Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
- Member for
- 3 years 10 months
SAN LUIS, OBISPO, Calif. -- In Week 2 of the season, UND went to Northern Illinois after a 45-point loss at Idaho. UND coach Chris Mussman still had a vision that good things were still possible for the Sioux -- a youthful team in the fourth season of Division I FCS competition. UND's play in DeKalb, Ill., was head-and-shoulders above what it was in Moscow, Idaho. UND rallied from a 16-0 deficit and had a chance to beat the FBS Huskies on the last play of the game.
UND is now in the second half of its season -- a five-game stretch that will tax the program's depth especially after a rash of injuries hit the Sioux defense hard. The temptation exists to lift the redshirts off of some of the UND true freshmen. But the temptation is just that, nothing more. UND will head to Cal Poly on Saturday with an eerily thin defensive line, one that will try and stop the Mustangs' triple option offense in matchup of Great West Conference teams looking for their first league win. UND lost six defensive players to injuries against Southern Utah two weeks ago.
The middle of October wasn't a stretch for UND to remember during the 2009 season. A disappointing loss against NAIA power Sioux Falls and a decisive road defeat at Southern Utah left UND with a 3-4 record heading into a home game against nationally-ranked Cal Poly. The Sioux responded with perhaps their best game as a fledgling FCS program, beating the Mustangs 31-17.
UND coach Chris Mussman would have rather spent last Saturday on the football field. Instead, the Sioux coaches spent the weekend on the recruiting trail while a handful of UND players took a few days off to heal. But it's back to work today at Memorial Stadium as UND prepares for Saturday's Great West Conference game at Cal Poly. The Sioux haven't played since their 31-21 loss against Southern Utah on Oct.
Later this week, UND may find out how much interest the Big Sky Conference has in the school's athletic program. If there is a lot of interest, UND's days as a homeless transitional Division I athletic program could be numbered. But that's a big if. Presidents from the nine schools that comprise the Big Sky Conference will meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Park City, Utah, to discuss league expansion. And UND is right in the middle of any expansion talk. "The No. 1 issue on the table is expansion," Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton said. UND is an attractive candidate for the Big Sky.
UND's first steps of the 2010-11 men's basketball season will be taken today at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, where the Sioux will hold their first practice. When those steps turn into strides, however, remain to be seen. The Sioux, set to begin their fourth season of the school's Division I transition, again will be young with only two seniors and two juniors on the 15-player roster. But most went through the program's first full Division I season in 2009-10. The experience of playing teams like Iowa State, Texas A&M and Northern Iowa could help the Sioux with a similar schedule in 20
Based on the past matches this season, UND's Annika Smed knew the Sioux would be pushed by South Dakota. "That's a team that won't give up," Smed said. "They know they will get us sometime. But tonight, we weren't going to let it happen." The Sioux again took down South Dakota in another close match Thursday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, where a record crowd of 1,038 fans watched UND beat the Coyotes 25-19, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23 in a Great West Conference matchup. UND improved to 5-0 in the Great West and 15-5 overall in a match that was televised and also carried on radio.
Devin Trefz remembers the UND volleyball matches she attended before committing to the Sioux. "When I was being recruited here and came to a game, there were about 100 people in the stands at most," she said. "And half of them were probably family members." Times have changed for UND volleyball. The Sioux volleyball match against South Dakota tonight at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center will be televised by the Fighting Sioux Sports Network -- a first for the program.
Medical reports -- not scouting reports -- dominated Monday's happenings at Memorial Stadium, where the UND football team began a healing process from last week's homecoming loss against Southern Utah. Six players were hurt in Saturday's game, including two who likely suffered season-ending injuries. The injuries were compounded by a poor UND performance on both sides of the ball. UND generated only 173 yards of offense and its defense gave up 31 consecutive points in a 31-21 Great West Conference loss against the Thunderbirds.
UND senior linebacker and captain Ryan Kasowski delivered a message following Southern Utah's 31-21 win against the Sioux on Saturday. He was blunt in his delivery. "This (loss) has nothing to do with our coaches," Kasowski said, obviously frustrated with the day that started well and ended poorly. "It's our inability as players to make plays. And that's what is frustrating. "We had great schemes offensively and defensively.