Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO — Before Maren Walseth became a successful assistant coach at Penn State, she was one of the greatest high school players to ever come out of the state of Minnesota. North Dakota State is hoping that legacy of excellence carries over to its women’s basketball bench. The Bison hired the Lady Lions assistant to take over their program on Monday afternoon and will formally introduce her on Thursday. One by one, the connections to the area started to add up on Monday. Her sister, Annika Walseth, played one year for NDSU in 2007-08.
Former North Dakota State receiver Ryan Smith no longer has any eligibility and may be on the verge of signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. But the role Smith played will keep on giving as long as the Bison continue to run the West Coast offense. He created the footprint that NDSU will try to replicate for years. “He laid the foundation,” said freshman receiver Tyler Wrice.
FARGO — The Fargodome was lively on Tuesday night with a concert featuring the Christian group Casting Crowns. Outside the football team room on the lower level, the four young daughters of Dave and Stephanie Richman, all decked out in their Bison outfits, were playing like they had the world’s biggest playroom. The North Dakota State head men’s basketball coach torch was officially passed from one family to another. Out over the weekend to Ohio University was Saul Phillips with his wife and his three young kids.
King Frazier’s first three practices in a North Dakota State uniform were impressive. Unfortunately, that’s all the evaluation he’ll get from the Bison coaches. The sophomore running back will undergo scope surgery today to repair meniscus in his knee and will miss the rest of spring football. If it’s a partial tear, he may be out just two weeks, said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. That would still sideline him for the April 26 Spring Game, but it appears it would be the best-case scenario.
FARGO — In terms of hiring time, the Saul Phillips-to-Ohio University process was done in warp speed. The Bobcats hired the North Dakota State head men’s basketball coach, making it official on Saturday night, just one day after the first contact from Ohio was made to Phillips’ agent. It happened so fast that when Phillips left for the Final Four in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday, he had no clue that Ohio would even be in play. “No inkling whatsoever,” he said.
FARGO — The Fargodome played host to a rodeo last week and a circus this weekend. Those events and the animals that go with them are probably more at home to some players on the North Dakota State football team than others. Sophomore Landon Lechler, for instance, grew up on a farm five miles north of Beach, N.D. It wasn’t quite in Montana, but he could practically see it from there. The operation consisted of sheep, cows, wheat, corn and barley.
FARGO — If you’re going to fill big shoes in the North Dakota State defensive line, you might as well do it with guys who have big shoes. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing freshman Nate Tanguay, the heir apparent at defensive tackle, who stands 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds. He’s already No. 1 on the depth chart (that doesn’t mean he’s locked down a starting spot) even though he hasn’t played a down, and his best contribution last season came on scout team.
FARGO — There will be a presence from William Ryan, William Ryan II and William Ryan III at the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four this weekend in Arlington, Texas. Although not everybody will be at AT&T Stadium. When Ryan II, known in the basketball world as Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, was interviewed on national TV following the Badgers’ regional title win, it was obviously an emotional moment.
FARGO — The bus carrying football players from the University of Missouri was pulling up to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in early January when the starting right guard noticed familiar school colors. Connor McGovern saw some North Dakota State fans walking into the game. Leaving the field and heading into the locker room, he saw more of them. “There were some Bison fans there who had really good tickets to the Cotton Bowl,” McGovern said.
SPOKANE, Wash. – North Dakota State flew back to Fargo on Sunday with an airplane full of players, coaches, administrators, cheer team and band members – and a suitcase load of money. The NCAA tournament win over Oklahoma on Thursday meant a lot of national exposure for the men’s basketball program, but also an extra $35,000 from an NCAA tourney enhancement fund. The NCAA awards revenue using a system of units, with each win gaining a school one unit. Summit League commissioner Tom Douple said Sunday each unit is worth between $230,000 to $260,000 annually to the league.