DSU opens season with high hopes
A typical college basketball roster is between 11 to 13 players. The Dickinson State men’s basketball team has 19. DSU head coach Ty Orton has an abundance of players to handle, which made narrowing down a starting roster tough. But for the ensuing seasons to come, high numbers means a bright future.
“We have 14 or 15 new kids and five returners,” he said. “It seems like a lot this year, but in the years following it’s going to pay off because we have a good mixture of freshman and juniors thrown in there.”
The Blue Hawks face their old rival Minot State University at 7 p.m. tonight in Scott Gymnasium.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” DSU senior Robbie Morey said. “We’ve had a lot of guys put in hard work over the summer and we can tell we are starting to gel. We still got a ways to go, but we’re looking forward to getting the season started.”
Orton has named seniors Morey, Brock Boos and Phillip Johnson and juniors Tevin Russell and Mackenson Odenier as the starting lineup. After last season’s 12-18 finish, the seniors are looking past their final game woes and focusing on the new season getting underway and improving along the way.
“We’re just ready to get going,” Boos said. “It’s going to be tough playing a couple last first games, but it’s just going to be fun to get going.”
This season, Russell was named captain of the team and his absence from the court last year was noticeable. Russell only played in five total games due to several injuries, but after two surgeries, he is healthy and honored to take on the role as captain.
“It’s nice, it’s a lot of responsibility but I’m willing to take it on and try and help as best as I can as captain,” Russell said. “Give some guidance to the younger guys whenever they need it.”
Last season, inconsistency was a problem for the team. Though DSU was in every single game they played, win or lose, it wasn’t enough for them to avoid four or five-game losing streaks.
Injuries and troubles with team chemistry factored into the crippling of the team’s performance, but Orton believes this season the kinks have been worked out and things are clicking.
“We had a lot of adversity last year, we had some things that didn’t work well with the team,” Orton said. “We had some problems that needed to be fixed in the team circle and they were fixed and our team got fixed and really exploded and got so much better. We didn’t have the talent or the size to compete but we had the heart which is what kept us in a lot of games.”
To Orton, a team is nothing without unity. He teaches his players the values and importance in self-discipline, how to present oneself in public and learn to play together as one team, all lessons which transition to their game on the court.
“It’s really what our program is based on,” Morey said. “You win as a team, you lose as a team. We’re all in this together. There’s no one guy ahead of the program.”
The first seven games on the Blue Hawks’ schedule are NCAA Division I and II teams, starting with D-II Minot State. The two teams haven’t played since they were both apart of the Dakota Athletic Conference, but the rivalry and chippiness is still there. Not much is known about the Beavers this season, but what Orton does know is they are collectively big, athletic and returning a lot of players.
When scheduling games for this season, Orton said that he wanted to start the season off tough and actually challenge his team’s abilities and use it as a measuring stick. It’s easy to say their start is more challenging than anyone else in the Frontier Conference.
“Our philosophy on that is if the preseason is going to be extremely hard, it’s going to make us better for the conference,” Orton said. “We could have gone out there and played teams that we could have beaten by 60-70 points, but that does nobody any good. Crowds don’t want to watch it, but it’s not going to help anybody out. We really wanted to play as hard as we could to start out the year, test these guys and get them battle ready.”