I’ve been the conductor on the Rocky Kreuser, Summit League POY train all offseason and after finally seeing the 2021 NDSU Bison take the floor together last night, I’m thinking that train won’t be empty for long. Rocky led all scorers with 22 points in 22 minutes, also grabbed 9 rebounds and converted 4 of the team’s 6 three point makes on 4-5 shooting from beyond the arc in the Bison 85-54 victory over Minot State. It was as good of an opening display by Kreuser as the Bison could of hoped for, including him putting a poor Kody Dwyer from Minot State on a poster and hopefully it carries on throughout the season. In addition to Kreuser’s exceptional night, newcomer Andrew Morgan and 2nd year player Grant Nelson also showed why their hype is equally as warranted. I just wrote in the season preview article that coach Richman has stated Andrew Morgan could be something special and he didn’t take long to show us all why. Morgan scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in only 15 minutes of playing time. He was highly efficient on 5-6 shooting and displayed how well rounded his game is with a tip slam, baseline jumper and a beautiful shot from the elbow. His only miss came on his one 3 point attempt and it must be absolutely terrifying for coaches in the Summit League to imagine what he might become if he dials in that shot as well. Grant Nelson showed further polish in his game and his length gave Minot State problems all night long. Nelson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks on the night and played a team high 26 minutes. In a game where everybody on the team not named Rocky Kreuser combined to shoot 2-21 from beyond the arc, the Bison made it clear that they have the ability to beat teams in a variety of ways and the depth to keep guys fresh throughout the season.
Outside of the bigs, it was a fairly quiet performance from the rest of the primary rotation guys…save for one very explosive Maleeck Harden-Hayes dunk. Sam Griesel had a 7 point, 5 rebound and 3 assist game, Harden-Hayes and Jarius Cook each contributed 6 points and Boden Skunberg contributed 11 points and 6 rebounds despite going just 1-10 from the floor. He was doing his best to get the offense rolling while in the game but just couldn’t get the shots to fall. He can get his shot up at any time so if he can get them to consistently fall he could have some big nights off the bench this season. Grad transfer Andrew Kallman was first off the bench for the Bison in his first outing with the team and played a solid all around game scoring 5 points, dishing out 3 assists and grabbing 2 rebounds. He’s a great fit for the way this team likes to play.
In other notes from the game, Tyree Eady was in street clothes and did not partake in this game, reports are he was a healthy scratch and should be ready to go going forward. Willie Guy was given first shot at the backup PG duties and had an okay debut, handled the ball well but couldn’t get a couple of shots to fall on offense and did get beat a time or 2 on defense but all in all a decent showing for his first game in a Bison uniform. He outpaced McKinney 18 minutes to 11 but McKinney was more productive with his time on the floor so that will continue to be a battle to watch as the season progresses.