Bemidji State's starting lineup vs. Wisconsin, preseason roster outlook
Bemidji State head coach Matt Bowen will start senior guard Seth Haake, sophomore guard Bryce Tesdahl, junior forward Brady Fairbanks, junior forward Patrick Cassidy and junior center/forward Jimmy Johnson against the Badgers.
Those players are expected to see most of the minutes against Wisconsin.
It is different approach than what was taken when Bemidji State played Minnesota in 2006 and Indiana in 2008.
In those losses, Bowen made sure most of the players saw playing time.
"That's not necessarily going to be the case this time," Bowen said. "We've got players with experience on the big stage. We need to get guys significant minutes and see what we have early in the season. The point of having players get equal minutes ... well, we're past that. We need to see who this team is."
Off the bench, the Beavers will have a different look this season.
Taylor Hall, a forward who averaged 26 minutes and 10 points per game last year as a freshman, left the program and transferred to Bethel.
Bowen said it is a loss that will not dramatically affect the Beavers this season and feels confident with his current roster, adding "we have freshmen coming in who are as good, if not better than he was."
What the Beavers lose in Taylor Hall will be gained by the return of junior center Sergej Baskow.
Baskow suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear injury six games into last season. At 6-foot-8, 209 pounds, he stepped into a leadership role with most of the offense flowing through his position before the injury.
Over the summer, Bowen was notified that Baskow was given a medical redshirt for the season, keeping him from losing a year of eligibility.
"He's not quite back at 100 percent yet and he still needs to get his balance back under his legs, but his knee is in great shape physically," Bowen said. "He needs to get some of his timing back and that will come. Just after a year layoff, he's not quite there yet ... he's a very raw player and being able to play another year again is a huge advantage for him. People forget that he only played basketball for three or four years before coming to Bemidji State."
Bowen said he has no problem with starting Johnson, who averaged six points per game last season and led the team in blocks (23).
"Jimmy has played well for us and he's taller than Sergej, although maybe not as physically imposing as Sergej is," Bowen said. "But he plays on the edge and I like that."
Also coming off the bench will be sharpshooting guard Jake Lindstrom and guard/forward Tyler Wruck.
Freshmen added to the roster this season are BSU football standout and guard Lance Rongstad (Eleva, Wis.), guard Tyler Westphal (redshirt, LeMars, Iowa), guard Jon Krebs (Mahtomedi), forward Burke Lendl (Rogers), guard Noah Shepherd (Washburn), guard/forward Mason Walters (Milton, Wis.) and forward David Berthene (Lakeville).
Bemidji State was picked to finish ninth in the Northern Sun coaches poll, which if stands would put the Beavers outside of the eight-team conference tournament.
The players believe in a winning season and taking the next step to becoming a winning team - a playoff team.
"A lot of the guys put in a lot of work over the offseason and I think this year, more than the last few years on the team there is a lot more dedication to the team, which is a good thing," Haake said. "We match up well with everyone in the conference and this year we are going to have to show we can finish out games. I think we can definitely do that."