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Women's basketball: Beavers seek consistency in 2014

Bemidji State women’s basketball coach Mike Curfman addresses his players during last month’s game against UMD. The Beavers open 2014 this weekend at home against Winona and Upper Iowa. Pat Miller | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Many of the decisions made by the NCAA officials raise the eyebrows of those who are immediately affected. But many of the organization’s decisions also meet the approval of the coaches and the players, including one which calls for a mandatory break during the Christmas holiday.

“The NCAA has an initiative called Life in the Balance which requires that we give the players seven calendar days off and for every (NCAA II) team those days this year were Dec. 23 to Dec. 29,” BSU women’s basketball coach Mike Curfman said. “In Division II athletics, the initiative is designed to try and give the athletes a balance among being students, life and athletics. It is designed to let the players have quality time with their families instead of heading home for a day or two and then rushing right back. And I think Life in the Balance is awesome.”

The Beavers returned to campus on Dec. 30 and spent the next few days trying to return to playing shape.

“Typically, after a layoff, you have to get your legs back into game shape,” Curfman said. “During their first day back we did some review and then we worked on getting back into the mindset of playing competitive basketball.”

Those lessons were crammed into a few days as the Beavers begin the 2014 portion of their campaign 6 p.m. today at home against Winona. BSU will take a 6-4 overall record and a 2-4 NSIC record into the contest while the Warriors are 7-3 and 3-3.

On Saturday BSU will host Upper Iowa (4-6, 3-3) at 4 p.m.

The Beavers open the new year sixth in the NSIC North Division. St. Cloud, Minot, Northern and UMD are all 4-2 while U-Mary is 3-3, BSU and Moorhead 2-4 and Crookston 1-5.

Wayne leads the South Division at 5-1 while Concordia-SP and Minnesota State are 4-2.

Sharing 3-3 league records are Augustana, Upper Iowa and Winona while Sioux Falls is 2-4 and Southwest Minnesota State is 0-6.

“Every team in the NSIC is looking for consistency,” Curfman said of his team’s goals in 2014. “In the North Division every team has at least two conference losses and, with the majority of the season left to play, consistency will be the key. If you have an off night you are going to pay because of the balance in the conference.”

In BSU’s case, balance can help offset an off night by an individual player. Through the first 10 games the Beavers have five players averaging in double figures on the scoreboard and leading the crew are senior guard Morgan Lee and senior center Kate Warmack. Lee begins the new year averaging 18.7 points while Warmack owns a 17.9 points per game average.

Warmack also is converting 57 percent of her field goal attempts and is grabbing 11.4 rebounds per contest.

“We have shown good balance inside and outside and if we continue to have that balance it will make it tougher for teams to play against us,” Curfman said.

“We also have great team chemistry. There is a family atmosphere with this team and that special team dynamic is something we enjoy. Talent and ability are important but good character among the players is a huge asset.”

The roster also includes many freshmen and they appear to have made a successful adjustment to the college game.

“Our freshmen do not play like freshmen,” the coach said.

A pair of victories this weekend could lay the foundation for a successful 2014 and Curfman believes that the Beavers could make their move today and Saturday.

“This is a big weekend for us,” the coach said. “We are playing at home against two teams that have had up-and-down seasons.

“But I’ve always said that it’s not who you are playing as much as it is how you are playing. Any team can beat any other team. The key is to play consistently.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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