes 19-2 against the rest of the league and wins regular season and tournament titles. Glad the GPAC coaches got this right.

To top it off, Mitch Bain is on the Second Team and last night's hero, Chase Walder, got an Honorable Mention nod. Congrats, fellas. All well-deserved awards.

The team also got seeded right where it was ranked - seventh - in the tournament bracket. The Tigers will open tournament play with the last game on Wednesday night against McPherson College from Kansas. Tip off is 9:45 on March 10. Obviously much more on this, and the entire bracket to come.

I will be spending my next several working hours finishing a supplement to our media guide for the national tournament, and I'll be hoping they all get used because we went deep in the bracket.

To close, kudos to everyone at the Palace last night and at our Selection Show event today. The atmosphere at both was incredible, and I'm sure it's something our players and coaches will remember for a long, long time. Cheers, Tiger fans.

For more on all this, and previews of this weekend's wrestling and track national meets, stay tuned to

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Championship Tuesday!

The day has arrived. DWU vs. USF. No. 1 vs. No. 2. No. 7 vs. No. 17. A bitter rivalry with a title on the line. Championship games don't get much better than this.

First of all, I'm glad these teams will get to face each other on this stage. It just wouldn't seem right if they just split the season series with each home team winning. This rivalry needs a rubber match, and the fact that it's for a title and hopefully in front of a huge audience seems to validate exactly how good these two teams - and their rivalry - are.

I'm also glad it came down to the Tigers and the Coo because I've seen every good team in the GPAC in person this year - with the exception of Hastings - and since December I've thought these are clearly the league's two most talented teams, with a group of Hastings, Briar Cliff and Dordt right behind. The 1-2 finish in the regular season proved that, and the fact that both teams held their seed and advanced to the tournament against some tough competition proved it again. Because of that, now everyone gets to enjoy an absolute top-notch championship game. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Time for some thoughts and analysis on the matchup. Even though DWU played USF close at their place and won a close one at home, I don't feel like the Tigers played very well in either game. The strange thing about this rivalry is that there is so much raw emotion that it might keep the teams from playing their best basketball. They play extremely hard and give it 110 percent and insert another sports cliche' here, but I would LOVE to see the Tigers come out and have a great game on offense from an execution standpoint. DWU was pretty much great in all phases of the game in Saturday's second half. It would be a lot of fun to see them play that way for a whole game against their archrival.

Does it scare anyone else that Thomas Frames is averaging 30 in the tournament? Matt Malloy commands so much attention, that it doesn't surprise me at all that Frames has been able to have some huge scoring games in the tournament, and he's always had a knack for hitting big shots. Somehow, DWU will have to find a way to slow Malloy down and keep him out of the lane while still keeping Frames in check. Not an easy task, and though the Tigers just shut down Briar Cliff's high-scoring backcourt for the second time, Sioux Falls' guards present different problems.

Having said that, I'd guess the Coo are just as worried about stopping Preston Broughton and Brady Wiebe. Broughton has been incredible in the tournament, with 19.5 ppg and a ridiculous .850 shooting percentage from the floor. Thursday, his only two misses were a tip-in and an attempt at a reverse/360 dunk where the pass kind of took him out of position and he still tried to throw it down. The only shot he missed Saturday was a 3-pointer. Other than those three attepts, he's been perfect, and a lot of the shots he's made have had a pretty high degree of difficulty.

Wiebe is playing some great basketball lately inside as well. He had a little bit of a scoring lull at the end of the regular season, but he's had three-straight double-doubles and has been a terror in the paint and on the boards.

Part of their effectiveness has also been how well DWU's two All-American bigs share the ball with each other. I don't know if I've ever seen a team with the kind of interior passing Broughton and Wiebe give the Tigers. It makes both players much more dangerous, and must be frustrating for other teams.

I would expect DWU to try to use the same blueprint for beating USF as last time out. The Coo got a heavy dose of Broughton and Wiebe throughout the course of the game, which opened things up for Darrin Dorsey and Mitch Bain down the stretch. As always, it's gotta be inside-out for the Tigers tonight.

However, DWU is going to need to make some outside shots...and it would help if they're early in the game to loosen up the Cougar defense a little. Chase Waler, Jake Kneeland, Bo LaCroix, Mark Mingo, along with Dorsey and Bain ... if those guys can just hit two or three from deep it makes everything easier for DWU. If the Tigers get outside shots and solid perimeter defense - probably the two biggest variables - I love their chances. It also doesn't hurt that they've won 15 in a row and have really learned how to win in almost any situation.

I'm also hoping the championship feels more like a home game this year. Unfortunately, last year the DWU students were on spring break, which took away a lot of the home court advantage. This year, USF can bus students over if it wants, but this year the Tigers should still have them outnumbered.

Now that you've got my thoughts on the game, there is only one more big question ... how do I make the next eight hours go by fast until tipoff?

Here are some links to other previews of the game and DWU basketball links to get you ready for tonight:

DWU's Official Preview (This is worth it just for the photos from the last DWU-USF Game)
The Mitchell Daily Republic's Preview
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader Preview
DWU Tiger Fan Blog

Tonight's game can be seen and heard in a few different ways. The Mitchell Daily Republic will offer a live video Web cast, and the game will be on local radio and streamed online by either 105.9 FM KMIT or KOOL 98. (I'd guess KOOL 98).


For any interested Tiger fans, we'll be hosting a Selection Show party for the men's basketball team tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. in Room 101 (aka The Matt Higgins Press Room) in the Christen Family Recreation/Wellness Center on campus.

The College Fanz Sports Network will be doing a live selection show on their Web site at 3 p.m. to announce the NAIA DII National Tournament bracket. It should be kind of a cool event. We'll be announcing DWU's All-GPAC selections and hopefully hearing from Coach Hemenway and a player or two. The cheerleaders will be on hand and we'll have refreshments, but most importantly, we'll find out who and when we'll play in the National Tournament. This should be a pretty cool thing for any Tiger basketball fans, so definitely come out if you're free.

Time for me to post this blog and move on to some of the little behind-the-scenes things that need to get done for tonight's game. See you at the Palace at 7 p.m. Wear Blue and White, and blow the roof off that place.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Morning Links

I'm hoping to check in with some details from baseball/softball's results from the weekend later today, as well as a look ahead to tomorrow's GPAC title game, but if you need some Tiger sports dialogue to cure that case of the Mondays here are some Monday Morning links for Tiger fans who want to read/interact about DWU basketball as much as humanly possible.

DWU TIGER FAN BLOG - A great look at Tiger basketball from a fan's perspective.

COLLEGE FANZ NAIA DII MEN'S BASKETBALL MESSAGE BOARD - Discussion board about all things NAIA DII Men's Basketball. This "Bracketology" post is one of the best on the board this time of year and a great look ahead to the National Tournament.

COLLEGE FANZ GPAC MEN'S BASKETBALL MESSAGE BOARD - Same as above, only specific to the GPAC. Fun place to see different fans' opinions from other schools and some good insight/analysis.

LA SPORTS RIOT BLOG/PODCAST - Great GPAC-related blog and podcast. Current posts are about the GPAC Men's/Women's Player-of-the-Year race and some great podcasts with GPAC Commish Corey Westra about the conference tournaments.

And, as always, stay tuned to the DWU ATHLETIC WEB SITE for all Tiger sports news, or follow us on TWITTER.