After battling its way through a grueling league on the path to a Co-MIAC Championship, the Gustavus men’s basketball team was rewarded with a strong showing in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s post-season awards. The Gusties swept the top honors, as guard Seth Anderson (Sr., Minnesota Lake, Minn.) was named the 2011-12 MIAC Joe Hutton Player-of-the-Year. Teammate Jim Hill (Jr., Edina, Minn.) earned MIAC Sixth Man-of-the-Year honors, while head coach Mark Hanson was honored by his peers as the conference’s Coach-of-the-Year.
From the moment Seth Anderson hit a jumper with :02 seconds remaining to defeat Buena Vista 98-96 in the season-opener on Nov. 15, it was clear that this season was going to be special. Anderson set the pace for the year by tying the single-game school record with 45 points on 18-of-28 shooting in the game.
Anderson’s name appeared in Gustavus’ leading scorer column in 20-of-27 games this season, scoring double-figures in every game but one. He went on to reach 30 points six times while surpassing the 20-point mark on 14 occasions. Starting in all 27 games, the 6-2 guard led the MIAC with a 21.4 points per game scoring average, leading the team in shooting with a .541 field goal percentage (8th/MIAC). A pure scorer in an old-school sense, Anderson only made five three-pointers all season, scoring over 75-percent of his total points on a league-leading 225 two-point field goals. In comparison, Saint Mary’s Michael Burfeind was next in line with 163 total field goals.
To put the season in perspective, Seth scored a total of 596 points his first three seasons in a Gustavus uniform and 579 points this season. Going into Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first round game with Wheaton College, the local product of from nearby Minnesota Lake sits just 25 points behind Luke Schmidt’s single-season school record point-total of 604 set in the 1997-98 season.
A 2010-11 All-MIAC performer, Anderson is the fourth Gustavus men’s basketball player to earn the league’s MVP honor, joining the likes of Jay Klagge (1991-92), Scott Lauinger (1995-96), and Doug Espenson (2004-05).
Junior wing Jim Hill took home the MIAC’s Sixth Man-of-the-Year award after coming off the bench to score an average of 8.0 points per game. Hill reached double-figures eight times and scored a season-high 19 points against Saint John’s on Feb. 13 after Anderson played just 17 minutes after suffering an injury the night before. Averaging 20.1 minutes per game, Hill is shooting .438 from the field and averaging 3.6 rebounds.
Head Coach Mark Hanson earned MIAC Coach-of-the-Year distinction after directing the Gusties back to their first MIAC regular season title since the 2004-05 season. Hanson, currently in 22nd year at the head of the Gustavus men’s basketball program, receives the award for the eighth time in his tenure. Gustavus finished 20-7 overall and 16-4 in the MIAC, winning the conference for the seventh time under Hanson. Mark led the Gusties to their 12th straight MIAC Playoff appearance, later reaching the title game for the 14th time. He is currently 422-184 overall in his career and will be making his 11th trip to the NCAA Tournament this weekend when the Gusties take on Wheaton in the first round on March 2.
Joining Anderson on the All-Conference team is senior guard Tyler Grey (Montevideo, Minn/Montevideo). A full-time starter since Jan. 11, Grey has been the x-factor for the Gusties down the stretch. Scoring an average of 8.0 points per game this season, Grey has reached double-digits on 10 occasions this season, all of which came after Christmas break. The senior ranks third in the MIAC in three-point shooting with a team-high percentage of .410 (41-100). He has scored a career-best 216 points this season, and is shooting 47.4-percent from the field while dishing out 45 assists (3rd/team).
A model of hard work, consistency, and versatility, Grey battled back from a knee injury following the 2010-11 season to play in all 27 games this year. With that, the Montevideo, Minn. native earns the Iron Man Award after having played in all 109 games of his collegiate career. Grey has scored a career total of 614 points and is a 45.5-percent (235-528) shooter from the field and a 40.6-percent (112-276) shooter from three-point range. Grey sits in 12th place on the all-time three-point field goals list at Gustavus with 112.
Earning a spot on the All-Defensive Team is senior center Paul Blacklock (Winona, Minn./Winona). Blacklock terrorized the opposing front-court throughout the season, leading the league in blocked shots with 42 (1.56 bpg) and ranking seventh in the league in rebounding with a total of 180 boards for an average of 6.7 per game. The 6-7 post is averaging 4.5 points per game and is shooting .568 (46-81) from the field.
Blacklock will leave his mark as one of the top shot-blockers in recent Gustavus basketball history. Playing in a total of 81 games for the Gusties, Blacklock has turned away 115 shots, ranking second at Gustavus since the 1992-93 season. The Winona, Minn. native has brought down a total of 496 rebounds for an average of 6.1 boards per game. Paul also received a spot on this season’s All-Conference Honorable Mention Team.
Alongside Blacklock on the honorable mention team is junior guard Ben Biewen (Edina, Minn./Edina). Biewen has started in 25-of-27 games this season and is averaging 23.1 minutes. He also ranks second on the team in scoring at 8.9 points per game. The junior boasts the league’s third-best free throw shooting percentage at .865 (64-74) and ranks eighth in the MIAC in assists per game at 2.52.
As part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative, the MIAC also announced the sixth annual All-MIAC Sportsmanship team for men’s basketball. Members of the All-MIAC Sportsmanship team are selected by their coaches and teammates as individuals who demonstrate ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field of competition. Gustavus’ representative on this season’s team is senior Ryan Nett of Spring Valley, Ill. A four-year member of the program, Nett has appeared in 12 games this season, recording his first collegiate point on Jan. 18 against Hamline.