Bjorkgren grabs first collegiate win in home-opener vs. Graceland


by Hunter Hillygus, Sports Reporter

In his first official game as Simpson’s head coach, Brad Bjorkgren showed why he was hired this past spring.

Cowles Fieldhouse was rocking as the Storm (1-0) blew past NAIA opponent Graceland (5-3), 87-69 in front of a rejuvenated crowd Simpson crowd.

“I’m really excited for those guys [the team], it’s not about me at all. It’s really about those guys, I’m happy for the whole team,” said Bjorkgren.

Simpson continued its break-neck, run and gun style of play that was shown off in its exhibition against Drake, hoisting up 62 shots, including 32 threes, a style that Bjorkgren expects to see all year.

The play was back-and-fort in the first half, but a late run in the first frame gave Simpson a 43-36 edge at the break.

Graceland put pressure on Simpson and rallied to come within one at 45-44, but a 14-2 run from there have the Storm the control the rest of the way.

“We’re going to push it up and down the floor and we’re going to shoot threes,” Bjorkgren said. “There were a few time that we maybe shot it too quick, but I don’t want them [the players] hesitating.”

The Storm’s defense held strong as well, switching between a man to man defense and a 3-2 zone throughout the game. They held an athletic Yellow Jackets to 44% shooting from the field, but didn’t give them any room to breathe in the second half, holding Graceland to 41% shooting and 0-10 from three-point range.

Austin Turner led the Storm and all scorers with 16 points on 5-10 shooting to go along with seven assists, as four other players reached double figures. Freshman Ben Rajewski chipped in 14 in his collegiate debut, shooting 4-7 from three-point land.

As there is in every season opener, there are things that need improvement and fixing up, but overall Bjorkgren was proud of the way his team fought.

“I’m really proud of how we took their punch early in the first half and we responded with our own run.”