Monday, November 25, 2013

Beatdown Of The Bison-What We Learned

*In one of the biggest basketball games EVER in the state of North Dakota, the Betty was rocking as UND knocked off rival NDSU, 95-77. Here are a couple of exclamation points.

Troy Huff landing the final punch to the Bison
Jaron Nash landing on the runway after taking flight
*Herald sports writer Tom Miller had an article not to long ago warning fans to get comfortable at the Betty. He was right. With the new way college basketball is being called with the hand checking fouls, we saw 57 fouls yesterday. 57!! Although the fans are groaning, UND was 33-41 from the charity stripe. Anytime you can sink 33 free throws, you put yourself in the drivers seat to win.
*As I pointed to in my last blog entry, the game was about free throws and the players who were fouling. NDSU coach Saul Phillips saw four of his players foul out making the Bison go deep into their bench. At the end, they didn't have the horses. The UND bench was sensational scoring 27 points and giving rest to the starters. Coach Jones hit on this saying it was nice having his starters go 26, 27 minutes as opposed to 32, 33. As any basketball coach will tell you, this does wonders for your team.
*Something else coach Jones liked? His team having a 14-9 assist to turnover ratio while holding NDSU to a 4-11 assist to turnover ratio. Although that stat might be skewed by the offense the Bison were running in the second half (Letting Taylor Braun go one on five which was very efficient) that makes has to make a coach pleased.
*I thought Troy Huff might have a down game but the hot shooting from the senior continued. The line on the scorers sheet is beautiful: 8-12 from the field, 3-6 from three, 13-17 from the line, 32 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes.
*We knew that Huff would have a great season but he is off to a sensational start. He is sixth in all of Division I in scoring at an even 29 points per ball game. Not bad going up against Wisconsin and NDSU, two teams expected to make The Dance.
*The great citizens of North Dakota now know who Jaron Nash is, if they didn't before. The TT transfer took flight for three dunks against the Bison making the Betty rock.
*The fans are going to drool over Huff and Nash and rightfully so. But the team's rock might be Aaron Anderson. When I think of Anderson, I think of this scene from Rudy. You're five feet nothing, A hundred and nothing. You know what else I see? A great point guard. Anderson's statline was also a thing of beauty, 3-4 from the field, 2-2 from deep, and 10-12 from the line. Anderson knows when to break, slow it down, and run the offense. Huff and Nash might be the transmission and the motor but Anderson is the driver.
*Looking at the tape, I was impressed with Jamal Webb playing the one spot. He also took command of the UND offense when they were forced to go half court. Despite going 1-5 from the field and not getting to the foul line, Webb had five assists and directed the offense well when he was at point. Nice to know UND can go Anderson, Webb, and freshman Quinton Hooker at the point.
*Give credit to the UND big men for battling. The strength of the NDSU team is down low and despite being over matched, Salmonson, Calcaterra, and Traylor played great. Between the three, 6-12 from the field, 9-10 from the line and 21 points. Nothing sexy but UND fans will take it.
*I thought the atmosphere at the Betty was great. The place was packed and although whistle after whistle halted play, the place was rocking. Not every home game for UND is going to have such high stakes but I hope the fans who pack the Ralph every weekend will help pack the Betty because this team is GOOD.
*I stand by my prediction of UND making the NCAA Tournament and yesterday only boosted my confidence. Wouldn't it be a treat if BOTH teams from the Peace Garden State made the Dance? 
*With the men's hockey team struggles in the early going, is UND basketball getting more buzz around Grand Forks than the hockey team? If so, has that ever happened?

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