By Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Osseo’s 6-foot-9 junior center Ian Theisen always enjoys playing summer basketball and he never had a better time than this past summer.
“This off season was great. I played summer ball and traveled all over the country,” said Theisen. “It was fun to know that of all the kids on my team my high school was the one that won the state tournament. I took a lot of pride in that.”
Theisen had a lot to do with Osseo winning the state title. He hit a game-winning baseline jumper at the buzzer to help the Orioles beat Lakeville North 49-47 in the state championship game. Theisen said for several months, people kept talking to him about that shot, but the talks finally died down.
“The last time I heard about that shot was about July, so it has definitely died down but a lot of people were still talking about that up until then,” Theisen said.
Since the 2012-13 season opened, the talk about the winning shot has been replaced by talks of opposing teams aiming to knock off the defending state champions. Osseo, one of the most successful basketball programs in the state, always has a target on its back but being the defending state champ and the No. 1 ranked team earlier in the season has made opponents even more eager to topple the Orioles.
Theisen expected that this season would be very challenging because the Orioles graduated eight players and worked very hard during the off-season to prepare. Theisen has an excellent jump shot, but he wants to establish his post game and become a more physical force inside.
“This year I definitely hit the weight a lot harder than I usually do, trying to get bigger and stronger,” Theisen said. “I just continued to work my all-around game, in the post, jump shots, free throws, threes on the wing. I just want to get a better overall game this year.”
Osseo coach Tim Theisen said it’s important for Theisen to develop a strong inside game because that’s a quality big time colleges look for.
“We all know Ian can shoot the outside shot and can shoot the three but what colleges really want to see is Ian Theisen scoring in the paint,” coach Theisen said. “He is improving on that and it’s still one of the areas of progress he needs to work on. In order for him to go big time in Div. I, that’s something he needs to excel at.”
Theisen said he could feel the difference in his strength level and is hopeful he can play with more physicality. He is already an outstanding rebounder (he leads the state in rebounds) but wants to provide the rugged play that last year’s power forward Will Johnson was renowned for.
“I feel a lot stronger. I have worked really hard in the weight room so I am hoping it pays off during the winter,” Theisen said. “ We don’t have Will no more so I am going to have to be the enforcer kind of guy this year. I am looking forward to hopefully doing as good a job as he did.”
“Ian is taking over a little bit of that slack that Will Johnson provided with his muscles,” coach Theisen said. “Ian is probably one of the better rebounders I’ve seen in the state the past three, four years. He is just a dominant rebounder, averages over 12 per game this year and averaged over 10 last year. Plus Ian is a great passer and he makes others around him better.”
Fortunately for Theisen, he is getting support from his teammates, many of whom are playing varsity for the first time. Players such as Rakeem Felder, Malik Wilson, Zach Bahl and Matt Miedtke have helped provide muscles and physical play. And of course, Osseo has probably the state’s toughest guard in senior Bridge Tusler, who leads fellow guards Wheeler Baker, Harrison Lucas and Tyrin Vann.
But Theisen is the main man inside. After a slow first week, he has put together a solid season. He averages 15 points and 12 rebounds per game and has already recorded nine doubles-doubles. He had a 31-point game against Andover and a 20-rebound night against Champlin Park. With Theisen and Tusler leading the way, the Orioles are 9-2, with the losses coming against No. 1 Park Center and former No. 1 Apple Valley.
Theisen said he will continue to work on his overall skills.
“I want to be more dominant in the post than last year. That’s something I really need to work on,” he said. “But I am not going to look to pass on the wing. I’m going to see what’s open, to see if I can shoot a jump shot or if I can go to the rim. I am looking to be a lot more complete player this year.”
“Ian is improving in that area,” coach Theisen said. “He is not quite there yet but he is motivated and we know he will continue to work hard to become that dominant post player.”
While Theisen has not perfected his game his size, athleticism and shooting ability have attracted plenty of interest from Div. I colleges.
“We’ve had a number of DI schools come in the last four months,” coach Theisen said. “I think he has four offers at this point and they will only continue to come in the next year and a half. What makes it even better is he is a good kid in the classroom. He is a consummate student-athlete. It’s something that we want and need in our program.”
The Orioles had two easy wins last week, beating Centennial 78-59 and routing Coon Rapids 82-30. Theisen recorded two doubles-doubles and Baker scored 25 points against Centennial and 19 against Coon Rapids. They remain one game behind Park Center in the league. The Orioles next visit Anoka Friday, Jan. 25.
Contact Bob San at [email protected]