Before you say it, just remember this: it is a very short three weeks from tomorrow until basketball practices start. And then basketball season STARTS two months from tomorrow with the Champions Classic tipping off on November 5th. It’s so close you can basically smell the freshly done floor of PBA in your head as you read this! So enjoy it being week two of football season, but just remember basketball season is so incredibly close on the horizon and you are clearly excited if you’re here reading this.
University of North Dakota
Date: Saturday, December 21st 6:00 PM ET BTN+
Location: The Vault, Lincoln, NE
2018-2019 Season Record: 12-18
2018-2019 Conference Record: 6-10 (7th)
Conference: Summit League
Mascot: Fighting Hawks
Head Coach: Paul Sather
Paul Sather was named the new head coach for North Dakota the end of May. He arrives from Northern State (Aberdeen, SD) where he was back-to-back NSIC Coach Of The Year, back-to-back conference champs, and runner-up in the DII title game in 2018 (Ferris State won, HAHA-HAHA, go Bulldogs). Sather started out his head coaching career with five years at Black Hills State before spending the last nine years at Northern State. His overall head coaching record is 282-151. He should be a name to keep an eye on for future upward movement in the coaching ranks.
North Dakota moved to D1 in basketball a decade ago. Since then, they’ve had four winning seasons out of nine. The highlight was a 15th seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament after finishing both 1st in the Big Sky regular season and in the conference tournament before
losing not winning against Arizona in the first round of what will eventually be a vacated game if the NCAA has a spine. Last season was the Fighting Hawks first season in the Summit League.
ND ranked 295th in RPI last season and had a SOS ranked 267th. They had bad losses to Idaho, twice in their conference series in fact (344th RPI and it was not even close in their home match up, losing 54-67), at Oral Roberts by 11 points (302nd), but they did manage a home court win over my dad’s Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, prevailing in overtime 86-81 (this is not actually noteworthy outside of my own personal interest as NAU finished 297th in RPI).
The Fighting Hawks lost their second and third scorers on the roster, Cortez Seales and his 14 points a game, and Conner Avants and his 11.8. However, they do return their leading scorer and Creighton transfer guard Marlon Stewart who averaged 14.3 points a game over 31.8 minutes. He only saw the floor for 19 games last season, though, due to sitting out for academic reasons at the start of the season. Leading rebounder Filip Rebraca also returns with his 5.9 rebounds a game over 21.6 minutes. Sophmore Guard Aanen Moody will need to step up his 9.7 points a game average, but his 40% shooting from behind the arc is something to keep an eye on if you’re the Husker playing defense on him.
The bench should see a lot of minutes in the second half of this one. The Fighting Hawks earn a paycheck and lose in convincing fashion after finals week to send the Huskers off for the holidays with a nice stocking stuffer of a win. Let’s call the final score 88-56. GBR!