For the first time this season, both Dickinson State Blue Hawk basketball teams will be playing on the road and both be playing against Carroll College, one of the top-ranked teams in the country.
For the women's basketball team, the Blue Hawks are coming to the game with a record of 2-3 after playing in back-to-back classics to start the season out. The Blue Hawks will use the experience from their first five games to take on the No. 20 Fighting Saints (2-0).
"We’ve had a good week of practice which is nice, but obviously we know that we’re playing a really good team in Carroll. They were picked to win the frontier this year for a reason: They’re ranked 20th in the county. They’re just a really, really good team," head coach Eric Nelson said.
With the team being able to have five previous games under its belt before going into Friday's contest, Nelson talked about some of the things the Blue Hawks will need to be able to do in order to pull out the win against a tough competitor.
"We got to take care of the basketball; we turned the ball over way too much the first couple games," he said. "Obviously that has to do with our recruits getting a lot of playing time and they just haven’t played a lot with our returners, so you got a little of that going on, and just a new system. I think they’ve kind of settled in a little bit. They understand what they’re supposed to be doing and we got to the point."
Nelson added that rebounding will need to be a key factor for the Blue Hawks, but mentioned the team will be battling a lot of size in the Fighting Saints team, which is loaded with tall, strong forwards in the post.
Despite the Fighting Saints being the favorites to win the competition, Nelson said it is a great game for the Blue Hawks as the team plays its final nonconference game of the 20-21 season and prepares for the NSAA conference.
"We know that we have our hands full, but this is a good measuring game," he said. "We just want to go out there, compete, and see where we stack up against one of the best teams in the country."
As for the men's team, the Blue Hawks (2-1) have yet to play a game since Oct. 31 in their victory over Doane University. After a two-week hiatus, the team is ready to get back on the court, but will have a strong competitor in the No. 21 Fighting Saints (1-1).
"It’s been fun preparing for this game," head coach Derek Selvig said. "Those two weeks were kind of brutal. We had some guys out and took it slow for that first week after the Halloween weekend. Our guys were itching to get back on the floor and were super happy and thankful we got another game tomorrow. We’re just going to be taking it day by-day."
The Blue Hawks are also preparing to battle a roster full of height.
"We got to handle their size; they’re a really big team," Selvig said. "They’re going to have four guys that are 6-foot-6-inches or bigger on the floor at times, and we've got to come with a sense of toughness, rebound the ball, keep them out of the paint. They’re a really good team.
"Our guys know the type of team that we’re about to play, and we've just got to handle their size and make sure that we’re in the game with five minutes left in the game, and then we’ll see what happens," Selvig added.
Despite not being on the floor and having a competitive game for nearly three weeks, Selvig said the team is ready to play the best it can as it also plays its final nonconference game of the season.
"We talk to the guys a lot about this year being different in handling the chaos that comes with the season — with all of the challenges — and our guys mentally have been really good," he said. "Whenever we’ve been on the floor they’ve been locked in and focused, and it’s just a special group to work with."
The women's team is scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m. MST and will be followed by the men's team at 7 p.m. MST