MBB Preview: Storm travel to Florida for winter break

Taylor Filbert
Taylor Filbert

The Simpson Storm men's basketball team will play three games in three days to close the 2017 regular season schedule at the Cruzin' Classic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. beginning Sunday, Dec. 17. Simpson plays Olivet on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, Husson on Monday at 6 p.m. ET and Ave Maria at 10 a.m. ET from the Broward County Convention Center.

The Storm (3-5) haven't played since an 87-83 win at Dubuque on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Trip Sports, Inc. will provide video streaming for $8.95 per game (links below).

THE GAMES
Simpson (3-5) vs. Olivet (2-4)
Sunday, Dec. 17 — 6 p.m. ET
Broward County Convention Center — Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Live Video ($)

Simpson (3-5) vs. Husson (6-1)
Monday, Dec. 18 — 6 p.m. ET
Broward County Convention Center — Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Live Video ($)

Simpson (3-5) vs. Ave Maria (1-9)
Tuesday, Dec. 19 — 10 a.m. ET
Broward County Convention Center — Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Live Video ($)

STARTING FIVE
1 — The Storm are coming off an 87-83 win at Dubuque on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Sam Amsbaugh and Tyler Stumbo scored 22 points apiece and Amsbaugh added 11 rebounds as Simpson held on to win after leading by as many as 16 points in the first half.

2 — After becoming the 20th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points earlier this season, senior forward Sam Amsbaugh continues to move up the charts. He goes into the Cruzin' Classic ranked 10th in school history with 1,160 career points. He has scored in double figures in 13 straight games and ranks second in the IIAC in both scoring (20.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg).

3 — After a slow start to the season, Stumbo has found his groove as of late. The Dordt transfer continued his recent tear with 22 points against Dubuque and is averaging 23.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg and shooting 59 percent from the field in the last three games. That's up from 5.4/3.8/31.6 in the first five games.

4 — The biggest determining factor in wins and losses for the Storm has been rebounding. Simpson is 3-1 on the year when tying or out-rebounding its opponent but just 0-4 when getting beat on the glass.

5 — The Storm have been ahead or behind by at least 14 points in their last three games, yet the average margin in those games is just 4.7 points. Simpson trailed by 16 against Buena Vista (lost 91-90), 14 against Nebraska Wesleyan (lost 94-85) and led Dubuque by 16 (won 87-83).

SERIES NOTES
Simpson will be playing Olivet, Husson and Ave Maria for the first time.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Olivet Comets — From Olivet, Mich., the Comets compete in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association … coached by Steve Ernst (second season) … 2-4 overall … led by 6-5 senior guard Jalen Adams, who leads the MIAA with 27.5 ppg and ranks second with 8.8 rpg … 5-10 junior guard Tracy Edmond averages 17.7 ppg.

Husson Eagles — From Bangor, Maine, the Eagles compete in the North Atlantic Conference … coached by 450 game-winner Warren Caruso (24th season) … two-time defending NAC champions and unanimous pick to win again are 6-1 overall and leading the NAC with a perfect 4-0 mark … led by defending NAC MVP and All-American senior guard Raheem Anderson, who averages a league-best 22.1 ppg … Eagles also have the 2017 NAC Defensive Player of the Year in 6-5 junior forward Justin Martin, who averages 2.9 blocks per game.

Ave Maria Gyrenes — From Ave Maria, Fla. (17 miles east of Naples), the Gyrenes are members of NAIA and compete in The Sun Conference … coached by John Lamanna (second season) … 1-9 overall and carrying a five-game losing streak … led by 5-11 junior guard Greenan Sullivan's 11.3 ppg … 6-8 freshman forward Jovan Grujicic averages 10.4 ppg and 7.8 rpg … college was founded in 2003.