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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- UND's charter bus arrived at McAndrew Stadium around 2 p.m. Friday. The Sioux were set for a light workout before today's game against Southern Illinois and Dale Lennon -- the former UND coach who left late last year to become the Salukis head coach. Lennon was at the stadium a few minutes before the Sioux bus arrived. He visited with a couple of early-arriving Sioux assistants before walking back to his Lingle Hall office a couple of blocks from the stadium.
Travis Mertens grew up in Devils Lake, where he was a dominating high school player. Mertens was a dominate force at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake the past two years, as well. The 6-foot-5 junior forward is at UND now and has the potential to be the leading scorer for the Sioux, who are two weeks away from opening their first NCAA Division I season. But Mertens said hard work -- not points -- will be his priority during his first UND season. "If the points come, they come," Mertens said Thursday during UND's annual men's basketball media day in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
As a senior at Cavalier (N.D.) High School, Brady Trenbeath received a recruiting visit from then-UND head coach Dale Lennon. "I remember the visit well," Trenbeath said. "It was during basketball season and coach Lennon and coach (Mike) Mannausau first came to basketball practice and then over to my house for dinner. "I was pretty nervous, but coach Lennon made it so easy to talk to him. He made things so comfortable." That home visit helped lead Trenbeath to UND, where he ranks second all time in career receptions.
In each of his seasons at UND, Lennon faced friends who had become coaches at schools in the old North Central Conference -- including Bubba Schweigert at Minnesota-Duluth, Randy Hedberg at St. Cloud State and Pat Behrns at Nebraska-Omaha. Lennon left UND last December to take the head coaching job at Southern Illinois. But his streak of coaching against good friends will continue Saturday when Lennon's Salukis -- in the hunt for a Division I FCS playoff berth -- host UND in Carbondale, Ill. He'll be on the Southern Illinois sidelines wearing a red Salukis shirt.
DAVIS, Calif. -- Until Saturday, UND hadn't played a game in California since 1972. Trips to the Golden State will become more frequent now that UND is a member of the Great West Football Conference. That will give the Sioux more opportunities to sharpen their game against the high-powered offenses they'll likely see from the California schools. The offense UC Davis threw at the Sioux was sharp most of the night.
The UND women's golf team returned from its spring trip to Florida on March 8. Since the team returned, no Sioux golfer has swung a club outdoors because of winter's insistence of overstaying its welcome. "So much for global warming," UND coach Dan Frei said. The Sioux women are ranked No. 22 in NCAA Division II.
Kierah Kimbrough received a call Wednesday from UND coach Gene Roebuck. She was told to report to his office in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. "Coach called me into his office and said I'd better close the door," Kimbrough said. "I thought I was in trouble." Kimbrough wasn't in trouble.
When Tim Leonard came to the University of Central Florida in 1999, the school had just made the jump to big-time athletics. UND will complete its jump to Division I athletics in the fall. And Leonard would like to lead the way as UND athletic director. "The transition of going from Division II to Division I matches up well with my background," Leonard said. "I want to be a difference-maker and be a part of history." Leonard, the associate athletic director and vice president for athletic development at Central Florida, interviewed for the UND athletic director position Wednesday.
In the final days of the season, UND found renewed energy and passion for playing basketball. A team that looked overwhelmed a week or so earlier suddenly had become one of the best teams in the North Central Conference. The Sioux advanced to the championship game of the North Central Conference postseason tournament, falling to Nebraska-Omaha 75-68.
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- UND's first -- and most likely last -- visit to scenic western Washington won't be forgotten any time soon. It won't be forgotten because of the scenery of the Pacific North west. And it won't be forgotten be cause of another offensive explo sion by the Sioux. Also, the memory of a Sioux defense giving up more big plays than usual will be in the trip's memory bank for a while.