Men’s basketball looks to build off strong 2019

After a solid first half of the season, the St. Cloud State men’s basketball team looks to carry their winning ways into the new year. 

The Huskies finished the calendar year of 2019 with an overall record of 7-5, and currently sit tied for second in the NSIC North. The season has started with many successes for the Cardinal and Black on the hardwood.

One of the most surprising is the dominant play of senior guard Trevon Marshall. Marshall, who has spent all four years of his collegiate career at SCSU, was thrown into a role of leadership after the Huskies graduated four of their leading scorers from a season ago.

Marshall has never averaged over seven points per game in his career, until this season. In the first 12 games of the season, Marshall has boosted his way to averaging 17.9 points per game which leads the Huskies at the halfway mark and ranks eighth in the conference.

Throughout his offensive tear this season, Marshall has scored over 20 points in half of the games, and has achieved a new career high of 31 points which is a mark he reached in a conference game against Minot State. The senior guard currently leads the offensive charge for SCSU going into the year 2020. 

The Huskies are also being helped by a pair of foreign transfers this season. Senior Andrija (Dre) Blatancic and junior Ilya Tyrtyshnik have been vital parts to the play of the Huskies. Blatancic has spent much of his collegiate career bouncing around from Colorado Northwestern to Howard College to Academy of Arts University and has finally found a home at SCSU.

During his time with those programs, Blatancic was able to rack up many accolades and impressive stat lines and he has been able to carry that over to the Huskies this season. The 6 foot 7 inch forward originally from Bergen, Norway has collected an average of 10.9 points per game and has proven to be very efficient by shooting 64 percent from the field which leads the NSIC.

One of his more impressive statistics comes from his ability to be pesky in the passing lanes. Blatancic has tapped his way to 17 steals on the season which points him at 1.4 steals per game and leads the team in that category. He also is ranked third on the team in scoring after the first 12 games. 

Joining him on the transfer train is the second leader scorer on the team, Junior Ilya Tyrtyshnik. Tyrtyshnik started his playing career in the SEC at Ole Miss, in his time as a Rebel he earned his way onto the all-first year academic team.

He then took his talents to North Platte Community College and has since also found a home at SCSU. In his first season with the Huskies, the native of Kyiv Ukraine has come to average 11.3 points per contest this season and has shown to have one of the smoothest strokes on the team.

The junior guard is shooting just a shade under 40% from beyond the arc and has made 25 out of his 63 attempts which is the most on the team. He also has connected on 31 of his 38 attempts from the charity stripe for the Huskies. That puts him at a 79.5 percent success rate in the first 12 games from the free throw line which ranks 10th in the conference. 

Those two newcomers are not the only new Huskies producing at the mid-way mark this season. The freshman tandem of Anthony Roberts and Caleb Donaldson have proven vital to the early success of SCSU on the court. Roberts, a 6 foot 4 inch forward from Chicago, Illinois, has also helped the Huskies offensively by putting up 10.3 points per game which puts him right behind the top scorers at fourth on the team.

One of Roberts’s strongest parts of his game is his ability to defend the rim. He currently paces the Huskies with seven blocks on the season, and has proven to be a main guy in the starting rotation. Donaldson joins Roberts in the Freshman class and has become key to the play of St. Cloud State.

Donaldson, also a native of Illinois, began the season as a key factor coming off the bench at the Guard position. In the final game of the 2019 season, the 6 foot 3 inch guard cracked the starting lineup for the first time against the University of Minnesota Duluth.

SCSU went on to dominate the northern rival, by a final score of 76-65, and in big contribution, Donaldson contributed 16 points which became a new scoring high in his young collegiate career. These two, from the Prairie State, look to continue jumping out of the gym in the year 2020, while establishing themselves as one of the best Freshman 1-2 punches in the conference. 

With all of the individual success, came much team success to round out the year 2019. The Huskies rounded out the calendar year winning five out of their last six games. SCSU also has the honor in saying no team was able to beat the Huskies twice in the year 2019, an accomplishment few get to share.

One of the biggest achievements for the cardinal and black this season was helping head coach Matt Reimer reach the 100-win mark in his career. The Huskies were able to help Reimer reach the milestone in their big win against U-Mary (88-56) on Dec. 6, 2019.

“I was really happy about it. I got a lot of text messages from former players and I’ll think more about it in the off season, I’m sure, but right now I’m more focused on day-to-day stuff,” Reimer said in an interview with UTVS Television in mid-December.

Reimer, in his sixth season, becomes just the sixth coach in program history to reach the 100 win mark in their career. The former head coach of the New London-Spicer basketball team has cemented his name into the history books and now has 103 in his time at SCSU. 

“It just means I’ve been around a long time and I’ve been blessed to coach a lot of really good basketball players,” Reimer said.

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