Adding Maturity to Talent

Former Pine View basketball standout

is making his mark at the University of Oregon

By Joshua Kors


St. George, UT - After four years shooting hoops for Pine View High School, Ben Lindquist left Southern Utah in 1998, his basketball future seriously in doubt.

No one questioned Lindquist's raw talent. The St. George native could steal, swivel and dunk like an elite college prospect. What kept him from being considered on that level was Lindquist's lack of discipline.

"Ben is the best basketball player I've probably ever coached, but when he'd get on the court, he'd kind of lose himself," said Rick Palmer, former Pine View assistant coach. "He'd get worked up and start showboating. That hurt his game. And it made enemies of people who normally would have rooted for him."

Though his MVP performance at the 1998 state tournament captured the attention of several scouts, Lindquist ended up at Utah Valley State College, playing junior college rather than Division I ball.

Those who dismissed Lindquist's hoop dreams at that point did so prematurely. After pushing Utah Valley to a 22-9 record, Lindquist was picked up by the University of Oregon. Now in his third year with the Ducks, the former Pine View star stands in the upper echelon of Southern Utah's athletic successes, one of the few to leave Dixie and excel in Division I sports.


                         February 20, 2002


Former Pine View Panthers star Ben Lindquist looks for a crack in the opposing defense as a member of the Oregon Ducks.





"Ben can shoot the three, he's a good passer, and he moves well," said Fred Litzenberger, the Ducks' assistant coach. "He works so hard, he gets everybody else going, both in practice and in games."

Litzenberger says Lindquist's catalytic play helps explain why the Ducks, traditionally doormats in Pacific 10 ball, have risen to 17 in the Associated Press' national rankings and spent the bulk of the 2002 season at the top of the Pac-10.

"Ben," Litzenberger said, "is an emotional energy leader."

Anyone who questions that claim no doubt missed Lindquist's performance, Jan. 6, versus Arizona State. Fighting for a rebound, Lindquist caught an elbow to the face. The accident broke his nose and would require seven stitches. But the Oregon guard refused to spend the rest of the game nursing his wounds.

"I ran into the training room, and the doctor stitched me up. Then I went back and kept playing," Lindquist remembered with a laugh. The true misfortune of the night, he says, was not his injury but the fact that the Ducks didn't emerge with a victory.

That single-minded dedication to the sport typified Lindquist's attitude as far back as his Pine View days.

"Here was a kid that would be in the gym 3, 5, 6 hours a day
- playing, shooting, lifting," Palmer said. "Between his sophomore and junior year he got in the weight room and really spent some time lifting. He was passionate about the game. And that really made a difference."

The rewards of his dedication were obvious to everyone. Lynn Christiansen, the head coach of Pine View during Lindquist's years on the team, recalls his running circles around the weekend warriors who guarded him.

"You hate to say this kind of thing, but Ben, he was a man among boys here in Southern Utah," Christiansen said. "It was just unbelievable the things he could do. Against Dixie (High School) one night, a shot went up and he followed down the lane, caught it above the rim with his hand
- just like you see on TV with the big timers - and just boom! He just jammed it right through the hoop."

"I turned to my assistant and I said, 'Wow.' You just can't teach that kind of stuff."

Christiansen had hoped to teach his star guard other skills, though, like a game-time focus on the on-court action. Lindquist, he says, grew consistently distracted by the raucous adulation of the crowd.

"They'd chant his name, and he kind of played to them," Christiansen said. "He'd start trying to do things that were more show than I wanted done. That was our conflict. He'd want to show them a dunk or some kind of fancy play, and I was from the old school of 'You do it right, you do it right, you do it right.'"

It took a few years
- and a lot of maturing, says Lindquist - but the Oregon guard eventually enrolled in the old school himself.

"I had to humble myself and take a look in the mirror," he said. "I had to see what I could change, what I could make of myself. The showboating, all the things I did in high school, you have to check those at the door when you play here."

Hanging up his old habits not only earned Lindquist a spot on the Oregon Ducks roster
- it's also touched off a renewed sense of good will between himself and his former coach. Christiansen said he's felt proud watching his Pine View star come around. Today the two men talk regularly about life on and off the court.

They have had a lot to talk about. In the summer of 2000, Lindquist married Christiansen's daughter. He and his wife, Joy, live together in Eugene, Ore., where she works in health care and he plays out the final months of his college eligibility.



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