Kyle Schlaak refuses to act his age

BY CHARLES GREEN | JULY 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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At 35, Kyle Schlaak is slightly older than the average player in Prime Time League.

To his coach and teammates, age is just a number, and Schlaak is an ultimate team player for Randy Larson’s team, which will play in the championship on Thursday.

“Although he was a great scorer in college, he’s one of those guys who will do everything you need,” Larson said.

Schlaak played at Winona State from 1997-2001, where he was one of the greatest players in the program’s history.

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference named Schlaak MVP and Defensive Player of the Year for the 2000-01 season. He also earned first-team all-conference honors in each of his final three seasons, and he ranks fourth in the program’s history in points (1,617), and first in free-throw percentage (82.95 percent).

In his 10th season in the Prime Time League, Schlaak’s age hasn’t slowed him down.

“He’s a great, opportunistic defensive player, and he’s so efficient on offense,” Larson said. “That efficiency, although he doesn’t get a lot of shots, makes him tough.”

Larson said it best: If Schlaak is anything, he’s opportunistic and efficient.

On July 24, he scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, helping his team to a 99-96 victory over Dan Ahren’s team in the semifinals.

Schlaak added 8 rebounds for Larson and Company, second on his team only to 7-1 Iowa center Adam Woodbury.

“Obviously, he’s played basketball a long time, so he brings that experience,” Northern Iowa guard Matt Bohannon said. “He’s a great teammate, always willing to run the floor, make the extra pass, and do things not everyone is willing to do.”

Schlaak shows a habit of being in the right place at the right time, moving off the ball and behind the eyes of the defense while getting in position to score and grab rebounds.

On July 24, he consistently rebounded and scored at the basket against bigger, more athletic, and younger defenders.

“I’ll credit my veteran savvy,” Schlaak joked after the game. “I’ve been playing this game for a long time.”

In the final minutes of play, as Larson’s team was in the process of closing a tight game, Larson opted to keep his 6-6 starting small forward Schlaak in the game.

He responded by knocking down two huge free throws and batting down a long pass in the closing seconds to seal the victory, adding clutch to the long list of attributes Schlaak brings to his team.

Opportunistic, unselfish, savvy, efficient, and team-oriented are some others, just to name a few.

For a guy who’s played a lot of basketball in his life, Schlaak’s experience just might give his team the edge in Thursday’s championship showdown against Ron Nove’s team.

“Boy, what a great team player,” Larson said. “He doesn’t care how many shots he gets, just about what he can do to help the team.”

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