UND finished the Dakota Showcase 1-2, with a close win against USD, losing to favored SDSU, and dropping a tough one to NDSU. Brief Recaps of each game is below, along with some overall thoughts.
Game 1: UND 75, USD 71
Big story in this one was the showdown between Stanley Umude and Filip Rebraca. Both players showed why they are two of the best players in the conference. What was nice was that UND found a way to win a close one. They hit their free throws down the stretch, Sims collected two key offensive rebounds and made the free throw that took the lead for good. UND did get fortunate at the end when Umude missed an open layup (and I STILL cannot believe Umude missed that shot) and they managed to close it out with some free throws.
Game 2: SDSU 74, UND 62
UND stuck with SDSU for a half, but was done in with some very cold shooting and a quick 2nd half start. Dentliner was too tough for UND to control has he had 21 points and had to deal with the newest budding star Baylor Scheierman, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. SDSU really got UND out of their defensive rhythm in the 2nd half by moving the ball around quickly and making the extra pass to the open shooter, and more times than not they made the shot. UND shot 37%, including a miserable 25% from 3.
Game 3: NDSU 53, UND 52
You could say that for the first 33 minutes, that UND was the better team against their arch-rival. Rebraca was having yet another dominate performance, UND was playing well on both ends of the floor. An Igbanugo 3 gave UND at 50-40 lead with 7:52 to go.
They only scored 1 more bucket the rest of the way. NDSU went on a 13-2 run the rest of the way and a Sims 3 was off the mark at the buzzer meant the Bison managed to steal one against their arch-rivals. Boo.
The free throws hurt (2-9 from the line, yuck!) The 3 point percentage was terrible (the 2nd half was bad). The bench was great! However, they outscored 4 of the starters combined (not great).
-Kudos for the 4 Dakota Schools for coming together on this at the Pentagon. It was well run with lots of close games (minus the USD/SDSU blowout). Would love to see another one, but likely will only see this ever happen against in Sioux Falls is if all 4 Dakota schools make the semi-finals of the Summit Tournament. (Lets hope for this year)
-UND certainly showed that it can be in the mix with USD and NDSU for a top 4 spot in the conference. They could have won both games, however they also could have lost both of the games.
-Rebraca has clearly started to take the next step into stardom in the Summit League. He went blow for blow against Umude against USD, scoring a career high 26 points, a solid 18 points against SDSU, and a 21 point performance against NDSU, including 18 first half points where he looked dominate. The biggest thing to notice is that he is showing more of his shooting range, hitting from the mid-range and stepping out and knocking down 3’s. This will make him even more dangerous down low since people won’t always crowd him in the post.
-Two shout outs from the bench: Ethan Igbanugo and Gertatus Urbonavicius. Igbanugo has given some punch off of the bench, being able to knock down open 3’s, but he is also becoming more aggressive driving to the basket. He is averaging 5.3 ppg so far and is developing into a solid role player. G has finally re-emerged with a couple of decent performances, especially against NDSU. He still isn’t getting a lot of minutes, but made the most of it scoring 8 points. I would like to see him get a few more minutes when he is playing well, but he needs to show more of that.
-The 3 point shooting is an issue right now. All 3 games were below 30% and if UND is going to step up and challenge for a top this, this can’t stand. Some of the 3’s haven’t been in the flow of the offense, some of the 3’s have been open looks that have to be buried. I wouldn’t say that there is a deadeye shooter on the team yet and one might not come, but some of these players are certainly capable of knocking down shots. They need to take better 3’s in the flow of the offense and continue to attack the heart of the paint. The 3 that Ethan hit in the NDSU game where Rebraca found a cutting Danielson, who hit Ethan in the corner is more of what UND needs.
-Free throw shooting has been okay at best and dreadful at worst. We saw both sides (USD, SDSU ok, NDSU bad!). We saw some clutch free throws (USD) and unclutch (NDSU). This needs to be addressed going forward. Its easy to write off one event, but when it happens twice early on in the season, it might be time to address it.
-Ihenacho is starting to get scouted: You noticed that more defenders are backing up and tell him: shoot it, I dare you. Against SDSU, he knocked in 2 of 5 from 3. Against NDSU… not so much. He doesn’t have to be an elite shooter right now, all he needs to show that he can knock it down enough to be respected. He did other great things, nearly grabbing double digit rebounds against USD and SDSU, and played very good defense against Sam Griesel in the NDSU game. He certainly is growing as a point guard and now there are going to be adjustments made now that there is tape. Can he make the adjustments back? Time will tell.
-Sueker had a nice game against USD, scoring 11 points and 6 rebounds. SDSU and NDSU were struggles for him and he spent a lot of the 2nd halves of those games on the bench. I hope he can get some consistency and start knock down some shots from 3.
-Nero was quiet in the NDSU game on the offensive end (only 3 points). When he wasn’t shooting 3’s, he was pretty good on that end (mid-range and getting to the hoop). He has shown he can hits 3’s but has been streaky early on. I think he is one that can step into that role as a secondary scorer behind Rebraca and DAE (when healthy) that UND is going to need. Can he hit the 3 ball with some consistency?
-Still waiting for that Nate Shockey bust out game. I think one will be coming sooner rather than later.
-Danielson is always going to be that full effort guy that coaches love. Will do all the little things that you need a player to do. However… shooting 25% from 3 is not going to get it done. He is getting the looks, he just needs to bury them.
-Sims’ shot is still a work in progress, but he is still working hard on the defensive end and his motor continues to run hot. He grabbed 2 key rebounds against USD down the stretch to keep the possession alive and got fouled in the process. Grabbed 13 rebounds verses NDSU, but missed some shots towards the end. Had a tough defensive matchup against Umude. He will continue to get better and has shown some flashes. We will see if he still starts or goes back to that 6th man role when DAE returns… speaking of
-No DAE again this weekend, it was stated that he was 50-50 going into the weekend, so we will see if he plays against SIU. Now would it surprise me that they hold off until Drake or the wait all the way until Kansas City? It wouldn’t, because the 16 conference games are the most important and if that means a fully healthy DAE can play in them… it might not hurt to do that.
-One roster move: Carlos Ramsey is no longer with the team. He was apart of the first class brought in by Sather and he never saw the court (redshirted last year). Wish him all the best and hope he lands on a roster soon.
-On to SIU for a doubleheader on Thursday-Friday. This will be a good test against a middle of the road MVC team and will give them a taste to what conference play will be like playing the same team on back to back nights. It would be nice if they can get 1 win down there and continue to see this team build some momentum and gel as a squad before conference play. I think this team has taken some good steps in the right direction since the loss at Dixie, but there is still some work to be done.
-Something to watch for, Rebraca is only 4 rebounds away from 500 career rebounds at UND. He should get that on Thursday.