College basketball: Jensen gets the call when Whitewater goes 'big'
When UW-Whitewater men’s basketball coach Pat Miller has needed a true center this season, he’s often turned to Riley Jensen.
Jensen, a 2016 Janesville Craig graduate and sophomore for the Warhawks, has started four of nine games this season—including the last two—for a team that is undefeated and ranked 11th in the nation in Division III.
In those four games, the 6-foot-10 Jensen is averaging 7.5 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes.
“It’s all matchups. The first game of the year, they had a traditional five man,” said Miller, who started Jensen in the first two games of the season. “Then we literally played six teams in a row that didn’t have one, so we played Marquis (Turner) because it was better matchup-wise.
“Riley’s fluctuation of playing time is 100 percent matchups.”
Jensen was named the Warhawks’ player of the week after scoring a career-high 18 points and grabbing four rebounds in a victory over Beloit College last week.
For the season, Jensen is averaging 4.2 points and 12.4 minutes per game.
While his usage has depended on matchups, it’s clear he has taken a step forward after averaging 2.3 minutes per game in six games off the bench as a freshman.
“He’ll stay in the mix. He’s done a good job, works very hard and is continuing to get better,” Miller said. “He’s working at getting better at the physicality that it takes to play in the post. The more we can play him, the better, because he’s going to benefit from game reps.”
Jensen and the Warhawks are about to face much more physical post matchups than they have during most of the nonconference portion of their schedule. They’ve got one last nonconference tournament in De Pere on Dec. 29-30 before opening the always-rugged Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule against Oshkosh, River Falls and Eau Claire in January.
"I don’t know that we’ve really been tested too much yet,” Miller said. “But we’re about to be.”
Here’s a look at some other graduates of Janesville Parker and Craig currently playing college basketball:
--Ashley Hartwig, a senior at Division II Truman State and Janesville Parker graduate, has helped lead her team to a 6-2 record. She ranks second on the team in points (10.4 per game) and rebounds (5.4) and leads the way in minutes (25.0) and assists (19 total).
--Carlos Campos, a 2016 Parker grad, has taken over as leading scorer for the Division III Lakeland College Muskies this season. Campos has started all 10 games and is averaging 18.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game. He’s hit 22 of 64 3-point attempts (34.4 percent) and is 30 of 34 from the free-throw line. He had 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 93-85 win over Martin Luther (Minnesota) on Nov. 19.
--Al Hughes, a 2015 Craig grad and The Gazette’s 2014-15 area player of the year, transferred from Minnesota-Crookston to Nova Southeastern University in Florida this season. She’s started eight of nine games for the Sharks and ranks third on the team in scoring at 8.8 points per game. She’s shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and adds nearly two assists per game. Nova Southeastern is a Division II school that plays in the Sunshine State Conference.
--The UW-La Crosse women’s basketball team is off to a 7-2 start in nonconference play. Sophomore Delaney Schoenenberger ranks third on the team, averaging 7.9 points in nearly 20 minutes per game off the bench. She’s shooting nearly 45 percent from beyond the arc. Teammate Annie Schumacher has also played in all nine games and is averaging about one point and one rebound.
--The Division III Edgewood College men’s basketball team has now snagged about half of last year’s Janesville Craig boys hoops graduates. Jake Negus ranks third for the Eagles, scoring 9.4 points per game while starting eight of the team’s nine games. He’s also averaging two assists in about 25 minutes per outing. Fellow 2017 Craig grad Nick Lynch is also on the Edgewood roster, and classmate Adam Anhold announced recently on Twitter that he will transfer from Division II Bemidji State in Minnesota at the semester break to rejoin Negus and Lynch at Edgewood. The Eagles are currently 3-6.
--Darin Empereur, a 2016 Parker grad, is a sophomore at Beloit College. He’s started all eight games for the Bucs and is averaging 5.4 points per game. He had a team-high 17 in the club’s lone victory thus far, a 90-68 win over Macalester on Nov. 18.
--UW-Whitewater senior Jerry Ngobi, a Craig grad, has played in all nine games for the Warhawks and is averaging 2.7 points in a little over 10 minutes per game.
--Bree Porter, a sophomore at Division II Hillsdale College and a 2016 Parker grad, missed much of the early portion of the season but has returned for the Chargers' past two games and averaged 15 minutes in those outings. Hillsdale is 5-5 overall.
--UW-Whitewater sophomore Nikki Foster, a Craig grad, has seen her role increase during the early portion of the season. She’s averaging more than 12 minutes and one rebound per game with four steals.
--Kaitlyn Foster, a sophomore at Concordia University Wisconsin, has played in seven of the team’s eight games and is averaging 2.1 points and one steal per game in an average of 10 minutes off the bench. The DII team is 6-2 and has won five straight games.