UMary men’s basketball: Poor 3-point shooting performance doesn’t stop Marauders from conference win

The University of Mary men’s basketball team shrugged off a 12.5 shooting percentage from beyond the arc and grinded out a 65-58 win over Minot State. The Marauders picked up their first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference win of the season and extended its winning streak to three games after starting the year 0-3.

Offensive rebounding machine: With 6:55 to play in the second half Lucas Mayer grabbed an offensive rebound and quickly put the basketball up for two points to give UMary a 48-46 lead. Almost two minutes later, Mayer corralled another key offensive rebound and laid it in for another two points to give the Marauders a 50-48 lead. The UMary sophomore forward finished with six points and three rebounds (all offensive) in 21 minutes of play. The Marauders finished with nine offensive rebounds and now have recorded seven or more in every game this season. Rebound gets overlooked sometimes but grabbing offensive rebounds give your team another offensive possessions and basketball is a game of possessions. Connor Hellebust finished with a team-high seven rebounds as Matthew Kreklow added six.

Looking more mature: More than of UMary’s roster is underclassmen. Four sophomore’s and a redshirt freshman played against MSU but the Marauders looked more mature at times. Last year when UMary was in a close game with under four minutes to play, the game usually didn’t end in a positive result for Joe Kittell’s squad. But with 3:55 to go and a tied 52-52 contest, a Tommy Kubank 3-pointer, two free throws by Kreklow and a jumper by Jaylan White gave UMary a 59-52 lead with 1:25 to play and they never looked back. This team will continue to grow but after starting the season with three straight losses, these last three wins look pretty damn good.

3-pointers don’t fall again: After posting double-digit made 3-pointers in their last two games, the Marauders struggled from beyond the arc against the Beavers. UMary finished just 3 of 24 in a game where it didn’t feel like they took at many shots from long range. I really felt like all 24 shots were good, clean looks and it really helps to have Kreklow in the paint because he causes double teams and has solid enough vision to find shooters on the outside. However, shooting 25-ish 3-pointers and making less than a handful and getting a win isn’t going to be a sustainable formula moving forward.

BONUS — Should’ve been less than 58 points: UMary’s defense has been outstanding this season. They lead the NSIC in scoring defense with 56.8 points per game and have only allowed more than 60 points once this season. UMary gave 12 points to MSU that I really feel could’ve came off the scoreboard. Twelve points may seem like a lot but considering the Marauders had to double down on 6-foot-7 David Akibo a lot during the game, it left a fair amount of open looks for the Beavers shooters. Every unit is playing as a team defensively and that’s something to hang their hats on.

What We Learned: One of Many?

The University of Mary won its first game of the 2018-19 season Friday with a dominating 94-44 performance over Yellowstone Christian College. The Marauders needed this win especially for their shot confidence. Is this the win that gets UMary rolling?

Heat check — The Marauders struggled to make shots in their first three games but erupted for 47.8 percent from beyond the arc against the Centurions. Tom Kubank had one thing on his mind and that was to deliver UMary its first win of the season. The UMary senior forward finished with a game-high 20 points on 7 of 8 shooting and made 4 of his 5 3-point attempts. Kubank also added eight rebounds in 20 minutes of play. Connor Hellebust was shooting 26.3 percent from the field coming into the game shook off the bad juju and finished with 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting.

No Dennis Austin III — Dennis Austin III went down with an eye injury against Montana State University Billings on Wednesday and he didn’t re-enter the game after that. The senior guard sat out against YCC as his eye was still swollen shut, however, his energy was still there against the Centurions. He was helping the underclassmen on the sideline and seems to be really jelling with UMary.

Expanded rotation — Eleven players saw the court for 10 minutes or more against YCC, which happened because it was a blowout contest. I know scheduling is tough and not everything works the way you’d like but this game should’ve been UMary’s season opener. I’m sure Joe Kittell had his rotation made up days before the Marauders stepped onto the hardwood but in a game like this you get to see everyone play. Redshirt-freshman Justin Engg and junior Richard Brown had averaged seven minutes of play this year — the two saw more minutes against a lower level YCC team and that should’ve happened before UMary played two tough teams in Texas to start the season. They did have a positive impact on the game as they combined for 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting and nine rebounds.

Last Night in the NSIC

What We Learned: UMary Struggles to Close Out Against MSUB

The University of Mary men’s basketball team played in its third straight road game Wednesday but couldn’t land the finishing punches on Montana State University Billings. The Marauders dropped a 56-53 non-conference contest and here’s three things we learned from the loss.

Backup point guard — Jaylan White played 38 minutes against MSBU and is averaging 36.3 minutes through UMary’s first three games. While I’m certain that White can keep this up at some point Joe Kittell is going to have to find a backup point guard who can help the team. White finished 2 for 11 last night and added six rebounds and five assists. The only other guard to come off the bench that played more than 10 minutes was freshman Trever Kaiser. The 6-foot-2 Dassel, Minn., native finished with two points of 1 of 4 shooting. It was his first action of his career.

Shooting woes — The 3-point ball has not been kind to UMary this season. Against the Yellow Jackets, the Marauders made 26.3 percent (5 of 19) of their shots from long range. In fact, that was up by 0.6 percent from the blue and orange’s season average. Senior forward Tommy Kubank leads the team in 3-point makes as he’s 6 for 21 and six other UMary student-athletes are a combined 4 for 27 through three games.

Rebounding g(od)uard —  I have zero issues with guards leading a team in rebounds but it catches me by surprise because it’s “not supposed to happen” the expert analyst’s say. Upper Iowa transfer Dennis Austin III has been playing above the rim in his first three games with UMary and it’s promising to see. The 6-foot-3 guard leads the Marauders in rebounds with 19 and White is tied for second of the team with 12. Austin III is simply just out jumping players for rebounds and while that’s fine and dandy, the big men at some point are going to have to come down with some boards.

*Bonus point — No need to hit the panic button. The lids will come off the rims and shots will start to fall. It’s regular season game three of 28 and NSIC play is still 17 days away. Make the adjustments now so when league play rolls around, it’s time to play instead of learning on the fly.

Last night in the NSIC

Southwest Minnesota State Box Score

UMary Box Score

Minnesota-Crookston Box Score 

Minot State Box Score 

UMary ready to take next step after last year’s 6-21 campaign

They say everything is bigger in Texas but that wasn’t the case for the rims in Lancaster.

The University of Mary opened up the 2018-19 season down south on Friday and Saturday and dropped two contests to Henderson State and Southern Arkansas.

Finding the bottom of the net from long range was a challenge for the Marauders as they finished 13 for 51 from 3-point land.

UMary junior guard Jaylan White said Friday before the Marauders battled Henderson State that this early season road trip was vital.

“It’s important to get the season off on the right note,” White who finished with a team-high 17 points against SAU said. “… the wins will come.”

The Marauders are coming off a 6-21 season but welcome back just about 50 percent of their scoring and four of their top 7 scorers.

Tommy Kubank, who averaged 11 points, and 4.5 rebounds on UMary’s business trip spent the offseason overseas gearing up for his senior season.

The Adelaide, South Australia native, worked out with a professional team (Adelaide 36ers) in his home city during the offseason and traveled to China with the Sydney Kings to get some more competitive basketball under his belt.

Kubank was fortunate enough to play against former NBA center Hamed Haddadi who plays for the Iranian National Team along with teams from Germany, Czech Republic and a USA squad made up of former Division-I student-athletes.

“I think these experiences really fueled me to work harder and refine parts of my game,” Kubank said. “Because I was able to compare where I was at to some of the best players in the world and it showed me I wasn’t where I wanted to be yet but gave me a lot of motivation to keep going because I held my own.”

The Marauders were picked dead last in the Northern Sun Preseason Coaches’ Poll with 17 points. The blue and orange trailed Concordia-St. Paul by 27 points for the No. 15 spot.

Along with White and Kubank, UMary will have Matthew Kreklow — who started all 27 games last season — back in uniform for his sophomore season and arguable his most important.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 9.2 points per game as a freshman and hauled down 4.8 rebounds. He also shot 54.3 percent from the floor — the highest on the team for players that took 100 attempts or more— and had a team-high 23 blocks.

But Kreklow isn’t the only underclassmen looking to make a splash this season. Sophomore guard Connor Hellebust will look to improve off his solid freshman year and should see time in the starting lineup this season.

Hellebust started both games over the weekend and finished with 12 points on 3 of 15 shooting.

Joe Kittell will look for contributions from North Dakota State College of Science transfer Johnnie Turner and sophomores Wyatt Carr and Lucas Mayer.

Junior transfers Evan Anderson and Richard Brown also saw minutes in the Marauders first two games of the season. However, the player everyone is excited to see play is Upper Iowa transfer Dennis Austin III.

UMary landed a starting player during the offseason in the senior guard who is familiar with the NSIC.

“He’s going to be a really key addition to our squad this year,” Kubank said about Austin III. “He’s a great dude, he knows how to play the game and he’s got a knack for making big plays.”

“He’s the kinda guy we needed to pick up to make a deep run this year and we’re all really happy he’s on board with us. More importantly he’s embraced the culture we’ve been trying to build here.”

The Marauders start 0-2 for the third straight season but will have an opportunity to break their losing streak Wednesday on the road against Montana State University Billings before their home-opener on Friday against Yellowstone Christian College.

“This year the expectation is to have a winning season,” Kubank added. “Last season was a battle night in, night out but it’s made us much stronger and determined as a group.”

“We’re optimistic as a playing group because we know that we’ve put in the work and improved a lot on where we were at last season.”