Photos and Words by Joe Kerlin
The Bison will trudge through what Dave Richman called the most difficult nonconference schedule he’s put together during his four years as head coach. The Bison began the season with a swing to the West Coast to play the No. 10 ranked USC Trojans after stopping in Santa Barbara to play the traditional Big West power.
“The trip out to California was a learning experience,” Richman said upon returning to Fargo for a day before hitting the road to Missouri State. “I think it’s easy to talk about perspective but when you’re actually going through it, and you’re 0-2, it’s not easy to swallow. That being said, I’m very encouraged with some things that we saw and very excited to continue the process.”
Perspective is going to be the buzzword for fans to remember during this tenacious nonconference stretch. The Bison end November with SEC opponents Mississippi State before welcoming Missouri Valley Conference favorites Missouri State to the SHAC in December. The biggest test of the season is when the Bison travel to the University of Arizona to play the preseason No. 5 Wildcats.
“This is far and away the most challenging schedule since I’ve been the head coach, that we’ve put together,” Richman said. “Hopefully, that challenge prepares us for January, February and March.”
SENIOR: A.J. JACOBSON
The 1,000-point scorer returns for his final campaign as a Bison and is coming off his best season from beyond the arc. A.J. Jacobson was a silky 43 percent from three-point land last year.
- Minutes/Game: 32.7
- Points/Game: 11.6
- Rebounds/Game: 4.5
SENIOR: PAUL MILLER
NDSU’s lone first-team All-Summit League selection from last season returns, anxious to make another leap in his game. Paul Miller led the Bison in scoring last season with more than 16 points per game.
- Minutes/Game:31.8 p
Sophomore, #23 Deng Geu
The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native returns for his redshirt sophomore season. The 6’ 8’’ forward gives the Bison some much-needed size after the departure of Dexter Werner.
Sophomore, #24 Tyson Ward
Tyson Ward produced valuable minutes off the bench for the Bison last season. Early on, it appears Ward could find himself in the starting lineup on a consistent basis given his athleticism and shooting ability.
WHO STEPS UP?
The Bison had a disappointing run in the Summit League tournament last March. After getting upset by IUPUI in the first round, the Bison were picked to finish third in the Summit League preseason poll this season.
The Bison return two of their Top 5 leading scorers from last season. With the graduation of seniors Dexter Werner and Carlin Dupree and the transfer of Khy Kabellis, Paul Miller and A.J. Jacobson are the only two proven scorers who return.
But there’s plenty of young talent who will get their opportunity this winter to step into a major role.
Sophomores Deng Geu and Tyson Ward came off the bench last season. As the season progressed last year, so did Ward’s production. He was featured in the starting lineup to begin this season.
Geu broke out last season against Xavier, going for 18 points in 20 minutes. He scored 17 in two games during NDSU’s first road trip this season.
“His big dunk against USC, when there was a body in front of him, he was patient. He shot faked, went around and had a big dunk,” Richman said. “But you’re starting to see a carryover on the defensive end.”
Geu, Ward, Cameron Hunter, Jared Samuelson and Chris Quayle are among the underclassmen who will need to make an impact for the Bison to reset the sour taste after last season’s early tournament exit.