North Dakota went down to Carbondale, Illinois to play the Salukis of Southern Illinois on back to back afternoons. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they came away empty handed and now fall to 1-7 on the year.
Game 1: SIU 85, UND 64
Game 2: SIU 62, UND 50
-It certainly was a good idea for UND to schedule this type of game, only for the reason to give them from practice of what the conference season will look like.
-DAE finally was able to get into some game action after missing several games with an ankle injury. He certainly looked rusty, scoring no points in 19 minutes of action. He didn’t play in the 2nd game (probably the smart decision). It was good to see him play again and hopefully with some practice and another game to get him back going before conference play.
-In both games, it was easy to see that UND played decent for one half and not so great on the other half. In the first game, it was the first half, where they had a long scoring drought. In the second game, it was the 2nd half where they had difficulties. They almost were carbon copies with an inability to knock down the 3 and slipping up on defense and SIU making them pay with corner 3’s or slips to the basket off of the screen.
-UND needs to find a way to run their offense better. It looks like they are setting for too many early 3’s in the shot clock. They certainly are capable of getting that shot later on, but it shouldn’t be the first option and gets away from running their “attack the heart of the paint” offense that Sather likes to run.
-Rebraca was able to grab his 500th rebound and once again scored in double digits in both games. He didn’t get a lot of shots in the first game, only 6, but made 5 of them. He scored 11 points in the 2nd game, but had an abysmal 2-6 from the free throw line. He’s certainly has been UNDs best player so far, but just needs to make sure that he can knock down those free throws!
-Another positive was the play of Urbonavicius. He continues his solid play on the bench. He got some more minutes in game 1 and made the most of them, scoring 13 points in 17 minutes, including going 3-5 from 3. He certainly is capable of hitting that shot. His second game was around his usual 8 minutes, but he scored 7 points during that span. Fouls continue to be his undoing right now, but has strung together 4 games in a row of some offensive punch. He certainly can get more minutes if he can avoid committing quick fouls.
-Sims knocked down most of UNDs 3’s this week (6 out of teams 17 makes). He is now shooting 36% from 3 this season, which is okay. He also grabbed 7 and 6 rebounds respectively. I think he is figuring things out a little bit on the offensive end, I would certainly love to see him do some work on the inside with his big body, especially on the offensive glass. He still brings a lot of energy on the floor on both ends. With DAE returning, it will be interesting to see if he continues to start or will revert back to his bench role. Or do they start both? Given that…
-Sueker is struggling right now. He didn’t get as many minutes again. The last 4 games have been tough on him and it would be great for UND if he can get going. The Dixie State and USD game are great examples of what Sueker can do for UND. He just needs to have that one game to snap out of it. It would be helpful for him to knock down a 3 (he is 3-17 on the year and he shot 37% from 3 last year).
-Ihenacho had a tough scoring week. He scored 14 points in the 2 games, but he needed 15 shots to get there. Lots of tough finishes that didn’t go down. He’s been impacting the game in other ways, getting 3 steals in the first game and dropping 7 assists in the 2nd one. Its good that he is finding other ways to impact the game, and hopefully he can get back to scoring.
-Nero has been the steadier guard when it comes to scoring, but I would like to see him be more aggressive with his scoring and driving to the hoop. His 3 point shooting has been a little hot and cold (was 3-5 in game 1 but then was 0-3 in game 2).
-Igbanugo had a tough night shooting in both games. Ethan went 1-9 from 3 combined. He had some open looks that just didn’t fall. However, he’s been decent from the bench this year so far, so I am not worried about him.
-Danielson is one that I am worried about. Brady is the guy you want on a team because he will give you 100% every game. He will do the little things that you want from a player. His 13 assists is 3rd most on the team. So why am I concerned? He is shooting 21% from 3 right now and he is getting open looks that aren’t falling. He has to start hitting those open shots.
After some positive momentum from the Dakota Showcase, it was hard to see that some of that momentum was blunted after the SIU game. I didn’t expect them to win either of the games, but I felt that they would have put together two solid games to continue the momentum. There is certainly some angst developing amongst the fan base that perhaps this might be a tough year and this won’t develop into the team we were all expecting. Personally, while I think there are areas that still need to clean up and players that need to step up, especially on the offensive end, I still think this is a team that can compete for a top 4 spot in the conference. I believe a lot of their issues are correctable, but the bottom line is this: They need to be able to hit the open shots. Period.
Next up is the final non-conference tune-up on Tuesday the 22nd (unless they can schedule another game) as they head to Iowa to take on Drake.