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Bemidji State men's basketball team wraps home season against Southwest, Mankato

The Bemidji State men's basketball team is looking to make the most of its last four games of a disappointing season.

"I think we have shown a steady rate of improvement," said head coach Matt Bowen. "The last two weeks have been pretty good, as far as practice has gone. If we can continue on this trend, we have some games that prove to be some spoilers for us. We can create some upsets on a positive note."

The Beavers (8-14 overall and 5-13 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) have won only one game after starting the season with a 7-6 record.

"The season has been frustrating," said Bowen. "This is the best team I have had since I have been here. We have just been unable to finish out games. We are playing good basketball; it shows in the closeness of our scores. It has been frustrating that we have not been able to come out on top more often than we have."

This weekend's home series against Southwest Minnesota State and No. 14 Minnesota State Mankato will be the last home games for senior Pat Cassidy.

"It has been a rough year," said Cassidy. "I had higher expectations, especially with the returning talent and the talent that was brought in. In these last four games I want to see us play well and play hard for each other."

Cassidy, a 6-foot-6 forward from St. Bernard's High School in St. Paul, is averaging 10.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest. He is also shooting an impressive 55 percent from the floor.

"Pat has been a great player," Bowen said of Cassidy. "He is one of the first players that I ever recruited to come to this school. Looking back on his career, we will be able to look at Pat and know that he was a kid that laid a solid foundation. He laid a structure for future kids of the program on how to act, how to develop your game, and certainly how to leave with a degree."

Cassidy is a sport management major with a business minor at BSU.

"It has helped me build character," Cassidy said of the BSU basketball program. "It helped me get in touch with the city of Bemidji. I have learned a lot about this place. It has been great getting to know everybody and being a part of this BSU family."

With only one senior departing, the Beavers will have several returning key players to next year's team; this is something Bowen is looking forward to.

"Reality is that we are learning from our mistakes and it is a work in progress," said Bowen. "This team is basically going to come back in tact next year, with the exception of Pat. Hopefully we can improve during these last four games and pick up on that success next year in order to build this program into a winner."

Bemidji State hosts the Mustangs on Friday at 8 p.m. and the Mavericks on Saturday at 6 p.m. Cassidy will be honored before Saturday's game.

"It is going to be weird," said Cassidy. "It is strange to think that I have been playing on a team since I was 4 years old and this will be the last; after years of hard work and dedication. I hope we can go out with a bang."