An Interesting Day for Bison Basketball

An Interesting Day for Bison Basketball

This Monday in March began with the news that Maren Walseth and North Dakota State were parting ways. The day ended with an unlikely Bison victory and a win away from going to the biggest event in American sports, the NCAA basketball tournament.

The news that Walseth was out as Bison basketball coach is not surprising to anyone who follows NDSU closely and who reads this blog. The women’s basketball program has been a stain on an athletic program that is shining in almost every other area. Walseth was hired partly because of her D-1 pedigree, as a former player and coach at Penn State. Her Minnesota roots helped, presumably to get into the Twin Cities recruiting hotbed.  Neither of those factors materialized.

NDSU got two players out of the Twin Cities during Walseth’s time and neither were impact players. Her inability to recruit was her biggest hindrance in my opinion. 

So what’s next? If Matt Entz was the biggest hire that Matt Larsen will have, this will be number two. I agree with what Larsen told me earlier on Monday, this is a good job. It is a good job. It needs a talented, high energy coach with the ability to recruit to come in. NDSU has all the advantages you could ask for, good facility, cost of attendance and resources to put a good product on the floor.

A coach with previous head coaching experience is a must for me. Carolyn DeHoff and Walseth were both high profile assistants from FBS programs, Utah and Penn State. Going that route has not worked and should be avoided at all costs. If I’m Larsen, I call SDSU’s and USD’s top assistants. See if they’re interested in being a head coach. It’s a good place to start by pilfering the best in the league.

This is not going to take ten years to turn around. In the Summit League if you get two standout players, you could raise your team from seventh or eighth in the Summit League to third. It’s still a while to go before you catch SDSU and USD.

Monday was the first step towards a new beginning for Bison women’s basketball. The next step will be the hardest.

Meanwhile in Sioux Falls, an unexpected ride to the Summit League Championship continued for Dave Richman’s team. NDSU hung on to beat Western Illinois, 76-73 to earn a date in the league title game Tuesday night.

True freshman Sam Griesel had 20 points, league newcomer of the year Vinnie Shahid had 14 points and the Bison survived a scoreless drought of 3:30 to end the game to beat the Leathernecks.

It’s the sixth title game appearance for the Bison and their first since 2016. They have a 3-2 record in those games, winning in 2009, 2014 and 2015, losing in 2013 and 2016.

The fact that the Bison are in this game is still remarkable. Top seed and favorite South Dakota State fell to Western Saturday night in the biggest upset in the league’s tournament history.

Dave Richman’s team was 2-7 in early December, getting ripped by Gonzaga and Iowa State. They had mindnumbing losses at Denver and South Dakota and a heartbreaker to the Jacks at the buzzer.

Each week though they’ve got a bit better and we’ve seen this team, without a senior, play its best basketball at the end of the season and now have a chance to reach the tournament a year ahead of schedule.

It’s why March is fantastic. We’ll see if NDSU can add to its March history tomorrow.

View Comments (7)


  1. bisonation

    March 12, 2019 at 9:14 am

    beating 2 sub .500 teams in the SLT and having a .500 D1 record isnt something to brag about richman still isn’t a good coach. in mid majors players talents can overcome coaching.
    just wish ndsu admin hired a BBall coach with a big name, thats how you change a culture of 1800 attendence or less.

    • Facts

      March 12, 2019 at 10:32 pm

      Change the culture? Certain Bison fans need to change their culture and start supporting Bison basketball or go away. We won another game tonight and another trip to March Madness. Give Coach Richman a 4 year extension right now!! The Bison not only win, they win with class, they are good students and an asset to our community.

  2. Never go in aganist the Bison when a Championship is on the line

    March 12, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Sunday it was Ward and Samuelson as high scorers for the Bison, Monday it was Shahid and Griesel. Nice to see that the team has multiple scoring options – something the women’s team hasn’t seemed to have for what seems like forever.

  3. Rough

    March 12, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Great job Coach Richman and team. Richman has got his teams into the Summit championship 3 out of the last 5 years. All of college basketball is experiencing a lag in attendance yet the Bison have led the Summit League in average attendance the prior 2 years. Coach Richman should get a contract extension to quiet the few whiners and critics that have no facts.

  4. OldGuy

    March 13, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Dom, please help me understand what you wrote. In one sentence you say head coaching experience is a must for you. A few sentences later you say Larsen should call USD and SDSU assistants. Wait, what? Those two statements are incongruous to me. Explain what I’m missing, please.

    • Dom Izzo

      March 14, 2019 at 10:56 am

      Those assistants have had previous head coaching experience, it may not be D-1, but they’ve run a a team before. Both DeHoff and Walseth were never a head coach. Big difference there.

      • OldGuy

        March 15, 2019 at 4:09 am

        Then you should have made that clear and not made the assumption your readers would know that. Clarity of thought.

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