Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

UND MEN'S BASKETBALL: Hope hangs on Sioux shooters' skill

There was reason for optimism at the start of the season, considering the athleticism UND returned. ?I had a lot of hopes at the start of the season,? Sioux sophomore Travis Bledsoe admitted. The guard said he still has hopes for a strong finish ...

We are part of The Trust Project.

There was reason for optimism at the start of the season, considering the athleticism UND returned.

"I had a lot of hopes at the start of the season," Sioux sophomore Travis Bledsoe admitted.

The guard said he still has hopes for a strong finish as the Sioux, who are 1-6 in the North Central Conference and 12-10 overall, embark on a nearly 1,000-mile road trip to Augustana and Minnesota-Duluth.

UND won't win the NCC and it's also possible the Sioux may not earn home-court advantage in the first round of the league playoffs.

However, there have been some bright spots individually for the team.

ADVERTISEMENT

Quietly, Bledsoe is having a solid season. The 5-foot-11 guard from Minneapolis, who recently broke into the starting lineup, is on track to break Hunter Reinke's single-season school record for 3-point shooting percentage.

Bledsoe has made 48.1 percent of his 3-point attempts this season. Reinke, who played from 1997-2000, hit 47.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc in his best season.

Bledsoe also has become more of a scoring option lately as UND struggles to find scoring consistency from its youthful inside game, which averages 10.9 points per outing.

An inability to score in the paint has been the big difference that has separated the Sioux from the rest of the NCC, which is as physical as it has been in recent seasons.

The Sioux average 64.4 points in the NCC, which ranks sixth among seven teams.

"I always try and let the game come to me, but I'll probably have to be a little more aggressive," said Bledsoe, who has averaged 10.9 points in NCC play, up from his 9.1 overall average.

Finding his niche

Bledsoe came to the Sioux as a heralded perimeter scoring threat out of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, it took a while for the redshirt freshman to find his groove.

"When I first came here, I was planning on breaking 3-point records," Bledsoe said. "But I got off to a slow start. I was rushing my shots because the pace of the game sped up so much.

"Now, I'm more confident. I'm a little more patient with my shots."

UND switched to a Princeton-based offense this season, one that is designed on spacing, perimeter shooting and slashing drives to the basket.

The offense has suited Bledsoe and Ervin Youmans, UND's other perimeter scoring option.

"Both Travis and Erv need to knock down the tough shots," UND assistant coach Ryan Moody said. "That's what separates you from wins and losses in the league.

"The NCC is the most physical and the most talented it's been since I was last in the league," added Moody, who has been around the league since 1997. "Every team is big and strong inside, except maybe us.

"As well as Travis and Erv have been shooting, we need them to keep taking those shots."

ADVERTISEMENT

Keep shooting

The two have to keep making shots if UND is to make a late-season surge and gain at least home-court advantage in the first round of the league playoffs.

Youmans also is close to making his mark in the UND record book.

The 5-11 senior guard is on pace to break UND's career 3-point percentage record. The junior college transfer has made 44.9 percent of his attempts. Travis Tuttle, who played from 1993-97, holds the 3-point percentage record (43.6).

The Sioux play at Augustana tonight before taking on Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday. UND's only NCC win came against Augustana on Feb. 2. The Sioux haven't played Duluth, a team that also is struggling.

Emmanuel Little leads UND in scoring, averaging 15.8 points. But the Sioux senior knows that the scoring of Bledsoe and Youmans will be a key down the stretch.

"We have to rely on perimeter shooting, and they've been hitting their shots," Little said of Bledsoe and Youmans. "Travis is playing his best ball right now."

Reach Nelson at 780-1128, (800) 477-6572 ext. 128 or gdevillers@gfherald.com .

What To Read Next
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.
The Grand Forks Blue Zones Project, which hopes to make Grand Forks not just a healthier city but a closer community, is hosting an event on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Empire Arts Center from 3-5 p.m.
A bill being considered by the North Dakota Legislature would require infertility treatment for public employees — a step that could lead to requiring private insurance for the costly treatments.