Pioneers sweep Gabe Miller Tip-Off


Shelby Le Duc

Junior forward Jake Manning (34) rips down one of his four rebounds Nov. 16 against Olivet College.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville men’s basketball team swept their pair of games in the Gabe Miller Tip-Off Classic last weekend, starting the regular season 2-0.

Six players reached double figures in scoring as the Pioneers started the Gabe Miller Tip-Off Classic with a 97-64 win over Indiana Dabney Nov. 15.

“We took advantage of a step here and a step here that they didn’t make,” senior point guard Eric Gerber said. “We knocked down shots early, which helped build some confidence.”

UW-Platteville showed their ability from deep, shooting 45.8 percent from the three-point line, which will be a key to their success this season.

One of the main long-range shooters for the Pioneers, junior guard Jim Stocki, hit two of his three three-pointers in the first half before attacking the basket more in the second half. Stocki, who led the team in three-pointers made and attempted last season, has focused his off-season effort on evening his offensive game, which showed with his team-high of 22 points.

“Everyone in the conference is going to have me scouted from last year as a three-point shooter,” Stocki said. “Our big guys helped open up the perimeter; when we got the ball inside, the defense collapsed and got us some easy kick outs.”

Pioneer head coach Jeff Gard said that balancing Stocki’s offense has been a talking point all season, including adding a post-up game when he is guarded by smaller defenders.

In the first half, Indiana Dabney used their athleticism and speed to get close shots, racking up 22 points in the paint in the first 20 minutes. The Pioneers hot shooting, 58.6 percent in the first half, kept them ahead as UW-Platteville took a 51-41 lead into halftime.

After the break, UW-Platteville went on a 14-4 run in the first five minutes to pull ahead by 20, a lead that the Pioneers never allowed to get below for the rest of the half.

“We did it defensively,” Gard said. “We took away what was being successful for them in the first half. We also tried to take away some of the touches that [Indiana Dabney forward William Holloway] got.”

Gard credited the team’s ball movement, which tallied 18 total assists, with providing open shots that the team made to build their lead. Gerber led the team with five assists

The Pioneers also dominated the boards, outrebounding the Lions 42-24, led by junior forward Jake Manning who had nine rebounds.

Reserve guards junior Wes Nemitz and sophomore Peyton River showed their value as scorers off the bench for UW-Platteville, scoring 13 points each.

Each player that suited up for UW-Platteville got at least two minutes of playing time.

“We love that,” Gerber said. “Watching some of those guys getting some minutes and taking advantage of it is great because they do a lot of work on the scout team.”

Indiana Dabney started the game with just seven players in uniform, and finished with just five eligible players, as two of their starters fouled out in the second half.

In a slow paced game Nov. 16, the Pioneers came out on top, 56-45, over Olivet College in the final game of the Gabe Miller Tip-Off Classic. The win gave the Pioneers a perfect weekend, as they have started the season out undefeated (2-0).

Olivet played most of the game in soft zone coverage, forcing the Pioneers to earn most of their points from mid-range to long-range buckets. The Pioneers took advantage of good outside shooting to build a lead they would not lose en route to the victory.

Six of the first 10 field goals for the Pioneers were three pointers, two of which came from Stocki, who tallied nine points and four assists in the victory.

“Our game plan is always to get the ball inside and feed Chas (Cross) and Jake (Manning) and work from there. Early, the zone would collapse and those guys found us along the arc, and we were able to knock down our shots,” Stocki said.

Those three pointers helped the Pioneers build a 32-23 lead at the half.

UW-Platteville built a 14-point lead, but the Comets went on a quick, 6-0 run to draw within eight points, the closest they would get in the second half. After a Pioneer timeout helped slow down Olivet’s surge, the Pioneers looked to the paint and Manning to put the game away. Manning led the Pioneers with 11 points, seven of which came from the free throw line.

“We made a few adjustments to get the ball down low and attack, and it’s always great to see our guys get to the charity stripe and knock down the free ones,” Gard said.

The Pioneers used their strong free throw shooting to pace themselves the rest of the game. They shot 75 percent (18-24) from the line, and, paired with strong defense down the stretch, sealed the victory.

“This weekend showed me where we are as a team right now. We saw two completely different styles of play this weekend and I thought our guys responded very well as a team,” Gard said.

Stocki was named the tournament MVP, and sophomore guard Boston Johnson was also named to the all-tournament team.

“We aren’t a team that’s big on personal accolades, but it felt good. It helps to have a bunch of guys that can get you the ball and help put you in great positions to score, and I was able to knock down my shots,” Stocki said.

UW-Platteville played a home game Tuesday night against Augustana (Ill.). Check for a full recap.