Impressive Start

The Bison men’s basketball team knows if they want to win the Summit League championship they need to run the table at home and if they play like they did tonight against Omaha, it’s going to be hard for anyone to come to Fargo and beat this team. NDSU got six players into double figures, led by Taylor Braun with his now standard 20 points, Lawrence Alexander jump-started everything with a thunderous dunk not even a minute into the game and the Bison were off and running.

TrayVonn Wright scored 10 points in leading NDSU to a 91-69 win over Omaha. (Forum photo)

The one item that was most impressive about tonight’s game was the bench production, Mike Felt got hot in the 2nd half and ended up with 13 points, but I thought the real key was Jordan Aaberg’s minutes in the first half, he ended with 8 points and now finally healthy, can give NDSU some much needed size off the bench when Marshall Bjorklund is sitting. The biggest stat though was 11; 11 blocks by NDSU, one shy of tying the school record for a single game set eight years ago. You add in another terrific shooting night for the top team in the NCAA in field goal percentage (54% tonight) and NDSU has won two straight conference games and sits in a tie for third place.

The Summit League standings are certainly going to make you shake your head; with teams we didn’t expect to be on top or at the bottom:

  • IPFW                3-0
  • South Dakota   2-0
  • NDSU               2-1
  • SDSU               2-1
  • Western Illinois 1-1
  • Denver              0-2
  • Omaha              0-2
  • IUPUI                 0-3

Seeing IPFW and South Dakota at the top is way more of a surprise to me than seeing Denver at the bottom, but mind you, we’re just 3 games into this and lots to happen yet, but this game Saturday for NDSU is a biggie, chance to get to 3-1, knowing Fort Wayne plays at Vermillion on Saturday as well. Welcome to the Summit roller coaster.

21 thoughts on “Impressive Start

  1. That’s why you play the schedule and in conference you play each team twice. It’s not how you start but how you finish. The bench will hold the key if they can run the table. Go Bison!

  2. Honestly, name one game left in conference play that’s left for NDSU that isn’t important, home or away. As much praise and hype was heaped on this team we all forget one thing-they’ve never really won anything. No Summit League Titles. No postseason (NIT/NCAA/CBI) games. They’ve got nice a non-conference win over Notre Dame and two Summit League Tournament games last year, but you don’t hang banners for that. That alone, much less the Big Dance, should drive a group of seniors on their last go-around. There’s still MUCH this group has to prove, something I think a lot of people who came into this year writing NDSU into Big Dance bracket didn’t count on.

    The Bison will win out at the BSA. Maybe SDSU, Denver or IPFW play them close, but why wouldn’t you expect them to win out at home? Realistically they’re one of three teams that could do it (IPFW now that they’ve cleared the two toughest home games, and SDSU). It’s on the road where I want to see this team look like a hungry senior laden team. That’s where conference titles in the regular season are won. It’s also the kind of atmosphere which, unless Bison basketball fans FINALLY show up in Sioux Falls and can turn it into a homecourt edge (which we haven’t seen in five years), they’ll have to play in to win the Summit Autobid. And there’s no margin for error now that the “easiest” road game, at IUPUI, is already off the schedule.

    • If I’m wrong and this team steamrolls to a title and the Dance I’ll gladly admit it. Until then, I’m not crowning this team early. This isn’t football where they’re clearly superior to everyone and have the experience of winning multiple titles coming into the year. This isn’t even the 2009 team in which the core had been scoring major upsets long before their senior year.

  3. The regular season games are pretty meaningless except for seeding in the tourney. Just win the SL tourney and you’re in the Dance. Hopefully they get it done and maybe just maybe they can win a game in the NCAA. Hey anything can happen….

    • Having that first round bye in the Summit Tournament is a pretty big deal. It’s tough to win three games in three days, no matter how good you are.

      • FWIW, I think the bye is a bit overrated. Personally, I’m not sure it’s a good thing that the conference champ will have to sit a full week between games and then face someone who has fresh momentum from the night before. Especially if, though unlikely, that champion has to face an SDSU or USD where there could be decided home court edge.

        Most important about the regular season title in my mind is at least getting an NIT autobid. Yeah, it’s a consolation and door prize that nobody wants, but if NDSU lost in the conference tourney it’d be a lot better than going back to the CBI.

        And I do believe these regular season games matter. I want to see how this team plays in hostile road settings that will greatly mimic what they get in the conference tourney. We’ve seen this team, in the past, get rattled on the road against rivals (UND this year). If they can’t play well on the road in the Summit, then I don’t have much confidence in them going into the Tournament and winning when they probably won’t have much of a homecourt edge and could even be a virtual road team. Besides which, this team isn’t talented or good enough to pretend they’re the Miami Heat and just “turn it on” in the postseason. I expect they know that, but if fans like “bisonfan” don’t recognize it they’ll be in for a shock.

        • This team has proven themselves on the road this year. The one thing about the NCAA I would like to see changed is to see the mid major conference champions seeded higher so they are not always playing 1,2,3 or 4 seeds right away maybe they would have better sucess. The lower seeds should be the at large teams with the worse records. It hard to really judge NDSU or any Summit team when its pretty much stacked against them.

          • By beating Notre Dame? C’mon. Great win there and a few other wins, but they’ve also lost at North Dakota and Fort Wayne. They’re hardly proven on the road.

            Besides, you can’t compare non-conference to conference. Notre Dame looks at a Dakota school and figures they’re probably going to win before they ever take the floor. Fans don’t care as much, players don’t care as much.

            That said, takes nothing away from NDSU going out and winning. But the point is, in conference play you get EVERYONES best shot. SDSU & USD ARE pumped and jacked up to play us because they are natural rivals. Same is true for other conference teams especially this year since we’re the most hyped and preseason favorite. We’re getting every team’s best shot.

    • Getting the 2 seed also gets you an extra day off and the conference cellar dweller as a tuneup on Saturday instead of having to wait until Sunday to play your quarterfinal game. Since NDSU joined the Summit League postseason party in 2009 there hasn’t been a single team who’d made the tournament having to win 3 games in 3 days. Getting one of those top two seeds is important.

  4. Does it really matter if you win the NCC (cough cough the Summit) ? The key is winning the autobid which would get them in but probably just another participation banner.

  5. Yes, it matters if you win the conference. You get a bye in the first round of the conference tournament, hence you only have to win two games to get to the Big Dance! Yes, it matters alot.

  6. Cough Cough The Summit has a conference rpi ranking of 13. That’s alot higher and better than any other mid-major conference. Cough cough!

    • And oh by the way this league is about to bring back Oral Roberts. And yeah, for being the “NCC”, the closest they’ve come to winning it since Woody and Co. left was 3rd place.

      So yeah, it matters.

  7. Great to see Jordan Aabergs participation. Keeps those hooks and short jumpers coming. Chris Kading needs to relax a take an open shot when available. So does, Marshall. A couple of outside attempts will open the center. With Marshalls adept steps around the basket, he could be a contestant on DWTS. Go Bison.

  8. It would be nice to see wins throughout the rest of the conference season and maintain the high RPI ranking, then if they have a hiccup in the Summit tourney, they still might have an at large selection. I am always on Saul’s a–, but hope he can get this team to the tourney and I agree with Reality, they have not won anything yet.
    Can’t wait until spring football.
    Go Bison.

    • Aint no way we are getting an at large bid. Summit is a one bid league this year. Sure our RPI last week was 22. But once we continue to play conference games with team’s RPI over 100, it will drop. Winning in Sioux Falls is the only way we go dancing.

      • Even if the RPI were high, no way the selection committee gives an at-large bid to a conference that hasn’t won a tournament game in more than a decade. Boosting RPI is one thing, but until the Summit has success in the tournament, even expecting higher seeds is laughable.

  9. Aaberg is healthier but I think playing against Summit League center is a whole lot easier than Norte Dame center. It was nice to see him produce rather than just always asking myself how much longer is Sual going to old out before Marshall is back in…. I really feel good for Aaberg he seems like a good person on and off the court.

    Felt really needed to start hitting 3 pointers he has been a no factor for this team until the Mayville game. We need Felt to get at least 3 3′s per games. When Felt is hot he is a game changer no doubt about it.