‘He plays big’: Asbjørn Midtgaard showing steady improvement when Wichita State needs it most

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‘He plays big’: Asbjørn Midtgaard showing steady improvement when Wichita State needs it most

Wichita State forward Asbjørn Midtgaard fights for the ball on the ground during the second half of the game against Temple on March 15, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Wichita State forward Asbjørn Midtgaard fights for the ball on the ground during the second half of the game against Temple on March 15, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State forward Asbjørn Midtgaard fights for the ball on the ground during the second half of the game against Temple on March 15, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State forward Asbjørn Midtgaard fights for the ball on the ground during the second half of the game against Temple on March 15, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

MEMPHIS, Tenn— Sophomore big-man Asbjørn Midtgaard didn’t set foot on Devlin Court on Jan. 6 when Wichita State relinquished an 11-point lead to Temple. He wasn’t there to help set screens and get Markis McDuffie open looks when Shizz Alston, Jr. put the team on his back and lead the Owls to an overtime victory.

He wasn’t there.

Fast-forward to March. Wichita State is its second meeting with the Owls, and Midtgaard finished a pair of dunks and held his own in the Shockers’ most important game of the season.

He played in a win or go home setting, and he contributed when Wichita State most needed him to.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State sophomore Asbjorn Midtgaard gets stuffed by Temple’s Ernest Aflakpui during the game against Temple on March 15, 2019 at the FedExForum. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

“It all comes down to what you want,” said teammate Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler, “and he shows that in games.”

Midtgaard played a career-high 23 minutes, tallied six points, four rebounds and two blocks off of the bench in the quarterfinal win. He set screens to open space for McDuffie, who lead with a career-best 34 points. 

“He plays big,” said teammate Jamarius Burton of Midtgaard. “His size allowed us to get some second-chance opportunities.” 

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State forward Asbjørn Midtgaard goes up for a dunk during the second half of the game against Temple on March 15, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

“It’s about playing my role,” Midtgaard said.

The 7-foot sophomore from Denmark has blossomed into a valuable piece for the Shockers success as of late. His successes have matched the team’s steady improvement, to which its won 11 of its last 13 games after a 1-6 start to conference play. 

Flashback to Wichita State’s highs of the metaphorical up-and-down rollercoaster. Midtgaard has been at the center of it.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State center Asbjørn Midtgaard makes a dunk in the second half of the game against UConn on Feb. 28, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

The team’s game against UConn will forever be remembered by the buzzer-beating shot from the flick of Samajae Haynes-Jones’ wrist. Without Midtgaard, that shot may of never happened.

Midtgaard played some of the best all-around basketball of his career in the second half against the Huskies. He recorded four blocked shots in the second period alone — that helped stifle the UConn offense for a long stretch of time.

“His size makes things easier,” freshman Dexter Dennis said. “He helps space the floor. With his size, he attracts more attention. It doesn’t matter how many points he has, he’s going to draw attention.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State center Asbjørn Midtgaard makes a block in the second half of the game against UConn on Feb. 28, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)