The Minot State University basketball team is happy to be home.
The Beavers (0-2) recently returned from a road trip that featured losses against two ranked Division II teams and another defeat at the hands of the Montana Grizzlies, who are coming off a trip to the Division I NCAA tournament.
MSU plays its regular-season home opener against Division III Northland College (Minn.) at 3 p.m. today at the MSU Dome.
"We are glad to be in the dome," MSU coach Matt Murken said. "It's been a lot of time on the bus these last 10 days."
The LumberJacks got 20 points and seven rebounds from freshman guard Carnell Sheppard in their only game this season, an 80-51 loss to Wisconsin-Superior.
Murken said he's not concerned with the challenges Northland presents. With a new coaching staff and several new players, the Beavers are focused on their own cohesion during the nonconference schedule.
"For us, it's more about what we do," Murken said. "We're just excited to be home. The majority of the last practices we've been working on some things that were exposed in those last three games. It's just another opportunity to take another step forward and play better basketball."
Sophomore forward Adam Randall said MSU is building its team from the defensive end.
"When our defense is clicking and we're all communicating, that kind of gets our offense going," he said. "It's a big thing for us to get our defense going."
MSU was throttled 82-53 Wednesday at Montana, but senior forward Josh Johnson had a stellar outing. The Beavers' leading returning scorer posted 23 points and nine rebounds and knocked down 8-of-15 shots.
"He's really been playing with a sense of urgency and playing like a senior needs to play," Murken said. "He's been rebounding extremely hard and he's gotten some easy baskets that way. Like everybody else, he needs to improve, but he's been doing everything we've asked of him so far."
After facing Montana, which has four players 6-foot-7 or taller, the Beavers will have the size advantage on the LumberJacks. Northland's tallest player is 6-6.