Winter break only 30-second timeout for men’s basketball

As Simpson College cleared out for winter break, the men’s basketball team hung around the Des Moines area for a couple extra days as they played five games over the break.

Simpson began with wins over Grinnell College and Westminster College (Mo.) as the Storm fended off a Grinnell Pioneers team, 104-101.

Jack Taylor, who scored 138 points in a game in 2012, put up 43 points as Grinnell native Dillon Gretzky led the Storm with 24 points.

Showdown in Des Moines with Drake University

On Dec. 22, the Storm got an early Christmas gift as they got to play a Division I opponent in Drake University.

Simpson would lead 14-10 early in the first half, but eventually fell 84-62 to the Bulldogs.

Nevertheless, it’s an experience Simpson basketball greatly benefited from.

“Just to get an opportunity to play a DI school in a DI arena was a great opportunity for our program,” head coach Charles Zanders said. “A lot of our recruits got to watch that game and we received some word from them about how hard we played.”

Charles Swain scored 21 points in the game, earning All-Iowa Conference Performer of the Week honors.

IIAC play kicks off

Men’s basketball took off 16 days before jumping into conference play at Coe College on Jan. 7.

Simpson lost 66-44, shooting only 32.1 percent against the Kohawks as they dropped the conference opener.

Simpson knocks off Buena Vista on the Gretzky to Dafney game winner

After losing four straight to Buena Vista University, the Storm rebounded for a thrilling 65-62 win over the IIAC preseason favorite.

With only 4.6 seconds to play, Buena Vista was leading 62-61 and Simpson had the ball under the Beavers basket.

Zanders drew up the play for Gretzky to lob a pass to sophomore DJ Dafney streaking through the lane.

It just had to be executed, but as Gretzky took the ball Zanders shouted out a decoy audible, knowing Buena Vista had scouted their inbound plays that week.

Thankfully, Gretzky read the strategic gesture.

“They brought a 6 ft. 7 guy on me so I just took a step back to give myself space,” Gretzky said. “I didn’t think about throwing any pass. I just threw it up there and knew he’d get it.”

It went exactly as Gretzky said, as Dafney reeled in the pass and put up a 3-foot layup that hung on the rim and fell in for the win.

Road Losses to Loras and Wartburg College

After the home win, Simpson went on the road losing 78-66 to Loras College and 74-57 against Wartburg College.

In both games the Storm had opportunities to win though their opponents shot at least 50 percent from the field in both instances.

For men’s basketball it’s been about playing shut-down defense and shooting consistently, things that have come and gone.

“When we lose it’s been our defense,” Gretzky said. “Against Buena Vista we were getting stops and were creating opportunities for us on the offensive end.”

Men’s basketball carries on without Gutschenritter, Anderson

At 6-9, 1-3 in IIAC play heading into Wednesday night’s game with Luther College, the conference season is still in front of Simpson.

But it’ll have to be without starting point guard Chad Gutschenritter and starting senior forward, Tyler Anderson, both of whom transferred from Truman State University.

Gutschenritter averaged nearly 14 points per game last year and quit for personal reasons, whereas Anderson is forced to sit out due to a torn labrum suffered in the season opener.

Anderson averaged 9.4 points per game last season and led the team in rebounds. At 6’ 4”, Anderson will be tough to replace. So far DJ Dafney has had to fill the role.

“It’s been tough without Chad,” Zanders said. “And when you take away a senior in Tyler that’s a big whole to fill. DJ, Austin and Brook are doing their best realizing we’ve moved them around a lot.”

Men’s basketball played Luther on Wednesday night and will move on to the 12-3 University of Dubuque Spartans on Jan. 24.