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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Bemidji State rolling into 2022-23 as ‘cautiously optimistic’

“I’m cautiously optimistic with this group,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said. “I think we have really good depth this year, probably more so than we’ve had in a little while. But the depth will be somewhat young and inexperienced, so that’s part of the ‘cautiously’ that I have.”

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Bemidji State's John Sutherland (23) makes a move in the post during the first half against Minot State on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s basketball team has a guarded sense of hopefulness this year.

“I’m cautiously optimistic with this group,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said. “I think we have really good depth this year, probably more so than we’ve had in a little while. But the depth will be somewhat young and inexperienced, so that’s part of the ‘cautiously’ that I have.”

The Beavers are coming off an 8-17 campaign in which they missed the NSIC Tournament and finished 14th in the conference in 2021-22. They’ve also lost out on the services of Derek Thompson, a five-year starter who left the program as its all-time leading rebounder and third all-time leading scorer.

To make up for it, Boschee hopes to blend his returning veterans with a wave of youthfulness that has him excited.

“You have Dalton (Albrecht) and John (Sutherland) back inside, who I think can be really good post players for us,” Boschee said. “We get (Mohamed Kone) back again for another year, and I think he’s going to be tremendously improved. That’s a good starting point.”

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Bemidji State's Mohamed Kone (3) pulls in a rebound during a game against Minnesota State Moorhead on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

Kone leads the returners after averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 assists last year, while Sutherland posted 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, and Albrecht 7.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Boschee acknowledged the challenges of entering into the NSIC as a freshman and making an immediate impact. But he said that graduate transfer RJ Smith and sophomore transfers Brandon Christlieb and Jalen Dearring are all in the rotation and should provide meaningful minutes as the freshmen get their feet wet.

“Depth could be something that’s really good for us,” Boschee said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing if it could play out to our advantage.”

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Bemidji State's Dalton Albrecht (0) dives for the ball in the second half against U-Mary on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Of course, expectations ought to be regulated for a team that was picked to finish 15th in the preseason coaches poll. But if the Beavers can snag a key win or two, Boschee hopes it will galvanize momentum for the rest of the season.

“First of all, you have to believe,” Boschee said. “Then there are some turning-point games where you make the play that gets you that tough victory over somebody. It breeds more confidence to help you believe in it more. … We’ve got to take that belief and put it into action, get some of those tough wins that can breed that confidence to where you have a little bit of a swagger to you.”

Their first chances will be at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, against Nebraska-Kearney and 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, against Southern Arkansas at the American Family Insurance Classic in Duluth.

“It’s that time of the year where everything’s equal,” Boschee said. “You get to go out there and see what you’re made of, see if you can make something special out of it. That’s what we’ll try to do.”

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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