The men’s basketball team felt underestimated because it
graduated six influential seniors from last year’s national
champions, but that didn’t stop the Tommies from a season full of success. In game two, the Tommies scored an
even 100 against St. Mary’s, and senior guard Grant Shaeffer celebrated his 100th career game. Juniors Ryan Boll
and Michael Hannon each had 15 and 13 points, respectively; John Veil added eight assists. Fourteen different Tommies scored points in this game to start the season strong.
The first win over the Johnnies on Jan. 10 showed the Tommies’ potential, and on Jan. 28, they beat the Johnnies again
as a mid-season affirmation of their hard work. To close
January, the Tommies defeated their biggest MIAC competition, Bethel, 78-58 on Jan. 29 and scored a 59-57 victory over Gustavus on Feb. 1. The Tommies had won 12 of
their last 13 games and led the MIAC standings 16-4 overall.
The semifinal MIAC playoff game Feb. 23rd against St. John’s
had everyone in Shoenecker Arena on their feet. Shaeffer’s
two free throws tied the game with 30. 4 seconds left, but the
Johnnies set up for the last shot. The Tommies lost 80-78 in a
close game, but still earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.
On Mar. 3, they lost to Augustana (Ill.) 77-74 in the NCAA Division III playoffs. Though leading leading in the second half,
with the help of Boll and Veil, Augustana found a string of shots
to go ahead during the closing seconds. Although the Tommies ended the season quicker than expected, many players had encouraging messages for the future of the program.
The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Shaeffer (MIAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year 2016-2017)
to the All-American team. `He said, “The last game of the
season is something that’s ingrained in my brain. As my career abruptly ended, an overwhelming sense of pride ensued. The St. Thomas basketball program has been nothing short of amazing. The awards are a testament to not only
my hard work, but more importantly, my teammates and
coaches and those who played before me to put the UST
basketball program in the national spotlight.”
“EXCELLENCE IS NOT AN ACT,
BUT A HABIT. OUR PROGRAM
DEMANDS YOU WORK HARD
AND BRING YOUR BEST EFFORT
DAY IN AND DAY OUT.”
- JOHN VEIL ‘ 18
Photos: Taylor Fahnlander ( 2, 4) Allie Vognild ( 3)
Page: Emma Bassier