Sophomore sharpshooter Ryan Skaar scoring and studying his way to the top

by Brock Borgeson, sports editor

Going off the Twitter handle, @skaarface32, sophomore guard Ryan Skaar may appear to be some Al Pacino wannabe before you catch the connection with his last name.

When you get down to it though, there is not much relation between Tony Montana and the shooting guard – other than they’re both deadly when armed – except that Skaar doesn’t have to carry around an assault rifle to take down the enemy, he just needs to be behind the 3-point arc with some space and have his shooting hand locked and loaded.

“My job is to come into the game and when I’m open, hit the shot,” Skaar said. “That’s definitely my role, hitting the 3-pointer, and then go from there.”

Statistically, Skaar has been this job, hitting 35-62 of 3-pointers on the season, making him first in the IIAC in 3-point field goal percentage at .565, a full 5.6 percent in front of second place.

The road to Simpson: From rivalry to rapport

His shooting success is nothing, as Skaar holds the record for most 3-pointers in a career and season at Roland-Story High School, racking up 1,000 points as he lead Roland-Story to state after hitting a game-winning shot with 1.2 seconds against West-Fork in 2012.

At this time, Skaar ran into current sophomore Storm point guard, Brook Thompson who played at rival school, Nevada.

Today they’re roommates, shooting partners and Mario kart foes, but at one point they were adversaries.

Thompson had success himself, setting the all-time record for 3-pointers at Nevada. It was then about who could be top-dog in the Heart of Iowa Conference.

“It was definitely more of a rivalry relationship in high school,” Thompson said. “We both started against each other for four years. He put up big numbers all of the time in high school so we always took pride in trying to shut each other down as we were always matched up.”

Being a shooter, Skaar doesn’t want people to forget his concern for defense, as he’s second in the team in steals per game at .8, behind the speedy Austin Turner.

Defense is nice, but what every shooter secretly wants is a rebounder.

 “We got shots up in there all time and are always there to rebound for each other,” Thompson said.

Skaar with the Storm:

Skaar has scored in all 21 games thus far, coming off the bench as the sixth man.

“If you get in, you have to make the most of the minutes you can get,” Skaar said. “I enjoy being the sixth man because I get to see how the game flows before I get out there.”

With four games remaining, and especially after losing leading scorer, Charles Swain, before next year, Skaar should expect to be seeing time as a starter.

“Ryan is playing as good as anybody,” head coach Charles Zanders said. “He’s screaming start me, and isn’t afraid of anyone. At the end of the day, he’ll be expected to be one of our leaders.”

The Story City native has scored in double-figures nine times in 16.7 minutes per game for 8.3 points per game average, tied for second on the team before Wednesday’s game with Dubuque.

Skaar scored 16 points against Central College on 3-3 from three last Saturday, although he’s proven that he can play with Division 1 talent.

Skaar shone under the lights against Drake University in December, scoring 17 points, going 5-6 from 3-point land.

Skaar attributes a lot of his shooting success to a short-memory, a quality of any good shooter, as even players like Skaar put up an air-ball from time to time, as Thompson likes to remind him.

“A lot of guys like to joke with me when they see me air ball a shot in practice, but then I’ll tell myself, ‘let’s make the next five,’” Skaar said. “You have to have a short memory and the mentality that you’ll hit the next one.”

But arguably the most vital key to his success as a shooter are two game-day Cuties clementines. And they have to be from Cuties.

“Ever since high school I’ve had this superstition of eating two clementine oranges during the first half of the girls’ game,” Skaar said. “I love Cuties clementines, and it’s got to be that brand. I just roll them a little bit, peel them out in one continuous strip and then eat them.”

When he’s not on the court:

Coming off the bench as the sixth man, Skaar is no stranger to making the most out of his time, on and off the court, as he balances one of the toughest areas of studies at Simpson.

“The biggest reason I chose Simpson is because I’m a biochemistry major and math minor, with basketball being a bonus,” Skaar said. “Simpson’s science department is top-notch and has the best professors. It’s given me the opportunity to hit the ground running doing undergraduate research since my freshman year.”

When he needs time to kick back and forget chemical compounds, reactions and polysaccharides, you might find Ryan in front of a TV screen, jamming his thumbs to a game of Mario Kart.

“Ryan doesn’t like to lose in anything,” Thompson said. “Especially when we are playing Mario Kart or something on the N64 in our room. Sometimes he’ll lose and get so revved up that it’s fun to watch. We’ll be like, ‘Skaar, you gunna freak out that you lost? ’It’s all in good fun though.”

Skaar will have three more games this season to channel his competitive fire before jumping into an offseason of late-night jump shot sessions, Mario Kart and some heavy studying.