The NDSU men host UND Saturday afternoon at 2, with the attraction being the first conference basketball matchup between the two since 2004. Both have virtually the same type of season going at 8-11 overall. The Bison are 2-3 in the Summit League and Hawks 2-4.
It’s getting to the point of the season where these games will begin to matter when it comes time for the conference tourney seedings. There are nine teams in the league with eight making the tournament. Moreover, it would be highly recommended not to finish seventh or eighth with South Dakota State and Fort Wayne the probable top two seeds and both represent a tough matchup for anybody. If the Bison are going to make a late January and February surge, they will need to improve on field goal defense. It hasn’t been good.
NDSU is No. 325 out of 351 Division I teams in that category with opponents shooting 47.3 percent against them. On Wednesday, Denver shot 58 percent in the second half to pull away for a home victory. It’s a stat that bothers head coach Dave Richman. who said part of the problem is how his team is executing offensively that is translating to the defensive end.
“Absolutely, it’s something we talk about,” Richman said. “What wins? Defense wins. You see it in the Fargodome and we’ll have to see it come February and March.”
The dome reference is to the Bison football program, which has traditionally been one of the top defensive teams in Division I FCS football.
The field goal percentage hasn’t necessarily parlayed into points given up. NDSU is in the middle of the pack in that category in the Summit surrendering 73.5 per game. SDSU, for all its offensive firepower with Mike Daum and David Jenkins, leads the league in defense at 67.5 points per game. More impressive, the Jacks lead the conference in offensive points per game, too, at 84.7. But it’s clear for the Bison to get some sort of win streak going, they’ll have to shore up the D.
“Those are areas we need to make the biggest strides,” Richman said.