By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- After a brief home stint where they posted a 3-0 mark, South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team heads to Colorado this weekend for another pair of non-conference contests. The Hardrockers will square off with a very talented Colorado Mines squad Friday and then rematch with Johnson and Wales on Saturday.
The Hardrockers are fresh off two big wins this past weekend at their own US Bank Thanksgiving Classic. The home team dismantled both Haskell Indian Nations University and Johnson and Wales University.
This weekend provides a much larger challenge.
The Colorado Mines Orediggers have quite a lineup, possessing a talented post player in Ian Elseth. The 6-foot-8-inch senior from Grants Pass Ore., and a Division I transfer from Oregon State, is one of the keys for the Orediggers --- or rather he will be.
“They have a big post that was a highly sought after player. He was one of the best signings that they have ever had, but he’s had a broken hand all year so he hasn’t played yet this season,” said Hardrocker head coach Jason Henry.
But that will change Friday night when Elseth is scheduled to make his first game appearance. Henry said that the Orediggers want to get him in a few games before their conference schedule starts and Friday will be a prime opportunity.
And with Elseth playing for the first time this year, Colorado Mines just may gear their game plan toward the talented player in order to get him up to speed.
“That’s what I hope,” Henry said. “The fact that he hasn’t played, kind of messes them up a little. They will look to do some different things. But they have a really good player so that is a little bit different. He brings so much more to the team.”
Elseth isn’t the only weapon the Orediggers possess however. Sophomore guard Kyle Pape (from Honolulu, Hawaii) is an impressive athlete too and compliments well on the outside along with a couple of other quick guards.
“Their guards are definitely their strength. They probably have one of the Top 5 guards in the country in (Kyle Pape). He’s the real deal,” Henry said. “We need to make sure we contain him. He hasn’t shot it overly well in the past couple years, but he is capable of it.”
On the season, Pape is averaging 9.8 points a game but has created opportunities for a number of teammates --- like shooting guard Franklin Ryk (senior from Fort Collins, Colo.) who is putting up 12.8 points a game.
Colorado Mines was picked to finish third in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference East Division.
“Overall they are very fundamental and a very good team,” Henry added.
Saturday’s matchup pits the Hardrockers in a rematch with the JWU Wildcats, a team they defeated last Saturday, 70-53.
Things may be a little different this time out. Not only will the Wildcats have home-court advantage, they also might possibly see the return of their No. 1 scorer --- Ronald Jenkins (junior from Denver, Colo.).
“We handled them pretty easy (in Rapid City) and we got a chance to play a lot of guys,” Henry said. “They weren’t real effective with their zone. Now they have their top scorer back and he’s real athletic from the guard spot. They will be a total different team.” Jenkins was averaging about 20 points a game, and the last outing gave JWU a loss by approximately 20 points so this Saturday’s matchup should even things up a tad. Henry said he is expecting a battle.
“Just like everybody else, they get healthy when we play them.” The coach added with a chuckle.
And speaking of health, the Hardrockers are not without their share of injuries. Junior Div. I transfer Andrew Brown (post player from Dickinson, N.D.) is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained during the team’s trip to California and senior forward Brandon Fredrickson (Fort Collins) is nursing a back injury from this past weekend.
“They are two pretty important spokes in the wheel and we need to make sure we get those guys healthy,” Henry said. “We are a totally different team without them in there.���
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.