What do University of Mary basketball fans and the Marauders’ head men’s basketball coach Joe Kittell have in common? They’ll both get a first look at a nearly new team on Monday during Marauder Madness at the McDowell Activity Center.
The public is invited to the event that coincides with the opening of practice for the new season. The night begins at 6 p.m. and includes games, prizes, a 3-point shootout and a dunk contest.
The men’s and women’s teams will be introduced at 7 p.m. and both will scrimmage.
“We’re the unknown team, the faceless team,” Kittell said. “We’re the ‘you don’t know anybody on the roster’ team. There’s a lot of unknowns … but there are names people will recognize (senior forward Trevor Zacher of Beulah; redshirt freshman guard Connor Hellebust of Bismarck High; freshman forward Lucas Mayer of Century; and freshman forward Wyatt Carr of Hazen).”
The 6-foot-5 Zacher is the top returning scorer and rebounder at 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds. Kittell is replacing 60 points per game lost to graduation.
Kittell said the local players aren’t here simply because they are local. He said they are capable D-II players who will contribute.
“I don’t really have any expectation on how many wins we’ll get. It’ll rely on how well we play defense and how we gel as a team,” Kittell said.
The women’s team is nearly as young, but experienced and led by Northern Sun Freshman of the Year Gabbie Bohl. The 6-2 post averaged 15.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. Unlike Kittell, women’s coach Rick Neumann lost only two players accounting for 19 points a game.
“It’s an interesting roster,” Neumann pointed out. “You hear us talking about how young we are and how we’ll start three sophomores and a freshman, but the irony is all those sophomores played heavy minutes last year. It’s like a young veteran roster, as much as one can be.”
U-Mary’s men open the season with an exhibition game at home against Mayville State on Oct. 24, while the women open with an exhibition game Oct. 28 at the University of Jamestown.
Bismarck State College began practice in early October and the men’s season tips off Oct. 21 against Presentation College at BSC. The women also play Presentation that day.
Men’s coach Buster Gilliss and women’s coach Marv Pedersen have lineups spread equally between sophomores and freshmen.
Gilliss’ returnees include 6-4 sophomore guard Brody Nieuwsma, who averaged 18.1 points, 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Jesse Roberts, a 6-6 sophomore guard chipped in 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Women’s coach Marv Pedersen goes into the season with 5-7 sophomore guard-forward Nicole Bunting leading the way. She averaged 12.5 points, while 5-11 sophomore guard Hannah Hanson added 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds.
SOMEBODY’S GONNA GIVE: There are two 0-6 teams in the Northern Sun Conference and they’re meeting at the Community Bowl today. The University of Mary and Minnesota Crookston kick off at 1 p.m. The teams are last in the conference in scoring offense and defense. U-Mary likes to run and Crookston is last in run defense. Crookston likes to throw and U-Mary is in the upper half of the NSIC in pass defense. The forecast is for a little rain, cold and winds up to 30, which benefits U-Mary. The Marauders are 13-2 all-time versus the Golden Eagles.
FINALLY, COMPETITION: North Dakota State’s run of five games against vastly inferior opponents ends today with a game at No. 8 Youngstown State. It should be the Bison’s first real test after five cakewalks that said as much about their opponents as themselves. NDSU has won 11 straight road games and YSU has won 11 straight home games. In all of D-I, the longest road winning streaks belong to Oklahoma and Alabama at 13 straight and Clemson at 12.
GOING GRIZ: One week after stopping a three-game losing streak, UND heads to Montana to meet the 24th-ranked Griz. Montana leads the all-time series 14-8-1 but UND has won four of five D-1 matchups. Montana won the last game 42-16 despite trailing 10-7 midway through the second quarter. The Fighting Hawks haven’t won in Washington-Grizzly Stadium in three trips.
HOME ICE: UND returned home this weekend to play St. Lawrence after going 1-0-1 against Alaska-Anchorage in the hockey season-opener last week. The Saints are 0-2 and 2-12 against UND. Forward Johnny Simonson was the only UND senior scoring in the series. The other goals belonged to sophomore defenseman Casey Johnson, freshman forward Collin Adams and freshman defenseman Matt Kierstad.
POW: Dickinson State’s 5-10, 215-pound junior linebacker Elijah Staton was named the conference’s defensive player of the week after helping the 18th-ranked Blue Hawks beat Valley City State 35-20. Staton had 15 tackles in the game.