Senior guard Dmitri Thompson and junior forward Tyler Seibring said their singular focus Jan. 7 was defeating Hofstra University on a frigid day in Hempstead, New York.
But both Elon University men’s basketball players chuckled when they admitted there was another contest in the back of their mind.
And it was against each other.
Ahead of the game, both players were within arms reach of reaching 1,000 career points. Seibring needed 20 points, while Thompson needed 18. So during the Phoenix’s 89-76 rout of the Tigers, the competition wasn't only on the scoreboard, but who would etch their name in the record book first.
“Ty and I discussed it once and only discussed it once, and we were in a little bit of a competition,” Thompson said. “We definitely were not competing against each other during the game, but we were aware.”
Seibring barely edged Thompson to that goal, scoring his thousandth point by a three point shot with just over 10 minutes remaining in the second half. Thompson quickly followed two minutes later with a three pointer himself. Seibring finished the game with 22 points and Thompson added 18. Both players said it was an honor to achieve that feat. At Elon (11-6), only 39 other players have done so in program history. Seibring said even though these are individual accolades, it takes a team effort to reach them.
“It’s a good honor to have it and obviously it's exciting to have it,” Seibring said. “We definitely cherished that moment together because you can’t do it by yourself. We had a lot of good passers giving us good looks.”
Head Coach Matt Matheny said he noticed in his pregame notes that Thompson and Seibring were quickly approaching 1,000 points. Afterwards, Matheny said he congratulated them. But, like his players, he said they couldn't celebrate the feat forever. They still have the remainder of the season to worry about.
“As a coach, I couldn't be happier for them,” he said. “It's a great benchmark and it speaks to their growth as players. And as a unit, the main thing we really focus on is our team’s improvement.”
Seibring and Thompson agreed and said they couldn't accomplish this without each other. Schematically, the two complement each other well because of their skill sets. At 6 feet, 9 inches tall, Seibring is the third tallest player on Elon’s roster. But this season, he leads the team in three point field goal percentage at 43.5 percent (minimum of 40 attempts). His ability to play on the perimeter and in the paint is frustrating to defenses.
When he knocks down outside shots, it forces the defense’s big men to cover him in space. And that leads to more driving lanes for Thompson, who is averaging 11.7 points per game, the third highest average on the team.
Matheny said he noticed key qualities in both men when he recruited them. Thompson’s talent allowed him to play early in his collegiate career. And over the past year, he said Seibring has earned more respect from his teammates for developing his vocal leadership on the floor. Thompson said it was only fitting that they receive this accolade at the same time, in the same game.
“It was good, it's always great to be a part of history no matter what it is,” he said. “It's always fun to do it Its a team game so being able to do it with your teammate is great.”
The coming weeks are the most crucial for the Phoenix as they are in the thick of their Colonial Athletic Association schedule. And while they jockey for tournament position, Matheny said he’ll be leaning heavily on Thompson and Sebring for production and leadership.
They said they're up for the task.
“There's a lot of good competition in our conference, so we’re looking forward to a lot of tough games coming up,” Seibring said. “We have to be ready to play every time we step on the floor in conference. We know that and we’re preparing to do that.”