MEN'S BASKETBALL: Thompson stepping up for BSU

BEMIDJI -- When Derek Thompson wasn't getting playing time for the Bemidji State men's basketball team, he stayed prepared. And last weekend, both he and the Beavers benefitted from it.

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Bemidji State Beavers

BEMIDJI -- When Derek Thompson wasn’t getting playing time for the Bemidji State men’s basketball team, he stayed prepared. And last weekend, both he and the Beavers benefitted from it.

“I’m always ready, but obviously I had to be more ready,” Thompson said of playing 62 of 80 total minutes over two games. “Just staying calm and relaxed, staying confident in my abilities, knowing that I can go out there and do what I’m supposed to do. Playing basketball is all I need to do.”

Thompson had spent much of his young freshman season on the bench, only averaging 4.5 minutes in his first eight games. But when called upon against No. 16 Northern State and Minnesota State Moorhead, 33 and 29 minutes on the court wasn’t too much to ask.

“You just never know when your opportunity comes,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said. “If you don’t prepare yourself, you’re not ready. And he was certainly prepared.

“He’s been working really hard. He’s a really hard worker. He gets a lot of work in outside of practice… He worked his butt off outside of the normal practice times. He was ready.”


Although his number had been called scarcely early on this year, it was worth the wait for Thompson.

“It was a lot of fun. It’s just fun to go out and play and be able to play basketball, be out there with my teammates,” he said of last weekend’s games, where he averaged 14 points per game. “It was definitely really good basketball by us. We played, for sure, our best three halves of the year so far.”

A day after a tightly contested first half against the Wolves, Thompson put in the game-winning basket for Bemidji State (5-5, 2-3 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) in the final seconds Saturday, Dec. 9, against the Dragons. Now, the Beavers will look to carry the momentum into this weekend’s rematch with Minnesota Crookston.

“Hopefully we go play well and play a little bit harder than we did last time, a little bit smarter, and maybe we can see some different results,” Boschee said of BSU’s 83-57 loss at UMC on Nov. 25. “You hope that (our players) have that internal, burning desire to be successful, and you hope that’s enough.”

Despite a flat performance against the Golden Eagles (5-6, 2-3 NSIC) last time out, Bemidji State is hopeful to atone for the loss when the rematch tips off at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the BSU Gymnasium.

“I think it’s a chance where we can redeem ourselves,” Thompson said. “We did not play well at all against Crookston the first time. Hopefully we can come out and hit them in the mouth, get a good lead and get a win.”

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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