April 1, 2005
2004-05 MEN'S BASKETBALL REVIEW
Vikings surprise in rebuilding year with 17-8 overall record and 9-5 mark in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin
What began as a season of question marks and uncertainty ended with a rousing stamp of success for head coach
When graduation claimed Carstens, Shaun Clements, Jim Thomas, Bill Goehrke, Brad Novak and Aaron Thompson, there were questions of how well the Vikings could survive. The answer came in resounding fashion as the senior class of Travis Hoyt (Moline HS, Moline, IL), Joe Baumann (Carmel HS, Mundelein, IL – now resides in Wilton, NY), Matt Salisbury (Kewanee HS, Kewanee, IL), John Sexton (Brother Rice HS, Chicago, IL) and Jordan Watson (Galesburg HS, Galesburg, IL) met every challenge. They helped lead Augustana to a 17-8 overall record and a 9-5 mark in the CCIW, good enough for fourth place in the league. Along the way they defeated the number one ranked NCAA Division III team in the nation in Illinois Wesleyan and also claimed victories over three others who were in the top 25 at some point during the year (Wheaton, Wartburg and North Central).
Over the past four years this senior class, which certainly did not receive the attention nor the accolades of the preceding bunch, put together an identical 70-30 record overall and a 39-17 mark in the CCIW. They were also part of teams that finished second, first, second and fourth in the conference over that same time span. At home in the friendly confines of the Carver PE Center they were a superb 41-7 in all games and 24-4 in the league.
All this left Giovanine ecstatic about the shape of his program.
“I think this shows a lot about the state of the Augustana basketball program,” said Giovanine who is 97-53 overall and 52-32 in his six seasons at the helm. “We challenged our kids to continue with the success that had been laid before them and they more than answered the call. I am very proud of what this team accomplished this year.”
In typical Giovanine-coached fashion, the Vikings used multiple rotations that saw nine different players start during the season. Ten players logged at least 10 minutes per game of playing time and seven averaged at least five points per game. It was, as Giovanine always stresses, an ultimate team accomplishment.
There were some players who emerged as bonafide threats, most notably juniors Jay McAdams-Thornton (Moline HS, Moline, IL) and Rick Harrigan (Brother Rice HS, Chicago, IL). McAdams-Thornton led the team in scoring with 373 points in 25 games for a 14.9 average while Harrigan was the only other player in double figures at 13.4 (335 points in 25 games). Sophomore point guard Drew Wessels (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, IA) came into his own and became a defensive terror. He led the team in steals with 63 and assists with 76 while scoring at an 8.0 clip. He also led the team in free throw percentage at .816 (71-87). The Vikings averaged 75.7 points per game and gave up just 68.1 while maintaining a rebounding edge of 35.8 to 33.4.
McAdams-Thornton was named first team all-conference while Harrigan was a second team selection. McAdams-Thornton finished seventh in the conference in scoring with a 15.2 average in league games and he was fifth in rebounding at 6.7. Harrigan was fifth in the CCIW in scoring at 15.4, fourth in three point field goals made at 2.21 and sixth in steals at 1.29. Hoyt was fourth in field goal percentage at .573 (51-89) and second in blocked shots at 1.36. Wessels was fourth in assists with 4.14 in league games, second in steals at 2.57 and third in assist/turnover ratio at 1.87. He was also seventh in free throw percentage with a mark of .784 (29-37) in conference play.
In six years he does not have a losing record against any of the teams in the CCIW and over the past five seasons the Vikings have gone 87-38 overall and 48-22 in the conference. His teams have been 59-13 at home overall and 34-8 in the CCIW. In the past five years they are 52-7 overall and 30-5 in conference while playing in the Carver PE Center. His overall record as a head coach, including a six year stint at Lamar University where he was 80-85, is now 177-138.
When the final voting came in for the post-season awards, McAdams-Thornton was selected as the team’s Most Outstanding Player. Wessels was the Best Defensive Player and the Most Valuable Junior Varsity Player was Sam Johnson (Rock Island HS, Rock Island, IL). McAdams-Thornton won the honor as the team’s best rebounder.
The 2004-05 season began with the Vikings playing at NCAA Division I power Southern Illinois as part of the Las Vegas Invitational and although the Salukis scored an 83-59 victory, Giovanine thought his club competed well. Following the loss at Southern Illinois, Augustana ripped off wins against Beloit, St. Ambrose and Wartburg before stumbling on the road at Simpson. A home win against Coe and a home loss to Ripon left the Vikings at 4-3 midway through December. Four straight victories followed, including a crushing 82-64 win at Hope in the championship game of the Russ DeVette Invitational on December 30. McAdams-Thornton was named the MVP of the tournament and Hoyt and Wessels joined him on the all-tournament team.
That gave the Blue & Gold an 8-3 record heading into conference play. The CCIW season started on a downer with an 86-76 loss at North Central on January 5 but the Vikings rebounded with home wins over Millikin and North Park. A 67-52 loss at Illinois Wesleyan on January 19 left them at 2-2 in the league but wins over Carthage and North Central put them at 4-2 heading into the last week in January. In a hard-fought contest the Vikings fell 62-59 at Wheaton on January 29 but came back to beat North Park 74-61 on the road.
After suffering a rare home loss on February 9 to Elmhurst by a score of 86-79, Augustana hosted number one ranked Illinois Wesleyan on February 12. With the Carver PE Center packed, the Vikings knocked off the Titans 77-76 behind 23 points from Harrigan. Road wins at Millikin and Carthage followed and then came a critical 83-76 home victory over Wheaton on February 24. That left the Vikings at 17-7 heading into the final game of the season, a road affair at Elmhurst. Despite leading late in the contest, Augustana fell 68-67 in overtime to end the season 17-8 overall and 9-5 in the CCIW.
2004-05 COLLEGE CONFERENCE OF ILLINOIS & WISCONSIN STANDINGS
2004-05 AUGUSTANA SUPERLATIVES
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: Jay McAdams-Thornton
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Drew Wessels
JUNIOR VARSITY MOST VALUABLE: Sam Johnson
TOP REBOUNDER: Jay McAdams-Thornton
RUSS DEVETTE MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: Jay McAdams-Thornton
RUSS DEVETTE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Jay McAdams-Thornton, Travis Hoyt and Drew Wessels
CCIW “PLAYER OF THE WEEK”: Jay McAdams-Thornton on 01/03/05