You are in the hands of Brian Lee Rivers every day 10am-3pm on KJ-108. This is working man's radio with a guy at the controls that REALLY knows his rock! BLR brings you Classic and new rock that you can listen to all day long. Plus, at high noon, the Electric Lunch; Win lunch from the Red Pepper of Grand Forks with the Lost Lyric Competition, Name That Album, and more! This REALLY is radio that you can lock into and stay with all day long!
I’ve got two boys that I’m raising and so far they have picked up none of my bad habits. Now that I’m a family man, I left the rock band thing that I did when I was younger. I spent age 17 to 35 or so moonlighting as lead vocalist with a little keyboard playing to help fill out the sound with different bands over those years, Ranging from high school garage bands to serious regional bands that toured a little and to local bands that got it’s ya-ya’s out in small clubs around the area. I was never close to the big time and never expected to get close; I just had a good time doing it. I realized I had to quit because my kids were young and demanding and it was too hard to function as a parent on Sunday morning when you got back from Warroad at . God, do I miss the band thing, but my life with my kids is beyond words and I have no regrets, just a little longing that would probably go away a couple of weeks later if I got back into it again.
My life is Family, Work and Youth Sports right now and it’s been blur.
OK... Maybe I was a little over cooked with the praise of the UND Mens Basketball team.
Turns out they are not as invincible as I thought they were. Don't get me wrong... I'll stick to my claim that this is the finest basketball team ever at the University. I still think they will be somewhere real fun at the end of the year but a hill to climb... a roadblock in the path... was identified this weekend in Oregon.
It turns out... The Zone defense is Kryptonite. Man to Man this team can play with anyone I believe. However... Cal-Poly, Oregon and Pacific U. realized that and didn't cooperate and went to the zone and that proved to be a problem.
The Zone defense for those who don't know what it is... The Oversimplified explanation of it is this... The player guards an area and not a single player. If the ball comes into your zone... You step out and guard that player and ball... When the ball leaves your zone... you go back to watching the action in your assigned zone.
The Zone defense tends to force a team to shoot from the outside more because it's much harder to set a screen on a player to free up the open shot since the defense will simply rotate a defender into where the ball moves. You can't move defenders around by moving your offensive players around like you can with a man to man.
You have to be more patient and move the ball around to beat it and according to reports that I read from Oregon. UND didn't have the patience to make the extra pass and they didn't have the outside shot falling to take advantage of the zone. It led to a rough weekend as UND was beaten by double digits in 3 games against very good teams.
It certainly didn't live up to my lofty expectations. I was noticing better long range shooting in the 3 games I watched going into Oregon. It's a group of Seniors who have beaten a zone before and know how to do it. I didn't think a zone would knock them down and it did.
No worries... Coach Jones and the players are probably aware that the zone is going to be very popular against them for a while since it worked so well in Oregon. Future opponents will have seen the tapes. The coaching staff and players will be lazer focused on working against the zone and will start beating it. Once that happens... The Man to Man ability will still be there because of their athleticism and the team will become bullet proof. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.
And in Football action... The Minnesota Vikings beat Chicago... I gotta say that I want the Vikings to win and I want them to lose... I'm so conflicted right now... I don't even know how to watch the Vikings anymore. A win is what you want from your team but a loss gives them a better draft pick and a chance at a franchise QB for the future.
I found myself fighting with myself during the game. Here's an example of the thoughts in my mind watching during sudden death overtime.
C'mon Walsh... Split those uprights... Yes it's good... Game over... We win!!!
Dang it... That drops us down the draft board... We'll get like the 5th pick overall now... I don't want them to win anymore. Let's get that 1st pick with it in sight...
A Flag? A facemasking call... on a FG... Who's the idiot who grabbed a facemask... We had this game won. Now Walsh is going to have to kick a longer FG to win this one... 55 Yards... Wait... Wait... it's 3rd down... They can still run a play and get closer. Why is Walsh still on the field???
OK... Wait... this is good. Let them kick from over 50 yards on 3rd down. Chicago will get the ball in real good field position if they miss and we can lose and get a better draft position.
They are bringing the offense on the field to run a play... Thank God!!! No sense in trying one from that distance on third down... They can try to get closer... Well that didn't work... They lost yards on the play... It's going to take a 57 yarder to win it now.
Wait that's good...
Walsh can make this... He's got a great leg... It's no good... Dang it... not even close.
Of course... The Vikings went on to win the game despite the missed FG. As you can tell... I have no idea how to watch the Vikings anymore. The Vikings would draft 5th right now if the season ended today. If they would have lost to the Packers and Bears the past two weeks instead of a win and a tie. We would be tied with Houston for the 1st pick overall... Yet the Win still felt pretty good.
I'm probably gonna have to stop watching them or it's going to be a short drive to the mental institution for me.
I tend to write a lot of words in my blog so before I get to my thoughts... I don't want to bury the lead. Here's the most important message:
Fill the Betty this year... Don't waste this... Don't stay home because you are not in the habit of going. Break that habit and come watch this UND Men's Basketball Team play. In a nutshell... Tickets to watch this team should be competed for. Every game should be sold out and UND Fans should have disapointed people who didn't get tickets because they didn't plan ahead. The Betty seats a little over 3,000 and those seats should be gone and not available right now. It doesn't matter who they are playing.
I know I'm over-hyping them right now... I will be doing that all year... but... Here's the deal... Grand Forks hasn't seen anything like this before. This team is not only a serious consideration for Big Sky Champions and the NCAA tournament. They are a strong consideration for winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament.
I'm saying... You have Duke, Kansas, Michigan State at the very top level of College Basketball and the next level... right below that is where the University of North Dakota slots in. I know that sounds like over-hyping... but these guys are that good!
I remember fairly decent size crowds back in the glory days of Division II. It was good basketball to watch and the teams were good... but it's nothing like this. The talent level of those talented Division II squads isn't even close to comparable to this year's team.
I remember when Kansas came to town in 2002 and played before 13,280 fans at the Ralph. UND was going to get crushed in that game... everyone knew it and 13,280 people came out to watch it. I'm guessing that they wanted to see Kansas because of the talent level.
Well... UND has a talent level this year that is very close to that Kansas squad and they are here all year... and... Only 3,000 plus seats to fill in the Betty.
This squad is going places and they deserve your loud support! Don't let this group of Seniors leave town without them knowing you are here.
Some additional thoughts about yesterday's drubbing of NDSU.
I hate praising the Bison in anything but I will say this... They have a very good basketball team.
NDSU recieved 25 out of 28 first place votes in the Summit League pre-season poll. They were the overwhelming Summit League favorites. The Big Sky doesn't out rank the Summit league in overall talent. It can be argued that the Summit may be the stronger conference.
NDSU can not only give Southern Mississippi a game... They can give Northwestern a Game... Colorado... Colorado State. NDSU can play.
Yesterday's win wasn't a case of NDSU playing badly... It wasn't even a case of UND Playing out of their heads. It was a case of UND being across the board better and better by a fairly large margin. And... It was a case of UND knowing that they were better before the day started and having no doubt about it. UND knew they were going to win. They knew it. You can see it when you look at them. This UND team knew when they left Madison Wisconsin on Tuesday Night.
They understood that the Badgers who have been one of the top defensive teams in the country for decades did not know how to stop them. They left Madison Wisconsin knowing that they can play with anyone... They left Madison knowing that the Badgers had to shoot 60% to beat them. They left Madison knowing that a 7-0 center was 6 for 6 from 3 point range and he couldn't ever do that again. They left Madison knowing that with improved Defense... THEY WOULD HAVE WON!
I said on Wednesday that I do not feel sorry for what is about to happen to NDSU. It happened to NDSU just like I said it would and now I'm saying UND will beat Oregon on Saturday!
The reason is this... UND is much more confident walking out of Madison than they were walking into Madison. They now know they can play with Oregon and they are respectful of the talent that Oregon has.
The Bison faithful were shocked by UND yesterday... It's OK... They think NDSU is the team in this state... They simply didn't know what UND is... They still may think it was luck or something the Bison did wrong... That's OK... They will learn as the season goes on.
However... I want to make sure that Grand Forks understands what is here. Let Fargo under estimate... Let Fargo think what they want about the Bison. Just don't do it in Grand Forks... It's time to believe... Fill that Betty... Be a part of this. Make the Betty a home team advantage. Don't rely on others to do it.
Last night... Troy Huff had a national coming out party. Troy Huff is already considered to be one of the top players in the Big Sky but last night Troy Huff scored 37 points against one of the best basketball teams in the country and he did it on the Big Ten Network broadcast around the United States. He just put his name up toward the top of some national lists... including lists compliled by NBA scouts... Scouts who are going to have to scramble now to find out who he is.
Troy Huff couldn't be stopped by a team that historically stops people. The Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan had to watch the performance of the Milwaukee native Troy Huff and wonder how he let that guy slip away from his backyard.
UND put together an impressive offensive performance against Wisconsin last night.
I don't know how many of you watched the game on the Big Ten network. If you didn't... The Final score was: Wisconsin 103 UND 85.
Now an 18 point loss doesn't read that impressive without context but there are some things/context that should be pointed out.
#1... Wisconsin is the 12th Ranked team in the Country. They were undefeated with victories over major basketaball programs Florida and St. John's prior to last nights game.
#2... Wisconsin didn't miss... They had to shoot an off the charts 60% from the field including 60% from three point range to beat UND. If they were not so unbelieveably hot shooting the basketball... They don't win this game.
#3... One Seven Footer in Frank Kaminsky had to have the game of his life scoring 43 points. 17-19 from the field and 6-6 from 3 point range to overcome UND's Troy Huff having the game of his life.
#4... Teams don't score 85 points against Wisconsin. That includes teams like Duke and Michigan!
#5... Nearly every statistic was a draw... Rebounds, Turnovers... A draw.
I'm sure Coach Jones and his staff are going to be talking about defense with the team after allowing 103 points. It's quite possible that defense was an issue in allowing Wisconsin to shoot 60% but these guys will work on it. The defense will get better day by day.
This team is motivated and it has the horses in place and talented, experienced depth. You better believe that the tape of that game is being passed around the Big Sky and the coaches are a little concerned about it. Bo Ryan commented that his team had to score because they couldn't stop UND.
And Troy Huff... Wow!!! Remember Jerome Beasley... Forget about him... Come see Troy Huff.
Get your tickets now... Make UND Men's Basketball a consideration this year. It's going to be special and you shouldn't miss it... Be a part of it.
The Bison come to town on Sunday. There is no reason to feel sorry for NDSU and what is about to happen to them this weekend.
As rumored UND Football head coach Chris Mussman was let go yesterday.
Thanks Coach for your time here at UND. You were the one who led this program through the transitition. You were the one who coached and recruited the squad out of the transistion hole amidst nickname issues and conference uncertainity. I tip my hat to you and I wish you nothing but the best.
Life isn't always fair and I'm sure the decision was very difficult for Athletic Director Brian Faison but it's quite possible that he didn't have a choice in the matter.
Why... Because the Fans were leaving at halftime and by the end of the year... They didn't even show up for the start of the game. When the fans leave early... it sends a message. When the number of fans inside the Alerus against Northern Colorado is a smaller number than the amount of season tickets sold... it sends a message. It sends a message that it may be time to worry a little about the amount of season tickets you are going to sell next year. If selling tickets to your football program is an issue... it becomes an issue for every sports team in the athletic department because the other programs rely on football and hockey revenue.
It can be debated what level of success should be expected for a football program in it's 2nd year of the Big Sky conference. In fact... I will respectfully debate that with anyone if they'd like.
Recruiting in football isn't like recruiting in Basketball. 24 players(kicker/punter included) make up a starting line up in football in comparison to 5 in basketball. It's a rough sport so you have injured players to be replaced. You need depth and the football teams you are recruiting against have a large amount of scholarships to hand out because they also need depth and that will constantly drain the talent pool and when you have the transition, nickname issue and conference issue hanging over your recruiting pitches it puts you in a hole to dig out of because each talented football player has choices.
In Basketball... there are simply more talented basketball players looking for a home and less scholarships to offer. Duke, Witchita State, Utah State, everyone... They just can't keep every talented player on their roster. The scholarships are less per team and basketball expense opens the door for more athletes to play it. Talent will filter down.
In football... They can keep everyone on their roster because of the depth needed. Talented athletes that could do quite well at UND will choose to go to Auburn and never see the field in football.
Anyway... That's really not the issue... The Issue is... People were leaving at halftime. I'm guessing this was the fate of Chris Mussman. In the end... I'm sure Brian Faison made the best decision. I look forward to a new coach and the 2014 season. I'll miss the guy and I think it's possible that Brian Faison will miss him to.
Speaking of Basketball... Madison Wisconsin the location... UND takes on the Wisconsin Badgers in Basketball tonight. I had to double check because the Grand Forks Herald didn't mention it in the sports page today. Apparently Chris Mussman knocked them off the page.
I'm not crazy enough to say that UND will win tonight... But I'm crazy enough to say that they might win tonight or at least give them a game. The UND Men's basketball team can play. Wisconsin can also play and I'm sure the oddsmakers are thinking blow out. I know Wisconsin is a real strong team so a blow out may happen but don't be surprised if it doesn't.
The UND Football team finished the season with a disapointing loss to Cal Davis on Saturday and that disapointing loss capped off a disapointing year. That's a basic broad stroke fact and it can't be disputed.
Now the rumors are swirling that UND maybe looking for a new coach. Those rumors have not subsided after AD Brian Faison did not comment on a direct question about it. I hope everyone understands that Brian Faison can't comment on it and nothing should be read into the no comment.
I want to be clear that I am a Chris Mussman supporter and I also want to be clear that I am a Brian Faison supporter. So my opinion on the subject is going to be very wishy washy.
In the end... I think Brian Faison will be measured in the decision making process and I think Brian Faison will make the correct decision and I will sleep at night either way. I'm simply going to trust Brian Faison.
These decisions go beyond the results on the field. They are about personal relationships inside the UND walls, they are about the overall health of the entire athletic department... They are about information that you and I do not have exposure to.
We can all give our opinions on what play was called and we can all give our opinions on the results on the field. The final scores of all games are printed for all to see. We attended the games and we watched the end result of each.
I like Coach Mussman... He has been one of us since 2000. I will be very happy to see him back next year. If I run into him... I will shake his hand and thank him. I want UND to do well and I know that he wants UND to do well. This makes him the leader of my team as a fan.
In defense of Coach Mussman... I would like to point out that the UND Football program has just completed year 2 of actually being eligible for a championship of any kind. In my mind... this is an important point to consider. Most players are redshirted which means that most Seniors are 5th year athletes. That means all of the upper classmen... The Seniors, Juniors and even the Sophomores were recruited to the university during years that they were not eligible to win a championship because of the transistion period. We all remember the transistion period... Moving from Division II to Divions I... The transition period was real and it would have a real effect on a football program recruitment of players. It's a handicap and I think everyone can come to grips with that if they thought about it without the disapointment of this year clouding it.
If you are an athlete do you take the offer from Program A who is eligible to win something or Program B who is not? For anyone who wants to lay this at the feet of the head coach. OK... But please consider that handicap and please consider the difficulty it would cause and see if it tempers your indignation a little. I know it does for me. When I look at everything... I expected more this year but I also expected less last year. I think they deserve more time because we are only 2 years into the Big Sky. I guess I don't understand the expectation that we should walk into the Big Sky and immediately pull past those programs with a much larger head start.
When it comes to Brian Faison... He's in a tough spot as well. Attendance at Football games fell hard this year. Faison is responsible for keeping the football program floating financially... along with the Golf Teams, The Swim Teams... All of them. The Golf team for example does not bring in attendance revenue. The revenue needed to fly the Golf team to California comes from a variety of sources but you better believe that Football revenue is extremely important and if that has fallen and it has judging by the attendance... That puts him in a very tough spot. So... if the fan base is not supporting Chris Mussman... it will have a domino effect on the entire athletic department.
I hope Coach Mussman is back next year... If he is not... I trust that the decision will be made after consideration of all the things that need to be considered.
Basically... as fans... It's our support of the Football team that matters... As fans... Ask yourself if your timeline of expected results is reasonable.