INDIANOLA, Iowa -- The Simpson men's basketball team opens the 2018-19 season Saturday, Nov. 10 when the Storm host the Bethany Lutheran Vikings at Cowles Fieldhouse. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
The Storm and fourth-year head coach Brad Bjorkgren went 13-12 overall and 9-7 in conference play in 2017-18, good for a tie fourth in the league standings. Simpson returns four starters from last year's team but has to replace Iowa Conference co-MVP Sam Amsbaugh and his 19.8 points per game.
KEY RETURNERS (2017-18 stats)
Conor Riordan, Jr., G — 19.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, first team all-conference
Tyler Stumbo, Sr., F — 10.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, honorable mention all-conference
Taylor Filbert, Sr., F — 7.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.7 apg
Ben Rajewski, Sr., G — 6.6 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
John Barbee, Sr., G — 6.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 18 apg
Kyle Wagner, Jr., F — 6.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.7 apg
Adam Reiter, Jr., F — 2.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.3 apg
WATCH THE STORM IN HD: Storm basketball fans can enjoy all Simpson home games in high definition, all free of charge! Logon to SimpsonAthletics.com to access Simpson's video streaming portal through Stretch Internet.
PRESEASON POLL: The Storm were picked third in the American Rivers Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. Simpson received 42 points, one more than Wartburg and 15 behind second-place Loras. Defending national champion Nebraska Wesleyan was the overwhelming favorite with 64 points and eight, first-place votes. Loras earned 57 points and one first-place vote. Coe was fifth (34), followed by Dubuque (6th, 26), Buena Vista and Central (t-7th, 24) and Luther (12th).
BIG NUMBERS RETURNING: Though the Storm lost the league co-MVP and his 19.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game from a year ago, the team returns 72 percent of its scoring and 87 percent of its rebounding. Conor Riordan is the leading returning scorer (19.4 ppg) and Taylor Filbert is the leading returner on the glass (5.2 rpg).
TURNING IT AROUND: The Simpson men's basketball program has experienced a resurgence in Brad Bjorkgren's three years as head coach. The Simpson alum inherited a team with just 17 combined wins the previous three seasons before going 15-11 in his first season of 2015-16. Since then, the Storm have posted at least 13 wins in three straight seasons for the first time since 2001-2004.
RIORDAN ON THE RISE: Junior point guard Conor Riordan experienced a breakthrough season in 2017-18, averaging 19.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his first year as a starter. He reached double figures in each of the last 18 games, including a 39-point outburst in a win over Central on Feb. 7 and a 32-point effort in a win over Nebraska Wesleyan on Jan. 27.
LAST TO BEAT THE CHAMPS: Conor Riordan scored 32 points to lead Simpson to a 102-97 overtime win over Nebraska Wesleyan on Jan. 27, 2018. The win was big for the Storm as it snapped a three-game skid and put them back into title contention. But it ended up being the last loss of the season for the Prairie Wolves, who went on to win 13-straight games en-route to the Division III National Championship.