Countdown to Tip-Off: North Dakota State Men

Countdown to Tip-Off: North Dakota State Men

2013-14 COUNTDOWN TO TIPOFF // // @summithoops





2012-13 REVIEW
Overall Record: 24-10
Summit League Record (Finish): 12-4 (3rd)
Postseason: Advanced to Summit Final, College Basketball Invitational participant

Head Coach (Season): Saul Phillips (7th)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 11/1
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/0

Men's Basketball Page | Schedule | Roster

Web Page:
Twitter: @NDSUAthletics

"This off-season has been long. You come close. You think you had a chance. … It's an exciting time around here in a lot of different ways. Expectations personally are high, but there isn't a coach in this conference that doesn't have pretty lofty expectations for their program. We will deal with all that and we're certainly excited to start the season." – Head coach Saul Phillips

G Taylor Braun (15.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, All-Summit League second team); G Lawrence Alexander (10.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.6 apg, All-Summit League second team ); F Marshall Bjorklund (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, All-Summit League first team); F TrayVonn Wright (10.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg)

Position: 1st
All-League Selections: Taylor Braun (Player of the Year, 1st), Lawrence Alexander (1st), Marshall Bjorklund (1st)

Forecast: 2nd
Analysis Excerpts:  The Bison look like one of those mid-majors that shouldn't be happy just to make the NCAA tournament in March.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say we are very much looking forward to this year," said NDSU coach Saul Phillips, who recruited a good chunk of his roster using his 2008-09 NCAA team as a blueprint and an example.

The Bison aren't hiding their intentions this year. To help prepare for what they hope will be a March to remember, the Bison have road dates with Ohio State, Notre Dame and Saint Mary's as well as a home game with Southern Miss. "It's a lot," Phillips said. "But we have expectations of ourselves that are lofty. Our guys look forward to trying to fulfill them."

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the "bible" of preseason preview publications, is now in its 33rd printing. To see the complete version of this story, as well as 344 other profiles of Division I schools, order the 400-page 2013-14 edition at or by calling 877-807-4857.

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courtesy NDSU

The North Dakota State men's basketball team enters the 2013-14 season as a favorite to contend for a conference title in The Summit League. The Bison posted a 24-10 record overall last season, going 12-4 in league play and coming up just six points shy of an NCAA Tournament bid in the championship game of the Summit League Tournament.

The Bison return more experience in 2013-14 than perhaps any team in the nation. All five starters – Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund, Lawrence Alexander, TrayVonn Wright and Kory Brown – are back. NDSU's current roster includes six seniors and the entire team has combined to play in 685 games, including 356 starts over the previous four seasons.

NDSU returns 96.5 percent of its scoring from a year ago, led by Braun's average of 15.4 points per contest. Braun will likely fill a swingman role, with Alexander and Brown at the guard positions and Wright and Bjorklund at forward.

Bjorklund is the NCAA's active career leader in field goal percentage, shooting at a 66.3 percent clip over the last three seasons. He was named to the All-Summit League first team last season after leading the league in field goal percentage for the third time.

Alexander, like Braun, was a second-team All-Summit League selection as a sophomore last season after averaging 11 points, four rebounds and four assists per game. He's started all 65 games of his career.

Wright and Brown bring a strong defensive element to the game for the Bison, typically drawing the assignment of guarding the opponents' top scorers. Wright has 120 career blocked shots – enough to rank third in NDSU history – and Brown earned a reputation as the top defensive stopper for the Bison as a true freshman in 2012-13.

The Bison depth continues through the bench, where 2012-13 Summit League Sixth Man of the Year Mike Felt is on pace to set the NDSU all-time record for games played. Felt is a career 40.4 percent three-point shooter, having knocked down 200 triples as a Bison.

Big men Jordan Aaberg and Chris Kading provide depth in the middle behind Bjorklund, and young guards Brett VandenBergh, Carlin Dupree and A.J. Jacobson will contend for playing time in the backcourt.

The Bison raced out to a 16-3 record and a perfect 7-0 start in The Summit League last season before Braun suffered a broken foot and the team dropped five games in his absence. With Braun back healthy and one of head coach Saul Phillips' most experienced teams to surround him, NDSU looks to make its second NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014.