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  1. SWSiouxMN

    2017-18 Season

    UND met its ultimate goal of making it to the NCAA Tournament and winning both the Regular and Tournament titles in the Big Sky. What can they do for an encore next year in their final year in the Big Sky? Here is some brief thoughts on the matter. Key losses: Quinton Hooker and Corey Baldwin UND loses the heart and soul of this program, and a 3 year starter, in Quinton Hooker. He led UND to the promise land and was the never say die leader of this team. He was the perfect ambassador to this program.2 time 1st team All-Big Sky honors. They also lose a solid starter in Corey Baldwin. Corey saved some of his best games for the BSC tourney and hit some big shots for us this year and brought a certain swagger to this team that will be greatly missed. How UND replaces these two will go a long way to their success next year. Returning: Geno Crandall (JR), Drick Bernstein (SR), Cortez Seales (JR), Connor Avants (JR), Carson Shanks (SR), Josh Collins (JR), Billy Brown (SO), Kienan Walter (SO) The good news is, unlike in 2013-14, UND has a solid core returning. They return 3 starters from the lineup and bring back their top 2 reserves. Geno was a great secondary option/primary option, but it is his team now and should grab that brass ring. He has Big Sky POY potential in a loaded race. UND brings back a lot of its post players in Drick, Avants and Shanks. These guys are becoming old men it seems with a lot of starting/game experience between the 3 of them. BSC 6th man of year Seales should step into the starting up to replace Baldwin. These guys have got a lot of experience and have been solid contributors throughout the year. Collins is a great glue guy who can do the little things, but can he expand a little bit more. Brown and Walter didn't have much opportunity to get quality minutes their freshman years but they will need to have big summers and will have opportunities to gain more. Newcomers: Marlon Stewart (SO, sat out 16-17 transfer), Jafar Kinsey (JUCO, sat out 2016-17, redshirt)*, Tray Buchanan, Garrett Franklin, and Aanen Moody *okay I am stretching here but whatever. The biggest newcomer to this list is the Creighton transfer Marlon Stewart. He has all the clippings to be a very good player for UND, teammate of Seales from high school. Can he come in and be at least like Geno was his redshirt freshman year at minimum? The others might have their chances at niching out a role on the bench, that will need all the help it can get. I am very interested to if either Buchanan or Moody ,or both, find their way into the rotation. Kinsey will have his shot after sitting out a year as well. Way too early starting lineup Geno Stewart Seales Drick Avants Way too early predictions 1) Idaho 2) Weber 3) Griz 4) MSU 5) UND 6) SAC 7) EWU 8) PSU 9) NAU 10) ISU 11) UNC 12) SUU I like Idaho a lot next year with what they are brining back plus the return of their 2nd best player due to injury. Weber is going to be back with a vengeance with Harding and several big bodies, including the much hyped transfer from Utah. The Griz will have another solid team with Rorie and will improve their post position as well. MSU brings their entire team back but if Hall leave they might fall back to the middle of the pack. I think the 4-6 range is to be expected. Things can change between now and October. Key questions: 1) How do you replace Hooker? 2) Which current and incoming freshman step up? 3) How much impact will Stewart have? 4) Who will be out of nowhere improved player? 5) How soon does the extension for Jones get done? Early synopsis: I see this team next year as a 16-18 win team and as a bridge year to bigger things in the Summit in 2018. They have a lot coming back but filling Hooker's shoes will be big. They might struggle early but I think they will be hitting their stride by February. Conference schedule will be tougher with 2 guaranteed matchups with Griz, Cats, Eags, and Vandals. Only get Weber once. If they can gel quicker and Stewart is as advertised and the bench play improves, they can be in the mix again. *FULL DISCLOSURE: That is if everything stays the same. It would be nice if nobody left for a change.