Thursday, March 6, 2008

BVU has its work cut out with UST

The Buena Vista men's basketball team, which earned one of 21 at-large berths, will be making its sixth trip into the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament in the last seven seasons when it opens play against the University of St. Thomas (23-4) tomorrow night in St. Paul, Minn.

The Beavers will be making their eighth appearance overall. 

BVU opens play at 21-6 on the season and was the regular season Iowa Conference Champions. The team dropped a close conference championship game to Loras College, 77-69, on Saturday night, as the Duhawks received the league's automatic berth into the tournament. 

The Beavers are led offensively by junior guard Andre Wagner with 14.7 points per game and nearly two steals per game. He also comes in seventh on the program's single season three-point list with 66 - four shy of moving into the top five.

Junior big men Matt Cleveland and Brian Fogleman chip in with 9.6 and 9.4 points per contest, respectively as senior Rahn Franklin and junior Travis Person round out the starters, averaging 6.9 and 6.5 points per game, respectively.

Bench production has been a strong component to the success this season - led by junior Kyle Stribe's 8.7 points per contest. Seniors Adam Friedrichsen and Adam Arndorfer are right behind, averaging 5.9 points a piece.

Seniors Jeff Bissen and Eric Holton contribute 4.5 and 4.1 points per contest, respectively. As a team, BVU averages 76.6 points per game and shoots 47 percent from the field. It also shoots 39 percent from behind the 3-point line and 68 percent from the free-throw line. 

Defensively, the Beavers are anchored by Cleveland and Fogleman, who average 6.0 and 5.9 rebounds per contest, respectively. Arndorfer and Person round out the big rebounders grabbing 4.2 and 3.5 boards per game. Cleveland also averages a block per game and Arndorfer averages a block every two games. Wagner provides pressure on the ball handler, chalking up two steals per contest.

The Beavers' defense has held opponents to 67.9 points per game this season and just a 43 percent field goal percentage. The Beavers out-rebounded opponents an average of 38-32 on the season. 

The Tommies have received eight NCAA tournament berths in the last eighteen years, including a final four trip in 1994. The Tommies are currently fifth in Division III men's basketball in all-time wins with 1,398 in 98 seasons.

Head coach Steve Fritz began his coaching tenure with the University of St. Thomas in 1981 and holds a record of 488-232 with the Tommies. Under Fritz, the Tommies have had just one losing season since 1981 and have made it into the second round of the NCAA Division III tournaments in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons. 

St. Thomas is led offensively by sophomore guard Joe Scott, who drops 16 points per game on average. Freshman Tyler Nicolai, junior B.J. Viau, senior Lonnie Robinson, and junior Al McCoy are the other leading scorers for the Tommies averaging 10.4, 9.6, 7.9, and 7.2 points per game, respectively.

Other notable offensive threats include sophomore David Baker (5.4 ppg), sophomore Teddy Archer (5.0 ppg), sophomore Sam Eichler (4.7 ppg), and freshman Anders Halvorsen (3.5 ppg).

The Tommies' offense, as a team, scores 77.3 points per contest and shoots 51 percent from the field. The Tommies also shoot 39 percent from behind the arc and 69 percent from the charity stripe. 

Viau, Scott, and McCoy lead the team in rebounding, averaging 5.3, 3.4 and 3.2 rebounds per contest. Halvorsen helps out on the defensive side as well with 17 blocks on the season; a little more than one block every two games. Viau and Robinson finish the defensive pressure with 47 and 42 steals apiece on the season.

The Tommies' defense has held opponents to 67.1 points per game this season as opponents are shooting 47 percent from the field. UST out-rebounded opponents 32-30 on average for the season.

This marks the seventh meeting between the two teams with the Tommies leading the series, 4-2. The two teams met last back in 2002-03 with St. Thomas squeaking out a 78-74 victory in St. Paul. BVU last topped UST back in 1999-00 when it won 69-66.

Tip-off between the two teams is scheduled for 8 p.m. The winner will then play either Chicago or UW-Stevens Point on Saturday at 7 p.m.

All three games take place in St. Paul, Minn., inside of Schoenecker Arena on the campus of St. Thomas. 

Tomorrow's game can be heard locally on 97.5FM KBVU and will also be audio streamed online at

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