Former Bison coach 'amazed' by current team
FARGO -- Marv Skaar had to check it out in person. The man who coached three top 10 scorers at NDSU on his 1975 Bison team wanted to see this year's Bison practice -- the team that also boasts three top 10 scorers. "I was absolutely amazed," Skaa...
FARGO -- Marv Skaar had to check it out in person.
The man who coached three top 10 scorers at NDSU on his 1975 Bison team wanted to see this year's Bison practice -- the team that also boasts three top 10 scorers.
"I was absolutely amazed," Skaar said of his visit to a preseason workout last fall. "The shooting was fantastic."
Skaar saw Ben Woodside, Brett Winkelman and Mike Nelson drain one 3-pointer after another during shooting drills. It's no wonder the seniors rank as the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 9 all-time leading scorers at NDSU.
Back in 1975, Skaar had a similar trio in Steve Saladino, Mark Gibbons and Mark Emerson -- who left NDSU as the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 all-time leading scorers. Today, Saladino is No. 6, Emerson No. 11 and Gibbons No. 14.
With three standout scorers on one team, history is repeating itself at NDSU.
"To have success like that with the same recruiting class, you just don't see that happen very often," said NDSU head coach Saul Phillips. "It's very unique."
Phillips' trio of scorers had helped lead this year's Bison to a 23-6 record and a Summit League regular-season championship. In their first year of eligibility for Division I postseason play, the Bison can advance to the NCAA tournament with three wins at the Summit League postseason tournament that begins Saturday.
Ironically, it's a tournament that will be held in the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Arena -- the same venue where Skaar's 1975 squad won two North Central Conference holiday tournament championships.
"It was probably one of the best arenas in the area at that time," said Skaar, now 81 years old and living in Red Wing, Minn. "Our kids enjoyed playing there."
Especially Saladino, a 6-foot-6 forward who was twice named the most valuable player of the holiday tournament.
"The place was always packed for that tournament," said Saladino, now 55 and teaching and coaching at his alma mater Davenport (Iowa) West High School. "I always seemed to play well down there.
"We had a closely-knit team back then. We weren't point counting or anything like that. We were pretty unselfish. We knew when we got together for the first time, we had something going."
Much like this year's Bison trio, who along with senior Lucas Moormann of Dickinson, were redshirted their freshmen years with the hope of playing for an NCAA tournament berth during their final year.
Ever since his visit to NDSU's preseason shooting drills, Skaar has become a big fan -- so much he thinks Woodside will get drafted by an NBA team. And so much he thinks the Bison should get selected for the NCAA tournament even if they would lose in the Sioux Falls Arena.
That is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, Skaar likes this year's team.
"Our team had a lot of good guys who got along so well and apparently this team does too," Skaar said. "But this team is a better shooting team. I don't think I've ever seen a better shooting team."
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