UND senior Marlon Stewart 'is going to give you a chance to win every game' as Fighting Hawks prepare for postseason
When South Dakota State's Nate Wolters was dominating the Summit League about seven years ago, UND senior guard Marlon Stewart was a young teenager growing up in Rock Island, Ill.
So when Stewart was put in the same conversation as Wolters recently, he wasn't familiar with the comparison.
Stewart, who will lead No. 6 UND into Sunday's Summit League tournament opener against No. 3 South Dakota at 8:30 p.m. in Sioux Falls, became the first player since Wolters in 2012-13 to lead the Summit League in both points per game and assists per game.
Stewart's head coach, however, is well-versed in college basketball history in the Dakotas.
"There's a lot of good players that have played in the league since that time since Nate," said first-year UND coach Paul Sather, who came to Grand Forks from Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D. "It just speaks to the kind of talent he brings to the floor and some of the games he's had, where he's made a lot of plays for us."
Wolters, who scored more than 2,000 career points for the Jackrabbits, was a three-time all-Summit first team pick and the league player of the year in 2013. He was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, where he played until 2015. He now plays in Europe.
Stewart, a transfer from Creighton, averages 18.9 points and 5.2 assists. He currently holds a streak of 23 straight games in double figures, the longest streak in the Summit this season and longest at UND in the Division I era (2008).
"Marlon Stewart is going to give you a chance to win every game you play in a lot of ways because of the plays he can make," Sather said. "He's on the floor a lot for us."
Stewart, who had a memorable 35-point game -- including the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining -- against rival North Dakota State late in the year, averages a team-high 34.1 minutes per game. In addition, Sather said his team doesn't have the luxury of hiding Stewart defensively to save energy for the offensive end.
"We can't have him fouling out with four minutes left," Sather said. "It's really hard for us to play without Marlon. Everything runs through him, and that's not a big secret.
"That's a challenge we threw at him this year. We knew we'd lean on him a lot. He's really come through for us. Some teams have the advantage to hide a guy defensively to give him some breaks. We don't have that luxury. Some other guards in the league, you put them on guys who aren't big scoring threats. That's not the case for Marlon."
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Stewart was named Thursday to the all-Summit League first team.
"Honestly, (leading the league in points and assists) doesn't mean a lot to me knowing how much better we could have played this year and how much better I could have played for our guys," Stewart said. "Individually, it's always something good to think about but I'm more of a team person. So, you know, I just hope we keep this thing going and keep winning now. That'll mean more to me than this."