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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Despite overcoming expectations, early exit was a slap in the face

BEMIDJI — For BSU men's basketball coach Mike Boschee, it is all about perspective when evaluating the 2013-14 season that came to an abrupt end with a loss last Wednesday against Wayne State.

Considering the team entered the campaign with just one returning starter from last season and was tabbed 12th in the preseason conference coaches poll, an 18-9 record with a share of the NSIC north division should be considered a success.

“When you look at the big picture, it is extremely satisfying,” Boschee said. “Obviously a loss in the playoffs is going to be disappointing, but to be able to hang a division championship banner in the gym with this group is pretty special.”

Nobody expected them to do much,” Boschee added. “It says a lot about the senior class and the work they put in to be a special team.”

On the other hand, less than two weeks ago on February 19, the Beavers owned an 18-6 record, were ranked eighth in the first NCAA central regional ranking, and needed just one win or one loss from MSU Moorhead and St. Cloud State to clinch sole possession of the division crown.

The tables were turned on BSU as it took its worst two losses (by margin) of the season against Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State before being bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Wayne State.

“It was a slap in the face,” Boschee said. “It is just the way athletics is, there is never a perfect time to lose. If we would have played one more game and lost, we would still be just disappointed. The only team that ends the season on a positive note is the champion and we were not able to do it.”

The gut-wrenching loss was followed by a wave of good news for the Beavers, as the team was well-represented in the NSIC postseason awards as Brock Lutes and Zach Noreen earned first team all-conference honors, while Maxie Rosenbloom earned second team honors. Lutes was also named newcomer of the year.

“I am extremely happy with the recognition that our guys got, they deserve it,” Boschee said. “I am disappointed that (Jake) Schalow did not get it, but I am thankful that we got three. When you have that many, sometimes they split the votes. It says a lot about how other coaches feel about our team.”

Lutes led the NSIC with 22.2 points per game, while his 488 points ranked third in NSIC history for points scored in a conference season.

Noreen and Rosenbloom provided a post presence as Noreen averaged 16.5 points per contest and Rosenbloom added 12.2 points and a conference-leading 9.6 rebounds per game.

Schalow posted his best season at BSU as senior with 13.1 points per game and ranking amongst the top-seven in the NSIC in field goal, three-point, and free throw percentages.

Joining Rosenbloom, Noreen, and Schalow as seniors was Michael Farrington and Brock Tesdahl. Farrington tallied over 100 assists and 50 steals on the season, while Tesdahl scored 2.4 points per game in the 11 times he saw action.

“It is going to be a challenge replacing those guys,” Boschee said. “It will be the same challenge we faced this season. My hope is that the guys within the program elevate their game to become players who can deliver and make plays when the game is on the line.”