Walker transitions Bulldogs from pigskin to leather
New Bowman County boys basketball head coach Nick Walker takes over a program that is coming off its first winning season since 2010-11.
The Bulldogs ended last year with a 13-9 record, earning a trip to the Region 7 tournament, where they fell to Hettinger-Scranton 61-53 in the quarterfinals.
While the basketball program is trending upward, Bowman County is fresh off its single greatest season on the football field, advancing to the Class A state semifinals after winning an region title and a pair of home playoff games.
Many of the players who taped up their cleats in the fall will put on basketball sneakers in the winter. And they will have a familiar face leading them on the sidelines: Nick Walker, the football team's offensive coordinator.
"I think a lot of the things that I preached during football season will be the same things that I preach during basketball season as far as being accountable, working hard, being a teammate; I think a lot of those things will carry over," Walker said. "Football and basketball are two completely different games, but we're going to have to take what we did in football, the big games that we played in, and translate that on to the basketball court."
Having coached many of the players just a couple of months ago, Walker believes work ethic and athleticism are among the team's strengths. With that, he hopes his players can blend the brute physicality that they exhibited on the gridiron with the skill and finesse it takes to play 84 feet on the hardwood.
However, with some of the losses the team has suffered, Bowman County will need to find some answers on the offensive end of the court.
The Bulldogs graduated five seniors who were responsible for more than 80 percent of the team's offensive production. That group of graduates includes leading scorer and All-Region selection Dylan Scott.
"It's going to be something where we score by committee, to tell you the truth," Walker said. "I think when you're playing in Region 7, you're not going to be able to have just one or two that can score. You got to have a team that can shoot the ball and a team that can score in different ways. ... We lost some really good players a year ago, so we've got to find a way to replace their scoring and leadership."
Shouldering some of the scoring load is 6-foot-4 junior Jacob Svihovec, who had a team-high 19 points in last year's quarterfinal loss to the Night Hawks. Junior guard Matthew Osendorf, along with senior guards Corban Massay, Adam Powell and Jordan Powell will also serve as contributors.
Systematically, Walker intends to run a "3-out-2-in" motion offense, where two players are positioned in the post, three are in the perimeter and smart passes are emphasized. On the other side of the court, the Bulldogs coach is a strong proponent of man-to-man defense.
Bowman County kicks off its season against Richardton-Taylor during the Roughrider Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 11. From there, the Bulldogs aim to progress step-by-step through the season, but with some familiarity already in place, the team has its eyes on advancing further than it did in March.
"No. 1, I'd like to see the team improve as the year goes. No. 2, to develop the things that's been discussed to the team, from there we can have an outstanding season," Walker said. "And No. 3, we want to play in the second night of the regional tournament. If you get to the second night of the regional tournament, all of your goals are still in front of you."