The One Word That Could Doom NDSU: Consistency
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:02
On multiple occasions, I’ve called this season’s NDSU men’s basketball team the most fun group to watch under Saul Phillips’ head-coaching tenure. I’ve also heard on multiple occasions that the offense is absolutely terrible to watch. Technically, neither one of these stances are false. It just depends on what part of the game you are basing your opinion off of.
What should be agreed upon is that the Bison’s offense is bipolar. At times, the Bison look like Skip 2 My Lou, Mr. 720, The Professor and Half Man, Half Amazing off the And 1 Streetball Tour with their fastbreak transitions that lead to numerous oops and dunks. Other times, the Bison look like their trying to shoot a bouncy ball into an empty beer-pong cup. Nothing seems to ever go in. They become stagnant and boring enough to put a crack addict to sleep.
Consistency is an issue for this team. When they are out pushing the tempo or effectively working the inside-out game with Marshall Bjorklund, NDSU is impossible to stop. But then there are those four to five minute spurts when the offense has zero flow and the crowd is left wondering what they’re trying to do on the court.
On Feb. 6, the offense looked sluggish all night against last-place IUPUI. The game was miserable to watch as the Bison clung on to a 66-60 victory. Two days later, NDSU raced out to commanding 16-2 lead against Fort Wayne in a game that decided who would sit in first place. But IPFW climbed back into the game after the Bison’s offense went stale.
While Taylor Braun is performing like a Summit League Player of the Year, other key players are struggling with consistency. TrayVonn Wright continues to provide electrifying plays around the rim, but his outside shooting has literally been hit or miss in games. Wright has especially struggled to hit his open three pointers lately, going 0-for-7 and 0-for-5 in the last two games. In the last five games, Wright has only made two three pointers in 25 attempts.
Wright isn’t the only player that’s been nonexistent from deep. Last year’s conference Sixth Man of the Year and three-point specialist Mike Felt is coming up empty on the stat sheet. I wrote a column on Feb. 3 on how special it will be when NDSU gets five players to reach 1,000 career points this season. Felt was sitting at 952 points on Jan. 25. He’s still sitting at 952 points.
It’s apparent he won’t reach that 1,000 point mark. Felt hasn’t scored in the last six games, seeing his average points per game drop to 6.7. While he’s not shooting with much confidence, Phillips is showing he is also lacking confidence. With Chris Kading now being the first man off the bench, Felt has only logged double-digit minutes one time in the last six games.
Quite frankly, I’m just being a columnist and pointing out the negatives on a team that is by far the team to beat in the Summit League. The conference title and a shot at an NCAA Tournament upset are for the Bison to take. With a favorable draw, this veteran team has the capabilities to pull off that upset.
But depending on what offense shows up at the conference tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., NDSU may not get the chance.