The Minot State University men's and women's basketball teams started practice Monday, and both squads will look entirely different from last season.
The women's team is installing the Princeton offense - a system that emphasizes constant motion and back-door cuts and requires all five players to handle the ball and pass adeptly.
The men's team is composed mostly of players who never suited up on game days last year. Of the 16 players on the roster, six are new recruits and four redshirted last season.
"They're still all new to me and I'm still new to them," said first-year men's coach Matt Murken, who also hired three new assistants. "There's still an adjustment level. It was kind of exciting for them and maybe a little intimidating at the same time, because everybody comes in on ground zero. It doesn't matter if you were good or bad in the past."
Fans will get their first chance to see each of the squads at a "Late Night with Beaver Basketball" event at 8 p.m. Friday at the MSU Dome. Each team will have a 3-point contest, and the men's team will have a dunk contest. The teams will also participate in a 10-minute intrasquad scrimmages.
Murken said he simply wants to enjoy the experience and introduce fans to the new members of the men's program.
"I just want it to be fun for everybody," he said. "I'm looking forward to being kind of a fan that night myself."
Sophomore guard Matt Yale - one of three team captains along with seniors Josh Johnson and Anthony Enriquez - said Murken's passion "makes it easy to go to work for him every day."
"I think the whole preseason was a lot of what it takes to play for him," Yale said. "The biggest thing that we've realized is, it's hard but in the end it's gonna be worth it. He asks a lot out of us, but he's also getting us to the point where we ask a lot out of ourselves."
MSU women's coach Sheila Green Gerding said her team is well-suited for the Princeton offense, particularly now that two members of last season's starting frontcourt - juniors Katie Hardy and Christina Boag - are redshirting after offseason surgeries.
"With Chris Boag and Katie Hardy redshirting, we're just not a high-low team anymore," Green Gerding said. "We like the space that you play in with the Princeton stuff. We have some kids that are just really hard to guard when you give them some room to move and make some cuts."
Carly Boag, Christina's twin, led the Beavers with 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game primarily via inside production, but Green Gerding said she's capable of playing further from the basket.
"Carly's gonna probably be good no matter where you play her or what you do with her, but she's hard to keep up with for maybe a bigger, slower post," Green Gerding said. "There's times that we can stick her on the perimeter and have them try to chase her around."
Green Gerding couldn't pinpoint a favorite in the women's 3-point competition Friday, but Yale was confident in his picks for the men's side.
"The favorite for the dunk contest would be Enriquez, just 'cause he'll get the crowd going," Yale said. "He just has that flair. ... He'll be all show. He'll be fun to watch."
For the 3-point contest, Yale chose sophomore forward Thomas Korf - who led the Beavers with 68 made 3-pointers last season.
"He redshirted with me and he's in here shooting every single day, so if they give him the spot - they might bully him out of it and not let him shoot - but if he gets in it, he's gonna win," Yale said.
Borel fills in at CB
Already a consistent threat for the Beavers' offense and special teams, MSU junior Glyn Borel took some snaps in the third phase of the game Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth.
The Beavers (1-6) were missing some of their one-on-one coverage defensive backs, so the speedy wideout and kick returner played a few series at cornerback for the first time this season. He responded with two tackles.
"If you're playing man, you're running around chasing guys every down," MSU coach Paul Rudolph said. "That's as bad as a cross country meet, so we needed some help."
Rudolph said the 5-foot-6, 150-pound Borel has practiced a bit at cornerback and the coaching staff feels comfortable using him in man-coverage situations.
"We're not gonna spend a great deal of time teaching him zone coverage and stuff," Rudolph said. "We're just gonna let him use some of his skills. He was blessed with some speed."
The Beavers host Minnesota, Crookston (1-6) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Freshman middles coming along for MSU
Freshman outside hitter Mallory Sall carried the offensive load with 30 kills in the Beavers' first Northern Sun win over the University of Mary on Tuesday, but she had some help from two of her classmates.
Freshman middle hitters Erin Davis and Tarah Dabovich finished with nine and eight kills, respectively, as the Beavers (5-17 overall, 1-11 NSIC) pulled off the four-game win. Dabovich also totalled a match-high six blocks.
Both players are 6-foot-2, but the similarities stop there. Dabovich is more powerful and flashes a huge smile after each big play, while Davis is even-keeled and uses crafty tips and placement to score points.
"I can't say enough about what Erin and Tarah have done this year as far as growing as two players and really starting to lock down the middle for us," MSU coach Travis Ward said. "(Tarah is) probably a little flashier to watch, but Erin is just consistent and just works her tail off. Then Tarah, she just gets better and better every single day."
The Beavers play at the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Simmons sets all-time NSIC rushing mark
Winona State College (Minn.) senior Rayon Simmons rushed for 133 yards in a win over Wayne State College (Neb.) on Saturday to become the all-time leading rusher in the NSIC.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder has amassed 4,255 career rushing yards during conference games.
Simmons also broke the 1,000-yard mark against Wayne State, the third consecutive year he has reached that milestone.