This would have been a better story in the first half of February, when the Lindsey family couldn’t lose.
Even so, February was a remarkable month for Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey and his basketball-playing sons — Jake, a Baylor University junior guard, and Matt, a Salt Lake Community College freshman guard. And this is a good week to check in with Matt Lindsey, with his former Olympus High School teammates playing for what he believes would be a third straight state title — if not for his mistake last March.
That’s a case of blaming himself way too much, considering his role in one championship and how helped the Titans get into position to win another. But that’s also a measure of Lindsey-style accountability, and there’s a lesson in learning from disappointment and moving on, as Matt is doing with the SLCC Bruins.
The Bruins (27-3), ranked No. 8 in the NJCAA, won the Scenic West Athletic Conference regular-season title. Likely assured of an at-large bid to the national tournament, SLCC will play in the conference tournament this weekend in Ephraim.
REGION 18 TOURNAMENT
At Snow College, Ephraim
Thursday • Snow vs. Colorado Northwestern
Friday • Southern Idaho vs. USU-Eastern, SLCC vs Snow-CNCC winner
Saturday • Championship game.
Lindsey also will be thinking about the unbeaten Titans, playing in the Class 5A state tournament at the Huntsman Center, and he always will remember coming close last year in Ogden. “I got one ring,” Lindsey said, “but I would have liked to win a second one.”
Olympus rallied from 25 points behind to beat Corner Canyon in the state semifinals but couldn’t finish a potential regulation victory over Springville in the championship game. Springville’s Seth Mortensen hit a tying 3-pointer, then the Red Devils won 81-79 in double overtime. Lindsey wishes he had fouled Mortensen before the shot.
Asked how he overcame that defeat, Lindsey said, “Personally, it was a hard recovery. I took it more personal than ever because it was my fault that we lost. … I should have fouled. That’s my call, and I messed that up. That’s something that will be haunting.”
That’s basketball. Lindsey is advancing in a career that took him to a junior college level of the game that he endorses as better than it is perceived, and he’s part of a very good, balanced team. He’s averaging 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds as a 6-foot-4 reserve guard.
“He’s been so valuable to our program,” SLCC coach Todd Phillips said. “It’s kind of scary sometimes; you don’t always know what you’re going to get with kids. But I knew exactly what I’d get with him, and he’s just been tremendous for us on and off the court with his experience and all that stuff.”
That’s the Jazz DNA in him. Lindsey likes to share what he has learned from being around NBA players, who have helped him “definitely get a really good feel for the game,” he said.
Lindsey continued, “If someone on my team isn’t doing something right, and I think they can do something better or I’ve seen it done better, I’m going to let them know: ‘Hey, this is from a professional opinion, not just mine. But this could be done a little bit better.’”
The Bruins have done well, and they have more to do. They beat Southern Idaho on the road in double overtime to begin February but lost to CSI at home in overtime Feb. 15. That defeat ended nearly a three-week run when the Bruins, Jazz and Baylor Bears won all of their games.
Baylor has played its way into NCAA Tournament projections. Jake Lindsey averages 4.3 points and 3.1 assists as a part-time starter. He scored 11 points in an 80-64 defeat of Kansas on Feb. 10 and posted seven assists and five rebounds while helping to subdue Oklahoma star Trae Young on Tuesday in an 87-64 win over the Sooners.
The Jazz also have postseason prospects, although they’ve lost the momentum of the 11-game winning streak they carried into the NBA’s All-Star break. Matt Lindsey said he admires his father “overcoming the adversity of losing Gordon [Hayward], acquiring different pieces and turning role players into big pieces of a team.”
SLCC’s roster also blends well. In a junior college setting, Phillips said, “You never know how quickly they’re going to come together. Some years, they just don’t.”
These Bruins have done so. Having won the 2016 national championship with Tyler Rawson, Conner Toolson and other stars, SLCC is capable of making another big run in March.