John Nance, St. Thomas

St. Paul, Minn. / Cretin-Derham Hall
Week of: 2011-02-28

The St. Thomas men’s basketball claimed the 2011 MIAC Men’s Basketball Playoff Championship Sunday, along with the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, thanks largely to its depth and great play from its bench. Leading the charge was reserve forward John Nance (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall), who picked a great time to play his best ball of the season. Nance averaged 15 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor and from three to help the Tommies take home the postseason title. As a result, Nance has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week.

Nance started his playoff run with 10 points in Friday’s comeback win over Hamline. St. Thomas trailed by as many as 19 points in the semifinals, but came back in the second half to claim a 78-70 win. Nance hit two big threes that keyed an 11-2 run that helped St. Thomas get back in the game. For an encore, Nance led the Tommies with a career-high 20 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in Sunday’s 83-77 championship-game win over Gustavus. Nance’s play in the open court helped St. Thomas build its first-half lead, and he sank two clutch free throws with 28 seconds left to help his team hang on for its 10th playoff title.

The Tommies – which also shared the MIAC’s regular season title - improved to 24-3 with its two playoff wins last week, and it earned a spot in the Division III Playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. St. Thomas will open the playoffs Friday at 8 p.m. against Northwestern College as it will host the first two rounds Friday and Saturday. Illinois Wesleyan and UW-River Falls complete the four-team pod.

Seth Jonker, Carleton

Apple Valley, Minn. / Eastview
Week of: 2011-02-21

There was plenty at stake for the Carleton men’s basketball team over the final week of the 2010-11 regular season, and the Knights responded with a big way. Carleton went 3-0 last week to clinch a share of the MIAC championship and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Senior Seth Jonker (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) was a big reason for the Knights’ poise down the stretch. The forward averaged 23.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and recorded the 1,000th point of his career to lead Carleton to the title. As a result, Jonker has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Co-Athlete-of-the-Week for the second week in a row.

Jonker’s big week started with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists in a 72-60 win at Bethel Monday. He had a historic night in Wednesday’s 72-68 win at Macalester. Jonker equaled a career high with 26 points, including the 1,000th point of his career, to go along with 10 rebounds for a double-double. Finally, he helped the Knights finish off their title and No. 1 seed with 26 more points and eight rebounds in Saturday’s 84-73 overtime victory against St. Olaf. This season, Jonker is averaging 12.7 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Carleton finished the regular season with an 18-7 overall record and a 17-3 MIAC mark to share the league crown with St. Thomas. The Knights grabbed the top seed in the MIAC Playoffs by winning on tiebreaker criteria, and it will host a semifinal game Friday at 7:30 p.m. Carleton has home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, and will host the lowest remaining seed following Wednesday’s quarterfinal games.
 

Aaron Burtzel, Saint John's

Cold Spring, Minn. / Rocori
Week of: 2011-02-21

The Saint John’s men’s basketball team just missed a berth in the 2011 MIAC Playoffs with a 2-1 finish last week, but senior Aaron Burtzel (Cold Spring, Minn./Rocori) did everything in his power to lead the Johnnies to the postseason with an outstanding performance over the final three games. The forward averaged 22.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and shot .714 from the floor to close out an outstanding career at SJU. For his sensational week, Burtzel has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Co-Athlete-of-the-Week.

 

Burtzel’s big week started with a career-high 32 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and three assists to lead Saint John’s back from a 25-point deficit at Gustavus to claim a 96-88 overtime victory on Monday. 48 hours later Burtzel had a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double with six assists in Wednesday’s 74-67 win at Saint Mary’s. He finished with 19 points and six rebounds Saturday in a season-ending 72-61 loss to MIAC co-champion St. Thomas. Burtzel finished ninth in the MIAC in scoring (14.6 ppg), third in rebounding (9.0 rpg), second in field goal percentage, third in assists (3.92 apg), tied for fifth in steals (1.60 spg) and 11th in blocked shots (0.64 bpg).

 

Though the Johnnies missed the playoffs, Burtzel certainly left his mark in the SJU record book. The senior will graduate as the school’s all-time leader in assists (393), as well as second in rebounds (887), third in steals (135) and 14th in scoring (1,153 points) while shooting .598 from the floor for his career.

 

Seth Jonker, Carleton

Apple Valley, Minn. / Eastview
Week of: 2011-02-14

The Carleton men’s basketball team had a huge week, moving into a tie for first place in the MIAC and locking up a conference playoff berth, and at the heart of it all was senior Seth Jonker (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview). The Knights’ forward did a little bit of everything last week to put his team back in the postseason, and in the hunt for a regular season championship with just one week of action remaining. Jonker averaged 16.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and playing outstanding defense. For his performance and contributions, Jonker has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week.

Wednesday, Jonker scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out two assists to help Carleton beat No. 9 St. Thomas 67-61 to put the two teams in a tie atop the standings. Jonker was at his best early, scoring seven points as the Knights raced to a 13-4 lead, and defensively he helped limit St. Thomas’ Tommy Hannon and Anders Halvorson to just 10 points combined. He was just as good in Saturday’s 76-55 win at Saint Mary’s. Jonker finished with 20 points, seven boards and four assists while shooting 8-for-13 from the floor. He also held SMU star Chris Palmer to just 12 points – six below his average. This season Jonker ranks in the top 20 in the MIAC in both scoring (11.4 ppg) and rebounds (5.3 rpg) with a .476 shooting percentage.

The two victories have the Knights – who are 15-7 overall and 14-3 in the MIAC – in position to add a MIAC regular-season championship trophy to their trophy case with another big week. Carleton is at Bethel Monday at 7:30 p.m. and at Macalester Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., and it wraps up the regular season at home Saturday against St. Olaf at 3 p.m. St. Thomas faces Concordia, Hamline and Saint John’s over the final week as both teams enter the final week tied at 14-3 in the conference. Carleton has won four games in a row, and eight of its last nine.

Bobby Fong, St. Olaf

Bloomington, Minn. / Kennedy
Week of: 2011-02-07

The St. Olaf men’s basketball team has really hit its stride with five wins in a row, including three big victories last week over MIAC opponents. One constant during the Oles’ recent run has been the play of junior Bobby Fong (Bloomington, Minn./Kennedy). The sharp-shooting guard was especially good in St. Olaf’s three wins last week, averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting an incredible .667 from behind the 3-point arc. For his performance and his role in the Oles’ surge, Fong has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week.

Fong and St. Olaf started the week by snapping seventh-ranked St. Thomas’ 53-game on-campus winning streak with a 73-68 upset. Fong had 17 points and seven boards in the win while shooting 7-for-12 from the floor and 3-for-6 from three. He added 14 points, four boards and two assists in a 78-69 home win over Augsburg, and he capped his brilliant week with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and a 4-for-5 shooting performance behind the arc in a 93-64 win over Macalester. This season, Fong leads the MIAC in made three-pointers (44) and he’s second in three-point percentage (.458). His 15.3 points per game is the seventh best scoring average in the league, and he’s 11th in rebounding at 6.1 per game.

The Oles and their star guard will have one chance to continue their winning streak this week. Wednesday Saint Mary’s comes to Northfield, Minn., for a 7:30 p.m. MIAC tip off. St. Olaf has a bye on Saturday. The Oles are currently 15-6 overall and 10-6 in the conference, good for a fourth-place tie in the standings.

Chris Palmer, Saint Mary's

Faribault, Minn. / Faribault
Week of: 2011-01-31

Due to an injury, Saint Mary’s sophomore Chris Palmer (Faribault, Minn.) was only able to play one of the Cardinals’ two games last week. However, he made that one game count as he topped the 30-point mark, recorded a double-double and tied the MIAC record for made free throws in a single game all while leading SMU to a conference win over Macalester. For his big performance, Palmer has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week.

In the Cardinals’ win over the Scots Saturday, Palmer had a 31-point, 11-rebound double-double, his 10th of the season. The forward shot 4-for-7 from the floor, 2-for-2 from behind the 3-point arc, and he was a remarkable 21-for-23 from the free throw line. The 21 made free throws tied a 54-year-old conference record. This season, Palmer leads the MIAC in scoring (19.2 points per game), free throw percentage (.899), he’s second in rebounding (9.5 per game), fourth in 3-point percentage (.452) and 12th in field goal percentage (.517).

With the win, Saint Mary’s snapped an eight-game losing streak and improve to 9-9 overall and 4-9 in the conference. The Cardinals have a big week ahead with three important MIAC games on the schedule. Monday they travel to Concordia for a 6:45 p.m. tip off. They’ll host first-place St. Thomas Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and will be home again Saturday for a 3 p.m. conference game against Hamline.

Jeremy Sutherland, Carleton

Apple Valley, Minn. / St. Bernard's
Week of: 2011-01-24

Carleton senior guard Jeremy Sutherland (Apple Valley, Minn./St. Bernard’s) crammed a season’s worth of memories and milestones into one incredible week as he led the Knights to three important MIAC wins. Sutherland averaged nearly 20 points per game over the trio of victories and added a dramatic game-winning shot to his list of accomplishments, and he also became the 24th player in Carleton history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. For his amazing week, Sutherland has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Co-Athlete-of-the-Week.

Sutherland’s week started with a stat-stuffing performance (21 points, four rebounds, four blocks, three assists) in a convincing 86-53 win over Macalester, but the best was yet to come. In Wednesday’s 70-67 win over Hamline Sutherland scored his 1,000th point and hit the game-winning three-pointer with 5.3 seconds left. He finished the historic performance with 25 points, seven rebounds and two steals while shooting 4-for-7 from outside the arc. Sutherland added 13 points, six rebounds and two assists in Saturday’s 72-69 win at St. Olaf. This season, the Carleton star ranks in the top 10 in the MIAC in scoring (16.3), assists (3.27), steals (1.73) three-pointers (1.8), blocks (0.73) and minutes (32.80).

The Knights hope to keep their winning streak alive with a pair of tough MIAC games on their upcoming schedule this week. Wednesday Carleton makes the long trek up to Moorhead, Minn., to face Concordia at 7:45 p.m. and Saturday the Knights return home to host Augsburg with tip off scheduled for 3 p.m.
 

Carl Hipp, Hamline

Little Canada, Minn. / Totino-Grace
Week of: 2011-01-24

Hamline senior Carl Hipp (Little Canada, Minn./Totino-Grace) continued his stellar season with three more double-doubles and a huge game in the biggest upset to date in the MIAC this season. The center averaged 19 points, 15 rebounds and more than three blocks per game last week while leading the Pipers to a 2-1 record, including a 92-79 win over then-No. 4-ranked St. Thomas to hand the Tommies their only loss of the season. For his continued excellence, Hipp has earned a share of the MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week award for the second week in a row.

Hipp’s week couldn’t have started much better. He had 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in the huge win over UST Monday on Hamline’s home floor while shooting 8-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from the line. The Pipers’ star had another huge game Wednesday with 23 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks in a last-second, 70-67 loss to Carleton, and he recorded another double-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in Saturday’s 77-65 win at Concordia. This season, Hipp leads the MIAC in rebounds per game (11.8) and blocks per game (1.94) while ranking second in points per game (18.4) and third in field goal percentage (.579).  

This week Hamline, which is currently 9-7 overall and 7-4 in conference play, can relax a little with only one game on the schedule. However, it will be another tough MIAC contest as talented Saint John’s comes to St. Paul Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip off.

Carl Hipp, Hamline

Little Canada, Minn. / Totino-Grace
Week of: 2011-01-17

All season long, Hamline senior Carl Hipp (Little Canada, Minn./Totino-Grace) has been a force in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), averaging a double-double overall and more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in league play. However, Hipp was at his best last week to lead the Pipers to a big win over Saint Mary’s, and he had another brilliant performance as his team came up just short in a close loss at St. Olaf. Over the two games, Hipp averaged 23.5 points and 13.0 rebounds while shooting .613 from the floor, and for his performance he has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week.

Hamline topped the 90-point mark Wednesday, but St. Olaf was a step ahead in a 102-96 MIAC win. However, Hipp was stellar with a 24-point, 10-rebound double-double, which included a steal and a 10-for-16 shooting performance from the floor. He followed that up with 23 points, 16 rebounds and two blocked shots while shooting 9-for-15 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the line in Saturday’s 85-66 win over Saint Mary’s. This season, Hipp is in the top five in the MIAC in four major statistical categories. His 18.3 points per game rank third, he leads the MIAC with 11.1 rebounds per game, he’s third with 1.62 blocks per game and his .588 field goal percentage ranks fourth. He’s been even better in conference games, leading the league in scoring (20.0 ppg), rebounding (10.6 rpg) and field goal percentage (.632) and he’s fifth in blocks (1.13 per game).

Hamline hopes Hipp’s hot streak continues, as it hosts cross-town rival No. 5 St. Thomas Monday night at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday the Pipers are home again for a big MIAC game against Carleton at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday they make the trip up to Moorhead to face Concordia at 3 p.m. Hamline is 7-6 overall and 5-3 in the MIAC, currently in fourth place and in good position for a playoff bid.

Tyler Nicolai, St. Thomas

Minnetonka, Minn. / Hopkins
Week of: 2011-01-10

To remain undefeated and atop the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) standings, the fifth-ranked University of St. Thomas men’s basketball team needed late-game heroics not once, but twice last week. Both times, the Tommies turned to senior star Tyler Nicolai (Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins), and both times the guard delivered, hitting three-pointers in the final seconds twice – once for the win, once to force overtime – to lead UST to three MIAC wins in the first week of 2011. For his performance, Nicolai has been named the first MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week of the new year.

First, Nicolai drilled a game-winning three as time expired to lift St. Thomas to a remarkable 62-59 win over Carleton Wednesday night. For an encore, the senior nailed an off-balance three with defenders in his face with 3.4 seconds left to tie Gustavus 60-60 and force overtime, where the Tommies prevailed, 68-64. For the week, Nicolai averaged 14.3 points, 4. 3 assists, 3.6 steals and 1.7 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor and an even-better 53 percent from behind the three-point arc. This season, the All-American guard and reigning MIAC Player-of-the-Year is averaging 12.8 points, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.5 rebounds per game.

The Tommies – at 12-0 overall and 7-0 in conference play – are the last remaining unbeaten team in the MIAC. UST will try to remain perfect with a pair of big conference road tests coming up. The Tommies travel to Moorhead Wednesday for a 7:45 p.m. showdown with Concordia, and next Monday UST will head across town to take on Hamline at 7:30 p.m.

Chris Palmer, Saint Mary's

Faribault, Minn. / Faribault
Week of: 2010-12-13

The “sophomore slump” is a well-documented athletic phenomenon where second-year players struggle to repeat the success they had as rookies. The sophomore slump does not apply to Saint Mary’s second-year forward Chris Palmer (Faribault, Minn./Faribault), who poured in a career-high 37 points to lead the Cardinals to a 79-64victory over Bethel last week. Palmer had a near-perfect shooting night to record the highest single-game point total in the MIAC this season. For his spectacular performance, Palmer has been named the MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week.

In the win over the Royals, Palmer was a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line and was 10-of-12 from the field to score his new career high of 37 points. He added 11 rebounds for a double-double with one steal, and a 4-for-5 shooting performance from behind the 3-point line. His point total is the highest at SMU since teammate Will Wright scored in 2008. Palmer added nine points and six rebounds in Saturday’s 69-55 win over Concordia to give him averages of 23.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last week. This season, Palmer ranks fourth in scoring (17.5 ppg) and second in rebounding (8.7 rpg) in the MIAC, and he’s ninth in field goal percentage (.569) and second in free-throw percentage (.976).


With its two MIAC wins last week, the Cardinals improved to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play. SMU will travel to Viterbo for a 7 p.m. nonconference game Wednesday, and then will take a two-week break before returning to action in the Illinois Tourney on Dec. 29 and 30. Saint Mary’s returns to MIAC play at St. Thomas on Jan. 3.

Stu Neville, St. Olaf

Eden Prairie, Minn. / Benilde-St. Margaret's
Week of: 2010-12-06

The St. Olaf men’s basketball team opened MIAC play with a huge road win last week, knocking off Saint John’s in Collegeville, Minn., 72-64. The Oles scored the big road victory thanks largely to a monster performance by forward Stu Neville (Eden Prairie, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s). Neville poured in 28 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead St. Olaf to victory and continue his strong start to the 2010-11 season. For his performance, Neville has been named the inaugural MIAC Men’s Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week for the 2010-11 season.

Neville scored his game-high 28 points by shooting 11-for-14 from the floor (including 1-for-3 behind the 3-point arc) and 5-for-6 from the free throw line against the Johnnies. His seven rebounds, two assists and one block helped the Oles overcome a one-point halftime deficit and go on to an eight-point victory. This season, Neville is one of the MIAC’s leaders in a number of categories. He’s currently second in blocked shots (2.0 per game0, third in field goal percentage (.618), fifth in scoring (16.3 points per game), tied for ninth in rebounding (6.3 rebounds per game) and 11th in free throw percentage (.806).

St. Olaf – 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC – hope to continue their hot start this week with three huge MIAC games on the schedule. The Oles are at Gustavus Monday for a 7:30 p.m. tip off. They’ll host MIAC favorites St. Thomas Wednesday in Northfield at 7:30 p.m. and also host Concordia Saturday for a 3 p.m. tip off.