Every player has had to solemnly walk off his or her own home court to a disappointed locker room following what might have been a heartbreaking loss, total domination or anywhere in between. For most teams, that home court loss count can range from two to ten games every single year.
Bison seniors Chris Kading and Kory Brown might not be too familiar with that kind of feeling.
They’ve had to leave the Bison Sports Arena or Scheels Arena three times in defeat during the pair’s four years of active play with NDSU. That’s just as many appearances they had in the Summit League conference championship game the past three years.
Kading left De Pere, Wisconsin, to join the program in 2011, but he sat out that season as a redshirt, meaning the first season he played was also the first year Hoffman Estates, Illinois, native Brown made his way to Fargo.
Their freshmen year in 2012, the Bison went 12-1 at home, followed by another 12-1 performance the next year, including a perfect 8-0 in conference play.
The year of the streak was 2014 with an impeccable 14 wins in Scheels Arena, the continuing of a streak that lasted 31 games until Omaha beat the Bison earlier this season. That loss to the Mavericks put NDSU again at the magical number of 12-1 at home.
Basketball is a game where there are so many statistics that you can look at the box score all you want, but you might not see every effect a player has on a team and the game.
Kading’s stat-line isn’t the most impressive thing in the world, with an average of 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. His three surgeries might have had an impact on that, but those injuries didn’t stop Kading from playing in 126 games over four years, putting him fifth on NDSU’s all-time list of games played. He also ranks fourth all time in blocked shots with 106 in his career.
His junior season, Kading started all but two of the 33 games for the Summit League champion Bison, but he saw that number dwindle down to eight this year with freshman Dylan Miller starting inside. For some people, that move might not sit too well, but Kading is a smart guy who knew how to adjust to a different role. His two-time Summit League Academic All-League honors speak to that.
On the other side of the coin, hustle and work are two aspects of the game that don’t have the perfect representations in the stat book, but if EA Sports brought back its NCAA Basketball video game, Brown would have a 99 rating in both categories. His tenacity on the defensive side of the floor was the reason why he averaged over 25 minutes every year and started 126 of 128 games he’s played in.
A good chunk of those minutes and games were spent guarding the opposition’s best perimeter player, and Brown consistently shut guys down. He wasn’t looked on as a scorer in his first three years, but a new team this year had a new role for Brown as one of the main guys to take the bull by the horns at the end of the shot clock.
His 10.9 points per game while shooting at a clip of 49.7% from the field demonstrates his aggressiveness and offensive game he’s developed for this year.
Over the four years Kading and Brown have been with program, they can boast a 50-3 mark at home and at least three straight Summit League championship appearances and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Obviously those wins are not solely a product of just two players on the team, but that stretch of success is very representative of the mark the two have left at NDSU.
Head coach Dave Richman said it best when honoring the two after their last home game: “They’re winners.”