Dickinson State men's basketball court chemistry clicking early on thanks to familiarity
Team chemistry in college basketball isn't always easy to build. Luckily for Dickinson State's men's team, which has seen major contributions from first-year transfers, familiarity wasn't an issue.DSU senior guards Julian Vasquez, Billy Engel, Ro...
Team chemistry in college basketball isn’t always easy to build. Luckily for Dickinson State’s men’s team, which has seen major contributions from first-year transfers, familiarity wasn’t an issue.
DSU senior guards Julian Vasquez, Billy Engel, Roybell Baez, Kolbi Selby and junior center Gilberto Shojgreen Jr. all were on Dakota College at Bottineau’s roster between 2012-2014. This season for the Blue Hawks (4-3), the five average a combined 41.86 points per game.
The quintet continues its season at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Johnson and Wales (Colo.) University and against Trinity Bible College at 7 p.m. Saturday at Scott Gymnasium.
“It was a great atmosphere, and they’re just a great group of guys. It was great to have them here,” Vasquez said. “I know what they’re capable of, so it’s nice to have some guys that you know.”
DSU head coach Justin Wetzel said that sometimes players can be the best recruits, which was the case with Baez, who was more or less the architect of getting the gang back together.
First, Baez convinced Engel to come last season, then was the voice in the ears of Vasquez, Selby and Shojgreen before they committed before this season.
“I’ve just been dragging guys along,” Baez said.
Cory Fehringer, a former DSU assistant and DCB head coach and the current coach for Williston State College, has been helpful in the junior college recruiting process, Wetzel said.
“Cory kind of forced me to come here (to DSU) because he wanted me to stay in school,” Baez said. “I really wasn’t really recruited by Dickinson or anybody.”
Those Lumberjack teams had some success, as DCB was ranked as high as 14th in the country in the 2013-14 season and almost made it to the national tournament, according to Vasquez.
Now a heavy portion of that team is trying to recapture that magic at DSU.
“We are all here,” Shojgreen said with a smile. “So it was just great to be back together with the guys that I played with at DCB.”
Vasquez, after an all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference season with NCAA Division II Colorado Mesa State last season, wanted to join Baez for his final collegiate year.
“I was just talking with Roybell after every game and he was just like, ‘Man, remember the time we used to play together,’ and it would bring memories back up,” Vasquez said. “I just wanted to play with them one more time.”
Vasquez went to Miami Senior High School with Baez, but because he redshirted his season with Baez in DCB and Baez didn’t play high school basketball, this year was the first time the two officially played together.
So when Baez convinced Vasquez to come to DSU, he was “ecstatic.”
“I tried to tell everybody like, ‘Julian is coming. Julian is coming,’ but nobody believed me,” Baez said. “We talked every single day about this year. We finally got we wanted, now we’ve just got to make the best out of it.”
From then, the dominos fell. Shojgreen originally committed to Minot State after playing for WSC a year ago. Then he heard Selby was signing to DSU, so Shojgreen got his release and followed suit.
“Last year when I was in Williston, there were rumors that they all would be coming here,” Shojgreen said. “So they were all telling me to sign here, but I didn’t think it was true.”
But it sure turned out to be true, though Wetzel maintained that the former Lumberjacks are not all here by design, rather it just fell into place.
From their years together, all five of those players fit right in with the rest of the team which has good chemistry to start the season, Wetzel said.
But they’re still looking for that shot for all five of them to be on the court together for the first time.
“Hopefully, one time before the end of the year,” Vasquez said, “we’ll get that opportunity.”