I’m not sure if it’s part of signing the contract to be the men’s basketball coach at North Dakota State, but it sure seems like it is. Saul Phillips first game as Bison head coach was on November 9th, 2007 at two-time defending national champion Florida. Dave Richman will begin his tenure as Bison head coach in another tough setting, November 14th at nationally-ranked Texas.
NDSU’s men’s schedule was finally released on Thursday, which includes two high-majors right off the bat, at Texas, followed by a trip on Monday, November 17th at Iowa against a Hawkeyes team that has plenty of potential for 2014-15, and also includes a deputy athletic director that used to work here in Fargo. The Bison will play 14 at home at Scheels Arena and 15 on the road, NDSU will host two games as part of the 2K Classic, Kennesaw State serves as the home opener on November 21st, followed by a game with either Alcorn State or Hampton. The real grind of this schedule will come in early December, where NDSU will play at Montana State, then go to Southern Miss, then fly all the back to Missoula to play the Griz on Sunday December 7th.
NDSU’s history with the high-majors isn’t great, the Bison are 1-7 all-time against the Big 12, the one win obviously over Oklahoma, three losses to Kansas State, two to Iowa State, one to Kansas and one to Texas Tech. As for the Big 10, it’s not much better there, the Bison are 1-8, Wisconsin being the win, with seven losses to Minnesota and the loss to number one Indiana in 2012. I remember that Indiana game being a big-time lesson for NDSU, which helped not only in 2012-13, but certainly last season and perhaps that’s what these games can be for what is a decidedly young and unproven group.
As everyone knows this is going to be super young team with a lot of question marks. Games against Texas and Iowa may flesh out some answers on who’s ready for the Summit League, think of Carlin Dupree, thrust into the lineup against Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament and stood out for the Bison. Richman is going to have some decisions to make on who plays as a true freshman and who sits, 11 of the 14 players on the roster are sophomores or younger. We know that Lawrence Alexander, Kory Brown and Chris Kading will likely start, but who joins the starting five? Likely we’ll see Fargo Shanley standout AJ Jacobson as part of that starting five, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess. Evan Wesenberg and Spencer Eliason add some needed height, but Paul Miller, Jake Showalter and Trey Miller all could help with athleticism. It will be an interesting training camp for NDSU, which begins in just a couple weeks.