This Week: The Bemidji State University men’s basketball team begins a four-game Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference road trip Jan. 14-15 with contests at St. Cloud State University and Concordia University, St. Paul. The SCSU game will be played Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. followed by the CU game Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.
About Bemidji State: The Beavers are 7-6 overall and 4-5 in NSIC play to sit in 10th in the league. BSU is coming off a 1-1 home conference weekend, falling to Augustana College 69-67 before defeating Wayne State College 63-53. The Beavers had halftime leads in both games, but a 29-14 run by Augie in the first 13 minutes of the second half gave it a 12 point lead. BSU maintained its lead at the half against the Wildcats, en route to holding its opponent to the lowest score this season. Junior James Ellisor led the Beavers on the weekend averaging 14 points and 8.5 rebounds. He recorded his third double-double of the season against WSC, scoring 14 points and adding a season-high 13 rebounds.
• BSU is 4-2 on the road this season, outscoring its opponent 82.7-77.3.
• The last time BSU defeated SCSU on the road was in 1977-78.
• BSU is No. 7 nationally (as of Jan. 9) in free throw shooting this season, hitting at a 78.1 percent clip from the line.
• Junior Bryce Tesdahl is second in the NSIC and 15th in the nation in assists, dishing out 5.9 per game.
• Ellisor leads the team in scoring (17.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg).
• Cassidy is averaging 12.2 points per game, nearly doubling his career average of 7.1 ppg entering the season.
About St. Cloud State: The Huskies are 6-7 overall and 5-4 in the NSIC, sitting in a four-way tie for fifth. SCSU is coming off a 1-1 weekend at Halenbeck Hall, downing Upper Iowa 76-68 before falling to No. 24 Winona State 93-91 on a last second shot in overtime. The Huskies rank 1st in conference play in assists with 15.92 per game. They are led in scoring by senior Taylor Witt’s 18.2 points per game. Senior Andrew Bernstetter is averaging 15.4 points and a team-high 8.7 rebounds and is the reigning NSIC Player of the Week.
Series History: The Beavers and Huskies have met 130 times since the first year of basketball at BSU in 1922. SCSU owns a 89-41 advantage in the series and are 4-1 in the last five meetings. Last season, the Huskies defeated BSU twice, winning 80-69 in St. Cloud.
About Concordia University: The Golden Bears are 8-5 overall with a 5-4 NSIC record that is tied with three other teams for fifth. CU went 1-1 at home last weekend, falling to No. 24 Winona State 85-62 and defeating Upper Iowa 82-73. Leading the way for the Golden Bears is Peter Olafeso with 14.4 points per game, his twin brother Kenny Olafeso is the team’s rebound leader averaging 7.4 per game, while adding 12.1 points per game. CU hosts Minnesota Duluth Friday before entertaining BSU Saturday.
Series History: The Beavers are 12-10 all-time against the Golden Bears, but own a 1-4 record in the last five meetings. Last season CU downed BSU in both meetings, winning 110-76 in St. Paul. The last time the Beavers beat CU on the road was 2003-04.
NSIC Preseason Poll: The Bemidji State University men’s basketball team finished last season winners in five of its last six games, en route to a 12-15 overall and 8-12 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference mark, good for 11th place in the final conference standings. The 12 wins was the most under fifth-year head coach Matt Bowen, as BSU has increased its win total in each of his seasons at the helm. On Oct. 20, the 2010-11 edition of the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll was released, slotting the Beavers 10th with 64 points.
BSU’s NSIC Preseason Player to Watch: Patrick Cassidy is the lone senior on a team that sports four juniors (two transfers), eight sophomores and four freshmen. He will be asked to provide leadership on and off the court, while concentrating on being consistent offensively and defensively. Last season Cassidy played and started in 26 games, averaging 26.3 minutes per contest. He posted 8.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field. Cassidy has endured the growing pains of a Bemidji State basketball program that has improved its record in each of the last four seasons, going 12-15 last season. He has played in 80 games in the green in white, averaging 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field.
Making Strides: Head coach Matt Bowen has increased BSU’s win total every season over his past four years. The Beavers won five games in his first campaign, six in his second, eight in 2008-09 and 12 last season. In 2009-10, the eight NSIC victories the Beavers totalled was the most conference wins under Bowen.
Welcome to BSU: The Beavers welcome six newcomers to the squad this season, including two junior college transfers. Coming to Bemidji via Glendale Community College are James Ellisor and Ryan Kinnell. Four true freshmen join the squad from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alaska in Zach Noreen (Albany HS, Minn.), Maxie Rosenbloom (Johnson HS, Minn.), Jake Schalow (Kaukauna HS, Wis.) and Jeff Whicker (King HS, Alaska).
In his first 13 games as a Beaver, Ellisor is leading the team in scoring with 17.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 30.8 minutes, while shooting 54.1 percent from the field and going 49-for-60 (81.7%) from the charity stripe. He scored 25 points in the opener, adding a team-high six rebounds.
Roaring 20’s: Ellisor has six games scoring the 20’s, including a 27 point performance in a win against Northern State Dec. 17. Last season BSU had 15 games with an individual in the 20’s, led by Seth Haake’s eight. This season, three players have combined for nine games with 20 points or more.
900 Program Wins: In a 88-63 victory against Minnesota, Crookston at the BSU Gymnasium Dec. 4 the Beavers recorded their 900th program win.
Century Mark: The Beavers eclipsed the 100 point mark Jan. 3 in a 101-76 road rout of Minnesota Duluth. The accomplishment marked the 57th time in program history and third time under head coach Matt Bowen BSU has reached the century mark. It was just the 11th time the team has scored 100 points or more on the road.
Doubling-Up: Four different Beavers have combined for six double-doubles this season. Last season the team produced just two.
• Junior Bryce Tesdahl recorded his second-career double-double with a team-high 25 points and 10 assists at Finlandia Nov. 17.
• Junior James Ellisor recorded his first double-double as a Beaver versus UW-Stout Nov. 23, scoring 13 points and adding 11 rebounds. His second double-double came in an 83-80 loss to Upper Iowa Dec. 11, scoring 21 points and adding 11 rebounds.
In a 63-53 win against WSC Jan. 9, he recorded 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.
• Sophomore Mason Walters earned his first-career double-double Jan. 3 at Minnesota Duluth, posting career-highs in points (19) and rebounds (11).
• Sophomore Lance Rongstad recorded a career-high 13 rebounds at Minnesota Duluth Jan. 3, while adding 11 points for his second-career double-double.
Helping Hand: Last season Tesdahl finished second in the NSIC in assists, averaging 15.1 assists per game. He totaled 137 assists in the season, finishing third on BSU’s all-time single-season chart. This season he is seocnd in the league in assists and currently, his 298 career assists ranks third on BSU’s career list (1976-present). On Nov. 17 he recorded 10 assists, marking his third-career game with 10 or more helpers, ranking tied for ninth on the BSU single-game chart.
BSU’s Top Career Assist Totals (1976-Present)
# Assists Player Seasons
1. 314 David Lee 1984-88
2. 302 James Roberson 2003-05
3. 298 Bryce Tesdahl 2008-SA
Thanks for the Charity: The Beavers are the No. 7 team in the Division II nation in free throw percentage (as of the Jan. 9 NCAA Statistics Summary), shooting 78.1 percent from the charity stripe. Sophomore Lance Rongstad’s 87.8 percent guides the team and is 41st in the nation.
Battle for the Boards: In all seven of BSU’s wins this season it has outrebounded its opponent and owns a 7-1 record when doing so. But one category the Beavers are lost in this season is the offensive glass. BSU is getting outrebounded 154-104 in offensive rebounds, resulting in a difference of 134-109 in second chance points.
Stay Inside the Arc: In conference play, the Beavers are the top team in the league in field goal percentage, making 49.2 percent of their shots. On the other side of the 3-point line the same BSU squad is 11th, shooting 33.8 percent from beyond the arc. Before last weekend’s combined 16 3-pointers the Beavers were in last in the category. In the league rankings (conference only), the Beavers have three players in the top 15 in field goal percentage, Patrick Cassidy (3rd, 57.1%), James Ellisor (10th, 52.8%) and Mason Walters (15th, 50.7%).
Road Warriors: BSU is 4-2 on the road this season. The last time the Beavers finished the season with an above .500 record on the road was when the 2003-04 team went 9-6 away from the BSU Gymnasium. The Beavers are outscoring their opponent on the road 82.7-77.3 in 2010-11.
Avoid the Losing Streak: Last season the Beavers went on a seven game losing streak from Dec. 13-Jan. 15, thwarting their chances at a playoff spot and resulting in a 4-10 record when losing the game before. This season, BSU has been able to stop the bleeding by owning a 5-1 record when losing the previous contest.