Men’s basketball team clinches berth to IIAC Tournament

by Erich Bogner, Sports Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Fresh off their 74-62 win against Luther on Wednesday, the Simpson men’s basketball team has clinched a berth to the Iowa Conference Tournament, and there is a lot of upside to their situation.

Simpson’s conference record is 9-7, which puts them in fourth place in the IIAC.

Ahead of Simpson sits Loras, Buena Vista and Nebraska Wesleyan. Each of those teams have 10 conference wins. Behind Simpson is Dubuque with seven conference wins. So, the top of the conference is tight as far as wins are concerned.

Simpson’s overall record is 16-9, one win better than Buena Vista’s 14-10. The downside is that two of Buena Vista’s 14 wins came from both of their games against Simpson. Nebraska Wesleyan also beat Simpson in both games, but Simpson split games with conference leader Loras.

“We play very good basketball for long periods of time, but we need to try and get as close to 40 minutes of good offense and playing good defense,” head coach Brad Bjorkgren said. “The closer to 40 minutes we get for those two areas will give us a better chance to be successful.”

Working in Simpson’s favor is point guard Austin Turner, who has scored over 20 points in the last two games and recorded his first double-double last Saturday at Central. Another bright spot for Simpson is Sam Amsbaugh, an all-IIAC first team selection last season, averaging 18.7 points per game this season.

Simpson senior sharpshooter Ryan Skaar is on par with last season, averaging just .5 below his junior season average, but his 3-point percentage is up 3 percent from last season, and he is still averaging over nine points per game. D.J. Dafney brings intensity on the defensive end of the court as Simpson’s best one-on-one defender and is averaging 9.1 points per game on the offensive end of the court as well. Sabonis Smith averages 7.7 points per game and pulls down an average of 3.5 rebounds per game.

In the IIAC Tournament, the first and second seeds get a first-round bye, and then a home game in the second round. The third and fourth seeds get a first-round home game and host the fifth and sixth seeds.

If the seeding stays true, Simpson will play Dubuque at home Tuesday. Simpson split with Dubuque this season. They lost by 15 at Dubuque and beat Dubuque by 10 at home. When Simpson lost, their lead scorer was Amsbaugh with 14, but when they won, Turner put up 28.