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South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team kicks off the 2006-07 season squaring off against one of the better NAIA team in the region, taking on the Rocky Mountain College Bears Friday at Goodell Gymnasium in Rapid City
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team kicks off the 2006-07 season squaring off against one of the better NAIA team in the region, taking on the Rocky Mountain College Bears Friday at Goodell Gymnasium in Rapid City.
The Bears, like the Hardrockers, return a plethora of experience, rostering four seniors, six juniors and a pair of talented sophomores.
“We have everyone back except one kid that we lost to graduation,” said Bears head coach Bill Dreikosen. “We are a veteran team.”
On the other side of the court, the Hardrockers have five returning seniors, a junior NCAA Div. I transfer and a host of underclassmen that all saw quality minutes during the 2005-06 campaign.
Last season, Rocky Mountain ended with a .500 record, going 16-15, and ended their year in the second round of the Frontier Conference tournament playoffs. This year they are picked to finish second in the FCC. Dreikosen said his team will draw from their experience in hopes of having a successful year.
“We will do a little bit of everything (scheme wise),” Dreikosen said. “We have some depth with our four seniors and six juniors. We will use that experience and we also have pretty good team chemistry.”
Hardrocker head coach Jason Henry, in his second season at the helm, agreed that RMC’s has a good core of athletes.
“They have solid guys inside and solid guys outside,” Henry said.
The Bears DI transfer is Tim Scheffler, a junior guard from Lovell, Wyo., that played for the Eastern Washington Eagles last year. Add in seniors Chris Townley (5-foot-10-inch guard), Curtis Dunwoody (6-0 guard) and Cooper Warren (6-2 guard) and they become a formidable group indeed.
”They have three or four real good guards that are athletic and can do a number of different things for them --- like getting to the basket and that type of things that we are not as good at,” Henry said. “Our (guards) are coming off the screens and making plays where their guards will be able to create a little more off the dribble.”
The Bears also have a sophomore that Henry considers to be one of their best players in Devin Uskoski. The 6-6 forward from Brush Prairie, Wash., gives Rocky Mountain an added dimension and when they throw in 6-8 senior center Brian Baker from Concord, Calif., it makes for a well rounded group.
“They are definitely a real balanced team. Like I said, they have good kids inside and odiously some good kids outside,” Henry said.
Dreikosen wouldn’t really say what his game plan would be for Friday’s non-conference bout, which is the first game of the season for him as well, but said that stressing the fundamentals would be a key.
“We need to go in and play extremely hard and execute the little things,” Dreikosen said.
Henry said the key for his team to do well is to handle defensive pressure and to convert points from it.
“We will see (a lot of pressure on our guards) this year, and that’s what we work on everyday in practice. We have to go to our strengths with our big guys. With Andrew (Brown), our DI transfer and Casey Schmit, an all conference kid, they have to get some touches in the post.”
Brown played Div. I hoops at North Dakota State last year and Schmitz was named to the Dakota Athletic Conference second team. On the outside, Brandon Lord (senior from Taylorsville, Utah, looks to be a sharp shooter while young Jace Sullivan (sophomore from Sydnie, Mont.) has been promoted to point guard.
The Hardrockers will be without the services of senior Matt Lyndoe (forward from Custer), who injured his foot earlier this week, but with the depth that SDM has, they should be able to find an adequate replacement for Friday’s matchup.
“That will definitely hurt us in the post game,” Henry said of losing Lyndoe for the first game. “It will be exciting to see if we have somebody else that can step up and fill (Lyndoe’s) spot for us.”
With senior Brandon Fredrickson (6-7 senior guard from Ft. Collins, Colo.), Blake Tideman (6-2 senior guard from Winner) and sophomore Brandon Smith (6-8 forward from Amenia, N.D.), the Hardrocker should be able to shore up the lineup just fine.
Henry considers Rocky Mountain to be one of the top NAIA teams in the region and for the Hardrockers to earn a victory Friday they have to be somewhat disciplined and show some patience.
“We will still look to run our transition stuff and try to get easy baskets but yet if we don’t have those, we have to be disciplined enough to pull it out and make them guard us for three quarters of the shot clock,” Henry said. “If we can get them to guard us for 25-30 second each possession we think we have a chance.”
The game is slated for a 7 p.m. start.
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