Friday, October 29, 2010

Basketball season is here!

Well, ready or not it's officially basketball season. I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off for the past two days trying to get everything ready. I had myself really worked up for awhile, but I think everything's under control. We'll find out in about two hours when the Dakota State/Graceland University game tips off at the Corn Palace!

This weekend, the DWU Fulton State Bank Classic will be the public's first look at the brand new DWU men's basketball team. I know I'm curious to see how things are going to go, and I work at the school! I haven't watched any practices yet, so tonight will be interesting, and telling.

Tonight will also answer questions that have been lingering since June when former coach John Hemenway announced his resignation. Will Shane Murphy be able to keep the Tigers at the level off success they've been at for the last few years? Will DWU be able to survive without Preston Broughton and Darrin Dorsey? And who are Larry Swann, Tristan Washington and German Madueno, and are they any good?

Madueno and Swann, along with Demetrius Davis, were the probable starters for tonight along with two very familiar faces -- Brady Wiebe and Chase Walder. I am curious to see what the team dynamic is like this year, and how everything is going to look. And also -- who's going to do the dunking now that both Broughton and Dorsey are gone?

One thing that sticks out to me about losing some very key players and having a group of unknowns is the 2008-09 season. That was the year that we lost Broughton before the season started, Colby Fitzgerald went down with a knee injury a few games in and every other player on the team got hurt at some point or another. Even that year, the Tigers made it to nationals, and experienced a great deal of success. We have enough returners this year, and talented newcomers, that as long as we stay healthy, hopefully we can retain the success that the program and its fans have become used to.

Off to the Palace for last minute preparations. Who ya rootin for?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Basketball.. already??

I'll just skip my little intro about how fast time goes at DWU and get right into blogging this time since it's been... well... a little while since my last blog.

The Tiger football team faltered a bit after an amazing start. They got to 3-0 before giving up fourth-quarter, last-minute touchdowns to both Midland University and Nebraska Wesleyan University, so they fell to 3-2. Both games were heart breaking to watch and listen to. Against Midland, DWU was fourth and inches -- literally -- away from a first down and, likely, a touchdown and then the win. In the NWU game, it was a bad punt and (I'm guessing) a few missed tackles that allowed the Prairie Wolves to return a punt for a touchdown in the last minute and pull away for the win.

What a day the Tigers had last week against Hastings, though. That was fun to watch. Correction: Josh Endres was fun to watch. He went off for 316 rushing yards, three touchdowns and a school record, and all of his touchdowns came just when the Tigers needed them most. Watching him from the top of the press box at Joe Quintal Field, you can tell he used to be one of the state's top high school Class B sprinters. He left the Broncos' defenders in the dust when he broke free for his 65- and 73-yard touchdown runs. Josh is the co-GPAC Offensive Player of the Week this week, but didn't get the NAIA award. Apparently someone threw for more than 600 yards in a game.

Leif Evers was also recognized by the GPAC this week after yet another solid game. For someone who just made the switch from soccer to football this fall, he's doing exceptionally well. He's missed just two point-after attempts, and both of those were in the Dordt game. Saturday, he hit two field goals, including a 46-yarder. (I thought that might be at least close to a school record... not quite. The school record is 60 yards. He's got a ways to go.) Leif is this week's GPAC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Now comes the tough portion of the Tigers' schedule. They're at top-ranked Sioux Falls this week but, call me crazy, I think it will be close. USF isn't nearly as dominant this year as it has been in the past, and if you look at stats, the two teams are actually similar. Except at the quarterback position, where Jon Eastman has just been dominating the GPAC. But if DWU's offense plays like it can, Endres has another big day and Jon Bane throws for a few yards... you never know. That would be epic.

But... I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll see on Saturday. After that, DWU travels to No. 15 Northwestern before hosting Briar Cliff and No. 8 Morningside to end the season. 6-0 would have been pretty great right now... but you can't change the past, you can only control your destiny, so I'll just keep hoping for a Tiger win.

Even though we still have four more football games left, I've been having to think about basketball an awful lot lately because the men start their season in less than TWO WEEKS! The Tigers host the DWU Fulton State Bank Classic Oct. 29 and 30. Crazy. I'm excited, but wow. Basketball in October? Who knew!

I think I'll leave writing about basketball for the next post... that will give me a reason to write later this week (as opposed to next month). Go Tigers!