BEMIDJI, Minn. -- With the crisp hints of frigid weather in the air and a recent dusting of snow on the ground it is inevitable that winter is moving in on Northern Minnesota. But the coldest months of the year also bring with them indoor sports and the Bemidji State University men's and women's basketball teams are taking the signs of winter as a green light to begin training for their upcoming seasons. Sunday, both teams will open the doors of the BSU Gymnasium for their first organized team practices in preparation for the 2006-07 season.
The BSU women are coming off a season in which they posted an overall record of 13-15, gaining eight more wins than in 2004-05, and going 6-8 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play. The team earned a spot in the conference tournament but lost a quarterfinal, 59-58, heat-breaker at Minnesota State University, Moorhead to close the book on head coach Mike Curfman's first season at the helm of the BSU program.
Curfman returns eight players that saw significant time last winter including four regular starters and the 2006 NSIC Defensive Player of the Year in Amy Lawson (Jr., PG, Spencer, Iowa).
A strong corp of student-athletes that made a splash in the league last winter returning after a full year in Curfman's program and the addition of four high-touted newcomers, could spell big things for the women's basketball team in 2006-07.
The upcoming men's basketball season at Bemidji State has a certain feeling of anticipation hanging over it. The 2005-06 team featured 11 seniors that have since moved on. Combine that with the fact that head coach Patrick Smith resigned his post at BSU after two seasons--the 2006-07 version of the Beavers is relatively unknown.
Up steps Matt Bowen, a first year head coach with a tremendous amount of success and experience at the NCAA Division I level. Bowen comes to BSU after working with some of college basketball biggest coaching icons. He served as a student manager for Bob Knight at Indiana, he was an assistant coach for Gene Bartow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and most recently coached with Dr. Homer Drew at Valparaiso University--A trio of mentors that have combined for nearly 2,100 career wins and 105 years of head coaching experience
Bowen spent the summer months working to put together a team, and with just three players returning from last winter's roster, that was a task in itself.
Bowen now has his team assembled and Sunday they will begin to prepare for a difficult 2006-07 slate.
The Bemidji State women open their season with a pair of exhibition contests versus Division I opponents. Oct. 31, the Beavers travel to South Dakota State University and head north will battle North Dakota State University Nov. 4. The 2006-07 opener is set Nov. 17 versus Augustana College in Minnesota State University's Pepsi Tip Off.
Like the women, the men break the seal on 2006-07 with a exhibition of their own. The Beavers will travel the Minneapolis Oct. 3 to battle the University of Minnesota for the first time in the history of the program. They officially open the season on the road versus the University of Minnesota Duluth Nov. 15.