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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Beavers missed chances, missed playoffs in 2021-22

The Beavers finished 8-17 overall, went 5-16 in conference play and finished seventh in the NSIC North Division standings. They missed the playoffs by one spot for the second consecutive year.

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The Beavers huddle up before a game against Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 2, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- The 2021-22 season did not go as planned for the Bemidji State men’s basketball team.

The Beavers finished 8-17 overall, went 5-16 in conference play and finished seventh in the NSIC North Division standings. They missed the playoffs by one spot for the second consecutive year.

“You always want to give yourself the best chance possible to be successful, and that’s believing in yourself,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said. “But at the end of the year, when you look back on it, it was definitely disappointing.”

Bemidji State’s fortunes may have ended much differently if some late-game bounces went the Beavers’ way. BSU finished 1-11 in conference games decided by 10 points or fewer, which included seven losses within two possessions and a number of games that were there for the taking.

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Bemidji State head coach Mike Boschee calls out a play from the bench during a game against St. Cloud State on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

“This will be a season of ‘what ifs’ because I can think off the top of my head of four, maybe five more wins in our back pocket,” Boschee said. “… It didn’t happen that way for whatever reason. You reflect back and figure out ways, moving forward, how to make it better. We’ll certainly try to do that.”

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For all the trials, though, there were a few highlights to celebrate. Derek Thompson became the program’s all-time leading rebounder with 723 boards, and he exits at No. 3 on the all-time scoring list with 1,558 points. Thompson also set the program record for games played (124) and games started (114).

Newcomer Travis Bianco led the team with 16.4 points per game, while Dalton Albrecht shot 62.8% from the field and came within 0.4% of the single-season program record. And Bemidji State also celebrated the 100th anniversary of becoming the school’s first athletic program in 1921.

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Bemidji State senior Derek Thompson (5) reaches for a rebound during a game against Minnesota State Moorhead on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

While wins didn’t often accompany the positive stats, Boschee is thankful for the guys in his locker room.

“We forget about the wins and the losses, but you remember the relationships,” Boschee said. “Tyler (Behrendt) is happy as heck that he came back (for a fifth year). He wouldn’t have traded it for anything. And Travis was excited that he took the chance to come up to Minnesota from Florida for a year. And he’s going to be excited to get back down to Florida for the weather, but he was happy about it. The relationships are huge.”

The Beavers also won a rocking season finale, beating St. Cloud State 92-89 in overtime. Boschee labeled the game as a microcosm of the season’s highs and lows, but he was thankful to triumph in the end and finish the season on a feel-good note.

“That game itself encompassed our season,” Boschee said. “It showed us what we can do, and who we were most of the time where we couldn’t finish a game. Then, all of a sudden, we blossomed back out in overtime, which we weren’t able to do in some of those close games that we lost.”

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Bemidji State senior Travis Bianco brings the ball up the court during a game against Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 2, 2021, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer

Next year will certainly look different. BSU loses three fifth-year starters to graduation in Behrendt, Bianco and Thompson, and starting point guard Mohamed Kone entered the transfer portal on Thursday with one year of eligibility remaining.

The team will endure another season of building chemistry on the fly -- which they’ve had to do in recent years with a number transfers rotating in and out. But Boschee is hopeful they can start jelling more off the court, something he said he learned from this year.

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“We need to get back to doing more things together,” he said. “Getting back to doing things a little more off the court that maybe we haven’t done the last year and a half (due to COVID-19) will be important. … Hopefully that’ll help us get started in the right direction.”

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Bemidji State senior Tyler Behrendt (12) is introduced as a starter prior to a Dec. 2, 2021, game against Minnesota Duluth at the BSU Gymnasium.
Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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