Sophomore point guard leads Storm toward IIAC tournament


by Matt Lash, Sports Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Storm men’s basketball team sits near the top of the IIAC standings entering the last week of the regular season.

With hopes of hosting a game on Feb. 20 in the IIAC postseason tournament, the Storm are just playing one game at a time.

Sophomore point guard Conor Riordan, who played against head coach Brad Bjorkgren in his high-school career in Ankeny, leads the Storm in points per game. Riordan also leads the team in other ways on and off the court: character and leadership.

“He worked extremely hard in the offseason, and he’s a self-made basketball player,” Bjorkgren said. “I think anybody that comes in — his AAU coach or his high school coach — will say nothing but Conor was their hardest working guy on the team.”

Last season, Riordan averaged just 10 minutes and five points per game last year, playing behind starting point guard Austin Turner. Now, with a new dynamic, Riordan leads the Storm in points (19.6), minutes (34.6) and steals (1.3).

“I knew coming in, because we lost a lot of seniors last year, that’d I’d have to pick up my efficiency on offense,” Riordan said. “Coming off ball screens and getting downhill and making my 3-point shot more consistent were big focuses of mine this offseason.”

He set his priorities and has shown he can play with any team in the conference. Riordan had the best game of his career on Feb. 7 when the Central College Dutch came to town.

Shooting an astounding 14-17 on his way to 39 points, Riordan doesn’t want to take all the credit for the team’s performance.

“Central did a good job of doubling Sam (Amsbaugh), so the guy defending me would sink down to help,” Riordan said. “Sam did a good job of finding me and I was able knock down a good amount of 3’s.”

Amsbaugh and Riordan have played well together all season, but Bjorkgren and the team know they’ll have to continue that trend going into the postseason tournament.

“We’re in a race by ourselves and we control our own destiny,” Bjorkgren said. “We can’t worry about the other games in the conference and we just have to worry about taking care of our business and when we do that, things will fall into place.”

Riordan knows they have to play well to finish out the season strong, but he’s also looking forward to continuing the season in the IIAC tournament.

“When we defend, that’s when we’re at our best,” Riordan said. “We’re an offensive talented team enough that we’re going to be able to score, but when we can get stops consistently and turn defense into offense is when we’re really good.”

The Storm will look to do just that to close out the regular season Saturday against Coe.