April 1, 2001
2000-01 MEN'S BASKETBALL REVIEW
VIKINGS FINISH SEASON RANKED IN TOP 30 IN NATION WITH 17-8 OVERALL RECORD; MIKE NEE NAMED MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
A year ago in his first season as the head coach of the Augustana Vikings men's basketball team
Giovanine had his team in the hunt for the league title down to the last week before three straight losses in the last 10 days of the season put the Vikings in fourth place. It was a season filled with excitement from the very first weekend when the Blue & Gold kicked things off with a 69-54 victory over Muskingum in the Wabash Tournament. A 60-57 loss to Purdue-Calumet in the championship game did not dampen the optimism.
One week after the Wabash Tournament, the Vikings hit the big time with a 76-71 victory over NCAA Division I opponent Western Illinois on November 25 in Macomb, Illinois. That game served as the coming out party for freshman guard Drew Carstens (Downers Grove North HS, Downers Grove, IL). Carstens, a highly regarded prospect, exploded for 23 points to lead the Vikings to victory. With the excitement of the win over the Leathernecks still fresh, Augustana then knocked off perennial NCAA Division III power Wisconsin-Platteville in the friendly confines of the Roy J. Carver Center by a score of 80-74 thanks in part to a 14 point, eight rebound effort from senior Zac Larson (Davenport Central HS, Davenport, IA).
The victory over Platteville was the home opener and it was the springboard to a 10-1 record on the Carver hardwood. The Vikings, with Carstens assuming the role of leading scorer and the rest of the team blending nicely between youth and veterans, surprised most of the experts in the CCIW. Carstens, a slasher who scored most of his points on drives to the basket, ended up leading the team in scoring with a 14.4 average. There was a stretch in the season between November 25 and February 14 when Augustana played 21 games and Carstens was the leading scorer in 15 of those. His best game was a 25 point performance against North Central on January 3 as the Vikings won a 69-66 overtime affair.
Carstens season was cut short by two games due to a knee injury suffered against North Park on February 17 but he still managed to be named to the second team of the CCIW all-conference team.
Winning close games became a trademark of the Vikings as they won two overtime games in the conference and survived one wild ending on the road where a game tying basket by North Central was not allowed. Road losses at Illinois Wesleyan on January 10 and Elmhurst on January 24 left Giovanine's club with 12-5 overall record and a 4-2 mark in the CCIW.
Following the loss to Elmhurst the Vikings won five straight games to force the conference race into an unexpected four team battle. First came a 65-63 win at North Central on January 27 when the Cardinals scored on a tip-in during a wild flurry in the game's waning moments. Officials ruled that the clock had not started in time and waved off the basket. Then came the second overtime victory of the season, this time at home against Wheaton on January 31 by a score of 89-88. Augustana survived this one despite the fact that Thunder guard Kevin Blomstrom dropped in a halfcourt length three pointer as time expired to force the overtime. Freshman center Shaun Clements (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, IL) hit a free throw with one second on the clock in overtime to account for the victory. Adam Talbot (Kewanee HS, Kewanee, IL) scored 24 points to lead the way in the win.
After beating Wheaton, the Vikings came up with two huge home victories over Illinois Wesleyan on February 3 and Carthage on February 6. In the win over the Titans, five players scored in double figures and Talbot had 17 points and eight rebounds while a relentless defensive effort forced Illinois Wesleyan into 22 turnovers.
Three days later the Carver Center was rocking again as sophomore Mike Nee (York HS, Elmhurst, IL) buried three three-point field goals in the final 2:19 as the Vikings erased a seven point Carthage lead. The result was a 62-58 win over the number one ranked team in the country at the time. Nee led the way with 17 points.
After winning three straight home games the Vikings beat Millikin in Decatur, Illinois on February 10 by a score of 76-72 as Carstens dropped in 23 points. Nee once again had the winning basket and Clements blocked a shot at the end of the game as the Big Blue was driving for the game tying score.
The string was finally snapped at home on Valentine's Day as eventual league champion Elmhurst scored a 71-66 victory despite the fact that Augustana shot .577 (15 of 26) from the field in the second half and outrebounded the visitors by a huge 48-30 margin.
A 70-61 loss at North Park on February 17 was further made miserable by Carstens season ending knee injury. The final game of the season was on February 24 in Kenosha, Wisconsin and without Carstens, few gave the Vikings a chance. The Redmen, ranked number one in the NCAA Division III polls most of the season, were still smarting from the loss in Rock Island back on February 6. A gutsy Augustana team battled to the very end before falling 68-67 when a last second tip-in failed to fall.
Mike Nee was selected as the Vikings Most Valuable Player and the versatile swing man was a good choice. He averaged 8.5 points per game, fourth on the team, and pulled down 3.7 rebounds per game while leading the team in assists with 71 and posting 35 steals. He was also a third team all-conference selection.
Adam Talbot was tabbed as the Best Defender after finishing second in the conference in steals. Talbot had a team high 55 steals on the year and was the second leading scorer with a 9.4 average. He shot .824 (70-85) from the free throw line and also averaged 4.8 rebounds per game.
The Best Rebounder award went to Zac Larson who averaged 5.7 per game. He scored 8.4 points per game and shot a team leading .559 (71-127) from the field.
Brian Hisel (McHenry HS, McHenry, IL) was tabbed as the Most Valuable Junior Varsity Player.
2000-2001 AUGUSTANA VIKINGS BASKETBALL LETTERWINNERS
HOMETOWN (HIGH SCHOOL)
Pekin, IL (Pekin)
Downers Grove, IL (Downers Grove North)
Lake Zurich, IL (Lake Zurich)
Hanover Park, IL (Streamwood)
Davenport, IA (Davenport Central)
Elmhurst, IL (York)
Rock Island, IL (Rock Island)
Granville, IL (Putnam County)
Kankakee, IL (Herscher)
Dunlap, IL (Dunlap)
Kewanee, IL (Kewanee)
Wheaton, IL (Wheaton North)
Oregon, IL (Oregon)
2000-01 AUGUSTANA AWARD WINNERS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER - Mike Nee
BEST DEFENDER - Adam Talbot
BEST REBOUNDER - Zac Larson
JUNIOR VARSITY MVP - Brian Hisel
2000-01 FINAL COLLEGE CONFERENCE OF ILLINOIS & WISCONSIN
MEN'S BASKETBALL STANDINGS