The Simpsonian

A student of the game: Sam Amsbaugh

by Matt Lash, Sports Editor

As the basketball season draws closer to the IIAC tournament, senior forward Sam Amsbaugh is upping his game for the final stretch of his Simpson career for the Storm basketball team.

Earlier this season, Amsbaugh became just the eighth player in program history to record 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. Such an accomplishment is a highlight of his career, but Amsbaugh is only worried about the team winning games.

“It’s a cool milestone, and I’ll be able to look back on it, but the night it happened, we lost to Central, so it wasn’t that great in the moment,” Amsbaugh said.

After starting his sophomore season as a guard, head coach Brad Bjorkgren moved Amsbaugh down to the post. That’s where he’s stayed.

“Even though he’s not a big five-man, he’s able to score on almost every possession that he catches the ball down there or he can create a shot for somebody else,” Bjorkgren said.

Leading the Storm in points per game (20.8), blocks per game (0.7), assists per game (3.8), rebounds per game (7.2) and field goal percentage (51.3 percent), Amsbaugh draws a lot of double teams from opponents.

“I get a lot of attention down in the post from a lot of teams,” Amsbaugh said. “Other guys do a good job of getting open and cutting to get the ball, so when they’re hitting shots, it’s easy to kick the ball out like that to them.”

After going on a six-game win streak, the Storm found themselves in a battle for first place in the IIAC. Now, after a tough loss to Dubuque and a huge win over Neb. Wesleyan last week, Bjorkgren and the Storm aren’t getting complacent about the remainder of the season.

“We’re all disappointed when we lose,” Bjorkgren said. “Maybe in the past, the mindset was ‘hey, we lost, no big deal’. The culture is now ‘we expect to win,’ so it has become a big deal when we lose, which is a good thing.”

With only a handful of games left of the regular season, Amsbaugh and Storm only have one thing in mind.

“Coach has been talking about the ‘one more play’ mentality and once we fully commit to that, more games will start going our way,” Amsbaugh said.

With an offense that relies heavily on driving and kicking the ball from guards to the post, Amsbaugh doesn’t want all the credit for their success.

“All the guards make it easier on me,” Amsbaugh said. “There have been games when teams are double-teaming me, but the guards start hitting shots, so they can’t keep doubling me. It just makes everything more open in the post.”

Bjorkgren preaches the importance of playing as a team and how Amsbaugh has contributed to that mindset.

“Sam’s a good locker room guy,” Bjorkgren said. “He’s willing to speak his mind, and I’ve worked with him on being a good leader but also showing it with his actions on the court.”

A few years ago, Amsbaugh played on a team that went 6-19 overall. The team-first mindset has helped the program get to where it is this season.

“The team-first mindset is how I’ve been successful and how we’ve been successful as a team,” Amsbaugh said. “It’s just the only way to do it.”

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