How to make an early exit old newsOne and done. Don’t expect Ty Orton and Guy Fridley to let that happen again next season.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
One and done.
Don’t expect Ty Orton and Guy Fridley to let that happen again next season.
The Dickinson State men’s and women’s basketball coaches both watched their respective seasons end in the Dakota Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals on Sunday.
If first-year coach Orton and second-year coach Fridley have their ways on the recruiting front, those finishes won’t become commonplace.
Orton enjoyed measured success in his inaugural run. The worst part for him was when the Blue Hawks, who finished the season 10-19, won six of their first seven games.
It made the Blue Hawks look like they’d made a complete turnaround, even though opposing coaches knew next to nothing about them or Orton. Those same coaches quickly figured DSU out and the word spread like wildfire.
What didn’t spread was the Blue Hawks’ confidence, which hit a season low when they lost 13 consecutive games.
But considering Orton basically inherited a gutted team and had little time to recruit, I’d say he did a decent job.
The Blue Hawks went from the worst defensive team in the DAC to the second best. Their points allowed improved from 86 in the 2006-07 season to 67 this year.
Unfortunately, they were at the bottom of the conference in scoring, averaging just 65 points per game as they finished with a 10-19 record – just one win better than the previous season.
That mark is likely to change next season though.
Orton and his assistant coaches have hit the recruiting trail hard and are chasing some of North Dakota and South Dakota’s top high school scorers to go along some junior college players.
The Blue Hawks will also return a ton of talent that will benefit from being together for the second consecutive year.
Yazeed Saajid, Fred Scheltinga, Sean Burnham, Jeremy Mallard and Nate Lebsock – all of whom started at one point during the season – will be back. If Orton can get some scorers and keep the defensive intensity up, the Blue Hawks might be in for their first winning season since 2003-04.
Fridley and the ladies on the other hand, are in definite need of a shot in the arm.
JuCo transfer Kai Herbel (a post from Williston State) and incoming freshman guard Kylee Bittner (this season’s Region 7 player of the year and a likely all-state pick) should help and could easy be placed into the starting lineup.
Aside from Herbel and Bittner, Fridley is working harder than any DSU coach has in recent memory to snag as much local talent as he can.
He’s visited some of western North Dakota and eastern Montana’s best players – including several posts – and has offers on the table to some of them.
The Blue Hawks will return a deep backcourt with Ashley Bakich-Emmons, Teryl Norton, Mindy Vanderpan, Kelsey Boedeker and Juliet Masei.
However, it’s not difficult to figure out what the four teams remaining in the DAC playoffs – Dakota State, Black Hills State, Mayville State and Jamestown College – did to pave their way to the top.
All four have strong interior play, a necessity for success in DAC women’s basketball.
DSU’s lack of a presence in the post this season was evident in the numbers.
Along with being the lowest scoring team and the second-worst defensive team in the DAC, the Blue Hawks were the worst rebounding team with a negative-7.15 boards a game margin.
Even with strong perimeter players, DSU was not a good shooting team.
They were at the bottom of the DAC in field-goal percentage (34.5 percent) and second-to-last in 3-point percentage (28 percent) even though they took a conference-high 572 3-pointers this season – the third most in DAC history.
So, what does Fridley have to do to avoid another 8-21 or 5-23 season? For starters, he has to come through on the recruiting end.
If the coach’s success in turning around DSU’s softball program has taught us anything, it’s that recruiting productive players can lead any team to success.
Fridley and Orton are in the same recruiting boat.
They both have several open roster spots to work with. The main key – and this is where things get so simple they become difficult – is replacing departing players with better ones.
With some of the recruits Fridley has on the line, that shouldn’t be a problem. The only trouble he’s had so far is getting them to sign on the dotted line.
With the type of contacts Orton and his coaches have in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and the junior college ranks, he should be in for a much better recruiting year than his first season.
One and done again? Not if they can help it.
Monke is the sports editor of The Dickinson Press. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com. Read his blog at www.areavoices.com/monke.More from around the web