Preseason Polls Place Bison 2nd
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 16:10
The Bison men’s basketball team has been on the backburner to football when it comes to NDSU athletics for, well, a long time. Despite a promising start to the 2011-12 campaign, the Bison basketball team hit a wall around mid-season, which ended with them dropping five of their last six games. Youth and inexperience could have been determining factors in the collapse that was the second half of the season, but for those freshmen and sophomores that littered the roster, they now have a crucial year under their belt.
The Summit League knows this, and that’s why Wednesday evening, when the preseason polls were released, the Bison sat comfortably in second place. With 321 votes, the Bison have some big expectations for the 2012-13 season.
The Bison will be welcoming back four of last year’s five starters to the team, three of which were selected to the preseason All- Summit League Team list.
After an eye-opening sophomore season Bison guard Taylor Braun earned All Summit League honors for his performance in leading the Bison to a 17-14 record. Braun led the Bison in scoring last year averaging 15.4 points a game and hauled in a team leading 6.6 rebounds a game. Braun is a 6’7” matchup nightmare for any team that has plans for slowing him down this season. The junior from Oregon will be relied on constantly to produce the bulk of the Bison scoring.
Another player selected to the preseason All-Summit Team was sophomore Lawrence Alexander. Last year, Alexander led the Bison in assists at 4.6 a game and was key to the Bison offense running smoothly as he earned Summit League Newcomer of the Year. This former “Diaper Dandy” is expected to be the head facilitator of an offense that last year ranked third in the conference, averaging just over 73 points per game.
This year’s Bison team is still relatively young but isn’t going to shy away from any expectations, especially with the new landscape of the conference.
The Summit League has gone through a minor face-lift since last basketball season. Perennial conference power, Oral Roberts has left the league headed for the Southland Conference. ORU has won five regular season championships while in the Summit, making their departure important for any team looking to take over the league. According to the polls, voters expect South Dakota State to take the reins on the conference coming off an NCAA tournament bid last spring.
Oakland, Western Illinois and IUPUI round out the top five, followed by Fort Wayne, Kansas City and South Dakota in that order. The fresh face in the Summit League, Nebraska-Omaha, sits in ninth place.
It looks like the Bison will be competing for that top spot in the conference along with the lone automatic NCAA Tournament bid. The Bison haven’t danced their way into the madness of March since 2009 but according to the polls, they look like a real contender this year.
But it is important as fans to remember to take the preseason polls with a grain of salt. We haven’t seen anything out of this team yet. But when we do see the Bison hit the hardwood this winter, I expect to see them hit the floor running.