Can the Midgets gel with Hanstad back?Joe Hanstad is back on the court. However, in the five weeks Hanstad sat out with a broken wrist, the Dickinson High boys basketball team learned to play without him.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Joe Hanstad is back on the court.
However, in the five weeks Hanstad sat out with a broken wrist, the Dickinson High boys basketball team learned to play without him.
That leaves two big questions as the team heads into the West Region Tournament.
Can the Midgets seamlessly work Hanstad back into the lineup? Moreover, can he have the kind of impact the team is accustomed to seeing?
Dickinson senior point guard Jarl Abrahamson believes he has an answer.
“It’s going to be a great thing,” Abrahamson said. “We’ve got the best player in the state back and we all know how to play with each other better now and not just focus on one guy.”
The moment it was learned Hanstad would miss the final five to six weeks of the regular season with a broken right wrist — his shooting hand —the Midgets determined they had find offensive balance in order to win games.
Hanstad averaged 25.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game during the first seven games of the season.
Dickinson head coach John Wilson has hoped Hanstad’s injury would turn out to be a blessing in disguise from the moment he knew the team would have to learn to play without the 6-foot-4 senior guard.
While it was a rollercoaster ride, the Midgets were somewhat successful with Hanstad on the sidelines, going 6-5 as they learned to lean on players who had before only been secondary contributors.
“Hopefully the experience is going to gain us a lot of momentum,” Wilson said. “But we’ve still got to be able to come back and play with him (Hanstad) now and get that chemistry back. That’s going to be our biggest challenge.”
The No. 5 seed Midgets (10-9, 7-9 West) get a rematch with the No. 4 seed Braves (13-6, 10-6 West) at 3:45 p.m. today during the West Region Tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center.
“Physically, I’m ready to go and mentally I’m ready to go,” Hanstad said. “There’s just some barriers I have to get through.”
Gelling with his teammates is the biggest barrier.
Hanstad said he’s a little concerned the team could run into chemistry issues as he plays a bigger role than when he returned on Feb. 22 in a 72-51 loss against Mandan.
He played guardedly in the team’s regular-season finale and had just six points and five rebounds.
“They’ve gotten a lot better playing without me,” Hanstad said. “They have to get used to playing with me again. There’s good and bad, but mostly good.”
Some players say chemistry won’t be a problem though. In fact, many say they are more confident in themselves than ever.
Senior forward Nate Moody improved his averages to 15.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as he took on a scoring role in Hanstad’s absence.
Junior guard Jesse Kessel claimed Hanstad’s spot in the starting lineup and took over a little of the scoring load.
“With Joe back, we have so many more weapons now and we can play around that a lot better,” Kessel said. “Once he went out, we lost a lot of scoring. We had to fill in that scoring. Now Joe has seen what we can do and he knows we can score if we get the opportunity, so he can look for us at the end of the game.”
So can the Midgets re-establish their chemistry quick enough so they can find a way into the Class A state tournament this weekend?
“Who knows what’s going to happen?” Hanstad said with a smile. “We’re not going to try and plan for anything. We’re just going to go out and play.”