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The night couldn't have been any better for NAIA member Mayville State, which made history in its men's basketball game at UND. The night couldn't have been much worse for UND, a second-year Division I program that remains a work in progress.
In UND's last two games, the Sioux played mid-major Division I teams that featured experienced -- and talented -- guards. That trend continues today when UND plays Texas-Arlington at the Drake Hy-Vee Classic in Des Moines, Iowa. UTA guard Marquez Haynes -- a Boston College transfer -- leads the Mavs with a 25.2 points-per-game average. Now in its second Division I season, the Sioux will see a steady stream of experienced guards. "Look at the Big 12, the Big 10 and the PAC 10, they have very good guards but they also have very good bigs," UND coach Brian Jones said.
The UND locker room door remained closed for about 15 minutes after athletic Wisconsin-Green Bay dismantled UND 67-41 on Sunday in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The message from the UND coaching staff to the players was clear: Stay the course. As youthful UND progresses through its second Division I season, the Sioux are seeing more and more teams like Wisconsin-Green Bay -- a quick, aggressive, defensive-minded team that also had the ability to exploit UND's zone defense with torrid 3-point shooting. "The biggest thing is to not feel sorry for ourselves," UND senior Travis Mertens said
CONWAY, Ark. -- UND's defense gave up 65 points and more than 600 yards of offense against Stephen F. Austin in late September. Since that game, the Sioux defense has improved steadily. And it saved its best performance for UND's season finale. UND's defense came up with big play after big play in leading the Sioux to a 17-16 win against Central Arkansas on Saturday, a victory that left the program with it seventh straight winning season. Linebacker Curtis Dublanko had a big hand in UND's improved defensive play.
CONWAY, Ark. -- Broc Bellmore had only one thought as Central Arkansas lined up for a potential game-winning field goal. "I got down in my stance and I thought about our seniors," Bellmore said. "I wanted to send those guys out the right way." Bellmore accomplished his goal by blocking an Eddie Carmona 43-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds remaining -- a play that sealed UND's come-from-behind 17-16 football win against Central Arkansas on Saturday before 4,239 fans at Estes Stadium. The win was the biggest for UND since the Sioux moved up to Division I FCS competition last season.
CONWAY, Ark. -- When UND opened its second Division I football season in September against Texas Tech of the Big 12, Sioux confidence was high. UND's confidence was higher after the Sioux left Lubbock, where they were surprisingly competitive in a 38-13 Tech win. "Then we hit some rough patches," UND senior Ryan Konrath said. But the Sioux have had some good stretches, too, as their second Division I FCS season -- marked by inconsistent play -- comes to a close today at Central Arkansas. UND is 5-5 and a win would ensure a seventh straight winning season for the Sioux.
On the day before UND's exhibition game against Bemidji State, Sioux forward Spencer Goodman finally practiced. His back was deemed strong enough for the Jackson, Mo., native to withstand the demands of a men's college basketball season. It didn't take the 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman long to impress the UND coaches. "He's been a surprise to be honest with you," UND coach Brian Jones said. Goodman is averaging 8.4 points per game as UND, 1-4, prepares to host Northern Colorado this afternoon in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
There were a lot of unanswered questions about UND's defense after the Sioux left Nacogdoches, Texas, in late September. Stephen F. Austin had just put a 65-31 whooping on the Sioux. "We were disappointed with our performance early on," Sioux linebacker Andrew Miller said. "We took it upon ourselves to get better." Improvement did come, but not overnight. The road to improvement was longer than a Texas mile, considering UND was allowing 507.3 yards per game after their game at Stephen F.
Central Arkansas won't be eligible for Division I FCS postseason play until next season. UND is not eligible for the playoffs until 2012. The Division I FCS playoffs begin this week. But that doesn't matter to UND and Central Arkansas, as the transition teams will meet Saturday in Conway, Ark. Welcome to the Transition Bowl. Both teams wrap up their seasons this week. And both have plenty on the line. A win will allow UND to close out its season at 6-5 while Central Arkansas needs a victory to close out at .500.
It didn't take UND coach Brian Jones long to explain Missouri-Kansas City's 70-63 win against the Sioux on Saturday. "It boils down to two things, free throw shooting and turnovers," Jones said. Had UND not committed 19 turnovers and shot better than 56 percent from the line, the Sioux might have come away with their first win of the season before 1,789 fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center -- a good turnout for a 1 p.m. game that was televised. And there was another problem for the 0-4 Sioux. They played without injured starters Travis Bledsoe and Pat Mitchell.