Regents and Eagles Set for First-Place Showdown on Wednesday

Will Adams
Will Adams

ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford University men's basketball team (5-2, 3-0 NACC) is off to its best start in conference play in five years and is just one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the NACC. Rockford will put its unblemished conference record on the line this Wednesday at 7 PM when the Regents welcome the Benedictine University Eagles (3-3, 3-0 NACC) to the Seaver Center. Wednesday's tilt is especially important as the winner of the game will be alone in first place and hold the early head-to-head tiebreaker. The Regents will need to reverse recent history in the series if they want to come away with the win, as Benedictine has won nine straight meetings, with Rockford's last win coming back on December 8, 2012 in the Seaver Center. 

Team Comparison:
As a team, both the Regents and Eagles rank at or near the top of the conference in multiple key categories. The Regents have been particularly stout on the defensive end of the floor in comparison to recent years. Rockford is allowing 10 less points per game this season and has moved into the upper half of the NACC in points allowed. Additionally Rockford ranks third in the conference in defensive field goal percentage with opponents shooting just 42.6% against them. One of Rockford's biggest strengths this season has been its ability to rebound the basketball. Rockford currently leads the NACC averaging 44.0 rebounds per game, including a NACC high 14.6 offensive rebounds per game. The Regents also do an excellent job sharing the basketball, as Rockford leads the conference with 15.1 assists per game. However, the Eagles will provide a tough test for the Regents as they are near the top of the conference in both offensive and defensive shooting percentage. Offensively, Benedictine is second in 3-point field goal percentage (35.8%) and third in overall shooting percentage (47.2%). Defensively, the Eagles are second in field goal percentage allowed (41.6%) and fourth in points allowed (75.0).

Rockford Individual Leaders:
Rockford has four individuals averaging double-figures in scoring entering Wednesday's matchup. Junior transfer Will Adams (Chicago, Ill.) has been excellent on the perimeter on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. He currently leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game, while shooting an impressive 49.3% from the floor and 33.3% from long range. Defensively, Adams provides Rockford with some much needed speed and quickness on the perimeter, ranking 13th in the conference with 1.4 steals per game. Fellow junior Taylor Krocker (Portage, Wis.) has also made an immediate impact for the Regents this season. Krocker is second on the team and 21st in the NACC averaging 12.9 points per game, and is especially effective at the free throw line where he ranks fourth in the NACC converting on 90.0% of his attempts. He has also done an excellent job providing the team with a solid interior presence and is the tenth leading rebounder in the conference with 6.3 rebounds per game. Senior Trae Blumhorst (Mendota, Ill.) is coming off a monster week where he averaged 22.5 points to increase his season average to 11.0 points per game. In addition to his scoring, Blumhorst is showing why he is one of the top all-around players in the NACC. Through the first seven games, he ranks sixth in shooting percentage (53.8%), eighth in blocks per game (1.3), ninth in assists (3.3) and seventeenth in rebounding (5.6). Junior Tony Diemer (Rockford, Ill.) is the final Regent to average in double-figures in scoring with 11.0 points per game. He has also been extremely effective on the boards, ranking ninth in the NACC with 6.6 rebounds per game.

Benedictine Individual Leaders:
Benedictine also has four key individuals averaging double-figures in scoring. The Eagles are led by Brayden Olson who is the third leading scorer (20.8) in the NACC. Olson has been on fire as of late scoring at least 20 points in three of the last four games including a pair of 30-point performances. He also does an excellent job of distributing the basketball averaging 3.8 assists per game, to rank fifth in the NACC. Kenny Bogus is another key contributor for the Eagles. Bogus is thirteenth in the NACC in scoring (14.8), second in assists (4.7), third in blocks (1.5) and fourth in steals (1.7). Eric Grygo has become a force under the basket for the Eagles in his first season as a full-time starter. Grygo is averaging 13.7 points per game and ranks third in the NACC shooting a blistering 66.0% from the field. He is also third in the conference in blocks (1.5) and fifth in rebounding (8.3). Jens Soderholm is the final Eagle to average double-figures in scoring with 10.5 points per game. Solderholm has been particularly efficient with his attempts, knocking down 51.2% of his shots including 45.0% from beyond the arc.