Starting with stops: BSU men's basketball looks to prove itself defensively
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men's basketball team has stressed the same thing over and over leading up to Friday's season opener: defense. Head coach Mike Boschee knows that the Beavers can return to being successful if the defense improves from...
BEMIDJI - The Bemidji State men’s basketball team has stressed the same thing over and over leading up to Friday’s season opener: defense.
Head coach Mike Boschee knows that the Beavers can return to being successful if the defense improves from last season.
“Sometimes you can get average-to-bad teams that just want to play offense, want to be ‘the man’ offensively and look pretty out there,” Boschee said. “But your above-average teams to great teams have players that want to defend on every possession... We’re much improved there.”
In 2013-14, the Bemidji State defense ranked fifth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, surrendering 72.6 points-per-game, but last season Bemidji State fell to thirteenth in the rankings, giving up 77.5 per-game.
Yet, despite the decline, Boschee is already seeing improvements in his current squad.
“We scrimmaged on Saturday and I liked our intensity and our want to defend people,” he said. “I feel like for the most part we want to defend, and that’s progress from last year’s group. If we maintain that intensity, I think good things can happen for us.”
The first test for the revamped BSU defense will come on Friday at 8 p.m. against Northland College. The Lumberjacks, a Division III team, only scored 63 points-per-game last year, finishing 8-17, but return all five starters.
“I want us to just continue to do what we’ve been stressing,” Boschee said. “Defensive intensity, making quick decisions, moving the basketball, playing together, and trying to find the best possible shot for this team.”
After the Friday night opener, Bemidji State will return to the floor at 8 p.m. Saturday for a matchup with Crown College, another Division III program. BSU won last year’s contest 100-60.
The 100 points scored was the most that the Beavers tallied all season, while the 60 points surrendered was their third fewest. The Storm finished 2014-15 with a 3-22 record.
Bemidji State will also look to continue last year’s success against non-conference opponents. The Beavers started 4-0 before entering into their NSIC schedule in 2014-15, and have a 7-1 non-conference record in the past two seasons. If they want to continue their recent trend, however, they’ll have to end another. BSU finished last season by dropping 15 of its last 16 games, the program’s worst skid since dropping 17 of its first 18 in 2006-07.
But the Beavers are looking ahead, not behind.
“If we’re moving the ball and sharing the ball and making quick decisions, we’ll look pretty good out there,” Boschee said. “Our intensity is good. I feel like we want to get stops. All in all, I think we’re ready for our first game.”
Beavers sign five
On Wednesday, Boschee and the Beavers also took another step: getting five commitments for its 2016-17 season.
Logan Bader, Zach Baumgartner, Peyton Dibble, Lucas Wendt and Jake Zeitler - all Wisconsin natives - will enroll at BSU next year.
“We are really excited to add these five players to our program next year,” Boschee said in a press release. “They are great young men with families we have enjoyed getting to know.”
Bader (Milltown, Wis.), Baumgartner (Kewaunee, Wis.) and Wendt (Racine, Wis.) are all big forwards - all are 6-foot, 6-inches or taller.
Dibble, a 6-5 guard from Cameron, Wis., and Zeitler, a 6-4 guard from Luxemburg, Wis., round out the group.
“They are a perfect fit for Bemidji State University and what we are looking for in our basketball program,” Boschee said. “They are all skilled basketball players but we also like how unselfish and committed they are to being successful on and off the court.”