The Simpson men's basketball team opens 2018 with a pair of home games as the Storm host the Luther Norse on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. and the Loras Duhawks on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 4 p.m. inside Cowles Fieldhouse.
Todd Guessford will have the call for the video stream of both games on SimpsonAthletics.com. Pre-game begins at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday and 3:45 on Saturday. Andrew Swadner and Rick Wilson will have the call for Saturday's game on KNIA 1320 AM/95.3 FM and online at KNIAKRLS.com.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1 — The Storm have won 3 of 4 after going 2-1 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. over Winter Break. Simpson opened with a tough three-point loss to Olivet but came back with an 88-82 win over Husson and an 84-78 win over Ave Maria. The Storm were led by Sam Amsbaugh's 30 points against a Husson team that had just one loss on the season.
2 — Yes, Simpson went to Maryville, Mo. to play Division II Northwest Missouri State on Saturday, Dec. 30. But no, the game didn't count. The matchup was just an exhibition game as far as the Storm's record is concerned, so the 85-43 setback to the defending national champions doesn't count on Simpson's ledger.
3 — With his 30-point performance in the win over Husson on Monday, Dec. 19, Sam Amsbaugh tied David Otte (1992-95) for the most 30-point games in program history with five. Jason Parkinson (2003-07) had three and Tim Dunlavy (2006-10) had two.
4 — Taylor Filbert made seven 3-pointers in the Storm's 84-78 win over Ave Maria on Dec. 19, the most by a Simpson player in almost six years. Zack Barragan was the last Simpson player to reach the mark when he also made seven against Buena Vista on Jan. 11, 2012. The school record is 10 held by Josh Richter, who did it against Dubuque on Feb. 22, 2003.
5 — Much has been made of Sam Amsbaugh's prolific scoring (and rightfully so as he sits 10th in school history with 1,228 points), but the argument can be made that he is the best all-around player in the IIAC right now. Going into Wednesday's game, the senior forward is the only player in the league to rank in the top five in scoring (21.2 ppg. 2nd), rebounding (7.2 rpg, 4th) and assists (4.1, t-5th). Amsbaugh's most noticeable improvement has been in the assist department, where he has already tied a career-high with 45 on the season.
Luther — The teams are meeting for the 155th time in a series that dates back to the 1923-24 season … Luther leads the all-time series 82-72 but Simpson has won four in a row … Simpson won both meetings last year, 69-59 in Decorah on Dec. 7 and 74-62 in Indianola on Feb. 15 … Simpson is 22-17 against Luther at Cowles Fieldhouse.
Loras — The teams are meeting for the 96th time in a series that dates back to the 1927-28 season … Loras leads the all-time series 49-46 … the teams split last season's series, each defending its home floor … Loras won 73-65 on Jan. 7 in Dubuque and Simpson snapped Loras' 11-game winning streak with a 101-95 triumph on Jan. 25 in Indianola … the Duhawks have won 7 of 9 in the series.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Luther — Led by 12th-year head coach Mark Franzen, the Norse have won 2 of 3 after an 82-59 win over Martin Luther on Dec. 30. Despite the recent success, Luther is still in search of its first conference win after losses to Central (86-82), Loras (71-51) and Coe (71-66) to start league play. Jared Nicolaisen leads the team in scoring (17.6 ppg), but rebounding has been a sore spot for the Norse. Luther is last in the league with a minus-7.1 margin on the boards.
Loras — Led by second-year head coach Chris Martin, the defending IIAC Champions have won four games in a row to move to 9-3 on the year. Loras is 2-1 in conference play, beating Coe (81-76) and Luther (71-51) and falling to No. 15 Wartburg (98-87). Led by 6-2 junior guard Josh Ruggles (21.1 ppg), the Duhawks average an impressive 93.2 ppg, good for 12th in Division III. Loras relies heavily on the 3-point shot, making 11.2 per game, behind only Nebraska Wesleyan in the IIAC. With the gaudy offensive numbers comes a letdown at the other end, though, as Loras allows a league-worst 83.3 ppg. The Duhawks are a perfect 5-0 at home this season but just 4-3 on the road.