Photo by Rick Johnson
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Senior forward Shane Johannsen was on the bench with two fouls two minutes into the Big Sky opener for the Lumberjacks at Montana. It was a position he quickly realized he can't be in to help his team this season. Over the last two league games, he has averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds a game, showcasing the impact he can have for the Lumberjacks.
"I had a horrible game at Montana," said Johannsen. "Being a senior it is something I cannot have especially in Big Sky play. I have to show up and really work on my game. I cannot let my team down."
Johannsen leads the Lumberjacks into a key conference tilt Saturday against Weber State, the defending Big Sky Conference regular season champions and preseason pick to win the league, at the Rolle Activity Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Arizona, Fox College Sports and Universityhouse. Fans can also listen to the game on 105.1 FM The Big Talker and www.bigtalkerradio.com or watch the television broadcast on the internet at www.bigskytv.org.
Johannsen, who has a 3.2 GPA in civil engineering, was a recruited walk-on to the program out of Valley Christian High School, a 2A school located in Phoenix. He helped his team win the Arizona State Championship in both 2006 and 2007, earning Arizona Republic and Arizona Tribune first-team all-state 1A-4A selection. The team set an Arizona high school record for best reward (34-1).
"I have grown a lot especially coming from a small high school," said Johannsen. "The coaching staff and guys around me have pushed me to get better each and every year."
After playing in 21 games as a true freshman, he started every game as sophomore, scoring 9.9 points per game and breaking the single-season school record for field goal percentage at 72.7 percent. He improved again last season, scoring 10.8 ppg., recording two double-doubles.
"Coming in as a freshman and especially walking on, I had no idea I would have made it here," said Johannsen, who earned a scholarship last season. "It is a great opportunity. I am really blessed and happy with the things I have done."
But he is not done, playing his best basketball heading into the meat of the conference schedule. He is shooting an amazing 74 percent from the field, a mark that would lead the country if he qualified for the national rankings that require an average of five made baskets a game. He has three double-doubles this season, including big rebounding games against Kennesaw State (17) and Idaho State (16).
"The coaches have been trying to get me to shoot the ball more and get inside touches," said Johannsen, who had taken 18 attempts over the last two games.
He credits his teammates for his high percentage from the field and Head Coach Adras appreciates the play of his senior.
"He knows what he is supposed to do on the floor and you can see in that in his performance," said Adras.
The Lumberjacks will need another strong performance against the Wildcats.
Weber State is 6-7 and 0-2 in Big Sky play after being swept by the Montana schools last week, coming to Flagstaff after an eight-day layoff. WSU lost guard Damian Lillard to a broken foot on Dec. 28 but Adras is the first to admit the Wildcats are a dangerous team.
"Lillard always seemed to be their go-to guy when they needed a bucket in a key situation or in the final three minutes of ball games," said Adras at practice on Friday. "He took over games and had a special ability. Without that guys are trying to assume that role and they are still searching to see who is going to be that person. They are still are a very talented team, a team that was picked to win our league with quality post players and perimeter players that can really shoot the basketball. You don't take them lightly because they have lost one guy."
Johannsen hopes to continue to be one of the key guys for NAU, winning Big Sky games and creating special memories like the overtime win on Thursday.
"I have had a lot of them, especially nights like Thursday with an overtime win and being able to celebrate with the guys," said Johannsen of his favorite moments. "It is the little victories that we all get and times with the guys off the court."
Jones Scores 37, Climbing Charts...
Cameron Jones reset his career-high for the second time in three games with 37 points against Idaho State. He jumped to 11th on the all-time scoring list with 1,292 points. He is now eight points shy of 1,300 points, a milestone reached by just nine players in school history. He passed both Kyle Landry (1,274) and Ryan McDade (1,284) and trails Walter Mannon (1,296) entering the game on Saturday. He had celebrated his 100th career game with a career-high 30 points against Montana. He had previously scored 29 two times in his career.
DID YOU KNOW…Based on AHRRC information NAU athletics has a significant impact on the Flagstaff economy. Lumberjack student athletes add $8.7 million to the Northern Arizona economy and visiting teams contributed $650,000 to the hotel and restaurant economy of Flagstaff.