Maturity to Talent
Pine View basketball standout
making his mark at the University of Oregon
By Joshua Kors
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
"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.
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
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
"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.