Schutjer, Dunlavy lead teams

Schutjer, Dunlavy lead teams

by Zach JevneStaff Writer

As the semester winds down, the basketball season is in full swing. The men’s and women’s seasons are well underway with the heart of the season just around the corner.

The women’s team has picked up where it left off from last season’s conference title and NCAA tournament appearance. The Storm are 5-1 and look to repeat as conference champs.

“I think everyone expects to win conference again,” senior guard Katie Kitzman said. “It will be a lot harder this year, but we feel it’s a goal that’s within reach.”

The women took care of rival Central on the road Dec. 2, 88-81, to start conference play. The Storm were led by sophomore center Stacey Schutjer’s career-high 29 points.

Schutjer is leading the team in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game in just over 21 minutes per game. The Titonka native has scored 19 or more points in four of the five games.

“Coach relies on me more to score this year,” Schutjer said. “I worked a lot on my left hand and shooting over people this off season.”

Schutjer was named MVP of the North Central tournament earlier this year. She says it’s an honor but still feels like she needs to work on her rebounding and defense, even though she leads the team with 5.6 rebounds per game and eight blocks.

One contributing factor to the team’s early success is the work done in the off season.

“Our preseason workouts have a lot to do with our good start,” Kitzman, who is second on the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game, said. “We came in really mentally prepared and we’re all hard-working, dedicated athletes. That’s always been the mentality for women’s basketball at Simpson.”

The fast-paced style of basketball that Coach Brian Niemuth uses continues to produce results. The up-tempo style is producing over 86 points per game for the Storm. Both Schutjer and Kitzman enjoy the fast pace and see it as an advantage.

“We have 10 really good players and we use our athletes well,” Schutjer said. “We run a lot and just wear the other team out.”

Outscoring the opponent is the name of the game, but defense is equally or more important to the success of a team. Kitzman actually prefers that part of the game to scoring.

“Defense is probably my favorite part of the game,” Kitzman said. “We have a lot of players who can score, obviously, and I feel I can contribute that way, but also on defense.” Kitzman leads the Storm with 3.4 steals per game.

The start of the men’s season hasn’t been ideal as they have a 1-7 record, but records don’t always tell the whole story.

“We’re playing alright, we just haven’t been executing at the end of games,” senior center Tim Dunlavy said. “We’ve been in pretty much every game, just in the last five, 10 minutes we’ve struggled.”

The Storm have lead multiple games at halftime, only to see it slip away in the second half. They led Augustana 40-32 at the break before losing a close contest 58-53. They led Grandview, a ranked National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school, at half only to fade in the last 15 minutes.

“We lack some experience, but with some more practice and preparation, we can improve on that,” Dunlavy said about their performance at the end of games.

Dunlavy has been a consistent force for the Storm throughout his career. In Simpson’s win over Nebraska Wesleyan he passed 1,000 career points.

“It’s an honor, but I care more about a winning season than 1,000 points,” Dunlavy said. “I’ve had some struggles in the last few years, but I’ve worked hard for it.”

The team looks to Dunlavy as a leader, something he knows and has worked on.

“I see the importance of being a leader out there,” he said.