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MEN’S BASKETBALL: No-quit captain: Black leading BSU through hustle, toughness

Bemidji State senior Sharif Black (12) elevates in transition for a dunk attempt against St. Cloud State on Dec. 2 at the BSU Gymnasium. (Micah Friez | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Sharif Black made a promise to the Bemidji State men’s basketball team this season. And even in a blowout loss last Saturday to St. Cloud State, the senior captain stayed true to his word.

“I made a commitment to the team that I was always going to be there, no matter what,” Black said. “Those guys look up to me to bring that type of toughness and be there at all times, no matter what the score is.”

The Beavers (4-4, 1-2 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) fell into a 55-20 halftime hole against the Huskies, never regaining their footing by game’s end for an eventual 34-point loss. But Black didn’t let the scoreboard dictate his unwavering hustle.

“It was a time in the game when I didn’t even know what the score was,” he said. “I was just like, ‘I’m going to play all-out because that’s the commitment I gave to the team.’”

If BSU wants to rebound this weekend, it will take that same kind of fight.

“We’ve got to be really hungry. We’ve got to be at our best,” Bemidji State head coach Mike Boschee said. “We’ve got to shoot it well, we’ve got to rebound it, we’ve got to take care of the basketball. And when you do those things, you always give yourselves a chance.”

Despite a win over Minnesota Duluth on Friday, Dec. 1, the loss to SCSU overshadowed a 1-1 weekend. But Black has set the tone in how the Beavers can move forward.

“That’s not the type of team we are, that’s not the type of team we set out to be,” he said of the St. Cloud State loss. “We set out to come in and compete. That’s the biggest thing. We might not have a good shooting game, we might make a lot of mistakes, but as long as you’re making those mistakes at a 100-percent effort, a game won’t be that out of reach… if you compete to the fullest of your ability.”

BSU has No. 16 Northern State and Minnesota State Moorhead in its sights this week, and Boschee is looking for contributions from all over the court to pull off a pair of wins.

“I don’t think we need anybody to have career nights or anything like that, but the more guys we have playing well, the better off we’re going to be,” he said. “If we do those things and do the little things -- pay attention to details, transition defense, blocking out -- good things usually do happen.”

The weekend tips at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, with the Wolves in Aberdeen, S.D., and then wraps up at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, in Moorhead against the Dragons. And Black is hopeful that his no-quit mindset quickly becomes the standard among the team.

“That’s the type of energy we need to bring all game, every game. Hopefully it trickles down to even the last person on the bench,” he said. “That’s what we need. We’re playing a really good Northern team, a really good Moorhead team.

“It’ll definitely be tough, but I don’t think there’s a team we can’t compete with if we bring the toughness that we should.”

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Echo Press in Alexandria. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Alexandria area sports updates and jokes he thinks are funny.

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