Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wisconsin: What We Learned

*There is no such thing as a moral victory in sports, especially at the Division I level. But if you're the North Dakota men's basketball team, you have to be feeling pretty good after the 103-85 loss to Wisconsin.
*UND hung around early and actually led midway thru the first half. Troy Huff was absolutely on fire scoring 26 points in the first half en route to a career-high 37. But Huff was outdone by the seven-footer Frank Kaminsky. "Frank The Tank" was trending on Twitter and the top story on SportsCenter after dropping a school-record 43 against UND. "Kaminsky The UND Killa" could not miss. You figured with UND's lack of post play that the Badger big man could have a big game. No one saw him having a career game. Although the defense was not what coach Jones wanted, to hang around all game with a guy having a career game, UND had to feel pretty good on the bus ride back to Grand Forks.
*Although the defense was in mid-November form, the offense looked like it was March ready. Sure, Huff going off from deep helped open up the offense, but UND was able to drive in on Wisconsin and get baskets in the lane. We knew the strength of UND was driving to the basket and Tuesday night only encouraged that speculation. With UND's backcourt that Big Ten guards were having a tough time guarding, you can expect the UND guards to get to the basket at will in the Big Sky. This might mean a lot of trips to the free throw line, which is just fine for UND.
*Teams always talk about the "x-factor"-UND has one and his name is Jaron Nash. Nash did have some difficulty guarding Sam Dekker but that might be the best player he will guard all season. Nash was still able to get to the basket and score the ball. You could tell one thing right away when Nash "came off the bench" early on-Number one can play with the "big boys." Nash had 19 points in 24 minutes. Yes, the four turnovers are something that need to be addressed. But the athletic Nash looks like he has found his place with the team.
*More on Troy Huff. In a game that saw him play in front of about 20 family members and his mother and father, the guy went absolutely off. In maybe one of the most impressive performances EVER by a UND basketball player. 15-22 from the field, 4-6 from deep, and nine rebounds. Even Norm Dale would be tickled. After the game, Huff seemed very upbeat about the performance and where his team is headed.
*UND has the Bison on Sunday in what is going to be an absolutely great game in a great atmosphere at the Betty. Preview in a later blog.

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