Dominating NDSU athletics in terms of popularity is football and men’s basketball. With the recent success both programs have had, it’s no secret why. The Fargodome sells out Bison football games quicker than a Justin Bieber concert at Disney World. The Bison Sports Arena has seen a spike in attendance this year for the men, with several games eclipsing the 4,000 attendance mark.
In contention for a conference or national championship every year makes any team fun to watch. But it’s why these two teams are fun to watch is what makes them so likable. There isn’t a standout star player on either team that’s the reason for a big draw in tickets. You can have a Nate Wolters or a Shakir Bell as a big ticket seller, but the Bison have won with a model of balance.
Nothing shows that balance better than what the NDSU men are set to accomplish this season. The Bison are within reaching distance of having five players hit the 1,000-point milestone in the same season. Seniors Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund and TrayVonn Wright and junior Lawrence Alexander are already there, with Wright’s 1,000th point coming Thursday and Alexander’s on Saturday.
Senior Mike Felt has 952 career points and should reach 1,000 points by the end of the year, barring any injury. Having all five players reach that career point mark in one season is special. And it’s a whole lot more fun than watching one single player shatter school records.
The joy of watching the Bison play is waiting to see whose turn it is to have a big game. Four players have led NDSU in scoring in separate games. Two players have totaled 300 points so far this season, two have eclipsed 200 points and two more have scored over 100 points.
Braun is the go-to guy for the Bison, averaging 18.6 points per game. He was voted the preseason Summit League MVP. But it’s hard to label Braun as a star on this Bison roster. He’d be a star on a different team, but he doesn’t need to be one on this team.
Thursday’s comeback win at USD saw an ill Braun struggle all game. Wright stepped up and scored 20. Saturday, Alexander led the way with 20 points. This makes guarding the Bison offense harder than opening a lid with lotion on your hands.
But it also makes it fun for the fans to watch. Just like the football team, the Bison men win with a true team effort. A few years ago, a Ben Woodside-led team made it to the NCAA Tournament. That team, offensively, was spectacular to watch. Fans came to games expecting Woodside to put on a show, typically scoring in the 20s.
This year, when coming to games, you may see five players go over 10 points, which happened Jan. 16 against Omaha. Or you might see a Bison go off for over 20, but the questions is, who’s turn is it to do that?
When Felt reaches the 1,000-point mark, it will be a special moment in NDSU history. These five players have been putting in minutes for the last three to four years. They have been building and improving for this year, expecting to make the NCAA tournament. For fans, the journey to the Big Dance will be fun to watch. But how this team is making their run is what will make it so special.