BEMIDJI, Minn. – Last July, the Bemidji State men’s basketball program turned the page on the program record 22-9 season, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Regular Season Championship and second all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and started a new chapter with the hiring of Mike Boschee as its 16th head coach.
The mid-summer hiring left Boschee short on time to assemble a staff and fill out a roster, but he found familiar faces to BSU for his assistants and inherited a base of nine returning student-athletes. After four years on staff, Ryan Montgomery was announced as an assistant coach in September with former Beaver student-athlete Pat Cassidy. During the late summer months the core of nine increased to 15 with the additions of five transfers and a true freshman. The Beavers have had more than a month to learn a new system and prepare for the 2012-13 season, but the first part of the year will still be a learning process.
“We are still trying to find our way right now,” Boschee said. “We still don’t know who is going to be the go-to man or be the leading scorers, but I would like to think we will have three, four or five guys that are able to score in double figures to make us a little more difficult to defend. Hopefully our team will take pride in defense, rebounds and those things that don’t always get noticed, but certainly impact how well you do each year.
“Our expectations aren’t going to change much from year to year. We have to establish a program that wants to play at a high level and wants to be successful. I think we have a good group of guys that have the right kind of attitude.”
The team has also had to learn a whole new system, both offensively and defensively.
“Offensively we are trying to push the basketball and want to create a more up-tempo style, but that has been a challenge. A few weeks ago, getting them to run the floor was like pulling teeth, but now they seem to embrace it. But if that isn’t there, we will still be a controlled offensive team.
“Defensively we will apply pressure and utilize our athleticism. I hope to create an atmosphere that gives us a chance to create turnovers and make things difficult for the opponents offensively.”
Starting at the point guard position, the Beavers will have returning options along with a transfer. Senior Jason Edwards got his first taste of Division II basketball last season after transferring from Phoenix College. He started nine out of 10 games early last season and in those nine games averaged 4.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
“He has got a great attitude and is a great leader,” Boschee said. “He is solid offensively and very good defensively. Jason does all the little things you ask of a player and I think he commands the respect of his teammates. He has the right mental attitude and is someone you can count on every game and every practice to be ready to go.”
Junior Michael Farrington will also be in the mix at the point guard spot after transferring from nearby Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn. He averaged 9.5 points and 7.4 assists per game last season and guided the Raiders to a 29-4 record, a state championship and a fourth place finish at the national tournament.
“Both Jason and Michael are very capable and tough-minded individuals that can provide leadership for our team, which is very important from that position,” Boschee said.
The 2011-12 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Newcomer of the Year, senior Dermaine Crockrell, will be asked to carry the load on the offensive end, while providing defensive energy. With the loss of Daktronics Division II Player of the Year James Ellisor, Crockrell will have to improve the 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game he put up a season ago, something Boschee thinks he can do.
“Dermaine is a very explosive player and will be one of those guys that will have to score for us,” Boschee said. “I think if he is playing at a high-level every game it will certainly help us achieve our goals.”
Last season junior Jake Schalow tied for second on the team in made 3-pointers and will be called upon to continue to improve his scoring output, while placing an emphasis on his progress on the defensive end.
“He is certainly someone that will be counted on to make perimeter shots,” Boschee said. “We run a defensive system that challenges all our perimeter players, but I think he is continuing to getting better at it. If we are able to keep him on the floor for longer periods of time, it will definitely help us on the offensive end.”
Off the bench, sophomore Brock Tesdahl will see some minutes at point guard and shooting guard after playing in eight games as a freshman.
“I’ve been very impressed with Brock’s abilities,” Boschee said. “He is someone that provides a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He does things the right way all the time. He is very easy to coach, has learned quickly and has helped others with the system changes.”
Senior Lance Rongstad will again be asked to play every position on the court, while also guarding the 1-5, as his athleticism and leadership will be a key component to the success of the team this season. The squad will lean on him to provide the physical energy and be a vocal leader on the court.
“He will be someone that is going to contribute to the team in a variety of ways,” Boschee said. “I see some leadership, toughness and physical ability in Lance that will help us all season long."
A transfer from Division I Montana State University, Savage, Minn. native, Tor Anderson will also be available at the guard or small forward position. Junior Dominic Long (Northland Community and Technical College) is a 6-0 guard that will be another option for Boschee this season.
Senior Mason Walters is coming off his best season as a Beaver, as he posted 8.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and shot 41.6 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. Consistency was his biggest challenge last season and will need to remedy the problem for BSU to find success this year.
“We will be relying on Mason to play at a high level on a consistent basis,” Boschee said. “We need him to play well in all facets of the game on a regular basis and if he can do that, it gives us a good chance to achieve our goals and have success in the conference.”
Junior forward Zach Noreen found a rhythm late last season and was rewarded by starting the final seven games. During the last eight games, he posted 7.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Along with Walters, Noreen will be expected to find some consistency this season.
“Zach has the ability to play inside and out,” Bosche said. “He provides us a big solid presence that can defended pretty well inside and is improving on his help defense.”
Junior Maxie Rosenbloom had increased minutes from his freshman to sophomore seasons and that is excepted to continue as a junior. A defensive specialist, Rosenbloom will have an important role this season.
“Maxie brings a ton of energy and enthusiasm to the game,” Boschee said. “He is a good defensive player and his offense has improved quite a bit. He is someone that the fans will like to watch and will appreciate what he gets done on the court.”
Transfer Sean Jones enters the 2012-13 season as a senior after spending the 2011-12 season at Hawaii Pacific University and two years at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Wash. Last season for the Seawarriors, Jones appeared in 24 games and was fifth on the team in scoring with 6.8 points per game on 41.7 percent shooting from he field. Boschee said he expects Jones to see significant time at the small forward and power forward position and will be able to help the team in multiple ways.
Sophomore Dillon Floyd saw the court in nine games as a freshman and showed glimpses of offensive skills, but will need to get bigger and stronger on the defensive end to be successful in a tough NSIC.
“I’ve been impressed with Dillon offensively,” Boschee said. “He still needs to gain strength and get better on the defensive end.”
Also available at the forward/center spot will be newcomer Forrest Huset (So., Northland Community and Technical College) and 2011 early signee Dan Lochner (Maple Grove High School).
For more information on the Bemidji State men’s basketball program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUHoops or @BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/Bemidji-State-Basketball or facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Mulitmedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).