Jimmies face steep conference road testsPreseason pub can be a tricky thing, but so far the Jamestown College men’s basketball team has met the high expectations many had for them. First-year coach Matt Murken has blended a handful of new players with a solid returning core and has resulted in 12 wins in 16 games as Dakota Athletic Conference play starts for real this weekend in South Dakota.
Preseason pub can be a tricky thing, but so far the Jamestown College men’s basketball team has met the high expectations many had for them.
First-year coach Matt Murken has blended a handful of new players with a solid returning core and has resulted in 12 wins in 16 games as Dakota Athletic Conference play starts for real this weekend in South Dakota.
“I’m happy with the day-to-day effort our guys continue to play with and we’ve been able to have some success,” Murken said. “It’s never easy to adapt to a new coach and a new system and those types of things, but our guys have been really receptive to what we want to do.
“We’re still not a finished product, but guys are buying into the system we want to run and we’re making good progress day-to-day and week-to-week.”
The layoff the JC men had is much shorter than the women’s team, which has not played since Dec. 19 heading into tonight’s doubleheader against South Dakota Mines in Rapid City.
The Jimmie men went 2-1 at the Wesmen Classic in Canada, and other than spending December in Winnipeg, instead of, say, Florida — where the Jimmie women played — it was a productive trip, although the return home was challenging with blizzard conditions blanketing much of the region Dec. 30-Jan. 1.
“It was good to get three games in three days,” Murken said. “We didn’t play very well the first game-and-a-half, but I thought we got back into what we needed to do the last game-and-a-half and played pretty well on both ends of the floor.”
The next two days will be about as tough a back-to-back as there is in the DAC.
South Dakota Mines is 8-7, but nearly beat D-I UND in Grand Forks Dec. 30, blowing a late lead in that one.
Saturday, sixth-ranked Black Hills State awaits in Spearfish. The Yellow Jackets (13-3) are the preseason favorites and have essentially the same team for the fourth straight year.
The game will feature several of the top players in the league: C.J. Peeters, Travis Burley and Byron Jones for the Jimmies and Black Hills State veterans Luke Enos, Cain Atkinson, Will John Johnson and Clay Pottorff.
“Mines is a physical, well-coached team and then you follow that up with a top 10 team,” Murken said.
But the JC coach isn’t complaining.
“The good thing about it is everybody has to do it. We all have to go on tough road trips,” he said.
With the DAC deep from top to bottom, holding serve at home is crucial — the Jimmies already lost once at the Civic Center, meaning they need to steal one somewhere, but that will be no small feat.
“Right now coaches are preaching, ‘protect your home court,’” Murken said. “Every other coach is saying, ‘steal one on the road.’
“We’re looking at two tough games, but that’s why you come to a place like Jamestown College. You know you’re going to play really good teams. It’s exciting and our guys are looking forward to the challenge.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com