UND football nabs Minn. Mr. Football finalist

The UND football team’s defensive backfield drew plenty of criticism during the 2012 season, but the program has taken a step toward patching up their pass defense through recruiting.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Mr. Football finalist Jake Disterhaupt of Moose Lake-Willow River said he has given his verbal commitment to play safety for North Dakota.

“The first thing I like most is the coaching staff,” said Disterhaupt, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound three-sport athlete. “This staff stood out more than any I met. That was really big to me. I wanted to be with a staff that I liked. I liked how they interact with their players.”

UND was the first Division I school to offer Disterhaupt, who choose the Green and White over interest from South Dakota State and North Dakota State.

Disterhaupt led the Rebels to the state Class AA championship game in which they fell 25-22 to Caledonia for their first loss of the year.

Disterhaupt ran for 1,630 yards and 18 touchdowns, while racking up 381 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

“He’s one of the best athletes to come through our program,” Willow River-Moose Lake coach Dave Louzek said. “He was a great leader as a captain. He did a great job handling and passing on expectations.”

Disterhaupt said he attended a handful of UND games this past season and the opportunity to potentially see the field early in his career played a factor in his commitment.

“That came into play a little bit,” he said. “They might need a good safety.”

Disterhaupt plays basketball and track in high school, as well. He advanced to the state meet in track in the 200, 4×200 and 4×400. He finished sixth in the 200 at the state meet.

Disterhaupt said he was primarily recruited by UND offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach, as well as running backs coach Danny Freund.

Louzek said Disterhaupt attends a school that houses K-12, and he’s a great role model. Louzek said he often signs autographs for the younger students.

Disterhaupt said the current plan is to redshirt as a freshman, but the idea of playing as a true freshman isn’t out of the question.

UND-SDSU thoughts

South Dakota State’s Chad White hit a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer Wednesday night to lead the Jacks to a 71-70 win over North Dakota in Brookings at Frost Arena.

Gut-wrenching loss for UND, who had a chance to ice the win with 12 seconds left when Jamal Webb forced a turnover and was fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one to set up White’s tough shot with Lenny Antwi in his face.

Tough loss at the back end of a tough stretch. UND has now lost to Kansas State, Northern Iowa, Hawaii and defending Summit League champ SDSU.

Obviously, though, there are positives to take away from this one even though some old issues popped up again (road woes and foul shooting). Some of those thoughts:

  • Doug Archer and Jordan Allard gave UND great minutes in the post as North Dakota played without Alonzo Traylor, who has proven to be a nice fit down low. Traylor missed the game after getting injured in practice this week. The most surprising part of the performances from Archer and Allard was their ability to knock down 3-pointers. Archer was 2-for-3 and Allard was 1-for-2. If Archer and Allard can contribute as pick-and-pop big men, that would be a huge asset to UND. It’s a role Patrick Mitchell provided as a senior last season, and I didn’t think UND would be able to replace that style of player. Allard is only a career 20 percent 3-point shooter at UND, but I’ve always felt his shot is good enough to do better than that if he found some confidence (he was a 37 percent 3-point shooter in high school).
  • The play of Josh Schuler in Troy Huff’s absence will be big. Schuler played very well against the Jacks, finishing with a team-high 13 points. The key with Schuler is being aggressive and more selfish. Schuler’s two biggest career games have been against Air Force and Hawaii. There’s no reason he shouldn’t hit double figures consistently against like competition.
  • Lenny Antwi is playing with much more confidence than a year ago. I was in Brookings last season when he was so overwhelmed in the environment. He’s shooting a great percentage from 3 right now (45.5 percent). He hit 25.9 percent of his treys last season.

UND basketball notes

Both UND basketball teams got off to rough starts this weekend. The men’s team faced a tough test at Kansas State and fell 85-52, while the UND women lost 65-52 to Harvard.

The men’s team stuck around with the Wildcats for as long as 26-25 but foul trouble and shooting woes turned the game into a rout. Random thoughts from Manhattan:

  • UND was 2-for-18 from the 3-point line. You won’t beat any of the big boys with that stat. UND’s guard play is strong, but their strength is getting to the basket — a difficult thing to do with K-State’s bulky frontcourt. The glaring weakness for this UND team right now is the lack of a consistent deep threat. The most likely candidates would be Aaron Anderson and Josh Schuler. Anderson, though, was 0-for-6 from deep and Schuler was way off on his two attempts.
  • Brandon Brekke had six points in 11 minutes and fouled out. The entire UND frountcourt was in foul trouble so it’s tough to blame Brekke. The team was undersized and, I think, tried to overcompensate by being too physical. Brekke has struggled to stay out of foul trouble during his career. The guy shoots almost 70 percent from the field. He needs to find a way to stay on the court.
  • Some of the good news is newcomer Alonzo Traylor added seven points and seven rebounds and appears to be a nice addition.
  • UND was also without the services of three players I figured would work into the mix. The obvious was Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash, who appears to be getting the run-around by the NCAA. Make a decision already, NCAA (and keep in mind he played under an awful environment at Tech that should allow a free transfer regardless of his father’s illness). Another absence was Shane Benton, a redshirt freshman who has impressed me in the practices I’ve seen. He was apparently serving a one-game suspension, which wasn’t made public prior to gametime against Kansas State. Also, JuCo Ryan Salmonson didn’t make the trip, and I’ll have to look into why.
  • In all, Kansas State was clearly a tough matchup for UND. The Wildcats were excellent defenders.They didn’t allow guard penetration on screen and rolls and beat up the Green and White underneath. Once the foul trouble started to mount, the game got out of hand.

The women’s team stumbled against Harvard, a team coming off a win against a mediocre North Dakota State team and a team UND beat by three in Boston last season.

  • I didn’t think UND would have this much trouble replacing the guard play of the Mothershed twins. Brianna Williams and Cyerra Mills have a long ways to go. UND might be best off just letting forward Madi Buck bring the ball up the court.
  • UND clearly misses junior center Allyssa Wall. I think Wall’s presence would really calm UND down offensively. Buck and Nicole Smart are good scorers, but they don’t really create their own shots. They would benefit from an inside presence like Wall, whose injury seems a little mysterious as her timetable to return is very unclear.
  • UND was 4-for-15 from the 3-point line. I think some of that can contribute to Wall’s absence. UND has some proven shooters who aren’t getting the space or time to get off a good shot without a steady scorer in the post.
  • Some good news: Megan Lauck is starting to fulfill her potential. She was UND’s best player against Harvard.

Initial thoughts on UND WBB

The Travis Brewster coaching era is off and running for the UND women’s basketball team after a pair of exhibitions against Bemidji State and Mayville State. Here are a few initial observations as the team prepares for the regular-season opener against Harvard on Sunday:

  • UND still hasn’t played with starting center Allyssa Wall, who has been sidelined with an injury. Brewster said Wall, who scored more than 10 points per game last season, is game-time decision against Harvard. Against Mayville, post Katie Houdek also didn’t play, but Brewster said that was precautionary and Houdek will play against Harvard.
  • The preseason storyline for UND was how it was going to replace Charnise and Charnay Mothershed, the junior college transfer twins who have done a majority of the ball-handling the past two seasons. They were also strong perimeter defenders. The results have been expectedly mixed. UND turned the ball over 23 times against the Beavers and 20 times against Mayville, which are much-too-high totals coming against softer opponents. But the promising aspect to the 20 turnovers against Mayville is that Nicole Smart and Brianna Williams each went turnoverless. Smart and Williams expect to be the primary ball-handlers this season.
  • After missing its first eight shots against Mayville, UND finished the game strong. The team’s interior passing is a strength. Forwards/centers Emily Evers, Madi Buck and Megan Lauck see the court well. Lauck, who started against Mayville, could be a key piece to the success of UND in 2012-13 if she can find consistency. She has nice touch around the basket, but she also committed four turnovers against Mayville.
  • UND will have decisions to make as far as redshirting freshmen. UND has four freshmen — Mia Loyd, Josie Dillon, Katie Klapprodt and Ellen Kiser. Brewster said he has to do some thinking on redshirts still. The most likely candidate would be Loyd, who is undersized but a hard-worker who had eight points and six boards in 15 minutes against the Comets.

Polls continue to confirm UND’s killer schedule

Chances of the UND football team making the FCS postseason are remote if not already toast, but as the polls show — there isn’t a single bad loss on the North Dakota resume.

UND has four losses and not a single FCS setback has been against a team outside the top 13.

UND’s four losses: No. 1 Eastern Washington, No. 11 Cal Poly and No. 13 Northern Arizona, as well as San Diego State — a 49-41 setback — of the FBS (The Aztecs have won three straight to improve to 5-3. SDSU has beaten Hawaii 52-14, Colorado State 38-14 and Nevada 39-38, OT.)

UND held a fourth-quarter lead against undefeated Cal Poly, which some pollsters have as the No. 1 team in the country, and had plenty of chances to win the shootout against Northern Arizona.

Keep in mind UND’s starting quarterback Braden Hanson didn’t play a full game until Week 8, when he passed for 660 yards against Montana last week.

It may be frustrating to watch UND’s defense some weeks, but the program has to feel good about the position its put itself in at this point. It’s the first season of a full Big Sky Conference schedule, and probably the toughest at that.

UND hoops teams open practice

Both the UND men’s and women’s basketball teams have begun practice and the Herald caught up with both coaches and touched on  the men’s team here and the women’s team two weeks back.

You can read up on the teams’ prospectus at undsports.com , here for the women, and here for the men.

From the men’s team:

  • UND returns four starters from a year ago — all juniors in Aaron Anderson, Jamal Webb, Troy Huff and Brandon Brekke. That’s got to be the most experienced lineup in the Big Sky, game-time wise.
  • Expect Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash to join those four in the starting lineup if the NCAA clears his eligibility. Nash is a lanky athlete who can cause mismatch problems on offense and cover a variety of style of players on defense.
  • If the NCAA doesn’t clear Nash’s eligibility, the NCAA messed up. Again. (The team expects to find out in the next two weeks)
  • UND coach Brian Jones says Nash is his team’s most athletic player outside of Huff.
  • Spencer Goodman and Nick Haugen, juniors last year, are no longer with the team. Haugen saw his minutes sliced the last two seasons, while Goodman had a tough time staying healthy his entire career. Both players could shoot the ball from the outside. Their absence leaves more shots for Josh Schuler, who has also been streaky in his time at UND.
  • Also don’t be surprised if redshirt freshman Shane Benton battles into the starting lineup. He’s a little undersized, but the coaches like his tenacity.
  • Jones says he’s been impressed with junior-college transfers Ryan Salmonson and Alonzo Traylor. Both can run the floor, which is key as UND will essentially start two point guards with Anderson and Webb.
  • UND has two unfamiliar names on its roster. Dustin Hobaugh is a transfer from Houston Baptist and will sit out this season due to transfer rules. Thomas Blake is a walk-on player from Maryland, who Jones said had family going to UND and Jones is still learning about.

On the women’s side

  • Travis Brewster has begun his tenure as head coach at North Dakota after the retirement of veteran Gene Roebuck. He’s also got some new faces on the assistant staff.
  • Brewster said he doesn’t expect any major impacts from true freshman, although I would expect Josie Dillon to see minutes as the season progresses. Brewster also mentioned Mia Loyd as a possible freshman who would see action.
  • Brewster said sophomore point guard Bri Williams has been a more vocal leader to start 2012, and he was impressed with the offseason of Carly Rothfusz.
  • Recruiting period signee Emma Weinreich hasn’t joined the program. She appears headed to Lake Region State College. If her plans include to attend UND after her time at LRSC, she’ll have to graduate from the junior college first, per a new NCAA rule.
  • Brewster said he predicts a breakout year for junior Megan Lauck, who had breakout moments as a freshman but was in and out of the lineup as as sophomore.

Check back for more on both teams as the season approaches, especially around Oct. 24 — UND basketball media day for both teams.

 

Football injury watch

The UND football team heads to the Inferno in Cheney, Wash., this Saturday to take on No. 7 Eastern Washington.

The game would have a whole lot more hype had UND held on to beat No. 20 Cal Poly last weekend in the Alerus Center.

Regardless, UND should be treating the game as a great opportunity to knock off the highest-ranked opponent its faced since transitioning to Division I in 2008.

However, there are mounting injuries to stay on the lookout for: WR R.J. McGill, LB Garrison Goodman, OL Emmett Lynch and LB Damon Andrews each suffered injuries against the Mustangs.

I’ll guess Lynch and Andrews play in some capacity.

UND coach Chris Mussman was vague on the return of all of the injuries. It has to be frustrating for the offensive line to lose Lynch last week, especially after OL Joe Kleason’s leg has seemingly mysteriously been unable to heal. That’s the starting left side of your line questionable for the remainder of the season.

The other injury fans have been watching all season is beginning to get quite interesting. Quarterback Marcus Hendrickson’s average performances the past two weeks have opened the door for injured starter Braden Hanson to start taking some snaps under center. Mussman said he isn’t being coy when he says he doesn’t know who will start against EWU. But I have a feeling that when Hanson does become available, we’ll first see it on the field before the head coach lets anyone know publicly.

UND receives verbal from Park Center guard Quinton Hooker

Quinton Hooker, who will be a 6-foot senior guard at Park Center in Brooklyn Park, Minn., has verballed to North Dakota over offers from South Dakota State, Wofford and Florida Gulf Coast.

Hooker didn’t mention North Dakota State in his final four college choices, but other Internet reports claim the Bison had offered as well.

UND assistant coach Gameli Ahelegbe had been recruiting Hooker for more than a year. Hooker said UND was his first offer.

Hooker choosing UND is impressive considering the options he had with Wofford and SDSU. Wofford advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2010 and 2011, while the Jackrabbits accomplished the feat in 2011.

“I felt like I was most comfortable with (UND),” said Hooker, who averaged 26 points per game as a junior at Park Center. “The staff was great and the players were great. The town and school were really nice, too.”

Hooker didn’t need to search far to hear UND testimonials. Park Center’s head coach is Broderick Powell and his assistant is Sherrod Russell.

Hooker, who played AAU basketball with Howard Pulley, will be a three-year starter this winter for Powell.

“(UND) got a very, very good player,” Powell said. “He’s one of the most underrated players in the state. He can handle the ball, shoot it, and he’s a total team guy.”

Hooker describes himself as a combination guard — a point guard who can also score.

“I like to distribute, but I also like to attack the rim,” Hooker said.

 

Can UND get over the FBS hump?

This week’s Mountain West Conference conference call was pretty somber. The league went 1-7 last week, due in part to its struggles against FCS opponents.

San Diego State coach Rocky Long, whose team did win last week with a 42-7 victory over Army, has been pumping UND’s tires all week.

He’s said he’s as nervous as last year’s season opener. He says UND’s offensive line is the biggest they’ll see this year and that wide receiver Greg Hardin is the fastest he’s seen on film in two years. He noted UND’s averages of 55.5 points and 527 yards of total offense.

His press conference with San Diego media was a UND lovefest. That’s outlined here in the U-T San Diego paper.

Maybe the flattery is sincere, maybe he just wants the attention of his team.

Either way, UND is presented with another opportunity to knock off one of the big boys. It’s an elusive milestone for UND, who has seen North Dakota State pick up a number of FBS wins. South Dakota, too, has beaten the University of Minnesota.

I think it’s safe to say it’s simply a matter of time for UND, which has been within a touchdown of an FBS victory twice now — against Northern Illinois and Fresno State. And this year’s UND team is far more qualified to play up than any other year during the program’s NCAA Division I transition.

It’s quite the opportunity for senior quarterback Marcus Hendrickson. Like UND in this game, Hendrickson has nothing to lose. In the coming weeks, Braden Hanson will probably heal and replace Hendrickson as the starter (although I would guess UND will show a combination of the two if Hendrickson continues to impress).

The Big Sky Conference proved capable of earning FBS wins as Sacramento State beat Colorado and Northern Arizona beat UNLV in Week 2.

Can this week be UND’s turn?

Briefly

  • UND coach Chris Mussman said Daryl Brown and Garrison Goodman are expected to play this week but won’t do a lot of practicing.
  • Mussman also updated on injuries to quarterback Braden Hanson and offensive lineman Joe Kleason. Hanson is coming along as expected, while Kleason’s return remains cloudy.
  • Joe Mollberg and Ryan Bartels will travel to San Diego as the backup quarterback options. Last week’s QB contingency plans still apply.
  • UND WR Greg Hardin said his teammates have been giving him a hard time because he was only No. 2 on ESPN’s Top 10 from Saturday night.
  • Mussman has concerns with the unpredictability of San Diego State coach Rocky Long. That’s detailed in this Herald story.
  • UND’s Week 1 opponent, South Dakota School of Mines, got blasted in Week 2, too. They lost 71-7 to Colorado Mines. (It was a meeting of the Mines).
  • Mussman said his team needs to run the ball better against San Diego State than it did against Portland State. He said some of the trouble had to do with Portland State challenging a backup quarterback to beat them with the pass. However, Mussman also noted the coaching staff needed to make a schematic change that would have allowed the line to move on to the second level.