Friday, December 10, 2010

First real road test for MSU basketball

The Minnesota State men's basketball team plays road games at 7:30 p.m. today at Concordia-St. Paul and 6 p.m. Saturday at St. Cloud State. It's the first real test of the season as the Mavericks have opened the seaosn with six victories.
Concordia-St. Paul has some size so that may cause problems for the undersized Mavericks, and St. Cloud State has strong perimeter players, such as Taylor Witt, Brett Putz and Andrew Bernstetter. Saturday's matchup is clearly better against the Huskies.
As was written in the print edition Friday, this is a different Minnesota State team, built on defense and toughness. There's a lot less flash and more grit on the team, and the likelihood of the 94-88 type games is far less. Look for more scores in the 60s and 70s.
It's easy to have watched the last four home games and conclude that this team isn't as talented as past Minnesota State squads, but the Mavericks are winning differently. Coach Matt Margenthaler was asked last week if this was the best defensive team he's had in 10 seasons at Minnesota State, and the answer was a quick "yes."
Maybe ask Augustana's Cody Schilling, who scored only six points against the Mavericks last week. Witt is one of the premier players in the Northern Sun, and he's struggled against the Mavericks at times.
There might not be as many highlight-reel plays, but the success has been the same. You just have to adjust the way you evaluate this team's performance.

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