Taking the Next Step: Bison in the NFL

(Image via Yahoo Sports)

(Image via Yahoo Sports)

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and I have to say as a Bison fan it was fairly disappointing initially. Coming into the draft I had high hopes for a lot of the leaders off of last season’s Championship winning team. Kyle Emanuel received a wheelbarrow of accolades this season and as such was deservingly drafted by the San Diego Chargers this year. However, he wasn’t drafted until the 5th round. But what was more disappointing was the fact that he was the only Bison player drafted this year in spite of what I thought was a crop full of NFL caliber talent.

(Photo Credit: Luke Lu, KFGO)

(Photo Credit: Luke Lu, KFGO)

Now, I’m not saying this Bison team was full of NFL superstars waiting to break out. However, in a league that chews players up and spits them out as quickly and mercilessly as the NFL does, it was somewhat disappointing to think that our best weren’t deemed sufficient to fill out the depth of pro rosters. I just have a hard time believing guys like Carlton Littlejohn (who looks like he’s cut from freaking marble mind you) or John Crockett can’t play in the NFL. I mean… you’ve gotta have special teamers who can step into a lineup when needed right?

Can you guess which one is Littlejohn? Here's a hint... He's the guy with bigger biceps than anyone else's thighs... (Image via Carlton Littlejohn's twitter https://twitter.com/lj38bison )

Can you guess which one is Littlejohn? Here’s a hint… He’s the guy with bigger biceps than anyone else’s thighs… (Image via Carlton Littlejohn’s twitter https://twitter.com/lj38bison )

Its even more baffling when I think about how good the NFL is about digging for gems when it comes to talent acquisition. The NFL couldn’t care less what league you played in (Khalil Mack was drafted #5 overall in spite of the fact that he played in the unheralded MAC) or even how long you’ve played football (the Lions drafted Ezekiel Ansah number 5 overall in 2013 in spite of the fact that the guy had only played football for 2 years). If they think you’re good, you’re getting drafted. And if they think you’re REALLY good, you’re going early.

Now, things did get a lot better for the Bison NFL hopefuls once undrafted rookies started getting signed, which we knew would be the case. John Crockett will attempt to make the Packers roster where incumbent RB Eddie Lacey has thus far produced enigmatic results, and John Starks has been openly disappointing… so I see a big opportunity here. Littlejohn and Christian Dudzik will try to make the Vikings roster, and Kicker Adam Keller has gotten a handful of interested from the Vikings, Saints, and Patriots as far as I’ve seen. So its very possible for NDSU to wind up with a fairly impressive 2015 NFL class if all goes well even if the draft didn’t treat us spectacularly.

In the end, then, I probably shouldn’t be upset. NDSU has fairly consistently been putting players on NFL players these days which is spectacular to see. Not only that but NDSU now has a big time advocate in the League in the form of Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, a former NDSU player and coach.

Gus BradleyHaving a guy like Bradley in possession of one of the 32 coaching jobs available in the NFL certainly helps raise the profile of the program even further than our stellar performance on the field already does. Moreover, its great to see that the two “local” NFL franchises to North Dakota, the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, are clearly both paying attention to the program and see it as a potential source of undervalued regional talent. That is absolutely huge for the Bison program. If potential recruits know that NFL scouts have a pipeline tapped into the program it can only improve NDSU’s recruiting efforts and keep this train rolling.

Moreover, NFL recognition might help NDSU get noticed by bigger football conferences if moving up in class is still something remotely on the new NDSU athletic administrations mind now that Gene Taylor (possibly the biggest proponent for going up we had) has moved on. In the end then I suppose all I’m really sad about is that NDSU hasn’t yet reached their peak. We don’t have it all yet. We don’t have multiple players going in the draft. We don’t have first or second day draft picks (in spite of the talent we’re churning out) and we don’t yet have the respect of the league, and the country, on whole.

However, we sure as hell aren’t too far behind. For one thing, the best of the best of NDSU’s talent have begun popping up all across the nation for various NFL Franchises. The Miami Dolphins are making noise about needing to use Billy Turner more this season.

(Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images)

(Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images)

Marcus Williams made an impact for the depleted Jets secondary last year.

(Photo Credit: Alex Goodlett, Getty Images )

(Photo Credit: Alex Goodlett, Getty Images )

Craig Dahl and Joe Mays have turned themselves into a stalwart NFL veterans currently with San Francisco and the Jets respectively. Add to that the fact that Emanuel is sure to get a fair shake at making an impact in San Diego and you have the beginnings of a strong nucleus of NDSU players in the League. It seems like a distant memory when  I got myself all juiced up to see Lamar Gordon playing in the Mike Martz Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis, only to watch injuries derail his career and NDSUs hopes of an NFL standout before they began.

(Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images)

Nowadays NDSU has a small but steadily growing core of NFL players, and if things continue on this path that can only improve moving into the future.

The NFL Draft may not have been the best for the NDSU program on whole (although congrats to Kyle!! Wonderful to see him get this far and I can’t wait to see him get even better and succeed even more into the future!!) but things are anything but grim for the Bison. Carlton, Christian, Adam, and Crockett will have every chance to make their dreams of a professional football career a reality, and keep populating the League with Bison veterans. Even though the draft didn’t help as much as I would have liked, the NFL is looking a lot more Green and Gold today than it did a month ago, and for that I couldn’t be happier.

Onwards and Upwards: A First Look at Next Year’s Bison Basketball Program

Image via NDSU Men's Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/NDSUmbb/status/552211481001861121/photo/1

Image via NDSU Men’s Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/NDSUmbb/status/552211481001861121/photo/1

Welp… even though I have yet to recover from the malaise that has surrounded me since Final Four week I figure I’ve waited for too long to get back to my beloved Golden Boys. This past season was an unmitigated success of epic proportions. The NCAA Tournament departure was disappointing, sure, but not because this team had let us down in any way shape or form. Rather, it was simply sad to see such a spectacular season come to an end. To see first year coach Dave Richman take a rebuilding team largely comprised of a lone senior in Lawrence Alexander, a handful of untested contributors, and a whole pile of freshmen (half of whom were redshirting anyway) and push them not only to a share of the conference regular season title, a Summit League Tournament title, AND an incredibly entertaining (and close! only 10 points that should have been less!) game against one of the five best teams in the nation was both bewildering and astounding. I couldn’t be prouder of that team and what they achieved, and couldn’t be more excited to see what Bison Basketball has to offer the fans in the coming years. So with that in mind, how about we take a quick look at next year’s team, shall we?

Taking Account of the Losses

The first thing to note when preparing for next season is who won’t be around. Now, normally this is the worst part about looking toward the next season. You never quite can account for how impactful losing last year’s major contributors will be for a new rosters. Luckily enough for the Bison, however, their losses are as minimal as possible without being non-existent when you consider the fact that we are only losing ONE senior off of last year’s NCAA Tournament / Summit League Champion squad, Lawrence Alexander.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

Now, the one caveat to this statement is that Lawrence Alexander is one of the best players in NDSU Men’s Basketball history, and practically dragged this team kicking and screaming to the heights they achieved this year. However, losing him isn’t ALL bad. Part of the reason LA carried the team so completely in the early season was because he had to. Other than Kory and Lawrence this year’s team really returned no MAJOR contributors from the previous season’s Tourney team. Moreover, while Kory Brown is an excellent defender and rim protector he isn’t really a major offensive weapon. Early on, then, first year coach Dave Richman was forced to rely heavily on Alexander to keep his young team afloat while he broke in a nearly entirely green squad to the rigors and trials of NCAA D1 Basketball. So while it certainly helps the team in terms of chemistry, flow, and continuity to only have lost one player, it definitely hurts that the one guy they had to lose was the cornerstone of the team.

Replacing ‘The Man’

However, things began to change throughout the course of the year. By the end of the season Richman and his staff had managed to polish up the treasure trove of rough diamonds former coach Saul Phillips had left in the Bison cupboard. Don’t get me wrong, the team still relied heavily and Lawrence through the end of the season, but by the end of the year AJ Jacobson (NoDak Chosen One, and the much awaited next star for Bison Basketball) had shown incredible grown and, more importantly, a willingness and capability to lift a significant portion of the offensive burden from Lawrence’s shoulders.

(Photo via NDSU Athletics)

(Photo via NDSU Athletics)

While he was harried early in the season by injuries AJ nevertheless came out for his redshirt season showing glimpses of the great offensive talent we’ve all known he possessed since his days at Shanley High School in Fargo. Moreover, as the year carried on those glimpses gradually became more and more consistent as AJ molded himself into NDSU’s second leading scorer, second most reliable offensive option, and expanded his game from its early reliance on the perimeter to include an ability to drive, penetrate, and take the ball to the rim. Losing Lawrence is undeniably bad, not just because he was a great player on the court, but because he was a great guy off of it as well. However, in AJ Jacobson the Bison have a guy with the requisite tools and personality to keep running without breaking stride, and hopefully even push the boundaries of Bison basketball even further in the future.

Measuring Growth

AJ wasn’t even the most impressive find to come out of the NDSU season in my opinion ;however. Heck, he wasn’t even the most impressive North Dakota project to unleash itself on college basketball for the Bison. That, my friends, would be Dexter “Big Dex” “The Human Buffalo” Werner.

(Photo Credit USA Today)

(Photo Credit USA Today)

The thunder to AJ’s lightning, Big Dex had an absolutely astounding performance in the NCAA Tournament game against Gonzaga, coming off the bench to score 22 points against the Bulldog’s gargantuan duo of Karnowski and Sabonis. Moreover, this wasn’t the first time the undersized big guy came out to bowl over larger competition. Multiple times throughout the season Dexter proved that in spite of his height (he is only a 6’6″ center) he can be not just a contributor, but a major force in college basketball off the bench.  NDSU, then, has a nice little 2 man NoDak core to build their future teams around for the next couple seasons in the undersized center in Werner and the lanky swing man in Jacobson.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

Add to that the fact that NDSU still  returns a pair of veterans of 2 NCAA Tournament runs in Kory Brown (an excellent defender and rim protector who struggled with injuries this season) and Chris Kading (who struggled with foul trouble throughout the season) for next season’s team, and the starting lineup leaves me even more confident going into next season than I did going into this season when Werner (who admittedly came off the bench most of the season) and Jacobson were untested commodities. If Brown (who showed amazing toughness playing through injuries last year) can stay healthy and Kading can stay out of foul trouble (which was largely caused by lack of front court depth rather than any failing on Kading’s part anyway) the team will be just that much better.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

The pair will be entering their senior season’s next year, and you can be certain both of them will want to be able to end their careers on the same high notes they helped Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund, TrayVonn Wright, and Lawrence Alexander end their careers with. All of a sudden little ol’ NDSU has become someone of an NCAA Tournament stalwart out of the Summit League, having made 3 appearances to the Big Dance in 6 years and 2 straight.

(Photo Credit: Robert Johnson, Icon Sports Media)

(Photo Credit: Robert Johnson, Icon Sports Media)

Moreover, while he doesn’t have the same volume of experience as Brown and Kading, Carlin Dupree has now played in 2 season’s worth of NCAA Tourney games, and was a starter all year this season. The kid’s athleticism is superb, and throughout the season he showed some flashes of brilliant court vision, a willingness to use his athleticism to create openings for his teammates, and excellent kickouts and passing. He isn’t a finished product yet, but the guy has the raw tools to be an all time Bison great in my opinion if Dave Richman and the staff can work with him to improve his game moving forward. And don’t forget the true freshman phenom Paul Miller who came out of absolutely nowhere to average 28.5 minutes, 6.7 points, and 3.8 rebounds per game. If that’s what he can do coming straight out of high school I can’t wait to see how good he looks after a full year under Richman’s watchful eye.

So, a starting five of Kading, Werner, Dupree, Brown, and Jacobson with Paul Miller coming off the bench? Not too shabby if you ask me. Sure it hurts to lose Alexander, and his numbers and leadership won’t be easy to replace, but if each of those guys can improve just 10% on their performances from this past season’s stellar performances, we’ll certainly be making a good start.

Weaknesses from Last Season

However, have even more reasons to be excited about this team moving into next season, than just improvement from last year’s players. The fact is, Richman and his staff have brought in a bevy of new toys to play with which will hopefully lead to some major contributions next year. Some of those additions actually came in last season and redshirted this past leading to NDSU’s biggest problem last season … depth.

NDSU played a 7 man rotation all season long. Even more damaging was the fact that NDSU basically had a 2 man frontcourt rotation all season long (Werner and Kading) forcing AJ to play Power Forward instead of his natural position of Small Forward, limiting some of his effectiveness.

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Evan Wesenberg and Brian Ishola put in minutes where they could, but both need some more time before they reach their real potential with the team. Next season things should heartily improve. Both Ishola and Wesenberg got valuable in-game experience, and a full offseason in the gym should do wonders for both of them, and while Wesenberg struggled Ishola gave Richman some desperately needed extra minutes near the end of the season.

Image via Brian Ishola's Twitter https://twitter.com/realish34

Image via Brian Ishola’s Twitter https://twitter.com/realish34

The guys who I’m really excited for, however, are the one’s who didn’t even play last season. Richman redshirted both SF Trey Miller and C Spencer Eliason.

(Image by Con Marshall via Rapid City Journal)

(Image by Con Marshall via Rapid City Journal)

Spencer will, again, add some much-needed depth in the Bison front court, his height will help offset Werner’s, and yet he’s got the bulk to hold his ground down low more so than Wesenberg did last season.

Miller will hopefully add even more scoring which the team will need to replace the 18.9 points per game we lose with Lawrence moving on. Moreover, along with Ishola he can hopefully provide some more wing defense to take pressure off Kory Brown (who often had to act as a one man band in that department last season) and taking pressure off AJ on the defensive end so he can light fools up on the offensive side of things. Moreover, after seeing how well former NDSU redshirt products such as AJ, Kading, Werner, Woodside, and Braun have turned out in recent years, I have a lot of confidence that these two can come out of the gates running.

And its not just redshirts that Richman will add to next year’s team but incoming recruits as well. Deng Geu has a very bright future with the Bison program, but will likely need a year of conditioning under his belt to help him reach his full potential.

Photo Credit: Ted Schurter, The State Journal-Register

Photo Credit: Ted Schurter, The State Journal-Register

Everything I’ve heard about NDSU’s other big man signee of the 2015 class (Dylan Miller), however, is that he is ready to come in and contribute immediately. He’s got the height and size needed to compete at a collegiate level right away, and has been carrying his high school team as the focal point for their offense and an anchor on defense since his junior year. Hopefully those tough minutes will have gone at least part of the way to preparing him for the grind of the college game.

So NDSU is adding a whoooole lot of much needed size to the active roster this next season which can be nothing but positive. I mean, worse case scenario we have 10 – 15 more fouls to throw around on opposing big men once Evan, Spencer, and Dylan get added into the mix. They have some new sources of scoring on the wings (hopefully) to replace the loss of Alexander in the form of Trey Miller. And they have some new backcourt depth as well just for good measure. Malik Clements comes to the Bison from the JUCO ranks of Pearl River Community College. Hopefully this Junior College experience has prepared him to come in and play right away to take some of the creative pressure off of Carlin Dupree, and replace some of the lost creativity of LA as well. Eventually Khy Kabellis will do the same thing for the Bison, but unless he shows the coaches some major flashes in the off-season (easily could happen… just look at Paul Miller) he might end up red-shirting his freshman year.

Either way the main issue of frontcourt depth has apparently been addressed, which can only mean good things for Werner and Kading. Both players had to play conservatively last season to avoid foul trouble and it cost the Bison inside. Now, without fear of leaving their team in the lurch if they get into foul trouble both players should be able to play with a lot more aggression, and really take over games.  Add to that the fact that the team will hopefully be able to replace the loss of Alexander with a new committee, and you have all the makings of a team that should surpass last season’s Cinderella Goldenboys.

Losing Lawrence hurts. He was an absolute joy to watch and follow last season. However, in spite of all he meant to last year’s team, next season’s squad seems well position to withstand his loss, and even become a better team because of it. Less reliant on one star player (though still capable of falling back on big individual performances from key contributors) and deeper and more well rounded overall, this coming season’s Bison Basketball team is set to have a spectacular season. Now, last year’s team colossally overachieved, and it is possible that this team missed the NCAAs, but no matter what the end result this team has more than enough talent to be in the hunt all season long. And whatever happens fans are certain to be in for some exciting basketball all season long. Can’t wait to see the work Richman is able to do with his second year at the help. Here’s hoping its yet another wild ride.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

This Season May Be Over, But The Future Couldn’t Be Brighter

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

The Bison’s season ended tonight as they fell 86-76 to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Seattle. However, that is not the story in the slightest. Can you believe what we just did tonight? We just dropped 76 on a top 10 team. Big Dex Werner… all 6’6″ of him… was the best big man on a court that had a 7’1″ Goliath and the 6’10” son of an NBA legend. True Freshman Paul Miller went from looking scared out of his mind to be on the big stage to draining shots in the faces of guys touted as all conference, all american types. This game was amazing. Everyone stepped up. Everyone contributed. I couldn’t have asked for anything more out of the guys. Not this season. Not this game. Never. I’ll try to have more in depth thoughts on the game itself later (maybe tomorrow) and on what comes next for Bison basketball, but for now I just have a few thoughts on this stellar night to end this spectacular surprise of a season.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

First and foremost, everyone got involved. Sure some guys were bigger than others, but all 7 of our key guys had a major impact on this game for stretches. To open the night off AJ, LA, and Kory all drained threes and told Gonzaga we were here to play basketball, not just for the ride. Carlin carried the team for stretches early on, and Chris had exactly the kind of calming veteran performance we needed from him grabbing a board when we needed it, scoring down low when we needed it, or even coming up with that beautiful block during the first couple minutes.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

And this was an excellent coaching performance by Dave Richman as well. I personally loved the way he refused to call timeouts when his team seemed to be in danger, because he knew it would only give Gonzaga a chance to stabilize, and continue the beat down. Amazingly, the team with only 7 guys was often the aggressor in this game, pushing the pace, and completely wearing out Karnowski and Wiltjer. Somehow their stamina was garbage compared to ours, even when they got extended rest and basically no one on our team gets rest ever. I really think those decisions among others are what helped us pounce on Gonzaga like this. Richman kept them off balance and kept them unsettled all night long which is exactly what the Bison needed if they were going to steal this game.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

And Kory. Man, Kory. This guy has been giving up his body for this team all season long, and did so again tonight taking a hard foul, but coming up with the ball for his teammates, and draining both of his subsequent free throws. He was hitting threes, playing D… anything and everything we could ask from him.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

And Paul. Hoooly crap where did that come from? For a lot of the game Paul honestly looked scared to me. Not a surprise being a true freshman playing huge minutes in the NCAA Tournament. But somewhere in the second half a switch clicked over and he got mad. And I LIKE mad Paul. He is my new favorite Paul. Kid was money from that point on throwing in threes with reckless abandon, and ending the night with 13 points. But I think we all know the biggest story of the night.

(Photo Credit: Otto Greule, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Otto Greule, Getty Images)

Big. Freaking. Dex. The Human Bison. I never would have expected that performance in a million years. Don’t get me wrong. Dex is totally capable of 22 point nights (new career high by the way) but to do it against those monstrosities Gonzaga has? It was unreal!!! I couldn’t believe what I was watching! And they had absolutely no answer for him! He scored at will! The jump was falling, his right hand was on fire, the post moves were firing on all cylinders… Big Dex just played the best game of basketball of his entire life. Getting a chance to watch that stellar performance was worth the price of admission and then-some. As if I weren’t glad enough that the Bison made the Big Dance, the fact that that meant I got to see THAT performance? Unreal. Couldn’t be happier. But let’s not forget the guy who made all this possible.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

Lawrence Alexander. LA. The man, the myth, the Legend. Lawrence did everything for this team this year. EVERYTHING. Look at how far they’ve come. Remember those games against Iowa and Texas where the young, rebuilding Bison were blasted off the court? LA is the reason that team didn’t roll over and quit. LA taught this brand new team to win. LA dragged this team with him to the NCAA Tournament so he wouldn’t have to say his final goodbye until he had given everyone in the Bison Nation something they can never repay him for. Watching his journey and this season in particular as been an overwhelming experience. Lawrence Alexander is an amazing person. Not just a basketball player, and there is no way I can ever thank him for all the happiness he’s brought me in his short time with the Bison.

This isn’t really how I wanted LA’s career to end, but that’s only because I never wanted his career to end. Watching this guy take over this team this season has been spectacular. He couldn’t be a better person on and off the court, and I can’t wait to see him succeed wildly wherever life takes him next.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

And the game as a whole was a spectacular experience. The Bison never quit. It absolutely floors me how tough this particular group of guys is. Everything was stacked against them here. Bad calls, size, athletic ability, who cares because they certainly didn’t. Multiple times the Bison erased huge deficits to keep this thing a game, and should have sent outright fear through the Gonzaga faithful. We use a SEVEN. MAN. ROTATION. and dropped 76 on them. Our star forward is a 6’6″ kid from Bismark, North Dakota, and he scored 22 points against their mighty Two Towers. If it weren’t for those first half turnovers (Gonzaga got 25 points off turnovers compared to the Bison’s 4) and the fact that Pangos decided to step up EXACTLY when his team needed him in the biggest way possible (a performance I have immense respect for) the Bison would have taken this one down to the wire and that’s even WITH us having to give up the paint almost entirely to the Bulldogs. This game was in our grasp far more than the final score may indicate. Ultimately, we lost, but I don’t even care. What these guys did was extraordinary. Just like everything they’ve done this entire season. I can’t wait to see what they do next year, but for tonight… this is the only image I care about.

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

Go Bison! And thank you Lawrence Alexander. You are one of a kind.

bison press conference

Let’s Dance: NDSU – Gonzaga NCAA Tournament Preview

bison men's basketball

The NCAA Tournament is finally here, and day one has already had a shocking abundance of upsets before we’ve even finished today’s slate of games. The Big 12 (consensus best conference in college basketball this year) went 0-3 with two of its 3 seeds (Baylor and Iowa State) losing to 14s (Georgia State and and UAB respectively) and UCLA (who shouldn’t even be in the Tournament) knocked off SMU. So, with one day of upsets already in the books (with possibly even more to come tonight) I figure its a perfect time to take a look at NDSU’s chances of following in their fellow Davids’ footsteps as they prepare for their own Goliath.

NCAA BASKETBALL: FEB 21 Pepperdine at Gonzaga

#MarkFewSwag

Admittedly, NDSU has a tougher task than any of the three upsets that have taken place thus far today. Gonzaga is one of the best teams in the nation and one of the few teams that has a chance at winning a national title. They should be a lock for the Elite 8 without Iowa State standing in their way, and if Duke has a poor shooting night they could easily wind up in the Final Four. So y’know… no big deal… we’re just trying to knock off a Final Four caliber team with an All-American  / Offensive Player of the Year Small Forward. BUT anything can happen. LA is the Chosen One, and Dave Richman can do no wrong. Right? Right. SO! What do we have to worry about tomorrow?

(Photo Credit: James Snook, USA Today Sports)

(Photo Credit: James Snook, USA Today Sports)

Well, first thing’s first… Kyle Wiltjer. I’ve seen Wiltjer up close and personal for quite a few games when he was at Kentucky, and he is every bit an elite scorer. He doesn’t use athleticism or quickness to score which should give NDSU confidence that they can stay in front of him and contest his shots. What he does do, however, is absolutely abuse defenders with spectacular touch, pure shooting ability, and a veritable cornucopia of sneaky old man YMCA scoring techniques. Seriously, that old man hook shot he has is absolutely beautiful. Plus, at Gonzaga Wiltjer is able to play the 3, rather than the 4 where Kentucky often had to put him because of his lack of athleticism. At the 3 he often has a significant size advantage over his defender which means he can get his shot off over his man with relative ease. This could be a real problem for the Bison because we lack size even in our front court. Kory Brown is our best rim protector and man defender so he likely will draw the Wiltjer assignment. I don’t think he’ll stop Wiltjer by any means, but hopefully he can do something to slow him down.

However, there’s good news with Wiltjer. The guy is a freaking human turn-style on defense. He’s slow as molasses and if it weren’t for his length he wouldn’t be able to stay on the court at all on defense. Hopefully the Bison can expose this for some easy buckets to stay in it and keep the game close long enough for a lucky late three to steal a game or something. Moreover, I haven’t seen Wiltjer in a couple years since he transferred to Gonzaga, but in his last year in Kentucky Coach Cal tried to run the offense through him which turned out to be a disaster. Wiltjer has every bit of talent necessary to carry an elite offense by himself, but he played scared constantly over that season, often refusing to shoot when he was open due to lack of confidence. SO if the Bison can somehow rattle him, whether its making him miss a couple shots or abusing his poor defense, maybe we can take him completely out of the game. However, even if we manage that task Gonzaga’s cupboards will be anything but empty.

Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

Next on the list of deadly threats for the Bulldogs is Senior Point Guard Kevin Pangos and his beautiful flowing locks. Pangos is an absolute rock for Gonzaga at the 1. Veteran guard who has been through the wars with this team and this coach. He’s seen upsets, he’s been in the tournament before, and is the picture perfect grizzled veteran. He’s an excellent distributor and get’s all his teammates involved, but he’s also the team’s second leading scoring. The guy is great, and I have a hard time imagining the Bison will be able to get into his head the way they might with Wiltjer. However, I have hope that Carlin’s supreme athleticism will allow him to eat Pangos up offensively. So again, it seems like the best strategy for the Bison will be to put the pressure on Gonzaga offensively and run with them (which as I type it sounds like a horrible idea… these guys are one of the most efficient and prolific offenses in the nation… but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do).

(Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

(Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

(Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

(Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

The only other problem with this strategy is that while Wiltjer and Pangos can be exposed defensively… Gonzaga isn’t exactly relying on them for defense… For that they have the twin Eastern European Leviathons of Przemek Karnowski (7’1″) and Domantas Sabonis (6’10”). Sabonis is the more athletic of the two, but both are superb rim protectors the likes of which NDSU has barely seen… and even when they HAVE seen it, it went horribly… (See:Longhorns, Texas). There is really no answer for the Bison against these two. Dexter and Chris will make some great plays from time to time in this game. I can promise you that. However, there’s no way we can hope to stop them all game long (Karnowski averages 11 points per game and Sabonis 9) and theres no way for the Bison to muscle their way past them indefinitely or anything like that… BUT there’s good news!! If the Bison are going to beat Gonzaga it will be through 1 strategy and 1 strategy alone… the Cinderella’s lifeblood, the 3 ball. Hopefully the Bison can neutralize these guys by not making the paint the backbone of their game. If the Bison come out shooting hot with AJ and LA lighting it up, things will open up inside for Carlin to penetrate to the rack and for Dex and Chris to work down low.

Image via NDSU Mens Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/NDSUmbb/media

Image via NDSU Mens Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/NDSUmbb/media

Image via NDSU Men's Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/ndsumbb

Image via NDSU Men’s Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/ndsumbb

There is absolultely nothing about this game that will be easy. In addition to the guys I already highlighted you can’t forget swingman Byron Wesley and Gary Bell Jr. off the bench. With all those guys you have the makings of a truly terrifying offense. However, no matter how hard this matchup looks, we still get to go play the game. And I do mean get. Being in the NCAA Tournament is a priveledge. A wonderful privledge and one that we haev assuredly earned BUT the best part about being here is that everyone has a chance to win. Sure, Hampton got smashed by Kentucky today, but they were tied 9-9 to open the game! Everyone has a chance in just one game. If you ask NDSU to play Gonzaga in a 7 game series, we have no shot. However… one night… one game… with the likes of Lawrence Freaking Alexander on your team? Who knows?

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Even a Bad Meal Keeps You From Starving: Bracket Selection Reaction

Celebration

So before we get started I just want to say one more time that what this team has done this year has been shocking, exciting, and incredibly impressive. Even being in the Tournament with a first year head coach and the amount of roster turnover we had to deal with is outright stunning, and no matter what happens I cannot WAIT to see the Bison play on national TV this Friday.

bison men's basketball

Last year I couldn’t have been happier with the Bison’s placement in the bracket. The 12 seed is, for whatever reason, the most likely low seed to upset a single digit seed year in and year out, and NDSU earned themselves a coveted 12 seed. Moreover, their 5 seed, Oklahoma, was exceedingly beatable (which played out in the Tournament as you may recall). Follow that up with a matchup against a San Diego State team that struggled mightily to score (and therefore was beatable) and an Arizona team that was essentially just a better version of San Diego, but still offensively challenged. While the Bison only got to the Round of 32, you better believe I had talked myself into a Sweet 16 run before the Tournament tipped off.

Spencer Fainting

 

This year, however, things aren’t quite as peachy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as exciting as fainting Spencer Eliason up there for this run, but my excitement is slightly tempered this time around. The main reason for that is simply that NDSU this year, although they put together an amazing season, isn’t as good as last year’s team. That’s on us. And just like Coach Richman said after NDSU knocked off SDSU to punch their ticket to the big dance, we’re going to be an underdog no matter who we play. We knew all that coming in. That’s fine. My first thinking, then, was 15 seed. NDSU was far too good to be a 16 seed, but with how deep the field was looking I had trouble figuring out who could hypothetically fall below NDSU to bump them up to a higher seed.

NDSU's last trip to the Tournament as a 15 seed wasn't all bad. Although the Bison fell to Kansas in the First Round, Ben Woodside made the game exciting, dropping 37 points on the Jayhawks. (Photo Credit: Ann Heisenfelt)

NDSU’s last trip to the Tournament as a 15 seed wasn’t all bad. Although the Bison fell to Kansas in the First Round, Ben Woodside made the game exciting, dropping 37 points on the Jayhawks. (Photo Credit: Ann Heisenfelt)

However, as Conference Tournament after Conference Tournament was decided, and the upsets began racking up I began to get excited. With every upset in a Conference Tournament (OVC, MEAC, MAC, Patriot, MAAC, Atlantic Sun, Northeast) NDSU slowwwly found themselves getting bumped up higher and higher in the seedings. Heck, Joe Lunardi even had NDSU predicted as high as a 14 seed playing in Columbus (which would have matched us up against either a beatable Notre Dame or a beatable Maryland as our 3 seeds) as recently as yesterday. This would have been golden. But the bracketing committee in their Indianapolis bunker had other ideas. In the end, NDSU wound up with a 15 seed, and while I feel there are some 14 seeds (Albany, Northeastern) and even a 13 seed (UC Irvine) who I feel should have been seeded below NDSU, at the end of the day we got the seed we earned relative to our performance on paper this season even if we were under-seeded relative to the competition around us. So I don’t feel justified complaining about any of that. Next year if we want to be higher than a 15 seed, we’ll have to beat a few more teams in our Non-Conference slate (which we will, so no worries there).

So, what kind of slate does that 15 seed earn us? Well… I’m gonna be honest… its not so great. Instead of being the 15 in Omaha to face a superior but imploding Kansas team, NDSU get’s Gonzaga.

South Bracket

Now, some of you may be thinking “What are you talking about? That’s great news! Clearly Basketball Blue-Blood Kansas would be a tougher out the perennial underachiever Gonzaga!” But to that I say slow your roll chief. Mark Few’s Gonzaga teams have undeniably underachieved over the years. However, you can’t underachieve unless you first convince people you’re good. Whether or not they’ve been clutch in the post-season, they have undeniably been the nation’s premier Mid-Major of the last 15 years. In fact, Mid-Major is honestly a bit of a misnomer with this team. Sure they play in a Mid Major conference, but they recruit and perform far outside of that categorization. This year’s crop of Bulldogs, for instance, features National Player of the Year candidate Kyle Wiltjer as the focal point of their offense, and after watching him play in person for the first 2 years of his college career at Kentucky, I can assure you NDSU has no-one who can guard Wiltjer. Kory Brown is going to do a great job hassling him all night long, but Wiltjer’s height will ultimately win out.

(Photo Credit: James Snook, USA Today Sports)

(Photo Credit: James Snook, USA Today Sports)

It’s not all bad though! I learned something else watching Wiltjer for 2 years! He can’t guard ANYONE!!! EVER!!! And I do mean anyone!!! Gonzaga will essentially be playing 4 on 5 defensively. Kyle is that bad. With Big Dex and Chris Kading showing a resurgence of late, I have full confidence that we could abuse Wiltjer’s defense at the 4. The only problem with this plan is that Gonzaga also knows about this weakness… so they have an insurance policy for Wiltjer’s defense…actually 2 of them…  6’10” Lithuania monstrosity Domantas Sabonis and 7’1″ Polish Crusher Przemek Karnowski. This is a pair of rim protectors the level of which NDSU hasn’t faced since the Iowa and Texas games to open the year… aaaaand those weren’t exactly super fun to watch… Domantas is just a freshman and has a ton of work left to do on his game so I have faith we will be able to do something to work him.

(Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

Sabonis has high level basketball pedigree as the son of USSR Olympian Arvydas Sabonis, and plenty of athleticism for his size, which I assure you is terrifying (Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

However, I’m terrified of Karnowski. I really don’t even know the first step in trying to stop that guy. I make jokes all the time about how Big Dex is like a human Bison, but good lord… what does that make Karnowski? A Woolly Mammoth? Just look at him…

(Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

(Photo Credit: William Mancebo, Getty Images North America)

So the front court will be a bit of a nightmare, but honestly? It has been all year long. We basically have 2 Power Forwards playing center and a Small Forward playing Power Forward. NDSU knows how to play Small Ball. We’ve been doing it all year, and you know what? It works. We’re in the Big Dance. We’re in the NCAA Tournament when teams with more impressive front courts like SDSU (Cody Larson) and IPFW (Steve Forbes) are not. Moreover, if NDSU is going to have any chance of winning this thing, its going to be through the Cinderella’s calling card… the 3 ball.

Gonzaga’s backcourt is stellar. Senior Guards Kevin Pangos and Byron Wesley are studs and Gary Bell Jr. off the bench is legitimately terrifying, but honestly? I have no problem going into battle against those guys with LA, Kory, Carlin, and Paul. Plus, add AJ into the mix shooting over his man who is invariably going to be slower than he is, and you have NDSU’s best recipe for success. Catch Lawrence and AJ on a great night when our big guys do just enough to keep us in it down low and NDSU could absolutely make a game of this thing. All I want is another chance, and really I’m just happy to be here.

Forum

BISON WIN!!! BISON WIN!!! BISON WIN!!! WE’RE GOING TO THE BIG DANCE BABY!!!

NDSU Wins

Oh. My. FREAKING. LORD! I can’t believe it. I’m honestly in shock. That was amazing. Tonight the Bison knocked off their rivals the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, in a virtual home game for SDSU with 8500 screaming SDSU fans bearing down on them to punch their ticket to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 57-56… a score that will live in infamy in the state of South Dakota.

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I can’t get over how shocking this is. I think we’ve known all year that this collection of Bison players were really good. Freshman Paul Miller came out of nowhere to be a major contributor. AJ Jacobson turned out to be every bit the star we were promised in his first year on the floor. And LA… well… he became the 4th leading scorer all time for the Bison tonight so you could see he was the real deal in his first year as the focal point as the team. But somehow I never let myself believe that this was really possible. I guess I was worried about disappointment. I mean… last year’s tournament team lost 3 of the best players in the Bison’s history in Bjorklund (in the building tonight) Braun, and Wright. They lost their head coach for Pete’s sake! This team was supposed to be rebuilding! Instead, they went to the best team in the conference, played them in (essentially) their home gym and knocked them off when all the little things were going against them!

Make no mistake, the Bison were CLEARLY the superior team on the floor ALL NIGHT LONG tonight. But the final score won’t tell you that. Part of the reason for that is that SDSU is really really good. Best team in the conference in my opinion (only edging out NDSU because of our lack of depth). But the other reason is that every little thing that could go SDSU’s way, seemingly went their way. For one thing, NDSU missed a mountain of free throws while SDSU was money from the charity stripe. And speaking of free throws, that crowd was so vocal and so impact, that they clearly had the refs in their pocket all night long. Time and again fringe calls, borderline plays, and outright flops went SDSU’s way, and again, they drained the free throws every time while NDSU missed any chances at their own free points. However, in the end, the one call that needed to go the Bison’s way did. That out of bounds play absolutely saved the game, and I DO want to commend the refs for getting that one right.

But now let’s talk about that lack of depth. Coach Richman and his staff did a spectacular job conditioning these guys all season long to withstand the long minutes they were going to get because of that lack of depth. Early in the season we almost lost games, and DID lose games (Kent State) because of our lack of depth and conditioning. However, after a full season of conditioning, and being forced to play only 7 guys, the seem is very much comfortable with the situation, and it really showed tonight. No dead legs. No tired guys. All energy all night and it was beautiful.

My favorite part about this picture? Look how empty that arena is. No SDSU fans are gonna stick around to watch that, and of the 9000 people in the crowd 8500 of them were SDSU fans. Just shows how impressive the Bison were overcoming that crowd.

My favorite part about this picture? Look how empty that arena is. No SDSU fans are gonna stick around to watch that, and of the 9000 people in the crowd 8500 of them were SDSU fans. Just shows how impressive the Bison were overcoming that crowd.

Tonight was a full team effort, but if you look at this season as a whole, Lawrence Alexander is the guy who dragged this team into contention. Early in the year it was LA who kept the team alive while Coach Richman (a freshman in his own right) and the young guys worked their way into the lineup. LA has been the man all year, and I couldn’t be happier to see him earn himself another game in the Bison uniform (as he himself said he wanted in his post-game interview) with that spectacular 25 points and 6(!!!) 3 pointers tonight. However, also of note was CHRIS FREAKING KADING!!!

Image via NDSU Men's Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/ndsumbb

Image via NDSU Men’s Basketball Twitter https://twitter.com/ndsumbb

 

The man was everywhere tonight! The Stat line doesn’t even come close to showing how important Chris was tonight. It seemed like every time the Bison needed a big play down low he was there. Whether that was a defensive stop and a blocked shot or any one of those monster jams. He had the unenviable task of guarding Cody Larson (the best big man in the Summit in my opinion… better than Steve Forbes) all night long and while Larson is certainly going to get his points no matter who is guarding him, Kading did a spectacular job forcing Cody to take bad shots throughout the night. I couldn’t have been happier with his performance.

Big Dex also balled out down low for us with several clutch plays. Paul Miller hit an absolutely crucial 3 in the second half. Carlin Dupree was all over the glass and repeatedly sliced open SDSU’s defense. Kory Brown DOMINATED the glass, and did his usual Kory Brown ‘best perimeter defender in the Summit’ things. And AJ Jacobson continued to show us how rapidly and how much he has grown this season, as his offensive game has taken on a completely new level to end the season. And hey, it wasn’t just players. Dave Richman called a spectacular game as well, ESPECIALLY when you consider he had approximately 19 hours to prepare for this game (the most important game in his young career thus far). Everyone showed up, and we clearly needed them. Oh… and how beautiful were LA’s 3 “shut up the crowd” 3s from way behind the line in the second half?

twit pic

Tonight was just a special performance from a special group of guys. This team deserves this NCAA Tournament trip more than anyone in the Summit. Picked 5th, finished 1st right? Not only that, but in a season when they were supposed to collapse into a rebuilding year they dominated the Summit’s postseason awards with Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and 6th Man of the Year all going to Bison.

ndsu yearly awards

This has been a spectacular run. These guys deserve it more than anyone. And I just hope the run keeps going.

And the best part? It very well COULD keep going! If NDSU can somehow magically get up to a 14 seed they have a REAL chance at upsetting someone in the Tournament. The current projected 3 seeds in the Tournament are Oklahoma (a team NDSU beat last year), Notre Dame (probably too much offensively for NDSU, but we could score on this team all day… oh… and we beat them last year too), Maryland (a team just BEGGING to be upset in the first round), and Iowa State (definitely the worst matchup for NDSU and not a team I think they could beat). That’s 3 teams NDSU could compete with even if they’re all superior to the Bison on paper. Now, a 14 seed is probably a pipe dream. More likely NDSU get’s a 15 seed because the Comitte will want to place them in one of the 2 15 vs. 2 matchups in Omaha, NE for geographic reasons. But even that isn’t the end of the world. Hell, even if the Bison get a 16 seed, who cares? I’ll feel slighted for sure because we are far better quality than that, but its impossible for me to feel disappointed at this point. This season has already been a rousing success no matter what happens, and the best part? All they’re going to do is get better next year. Can’t freaking wait. For next year, next game, and anything at this point. All this team does is make me happy, so I’m just excited to see what they do next.

The Roller Coaster Continues!!!!: NDSU Oral Roberts Summit League Semifinals Recap

final oru ndsu

I’ve gotta say, that first half was actually pretty fun to watch. The biggest story to me was the resurgence of Carlin Dupree.

Photo Credit NDSU Men's Basketball Twitter

Photo Credit NDSU Men’s Basketball Twitter

NDSU made a concerted effort to push the pace and its exactly that kind of up tempo game where Carlin can leverage his superior athleticism and really shine. He had 11 points in the first half to lead all scorers (tied with Obi Emegano for ORU) including a couple spectacularly athletic layups and a sick behind the back dish which made me, for one, smile. That athleticism is what makes Carlin one of my favorite players, and I can’t wait until Dave Richman has enough depth on his roster to really unleash Carlin, push the pace to its maximum, and not have to worry about tiring his guys out like he has to this year with that tiny 7 man rotation.

LA also had a bit of a bounce-back in this half which was great to see. He finished the half with 9 points, and was even getting some of that ‘Lebron James star treatment’ apparently judging by a pretty egregious walk at the 10:15 mark but being allowed to continue the play and score anyway. Hey… I’m not complaining. You win Summit League Player of the Year, you deserve a little star treatment.

Kory Brown picked up a quick 2 fouls and had to ride the bench for a massive chunk of the first half so that Coach Richman could ensure he’d be back for the 2nd half. His tight, in your face defense draws a lot of fouls, and it just wasn’t worth the risk for coach Richman to leave Brown on the floor and risk losing him for the game. Plus, its not like we haven’t finished a half with a 6 man rotation before. Things got real dicey, however, when, after Brown was already relegated to the bench, AJ Jacobson picked up a quick 2 fouls in 30 seconds which sent him to the bench as well with plenty of time left in the half. That meant NDSU was down to leaving the same 5 man unit on the floor, or risk throwing in someone like Ishola in the most important game of the Bison’s season thus far. Luckily for us, however, that wasn’t an issue at all.

That was because EVERYONE seemed to have shown up to play in that first half. Big Dex had a big resurgence with 6 points, 5(!!!) boards, and one nasty block in the first half. He was throwin’ around putbacks and cleaning the glass like his life depended on it and it was SPECTACULAR to see. He’s been in a bit of a lull to end the season, and I had been worried it was because the fatigue of a full season of big minutes really wore him down. He’s not exactly a lithe guy, and he’s built more like a buffalo than a deer. But tonight showed the big man is still ready to play important minutes for this team, and he cuoldn’t have picked a better game for his comeback.

It was just Dex though, but our other big man Chris Kading through together an excellent half as well. He only had 3 points but he was making great moves down low, facilitating the offense, grabing steals, blocking shots, just everything we could want from him. A really solid half for Kading as well.

By the end of the first half almost everything was going the bison’s way, best illustrated by the fact that around the 2:30 mark LA scored over a triple team like it was just part of his daily regimen. Kading was blocking shots, Werner was slamming putbacks, and all was right with the world. ORU ended the half on an 0/5 shooting spell while the Bison put together a 7-0 run in that same 3 minute span. Oral Roberts ended up finishing the half on a 1/8 shooting spell, the Bison ended the half on a 15-6 run over the last 7 minutes, and built themselves an 8 point lead at 34-26. It was clear that NDSU’s pace was giving Scott Sutton’s team problems. Coach Richman even hinted as much as he was walking off the court noting that NDSU needed to run with it every time they got the ball and ride Dupree’s hot hand this game. Amen sir. Nothing I’d enjoy better than an up tempo Bison beatdown if I could be so lucky.

ndsu oru first half

Unfortunately, however, the second half didn’t start out as well as the first half ended. The Bison made a basket early, but then promptly went on a 7 minute scoring drought, allowing ORU to cut the lead to 1 at 36-35 by the 14 minute mark.

ORU’s 9-0 was mercifully ended by Paul Miller after he hit a very difficult step back jumper from way deep at the top of the key and things began to improve for a while from there. Dupree continued his excellent play with an awesome possession where he forced a jump ball. He just kept getting his hands in passing lanes, poking balls away, and making all the tough, gritty plays we needed from him. EASILY the most important player for the Bison tonight in my opinion (although the most clutch player late is something we’ll get to later). It seems only fitting to me for him to ball out in the Summit League Tournament since he really broke out for the Bison in the NCAA Tournament last year. The guy seems to love the hot lights, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

(Photo Credit: Nick Schnelle, Columbia Tribune)

(Photo Credit: Nick Schnelle, Columbia Tribune)

The Golden Eagles, however, refused to give up as Obi Emegano lived up to every bit of hype surrounding him, ending the game with 25 points to lead all scorers and single-handedly keeping ORU in this game. The Bison let ORU tie the game up again late as several perfect dishes and passes by Dupree to set up buckets went unfinished. A lot of these misses were by Jacobson and it clearly wasn’t his night, but I thought it was a testement to his game and resolve that he never hung his head and got down but just kept working, finishing the game with 11 points, 8 in the second half.

The last couple minutes of the game were an absolute roller coaster. It all started with a CLUTCH Jacobson 3 to push the lead back to 5 at 51-46 followed by a defensive stop, and what could have been a beautiful transition layup by AJ on the other end, but the ball was tipped out of his hands at the last second (again, just wasn’t his night. I’m proud as hell that he got 11, but if he was up to his normal level it would have been 20 and if he was playing as well as he did last game it would have been 30).

With about 3 minutes left in the game, however, Obi Emegano hit 2 free throws to tie things back up. LA answered back with a beautiful bucket with the shot clock expiring. Then Kading followed that up with ANOTHER MASSIVE BLOCK on the other end. The Bison would miss on the next possession. Then Kory Brown got called for an ABSOLUTELY BOGUS blocking foul (his feet were CLEARLY set and it was BEAUTIFUL defense… but hey… Obi Emegano gets the same kind of star treatment as LA, so I guess that one goes against Brown… even if its the wrong call). Anyway, as you might have expected Emegano drains them both to tie the game again at 56 all with 98 seconds left and I’m all…

beaker freakout

Then AJ Jacobson follows up with a CLUTCH bucket to put the Bison up 2 with 1:17 to go.  ORU grabs the ball and pushes it up court. Obe Emegano falls over in what should obviously have been a travel but wasn’t called… BUT no worries because WHO ELSE BUT CARLIN DUPREE comes up with the ball and SOMEHOW manages to call the timeout and save the possession for the Bison.

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However, the Bison immediately turned the ball over on the other end… no bueno…

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46 seconds left. ORU ball. NDSU up by 2, 58-56. Back to back ORU timeouts as the Bison set up some BEAUTIFUL defense. 21 seconds left. Obi Emegano misses the potential game tying jumper but grabs his own rebound, kicks it out to Bobby Word in the corner for the game winning three! Oh no! Freaking out!

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BUT WAIT!!! WHATS THIS?!?! IS IT A BIRD?!?! IS IT A PLANE?!?! NO!!! ITS LAWRENCE FREAKING ALEXANDER FLYING OUT OF NOWHERE TO BLOCK THE THREE, GRAB THE BALL, AND GET FOULED!!!

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anchorman

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That was pretty much all she wote. PHEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW thank goodness that ones over and the Bison won.

That was both an exciting and a historic game. LA made it to 700 career points tonight, which is obviously nothing to sneeze at, but right now I’m a little distracted by the win itself. The upcoming game against SDSU will be tough. We all know that. The Jackrabbits are the favorite. They’re playing in their home state. They have every advantage you could want. But right now I’m riding on cloud 9 with this Bison team, and I’d believe they could beat SDSU even if you told me Nate Wolters was coming back to start for them. Obviously things aren’t as peachy as all that, but this has been a spectacular season to watch, this team has made a spectacular run, and I’m so thankful that we get to watch at least one more game tomorrow night. But that being said, I certainly wouldn’t mind if Dave Richman and the guys wanted to make it 1 more game and 1 more Tournament to send LA out in style.