St. John's basketball captured another MIAC regular season title by finishing the conference regular season 18-2.  The Johnnies hold a 20-5 overall record as they get set to play Hamline in the MIAC tournament semifinals in Collegeville Thursday night at 7 p.m.   St. John's head coach Pat McKenzie joined me on WJON.  He says winning a conference regular season title was one of their goals.  The next goal is winning the conference tournament, according to McKenzie.  McKenzie explains:

This group has been really fun.  I'm very happy for them and feel they responded well.  It's been a great regular season.

St. John's began the season with a pair of losses to UW-Eau Claire and UW-Platteville before finding their stride.  McKenzie explains they had some injuries that caused some players to be out prior to the regular season.  He says they needed to learn rotations and roles early in the season.  McKenzie says the loses can also be attributed to tough opponents.  He says it was a combination of getting guys healthy and finding their way.

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St. John's won 8 straight games after the 0-2 start and their only loses in the MIAC were by a combined 2 points at Hamline on January 20 and at home against Concordia-Moorhead on February 5.

Pat McKenzie (photo - Graham Miller)
Pat McKenzie (photo - Graham Miller)

The Johnnies this season are led by junior Kooper Vaughn averaging 14.1 points a game, senior Ryan Thissen 13.5 ppg and senior Blake Berg's 12.3 ppg.  McKenzie says depth has served them well this season with a regular rotation of 10-11 players.  He says this group really pulls for each other and always puts team ahead of themselves.

The winner of the MIAC tournament earns the automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament.  St. John's could receive consideration for an at-large berth if they were upset either Thursday or Saturday.  The MIAC championship is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m.  The Johnnies would host the game if they win Thursday.

If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Head Coach Pat McKenzie it is available below.



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