Men's Basketball

A Lost Winter for Bison Basketball

A Lost Winter for Bison Basketball

Thursday was a tough night for both Bison basketball teams, the NDSU men losing at the buzzer to Oral Roberts in Tulsa in overtime, while the women let a twelve point lead evaporate at home before falling to the Golden Eagles.

The NDSU men now stand at 4-6 in league play, in a three way tie for fourth place with Denver and Oral Roberts. They have four league games remaining, with three of them on the road. It’s hard to get a gauge on this team, they have moments where they look impressive (the win at South Dakota in early January was the high water mark for this team) and other games where they look lost (home games to UND and the first half against USD).

The biggest mystery to me has been the play of AJ Jacobson. Jacobson had a stretch where he had no points, five and five points. He scored 16 Thursday  in the loss against ORU, but the inconsistency has been head scratching, especially during his senior season. Dylan Miller, who started 19 games last season, didn’t play a minute last night and has seen his playing time drop since the first of the year. Head coach Dave Richman said that Miller is “just not in the rotation right now.” Fans were hopeful that Deng Geu would take the next step forward in his sophomore year and while there have been flashes this season, there’s nothing consistent.

You can point to youth and inexperience, ten of the fourteen players on NDSU’s roster are freshmen and sophomores. But outside of Paul Miller, none of the upperclassmen have been reliable this season. Richman is counting on his young players to become great and Tyson Ward is on his way to that status. Cam Hunter has shown flashes of being really good, but has been plagued with turnovers and typical of what happens to a redshirt freshman.

I’m curious to how this season ends. NDSU’s last two seasons have had great starts and then tailed off at the end, including a 7-1 conference start last year to a 4-4 finish. If the Bison pick it up over the last five games and make a run in Sioux Falls, we can erase this blog and give credit to where its due. But right now things are rough for the Bison men.

I have always been of the mindset that NDSU should never fall out of the top three in the Summit League standings. Resources and talent alone should have the Bison there. They’ll need some work to get there this season.

As far as the Bison women’s basketball team, plenty has been written in this spot about the struggles of this team. NDSU starts today 1-9 in conference play, with games against Denver, Omaha, Western Illinois and Omaha remaining. I have been at the last two home games for NDSU against SDSU and Oral Roberts. The Bison were outclassed by the Jacks, but many teams have been made to look silly by SDSU, but the talent disparity is alarming. Thursday though has to be more head scratching, NDSU started the game on a 12-0 run and looked in fine form.  Over the final 35 minutes ORU outscored NDSU by a 64-45 margin and dominated the game.

Maren Walseth is nearing the end of her fourth year and is staring at another single digit win season. Yes the Bison have won more games this season, but three of them were against NAIA teams and another is against Fort Wayne, who’s only won four games. The improvement that many were hoping to see this season has not happened, and to me there are questions about lineups and who’s playing. Taylor Thunstedt, the school’s record holder in three-pointers made, is now coming off the bench. Kennedy Childers, who had played well in spots, is no longer on the team. I am not privy to lineup rotations or why a certain player is playing when, but there are reasonable questions that can be asked about what’s the status of the team and where things are going. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the women’s team and it’s unfortunate is this: Does anyone care?

View Comments (13)


  1. Levi

    February 10, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    It’s so tough to build a great fan base when you only field a competitive team every 3-4 years. The team with Braun looked like they would be one to build a competitive program off of, but that just hasn’t happened. Is the problem in the staff with recruiting? I love the idea of Richman’s “family” team, but if you don’t have a takeover scorer it doesn’t matter how good of friends you are with each other.

  2. Bison

    February 10, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Not much to cheer for for either team. The men can play terrible and lose to anyone at any time. It feels like they have to be lucky to win right now. They are missing the emotional leader that Big Dex was. No fire emotion or hustle with this team.

    The women’s team can’t seem to keep players. It seems like once a player gets to the point where they will have the experience to put it all together they leave the program. Bison can’t seem to win any recruiting battles even though they have great facilities. Walseth talked about an up tempo approach with lots of pressure (supposedly similar to what Penn State plays)…I have yet to see them even attempt to play the way she said they would play. It might take hiring a former player from the glory years to bring the program back to respectability.

    Go Bison!

  3. Bison fan

    February 10, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    AJ has been a huge disappointment over the course of his career. His inconsistency is no surprise this season, disappearing is what he does best.

    • Graham

      February 10, 2018 at 10:07 pm

      AJ has been injured for much of the last two year. Hand, foot and knee injuries this year. He is beat up but is sucking it up.

  4. Christopher Moen, wrestler and I work for USA wrestling

    February 10, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Name me one mens player thats actually improved under Richman. Player retention and development has been lacking, even the Denver announcers today mentioned a few bison players need to hit the weight room.

    As for the girls if you win the people will show up. We are 25 years away from the glory days, you cant be too mad at fans who have forgot about the sad state of the program.

    • 27

      February 12, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Are you a Broncos fan?

      • Christopher Moen, former wrestler and I work for USA wrestling

        February 12, 2018 at 11:12 pm


  5. bisonbill

    February 10, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Hard to totally blame Walseth. Fire her and where does it go??
    She needs to stay in place for another 5 yrs, at least, to get a good gauge on this.
    Bison women BB is in the rebuild stage, so just stay the course.
    This is the way it has to be now.

    • bisonfan

      February 11, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      That’s bull. I’ve seen first year coaches turn programs around. This team lacks D1 talent and coaching. They are mediocre D2 right now. Walseth has proven she cannot recruit or coach these kids up it’s time to move on and find someone who can get the job done.

      • Jeff

        February 12, 2018 at 7:28 pm

        AMEN!!! TO THAT bison fan. Walseth and all of her Coaches need to go!!!!

        • Jay

          February 16, 2018 at 10:34 am

          Seems like Walseth is treating Taylor Thunsedt the same way she treated Holly Johnson “you’re a Senior on a rebuilding team, so there is no reason to play you much, lets have the young girls get experience for next year”.

  6. Graham

    February 10, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Until she demonstrates that she can teach defense, the team will struggle.

  7. bisonfan

    February 11, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    As for the men’s team it’s heading in the wrong direction under Richman. The talent level has dropped dramatically from the LA, Trayvon Wright, Taylor Braun and Marshall Borklund days. It would appear Richman can’t recruit, develop talent or coach very well. I do think they have a few young talented players but from what I’ve seen the last few years I have serious doubts Richman can get the most out of them. IMO he was not ready to be a head coach or doesn’t have the right demeanor to lead a team. Always seems to have a mean look and seldom smiles on the bench. One more year like this and his seats going to be getting hot.

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