HIGH-OCTANE CLUBS CROSS PATHS TO RING IN 2012 AS BULLDOGS BRAWL WITH BEAVERS
Friday, December 30, 2011
After a strong finish to the 2011 portion of their schedule, the University of Minnesota Duluth men's basketball team (7-3, 4-2 NSIC) will look to carry over their gathered momentum to the year 2012 as they open up the new year with an NSIC road tilt at Bemidji State (9-3, 4-2 NSIC).
Both the Bulldogs and Beavers will be well-rested after a holiday hiatus of over two weeks and a win by the Bulldogs would help alleviate the logjam in the NSIC standings as three squads boast a 4-2 mark in conference play.
Head coach Gary Holquist will also be gunning for his 200th career victory when the two squads take the court on Tuesday, January 3.
THE ABC's OF BASKETBALL: A is for assist. B is for bench play. C is for clutch free throw shooting. While the Bulldogs likely didn’t encounter questions about the alphabet during their finals, they certainly thrived on the ABC’s mentioned above in their 93-82 victory over Northern State to wrap up their 2011 schedule. UMD dished out a season high 20 assists and benefitted from the inspired bench play of Riley Walker and Peter Crawford during the victory where five Bulldogs amassed at least 10 points. UMD put away a fesity Wolves squad that was gunning for a comeback with an eight-of-10 performance at the charity stripe in the closing minutes. Jake Hottenstine netted a game-high 24 points for the Bulldogs and Ryan Rasmussen added 20 markers of his own to lead UMD into their two-week holiday break.
ONE vs. TWO: Defenses for the Bulldogs and Beavers should take note that the top two scorers in the NSIC will be confronting one another in Bemidji. Ryan Rasmussen, the lone senior for the Bulldogs, is the second-leading scorer in the conference notching 18.8 points per game. On the other side of the floor is Beaver guard James Ellison who leads the conference in terms of scoring with 19.9 points per game.
WALK, DON'T RUN: Junior Riley Walker has been a strong component of the UMD bench brigade that has been responsible for the Bulldogs’ winning ways. The 6-6 guard is averaging 6.7 points per game and has made good on 10-of-11 free throw attempts so far. Walker, an adriot three-point shooter, has knocked down 40 percent of his long range shots.
BLUDGEONING THE BEAVERS: In one of the longest running series in the history of UMD basketball, the Bulldogs and Beavers have done battle 123 times since 1931. In that time the Bulldogs have held a considerable edge over their rivals from the northwest at they hold a 85-38 series lead against Bemidji State. The lopsided lead was made possible in large part to a 44-3 run by the Bulldogs from 1972 to 1998. The Bulldogs are 4-1 over their last five trips to Bemidji.
HOLQUIST'S HINTS: “Bemidji is a very, very tough opponent on their floor. They’ve got a lot of different weapons right now and we have to try to make our team understand that on their home court each possession is going to be a war. They’re on a roll and they’re doing a great job right now. Bemidji is one of the toughes teams in the league right now and they love to score points. There’s going to be a lot of offense in this game but we need another solid defensive effot to win this game. We’ve been rebounding well as of late and that needs to continue as well.”
MADE TO BE BROKEN: As Ryan Rasmussen continutes his climb up the all-time scoring charts, the senior is also scaling other categories in the Bulldogs’ record book. Through his career so far, Rasmussen has nailed 193 three-pointers - good for fifth in the UMD annals and five shy of tying former UMD sharpshooter Jake Nettleton for fourth all-time. His 491 attempts from long range have him sitting in fourth place in that category, 36 away from a deadlock with John Emerson for third. In his continued climb up the career points portion of the record book, Rasmussen has poured in 1,215 points through his career so far and is 16 points shy of pulling even with Jordan Nuness for 23rd all-time.
APPROACHING A MILESTONE: Currently in his 14th season at the helm of the UMD men’s basketball program, head coach Gary Holquist is fast approaching a coaching milestone. With just one more victory, Holquist will become the third men’s hoops coach in the history of the university to amass 200 or more career victories. By reaching the 200-win plateau, Holquist will become the second head coach at UMD to reach the mark in the 2011-12 season as head men’s hockey coach Scott Sandelin notched his 200th victory on November 18, 2011 with a 5-2 triumph over Minnesota State.
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