Things have been busy the last few days for the University of Northern Colorado.
Here’s what’s happened to several Bears teams since last week:
Matty Ice returns
Redshirt senior guard Matt Johnson announced over the weekend that he will return to the men’s basketball program for one more season.
Johnson joined the team as a walk-on under Jeff Linder in 2017. He was red-shirted in year one and was primarily a scout team player in year two. Since then, the Aurora veteran has become one of the program’s most trusted players.
Although he does not lead in scoring, Johnson has been known to make clutch shots at the end of matches – hence his nickname – handing over lobs to teammates in the middle and generally controlling the attack. This season, coach Steve Smiley even praised him for significant growth as a vocal leader.
Johnson averaged 13.4 points per game. match, led the team with 139 assists (T3 for a single season) and scored 495 points (No. 7 for a single season). In addition, Johnson made 42.5% of his 3-point attempts.
He is the first player to announce that he will officially return, although Daylen Kountz is still eligible to return. Kountz shared last week that he would join the NBA Draft for evaluation, but he retains his eligibility and could spend his final year at UNC, depending on his draft prospects.
Kur Jongkuch and Tre’Shon Smoots entered the transfer portal. Bodie Hume – from Sterling – has not yet shared a decision.
A windy day on the baseball field made it difficult for UNC on Tuesday as the team traveled to the Colorado School of Mines on Tuesday.
UNC (6-22, 3-3 Summit League) lost to in-state Division II rival (22-11, 7-9 RMAC), 11-8, after a tough afternoon south.
The Bears played from behind all day, giving up three runs at the bottom of the first and two more at the bottom of the second. Four goals came from solid two-run homers, while another runner came home on an RBI double.
Things were ok on the record – several players recorded hits – but UNC could not always get the right plays at the right time. In fact, 12 runners were stranded at different times of the competition.
A great fourth inning kept Northern Colorado inside the game. It scored five races, including its first in the match, in the frame.
The Bears took advantage of fielding and pitching errors to fill the bases, and then second baseman Shaydon Kubo’s patience at the plate paid off as he pulled a turn to push a run over.
Senior first baseman Josh Glenn then singled to the left, adding two more runs.
Once again, defensive errors gave UNC enough time to move forward and level the game at five.
Junior midfielder Hayden Heinze added a sack escape, second baseman Chase Cromer doubled, and Kubo scored on a wild pitch, providing the final runs for UNC.
CSM added a few more key hits and fast base runs allowed the team to take advantage of the Bears’ defensive games as the wind made it a much bigger challenge than usual.
The Bears ended the day with 11 hits and four errors in the game, while the Orediggers had 14 hits and committed two errors.
UNC’s pitching staff accounted for 12 strikeouts for four walks, one striker and one wild pitch. It was a great day for the guys on the mound.
Mines’ pitching staff also had 12 strikeouts, but it added seven walks, three wild pitches and two hit batters. Its defense and key hit, however, were able to hide some of these imperfections.
Northern Colorado will be back in action at. 5pm Friday to begin its Summit League series against Omaha.
UNC finished 19th out of 22 at the Cowgirl Classic, hosted by the University of Wyoming, in Maricopa, Arizona.
The Bears remained stable through day two after finishing 19th after the first two rounds of competition, landing at 75 over 939.
Junior Amy Chitkoksoong led UNC with a six-over 150. Senior Jenna Chun was short behind with a 10-over 154 after day one. She finished the tournament 11-over 227, and entered the T41 for the individual standings.
Chitkoksoong had a one-over 73 in round two, while she shot five-over 77 in rounds one and three.
Senior Jenna Chun also finished at T71 for a top 75 ranking and finished the tournament with 18-over 234.
UNC finished ahead of Big Sky opponents Montana, Montana State and Portland State in the competition.
The Bears will play in the Bobcat Desert Classic, which hosts Montana State, next Monday and Tuesday to end the regular season. It will contain eight conference teams.
UNC plays at the Big Sky Tournament a week later.
NCAA forum selection
Two UNC student-athletes will participate in the NCAA’s annual “Career in Sports” forum, which has been held for more than a decade.
Sophomore swimmer Ali Jackson and graduate football player Uryan Hudson will be among 200 other athletes to learn about and discuss potential sports careers.
The forum takes place 2-5. June and is designed to help student-athletes determine their future career path. They have the opportunity to learn from current athletic professionals, the NCAA reports.
All participants will learn about how their personal strengths relate to different athletic careers, provide “tangible experiences” to help as they move forward, and explore different careers and strategies for transitioning to a full-time career. It will also provide a clear look at the roles of coaches, administrators and staff in a national governing body.
Student-athletes are nominated by athletic coaches and administrators and selected by the NCAA.