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.
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.
The UND Men's Basketball Team gets the season started tonight and I am legitmately excited about the possibilities this year.
I'm so excited that I'm making the call right now... So everyone can see it. UND will win the Big Sky this year. Yeah... I'm Bold!!!
I've been watching this Senior class since they were freshmen and they have been special since they were freshmen.
Senior: Troy Huff is a serious candidate for Big Sky player of the year.
Senior: Jamal Webb is an experienced, smart, talented floor general at the point.
Senior: Aaron Anderson is as quick as anybody in the conference and capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor.
Senior: Josh Schuler is a veteran with outside shooting ability.
Senior: Brandon Brekke is a hard nosed guy in the post with some decent post moves. Hopefully Brandon's concussion issues don't impede him.
This group has been together and successful since they were freshmen and they have been a treat to watch play over the past 3 years. The 4th year is going to be awesome.
In addition to that group... Alonzo Traylor and Jaron Nash are also seniors and by all reports... very solid basketball players. We saw Alonzo for a month or so last year before he was shut down and he showed me enough that it's OK to assume that he will be a solid contributor this year. Jaron Nash is a transfer from Texas Tech and his eligibility to play for UND has been much anticipated. The coaches and players know what Nash can do and they have been waiting patiently for Jaron to be eligible... He's eligible now.
In addition to those 7 Seniors... That's right 7 talented Seniors who know that they are Seniors and this is the last chance. So... That's 7 talented and motivated Seniors... In addition to those 7 seniors... Lenni Antwi and Shane Benton return and both have the ability to play solid supporting roles on this team.
In addition to that... Two 6-9 JUCO Transfers have been added in Chad Calcaterra and Ryan Salmonson. I haven't seen them play but size was a need and having a couple of bigs could allow Coach Jones to tailor the matchups when facing other teams with size. At the very least... they should be able to provide a difficulty for opposing teams trying to work the ball down low.
In addition to that... Quinton Hooker. Quinton is a true freshmen from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He was one of the top Basketball players in the state of Minnesota last year. By all reports... He was a gem of a recruit... Quinton is the real deal and I'm sure Coach Jones is having a hard time deciding between redshirting Hooker or putting him on the floor immediately because... by all reports... Quinton has shown the ability to play with this group from the get go.
If UND Doesn't win the Big Sky conference... In my mind... There will be two reasons that they won't.
1. Weber State... Weber State is very good... Very Good and they just keep reloading.
2. Free Throws... They improved at the line last year but I'll be honest... Free Throws haven't been a strong point and Free Throws a lot of the time is the difference between Wins and Losses.
I think points 1 and 2 can be overcome. 7 talented motivated Seniors one on squad is something very few teams have. This team has enough depth to overcome the injuries that will happen over the course of a season... whatever they may be. The lineup is large enough to be flexible to play any type of game and play it well and the athleticism of this team is off the charts. Huff and Anderson are athletes. They are quick... They can run... They can jump.
If the team understands that it's a team game and that their teammates can help them. The Sky is the Limit... or should I say the Big Sky is not the limit. The NCAA Tourney is a very real possibility. I hope they are able to take that offensive energy that they have and maintain it while growing it into a constant defensive energy as well. If the team takes pride in making defensive stops against a challenging schedule... This is going to be a great year.
The schedule is also perfect in my mind. In addition to what will always be a challenging Big Sky schedule. UND will play Wisconsin, Oregon, Butler and Bowling Green on the road while hosting South Dakota State and NDSU at home. That's 6 quality non-conference opponents that win or lose will provide elevated competition that will only make the team stronger as the year goes on. Wisconsin, Oregon and Butler not only compete in the Big Ten, Pac 12 and Big East respectively but they are considered to be near the top of those conferences. NDSU and SDSU have both participated in March Madness over the past few years and I think UND has the potential to pull off an upset over Wisconsin, Oregon or Butler and I think they can beat Bowling Green, SDSU and... and... NDSU.
Winning the Big Sky is a bold statement so I ask for a little wiggle room. The Wiggle Room I ask for is this. UND will either win the regular season conference title or the Big Sky Tourney Title or both. Either title will count toward my prediction.
As UND fans... It doesn't matter the sport... we've been looking for a team that has the pieces and the potential for everything to fall into place. This team is that exactly. Don't miss watching this team play this year. Fill the Betty for home games... it's going to be a special year. This team is entertaining to watch. Be a part of it. I know I'm excited... Can you tell?
The UND Football victory over Northern Colorado felt good. At this point of the season and with the records of both teams going into the game. Honestly... It was just a game on the schedule. Neither team is going to be playing any playoff football. This was a game on the schedule to be played and the result mattered to the players who work hard in practice every day and show up to play like the result matters. For the players and coaches... The win felt good I'm sure.
The Crowd was light... I've noticed lighter crowds every year around this time... by this time... I mean deer hunting time. On Saturday... The Crowd was as light as I've seen it. It wasn't just deer hunting or the North Dakota wind that bugged you as you walked from the car to the Alerus that thinned the crowd to this extent. Let's be honest... The main problem was a string of better attended large home losses. South Dakota State, Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington and Sacremento State. The Game wasn't important to the fans who didn't attend but to win a game at home this year did matter to the team and for those of us who showed up.
There was a weird moment in the game at the beginning of the 2nd half. A special teams breakdown... maybe?... A moment that had all the potential to be a game changing moment.
UND started the 2nd half with the ball and down 7-6. They drove to 34 yard line and were stopped. Zeb Miller came on to attempt a 51 yard FG for UND and the kick was blocked. In typical fashion after a blocked kick... You see a lot of Northern Colorado players motioning and I assume yelling to stay away from the ball. If they touch it... UND could recover the ball and keep possession. So... Everyone just kind of stood around... away from the ball. This included UND players and I'm not sure why UND players were standing around exactly. I can't be sure but I think a few of them were actually walking off the field assuming that the play was over. I don't know if they were walking off the field or not because I assumed the play was over as well... because everyone was standing around and the ball was just kind of rolling to a stop.
One player from Northern Colorado just decided to pick up the ball and start running and the ball is live so it is completely within his right to pick up the ball and start running. He took off toward the Northern Colorado sideline which was smart because most of the UND team was near the UND Sideline. I assume they were all near the UND sideline because I assume...They were walking off the field.
I know... it's a lot of assumptions being made by me. I honestly don't know... I was watching the ball roll to a near stop when all of sudden they started running with the ball. The end result was a 40 plus yard return on a blocked FG and a very short field for Northern Colorado that produced a touchdown and a 14-6 lead. When Northern Colorado scored again shortly after for a 21-6 lead. It looked like that special teams breakdown was going to be a key moment in another loss.
Thankfully... UND came back. That sharp momentum shift didn't seal anything. UND fought back and won it.
Greg Hardin set a couple of records in the game. He is the new all time career leader in receptions and receiving yards after breaking both records during the game. It was Greg's final home game and while I don't want to ignore the other seniors who played their final game at the Alerus Center. I do want to specifically mention Greg. Greg has been a special talent and perhaps the finest WR I've seen wear the Green and White. It's been a complete treat to watch him play. He has hands and he has that extra gear that very few have. Greg Hardin #84. The best WR in the Big Sky and everyone in the Big Sky knows it.
Northern Arizona beat UND 48-27 on Saturday. I was able to watch the game and that was an unexpected treat but the outcome wasn't much of a treat.
When it comes to the football team... I'm not sure what to say other than... I feel real bad for them. When I look at the team as a whole this year... It's hard to put your finger on one thing. The easy way to explain my thoughts is this way. The team simply has failed to put together that one complete game against tough competition.
They haven't had a game where the Offense clicked and the Defense clicked at the same time. Even the special teams had a game that cost them in the end. Every game it seems to be one thing that falls apart and it's different each game and it's hard to correct a moving target in my opinion.
Early in the year... It was the defense. South Dakota State, Montana and Montana State came to Grand Forks and did what they wanted against the D. Then the D started playing better... All reports were that they did a nice job in their win over Idaho State on the road and then they came back home to face a tough Eastern Washington and you could see that defensive improvement. Unfortunately... by the time the defense started playing better... The Offense stopped working to it's potential and the offense continued to struggle as the weeks went by.
On Saturday... The offense didn't do anything on the ground but Ryan Bartels did a nice job throwing the ball and Kenny Golladay was a force and the offense looked decent... but surprise... surprise... the defense just couldn't get the stop that was needed when it was needed.
When I step back and try to take a 1,000 foot view... It's OK... The Big Sky is a tough conference and we are just a couple of years into being playoff eligible. The upper classman playing on this team were recruited during a time when we were not eligible to play for a championship. That's a point that needs to be considered strongly.
We have Freshmen QB's with talent but freshmen none the less. I can feel everyone's frustration but better days are ahead. This thing wasn't going to happen overnight. Even if it looked like it might last year.
As for the Hockey team getting swept at home by St. Cloud State. My immediate thought was this... St. Cloud State was good.
UND didn't generate a bunch of chances but I thought St. Cloud State had some talent on the blue line and they just did a great job keeping us away from scoring chances. I also thought UND did a good job doing the same to St. Cloud State. It was pretty good hockey all around. UND lost both games because of momentary breakdowns and St. Cloud was able to capitalize on those breakdowns. Both of those games could have easily turned out 0-0 because the defense for both teams were that solid. Get used to it... not the losing part but get used to the tight matches against quality hockey teams. The NCHC is going to be tough competition every week.
The Vikings... I didn't see the game but they lost again. The Draft Pick in 2014 gets better and better.
It's been a great World Series so far. The Series is tied 2-2 with plenty of drama to go around. I'm pulling for the Cardinals but who wins really doesn't matter much to me. World Series Baseball is always good stuff.
I've made this point before and I'll make it again.
While watching the World Series... Watch the emotions of the players. Watch the intensity, Watch the players on the top step of the dugout glued to every pitch. Pitchers will fist pump when they get a strikeout... Players will physcially plead with umpires over all close calls because the call matters so much that they can taste it.
Here's my point to be made again... When you watch the World Series... does it look like Game 96 of the regular season? It doesn't... not even close... So... When you purchase a ticket for a game in July... You are getting ripped off because the players that you watch are nowhere near this level of intensity in July and clearly capable of so much more. You are not getting full value.
Allen Craig was tripped by Will Middlebrooks who was diving for a ball. In June... Will Middlebrooks probably doesn't dive for that ball. During the regular season... you get a lot of ho hum baseball. The guys are not on the top step of the dugout. Watch the World Series and think back to July... The difference is striking and obvious.
The Vikings were dropped by the Packers last night 44 to 31. That score is much closer than the game actually was. Yeah Ponder... Looked terrible once again but someway the Vikings do seem to put some points on the board.
The main problem is that they can't seem to score as many points as the defense gives up. Once again... An NFL Team marched up and down the field on our defense. AP can't be counted on to catch us up when we get down big... That has to be done through the air. I think AP is a much bigger factor with a defense that gets a stop every once in awhile.
UND dropped a heartbreaker to Portland State on Saturday... I didn't see the game so I didn't get to eyeball what happened but I was listening to the game and by the sound of it. The defense continues to make some amazing improvements since the start of the season.
Going into the game... Portland State was one of the top ranked offenses in the Big Sky. UND shut them down defensively and held a 10-0 lead in the 4th quarter. That's a great achievement in itself. It should have led to a victory but the special teams coughed up the lead. Back to back punts with less than 10 minutes to go led to two easy touchdowns and that was all she wrote. One punt was blocked and the next punt after that was dropped/mishandled by the punter. Portland State went on to win the game 14-10.
I'm very pleased by the strides the defense is making but the offense is still not firing on all cyclinders and now there was a special teams breakdown. Next Saturday it's Northern Arizona in Flagstaff Arizona. I hope the boys can win this one... because they are in need of a win... Just to feel better about the work they have putting in and that work is starting to show on defense.