We’re about midway through the winter and I haven’t talked much about basketball. Let’s remedy this.
Both Bemidji State teams are 6-5 overall and, it’s safe to say, playing a bit above expectations.
I’m going to write about the men’s team, eventually, but right now I’m more intrigued by the women’s team.
I wrote a story on the women’s team for Friday’s paper; they host No. 13 Augustana today before playing another top-25 team (No. 22 Wayne State) Saturday.
This is a team that limped – almost literally – to a 9-18 overall record a season ago without some significant players. Jessica Althofff and Erica Trabing both missed the entire year while center Emily Kaus played in ever game but did so hurt for much of the year.
Althoff and Kaus have played in all 11 games; Althoff is averaging 8.5 ppg while Kaus averages nearly 4 rebounds a game coming off the bench. Trabing hasn’t played much off the bench.
Anyway, the healthy return of those three players has given the Beavers an important asset: Bodies on the bench.
Last season just 13 players logged minutes (not including Trabing, who played in exactly one game before her injury). This season, the Beavers have already shown off a deeper rotation, with 16 players seeing time on the court already.
Granted, not all of those players have seen SIGNIFICANT minutes, but they haven’t had to with a healthy compliment of players at head coach Mike Curfman‘s disposal.
Also of note are guards Lanae Rash - a transfer from Rainy River Community College – and Shannon Thompson.
Rash is the team’s scoring leader so far with 14.2 points per game, while Thompson has been running the point very effectively, with 3.8 assists per game – No. 8 in the NSIC – and a 1.42 assists/turnover ratio.
Guard Morgan Lee and forward Katie Warmack – both juniors – score in double figures for BSU.
What does all this mean?
Well, NSIC coaches picked the Beavers to finish 13th out of 16 teams in the conference.
Right now, BSU is 2-5 in conference play… good enough for 12th.
I think when it all shakes out this season the Beavers will finish ahead of their prediction. Maybe not TOO far ahead, but I can see them finishing in the middle section of the standings.
The Beavers are scoring at almost exactly the same clip this season (66.9 ppg compared to 66.2 ppg), but the difference is they’re playing better defense, limiting teams to under 70 ppg. They’re also shooting better (over 40 percent).
This section of the season will make or break them. Last year the Beavers stumbled to an 8-game losing streak that spanned the months of December and January.
An upset of one of the two top-25 teams they play this weekend would be helpful for the Beavers’ cause, but I wouldn’t panic if they drop both games.