"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, September 08, 2018

North Dakota Preview

North Dakota Fighting Hawks
December 18, fiserv.forum

Coach: Brian Jones (178-197 at North Dakota)
3-Year RPI Average: 195.3
3-Year kenpom Average: 202.0
2018-19 T-Rank Projection: 253
Projected Starters: PG Marlon Stewart (6'3" Jr), SG Billy Brown (6'3" Jr), SF Cortez Seales (6'4" Sr), PF Kienan Walter (6'9" Jr), C Conner Avants (6'7" Sr)

The Fighting Hawks suffered a big blow when star guard Geno Crandall grad transferred to Gonzaga. They do return three double-digit scorers in Stewart, Seales, & Avants, but while they have an experienced starting five, it will be mostly freshmen providing the depth as starting center Dale Jones graduated & two other bench players -- Jafar Kinsey & Garrett Franken -- transferred in the offseason.

The other big move for UND is stepping up to the Summit League. Jones' Fighting Hawks were successful in the big Sky, winning double-digit league games 4 times & earning a NCAA bid in 2017. In their new league, T-Rank picks UND 6th out of 9 Summit League teams. Last year, UND suffered significantly due to poor scheduling fortune in the Big Sky. Included in the 7 teams they played twice were the top-5 teams in the league & they went 1-9 in those games. Playing a balanced schedule in the Summit should help them as while they will have fewer games (16) it will be an even balance of top and bottom teams.

As far as what to expect from North Dakota, Jones' teams play at a blistering pace. They have finished top-40 in tempo for the past 4 years. Offensively, this is a team that thrives on driving. They'll take some threes, but even when they have had their better shooting teams they still focus on getting the ball inside. On defense, they limit opponent rebounds, generate turnovers, & use that to get the ball back up the floor fast

Marquette Connection: Cortez Seales was a standout on the Iowa Barnstormers AAU travel team before earning his scholarship to North Dakota. Not only was that the same travel team Joey Hauser would eventually play for, one of Joey's teammates on that Barnstormer team was Seales' younger brother, Corvon. Corvon Seales enrolls this year at Division II Minnesota State.

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