Grey Giovanine has coached college basketball for 38 years. Every day, he gets excited about coming to work.
The head coach at NCAA Division III Augustana College has one player in particular to thank for that: Jacobs graduate and Augie senior guard Chrishawn Orange.
“You look forward to seeing that guy every day,” Giovanine said. “I don’t know how many guys you could say that about. He’s the most positive and pleasant guy I’ve coached. To me, that’s the best part about him. He’s had a profound effect on our program.”
That effect was felt again Wednesday night, when the fourth-ranked Vikings (21-2) beat Wheaton College, 93-83, clinching a share of their fifth consecutive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title.
The victory was the 99th Orange has played in during his career, making him the winningest player in school history. Over his four-year career, the Vikings are 99-19 and have made three deep runs in the NCAA tournament, including a one-point loss in the national title game two years ago.
The 99 wins are something that Orange hasn’t reflected on just yet. He prefers to take a much shorter view of the season.
“I knew I’d have a chance (at the record) after last season,” he said. “I just try to focus on the next game and winning that game. When you start looking to the future, you lose sight of what’s right in front of you.”
Orange’s impact often is felt all over the floor.
He is averaging 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds, along with three assists and a team-best 1.3 steals a game. As the team’s best defender, he also finds himself guarding the opponent’s top scorer each night.
“He elevates everybody around him,” Giovanine said. “That’s a unique characteristic that the great ones have.”
Orange, who moved into sixth on the Augie career scoring list Wednesday, relied on defense early in his career to get on the court.
“That was my in during my freshman year, just playing defense and playing hard,” he said. “I take pride in not letting my guy score, and that turned into playing time.”
When talking about Orange’s contributions on the court, Giovanine explains it simply.
“He makes winning plays,” he said.
Along with setting records, Orange is setting an example, Giovanine said, with the way he approaches practice, conditioning, weight lifting and offseason skills work.
“My older teammates really showed me what to do [as a freshman],” Orange said. “They showed me what it takes to be a college basketball player. Now that I’m a senior, I can have that same impact on younger guys coming through our program.
“They can look at me and say, ‘That’s the guy you should be behind. He does it right,’” Orange said. “I definitely want to be an example for young guys to look up to.”
NCC’s Miller honored: Marian Central grad Emily Miller, a sophomore at D-III North Central College, has been named a second-team preseason softball All-American by Fastpitch News.
Miller earned first-team All-America honors last spring from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association after an outstanding freshman season. She became only the third player in school history, and first since 2001, to earn All-America honors.
While batting a team-best .486 last season, Miller set school records for hits (70) and doubles (24) in a season. She also led the team in slugging percentage (.694), runs (50) and triples (three) while batting leadoff and starting every game in center field for the Cardinals (31-10).
NCC opens the season March 14 in Florida, where the team will play eight games over four days.
Reiser races into top 10: Illinois distance runner Jesse Reiser (McHenry West) ran the eighth-best indoor mile time in school history last weekend at the Husker Open in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Reiser’s time of 4:01.98 was good for a fourth-place finish in the event.
Reiser also owns the Illini’s ninth-best indoor 3,000-meter time.
Andrews collects a first: Huntley grad Ali Andrews led the Illinois women’s basketball team with 15 points and 11 rebounds Thursday for her first career double. The Illini (9-14) lost, 72-50, to Purdue.
The junior forward has started 20 games this season and is averaging seven points and 3.8 rebounds, which are both career bests.
Grand Valley leaper: Freshman Tabor Gleason of Michigan’s Grand Valley State University won the high jump Jan. 25 at the GVSU Open with a personal-best effort of 5-feet, 4 1/4 inches.
Gleason (Cary-Grove) finished second in the event in two other meets last month. She also is competing in the triple jump. Her season-best effort is 34-4.
Grand Valley has held the No. 1 spot for three weeks in a row in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s D-II national indoor team ratings index.
Army, Smith run past Navy: Huntley grad Keagan Smith was part of Army West Point’s winning 4x800-meter relay team last weekend in the Black Knights’ 100-81 dual meet victory against rival Navy.
Smith ran the third leg for Army, which won the event in 7:52.95.
Army’s 100-point performance was only its third in the rivalry, which is called the Indoor Star Meet.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.