North Dakota State Bison
Overall Rank: #118
Conference Rank: #1 Summit
2007-08: 16-13, 10-8, 4th
2007-08 postseason: none
Now that North Dakota State is eligible for postseason play, the pressure is on the Bison and Coach Saul Phillips to continue their recent success while transitioning into a full-fledged Division I team. And for a team that finished fourth in the Summit League last year and returns just about everybody, the success is there for the taking. Traditional conference powerhouses IUPUI and Oral Roberts are in transition years and that could pave the way for the Bison to become the darlings of the Summit League.
Nevin Lubarski is the only departure on the team and he only averaged two minutes per game in eight contests. In fact, of the eight players who started one game or more last year, seven of them are upperclassmen. Competing for an NCAA Tournament berth might be a new occurrence, but this is not a group that lacks in experience.
The only thing NDSU could use this year is some depth in the frontcourt and a backup point guard. They addressed the former with the group of the newcomers. Junior college transfer Dejuan Flowers garnered first-team all-conference accolades at Mount San Jacinto Junior College in California and will immediately help out on the glass. He is not a bad scorer either and will use his athletic ability to get open looks around the basket. At 6-9 and 245 pounds, incoming freshman Andy Nagel has the size to be a force under the basket and you can never have too many big guys ready to come in off the bench. Eric Carlson, a 6-5 forward who redshirted last year, will add some more toughness to the team.
Who to Watch:
There are three players on North Dakota State who can put 20 points up in a hurry. Point guard Ben Woodside averaged 20.7 points and 5.1 assists last year. The 5-11 senior will not just chuck up three-pointers. Woodside does a great job of using his quickness to get to the basket and he averaged over seven trips per game to the charity stripe. Like Woodside, forward Brett Winkelman is also coming off a season in which he was named to the all-conference first-team. Winkelman tallied 19.2 points per game and a team high 8.3 rebounds. He is only 6-6, but Winkelman works extremely hard on both ends of the floor and can score and rebound over taller opponents. The senior will also step outside and consistently knock down the outside shot. Mike Nelson does not get the accolades that Woodside and Winkelman receive, but when defenses key in on those two superstars, Nelson will make them pay. Nelson, another senior, is a superb outside shooter and knocked down 46.1 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last season. What makes him so dangerous is the fact that he is not simply a three-point specialist. He will get to the basket and score in a variety of ways.
While those three will win plenty of games on their own, the Thundering Herd will need some other players to consistently help out the team if they have March aspirations. Lucas Moormann is the big man under the basket. The 6-10, 255 pounder is not a great scorer, or at least he does not need to score on this team, but he is a solid rebounder and the closest thing North Dakota State has to a shotblocker. Michael Tveidt and Josh Vaughan split starts last year and could again this year. Tveidt has the size and also was the most effective scorer outside of the big three. When the team wants to go a little smaller and add a more dangerous shooter to the floor, Vaughan is the answer. Add Freddy Coleman, Sam Sussenguth, Austin Pennick, Lorenzo Riley and all the newcomers to the mix and there will be a fierce battle for playing time at NDSU.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ben Woodside, Senior, Guard, 20.7 points per game
Mike Nelson, Senior, Guard, 13.8 points per game
Brett Winkelman, Senior, Forward, 19.2 points per game
Michael Tveidt, Sophomore, Forward, 6.4 points per game
Lucas Moormann, Senior, Center, 4.9 points per game