Look ahead to North Dakota St

By Rogabee

Last Year:

North Dakota State (17-14, 9-9 Summit) earned a surprise berth to the CBI last year on what figured to be a rebuilding year. The surprise was so much that everyone was on Spring Break on their team and that NDSU only had one full day of practice before falling by 3 at Wyoming. Despite thier 17 wins, none were against the RPI top 100, but the Bison were 15-8 vs. RPI 101 or worse. 

North Dakota State will be returning 4 of 5 starters, and there was no surprise when Hale decided to transfer.

One of the main weaknesses to exploit of last year's NDSU team was a lack of attention on defense, despite the overall decent defensive play. The lack of attention on D then resulted in fouls, which killed the Bison as they were without key players for stretches last year. Other primary weaknesses per a Bison source were that oftentimes the team seemed out of control on O, particularly Lawrence Alexander, in addition to a lack of offensive rebounding and overall toughness.

It should also be noted that North Dakota State did this in a much improved Summit League. The Summit League had perhaps its best season ever last year, with a final RPI of #16, five postseason teams, and the Summit also had a winning percentage of .500 or better against 15 of the 17 non-BCS conferences it faced. The Summit should have another quality season this year for Oral Roberts's final season.

Key Returners:

Taylor Braun (6-7 SF, 205 Jr) Their team leader started dominating the second half of last season. An all-around dominant player, particularly on the defensive glass. Expect the offense to run through him at the SF slot.

Lawrence Alexander (6-3 soph PG). The team's starting PG as a frosh last year was out of control some, but played a decent overall freshman season. He should grow up some this year especially with trying to take control too much when the team is struggling. 

TrayVon Wright (6-7 180 Jr PF). 3rd in the Summit in blocks, Tray is more of the athletic type of PF rather than the strong push you around type. Huge leaper.

Marshall Bjorklund. (6-8, 240 Jr C). The Summit leader in FG percentage each of the last two years, Bjorklund is somewhat selective of what shots he takes. Average rebounder for the Summit League.

Chris Kading (6-8, 220 redshirt frosh). Kading will be more than capable of providing quality minutes off the bench at the 4 and perhaps the 5.

Mike Felt (6-3 junior SG). A surprise possible candidate for 6th man of the year in the Summit if he doesn't get the starting SG position over Lindberg or perhaps Brown (more on Brown below). Needs to improve consistency, ability to make his own shot from reports.

Key Losses:

Dylan Hale. A starter for 23 of 29 games last year, Hale transferred out of NDSU only averaged 4.5 ppg on 28% from the field. Hale wasn't starting for his offense, but rather his defense. From the sounds of my source, this did not come as a surprise to anybody close to the Bison program.

Incoming Frosh:

Kory Brown (6-4, 190) seems the most likely to play his freshman year. A terrific athlete who is reported to play quality defense, the off-guard's length will give Summit teams troubles the next few years.

Brett Vandenburgh (6-5, 210 SF/PF) is the third major frosh to go to the Bison. Per a column in madison.com, Vandenburgh shut down Zac Showalter (Wisconsin commit) to 1-7 shooting after Vandenburgh asked to cover Showalter.

Dexter Warner (6-6, 240-250) will provide much needed toughness to a team that has from an outsider's perspective lacked toughness. From a report I am getting, he isn't in shape and will likely redshirt.

Coaching Substitution Pattern of Note:

Taking a look back at stats from old NDSU games from last year, Coach Saul of NDSU seemed to go smaller to match up better on defense against other undersized teams rather than leave in the typical lineup.