UND in for tough test against JackrabbitsGRAND FORKS — News regarding the star men’s basketball players at the University of North Dakota and South Dakota State has been much different recently.
By: Tom Miller, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — News regarding the star men’s basketball players at the University of North Dakota and South Dakota State has been much different recently.
North Dakota junior forward Troy Huff has suffered a jaw injury that will sideline him until mid-December.
SDSU guard Nate Wolters, meanwhile, has been attracting attention as a first-round NBA draft pick.
With Huff out and Wolters in, UND faces a tough test tonight when it visits SDSU at Frost Arena in Brookings.
“They’re a very talented team offensively,” UND coach Brian Jones said. “The thing about them is they’ve played lots of high level basketball. Nothing fazes them at all.”
SDSU, which advanced to the NCAA tournament last season, comes in 4-2. One of those losses is a season-opening defeat to Alabama on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Wolters, a 6-foot-3 guard from St. Cloud, Minn., is the focal point of the Jacks’ attack. He’s averaging 22 points, 6.3 assists per game. Wolters is also shooting 52 percent from the 3-point line.
“He’s a double-edged sword,” Jones said. “He’s really doing a nice job of scoring, but he also gets the other four guys on the floor good shots.”
The point guard scored 16 and 24 points, respectively, against UND a year ago in a strange home-and-home series.
UND and SDSU had a 57-point swing in a matter of five days when the two met last year. UND lost by 38 points in Brookings and turned around and won by 19 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Three days after getting blown out by UND at the Betty, the Jacks turned around and drubbed the University of Washington 92-73 in Seattle.
Unfortunately for UND, though, the team’s most consistent scorer against the Jacks a year ago was Huff, who hit double figures in both games. Graduated forward Patrick Mitchell also had a team-high 22 points in the victory in Grand Forks.
UND has started the season 1-3 with a demanding schedule, which has included road games at Kansas State, Northern Iowa and Hawaii.
UND is coming off a five-point loss to Hawaii in which the Green and White had opportunities late to tie the game.
The Rainbow Warriors have only one loss on the season, a last-second defeat to Illinois, which is undefeated.
“We’re starting to find a rhythm,” Jones said.
Starting in place of Huff, classmate Josh Schuler scored a season-high 17 points against Hawaii. Production from Schuler will be key in Huff’s absence, Jones said.
“Josh has always been Mr. Consistency,” Jones said. “He’s always done a nice job within the team concept. But there are times we need him to be more selfish on the offensive end. He doesn’t just give us scoring, but also the ability to make the right play.”
Jones said he also needs to see more production out of his post players. Power forward Jordan Allard is averaging 5.5 points per game, while center Brandon Brekke is netting 6.5 points per game.
“We need to do more inside-out,” Jones said. “We’ve been a guard-dominant team, but we need more touches for our bigs.”