- Member for
- 2 years 3 weeks
By Wayne Nelson Herald Staff Writer Daniel Harkins came to UND from Portage, Wis., to play Division II basketball. He's leaving as a Division I player -- one who helped bridge the school's transition from regional bus trips and Division II competition to games against big-time programs across the country with more of everything. It wasn't an easy bridge to build. But Harkins didn't mind the construction. There are a few more things to build, however, for Harkins and fellow seniors O.J.
Seconds before tip-off, UND's Danye Guinn was still thinking about the events of three weeks ago when the Sioux uncharacteristically let a five-point lead slip away in the final minute against Seattle. Seconds after tip-off, thoughts of that game ended for Guinn -- and the Sioux. Thoughts focused strictly on the future. Guinn and her Sioux teammates surged past Seattle University 71-52 on Friday in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, a win that avenged a one-point loss in Seattle three weeks earlier.
Before the season started, UND senior Danye Guinn could count the number of losses as a Sioux player on two hands. The nine losses, Guinn said, perhaps stood out more than the 93 wins she was a part of during her first three seasons. This year, however, is different. As a first-year Division I program, the Sioux have played a demanding schedule -- competing against established D-I teams from coast to coast. The losses still bother Guinn.
UND players spent a few hours in a Viking Elementary classroom Tuesday, reading to third- and fourth-graders before they returned to campus for practice. "It was a good time," UND junior Travis Mertens said. "It's fun to give back to the community because they've done so much for us. "And it doesn't take that much time to go and read to kids." The Sioux also would like to give a little back to Seattle University on Friday night.
In earlier games against first-year Division I programs, UND succumbed to peer pressure. Peer pressure didn't bother the Sioux on Thursday night. Neither did a 13-point second-half deficit. "We haven't played well against the other teams making the jump to Division I," UND senior O.J. Harrison said. "It was really important to get this win, especially the way we played against Seattle and South Dakota." UND played well against the final first-year Division I program it will face this season.
Down to eight healthy players, the Sioux who still could play were asked to give a little more by UND women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck. "Coach said earlier in the day that everyone had to give 10 percent more," sophomore Mallory Youngblut said. Youngblut contributed more than an extra 10 percent -- much more. In perhaps her career game, Youngblut's 21 points and 15 rebounds led shorthanded UND to an 82-66 win against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Thursday night in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The win came two days after center Whitney Ledger went down with a season-ending kne
Whitney Ledger and Kierah Kimbrough are best friends. They came to UND to play basketball in fall 2005. They've gone through the usual amount of ups and downs during their careers as they've helped UND win 106 of 120 games since their first season. The lowest of the lows, however, came earlier this week when Ledger went down with a knee injury during a practice. "After Whit went down, I wasn't mentally there," Kimbrough said. "I was thinking of her.
Officially, UND won't play league games until next season when Great West Conference competition begins. Unofficially, the Sioux are involved in league play this season -- competing against similar first-year Division I programs that have no conference home for the time being. UND will spend the final two weeks of the regular season playing against Seattle, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and possibly South Dakota if the teams match up in UND's tournament for Division I transition teams March 7-8.
After 22 years as the UND women's basketball coach, Gene Roebuck still considers his job fun -- and one of the best in the state. "This is a dream job for anyone growing up in North Dakota," Roebuck said.