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UND has played road games at Arkansas, Toledo, Wyoming, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Montana State so far this season. It's the life of a nomadic first-year Division I women's basketball program. So when the Sioux do have an opportunity to play at home, they don't mind showing what they've learned in their first Division I season. "You can tell how we've progressed as a team," Sioux junior Whitney Ledger said.
UND left the University of Arkansas last week knowing it belonged on the same floor as the Southeastern Conference team. Arkansas beat the Sioux 85-73, not a bad showing for a first-year Division I program against an established SEC team with a freshman class regarded as one of the better ones in the country. When the Sioux returned from Fayetteville, Ark., they discovered a silver lining in their 3-6 record. "We sat down the other day and said there haven't been any games this year that we couldn't have won," UND senior Kierah Kimbrough said.
UND's win at South Dakota last month gave the Sioux a winning record in its first Division I Football Championship Subdivision season. The win also helped stabilize the future of the Sioux program. UND coach Chris Mussman received a two-year contract extension Friday, a move that keeps him in charge of Sioux football through the 2012 season. The extension, announced by Sioux athletic director Brian Faison, also means that Mussman will lead the program through UND's transition years to full Division I FCS status -- a crucial component to the program's recruiting and player development. Muss
UND luckily survived one upset attempt from a North Dakota NAIA men's basketball program. The Sioux hope to avoid another white-knuckle drive today when they face a second straight state NAIA program. Jamestown College will play the Sioux at 2 p.m. in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, the third of three straight games UND will play at home against NAIA programs from the state. UND beat Valley City State 67-66 on Wednesday night.
UND coach Brian Jones wanted the ball in Travis Bledsoe's hands. "In my three years here, Travis has made a lot of big shots for us," Jones said. The Sioux got Bledsoe the ball and the guard delivered. Bledsoe's 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted UND to an improbable 67-66 win against Valley City State on Wednesday night in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The Sioux, who had not lost to the NAIA Vikings since Nov. 28, 1947, were on the ropes for most of the game.
In a week's time, Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson will have coached against his best friend, against the school where he played and launched his career and against the state's most recognized athletic institution -- the University of Iowa. It's a rivalry and reunion week for Jacobson, the former UND player and assistant who is in his third season as the Northern Iowa coach. The reunion portion of Jacobson's week takes place Saturday when Northern Iowa hosts UND at 3:05 p.m. in the McLeod Center. "I try not to think about it too much," Jacobson said of playing the Sioux.
The UND women's basketball program went forward this season, moving up to Division I competition. As a result, Sioux senior Danye Guinn went back to the basics. Her move has paid off for the 3-4 Sioux, who play road games at Toledo and Arkansas within the next week. The 5-foot-10 senior has become UND's top perimeter scoring threat. After making 37 percent of her 3-point attempts last season, Guinn has connected on 51 percent of her 3-point shots (18 of 35) this year. "Coach just told us to step up and shoot the ball with confidence," Guinn said. "That's what we're doing.
Following a demanding road schedule that took UND to Montana, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Northern Arizona, the Sioux needed some positive reinforcement as they continue their first Division I season. Playing in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center was a start. Playing an NAIA opponent -- Jamestown College -- helped as well. The Sioux caught their breath against Jamestown on Tuesday night, rolling to a 91-62 win over the Jimmies before 1,632 fans.
UND went into the locker room at halftime trailing UC Riverside 49-19. All signs pointed to a third straight blowout loss for the Sioux. The Sioux, however, avoided another lopsided setback. UND put some second-half pressure on the team expected to win the Big West Conference regular-season title before losing 70-63 in the first round of the Northern Arizona Thanksgiving Classic last Friday. "We got beat up pretty good against Wyoming and Wisconsin-Green Bay," UND coach Gene Roebuck said. "But in the second half against Riverside, we came back and gained some confidence.
A week after UND's first Division I FCS season ended, a few bad memories still lingered at Memorial Stadium. At the top of the list was UND's stinging home game against Southern Utah, a game the Sioux lost 15-14 after leading 14-3 in the fourth quarter. "That game rubs everyone in the program the wrong way," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "That's a game we had." All things considered, UND's 6-4 season was a success. With the exception of the Southern Utah game, the Sioux won the games they were expected to win and were competitive in ones they lost. At the start of the season, UND's No.