Hawks still searching for a starting lineup, consistency against South Dakota

UND has used seven different starting lineups so far this season

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UND forward A'Jahni Levias (21) breaks past N.D. State guard Damari Wheeler-Thomas (10) for a first half layup during a Summit League men's basketball matchup at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks on Friday, December 30, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Brady Danielson will play his 125th career game at UND on Thursday night when the Fighting Hawks host South Dakota in a Summit League game at The Betty.

By far, he’s the most experienced player on the UND roster. He’s the team’s Swiss Army Knife, according to UND coach Paul Sather. He’s been a starter and a top reserve throughout his career.

But his role – and the role of his teammates as well – may be more defined as the Hawks seek consistency now that the league season is underway.

Against North Dakota State last week, Danielson was in the starting lineup. For the Hawks, that was the seventh different starting lineup this season.

That doesn’t bother Danielson, a 6-foot-4 senior.


“I think we’ve all been good about that, not really caring who gets the minutes, who gets to start,” said Danielson. “We’re kind of trying to search as a group right now and find the people who are willing to go out there and do what it takes. And I think a lot of us can do that.”

But time is running out on finding a starting lineup that may help provide UND the consistent play the Hawks have been looking for.

“There is a little bit more of a sense of urgency because of what happened to us last week,” added Danielson, referring to NDSU’s 71-47 win over UND at The Betty. “I feel we’re bringing a little more energy this week, trying to get past last week.”

UND coach Paul Sather, however, says it may be time to find the set starting lineup for the rest of the season.

“We need to get to the point where we’re sticking with a (set) lineup more,” he said. “That’s something we’re trying to define better. We want to establish it and keep it there. We’ve wanted to do that from the start but it’s been difficult.”

There is another storyline that will unfold when the teams meet.

Paul Bruns was one of UND’s top players last season and earned the Summit League Freshman of the Year honors.

After the season, however, he entered the transfer portal and landed at South Dakota, a lot closer to his home.


It was the second-straight season UND lost the league’s Freshman of the Year.

As far as UND is concerned, Bruns’ return won’t be a major issue. Bruns is averaging 11 points per game this season after averaging 14.8 last season with the Hawks.

“We’ve got to move on and play,” said Sather. “I think if you’re holding those kinds of things too close to your heart, they get in the way. For us, it’s about our team and the guys we have. So we have to come out with a clear, clear mind and compete.”

South Dakota is 2-1 in the league and 7-8 overall. The Coyotes are balanced with four players averaging double figures: Kruz Perrott-Hunt (13.2 ppg); AJ Plitzuweit (12.5); Tasos Kamateros (11.4); and Bruns (11.0).

One of South Dakota’s wins this season came against BYU, 69-68, in a game played in Salt Lake City.

South Dakota at UND

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center


TV/Radio: MidcoSN, 1440 AM

Records: UND 0-1, 6-9; South Dakota 2-1, 7-8

Of note: UND has lost its past six Summit League games, dating back to last season

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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