UMD Men’s Basketball ranked No. 1 in NSIC after last year’s Elite Eight appearance

Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 10:53 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) men’s basketball team is coming into the season with high expectations after the first Elite Eight appearance in school history has them selected to win the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) in their preseason poll.

The Bulldogs went 26-10 overall and 16-6 in the conference but lost the NSIC Tournament in the championship game against Minnesota State University, Moorehead.

In the postseason the men won the NCAA Central Region Championship to move on to the Elite Eight where they lost to No. 3 Black Hills State.

UMD will have a lot of experience coming into the season with all five starters returning to the team including graduate student Drew Blaire who was selected as the NSIC Preseason Player of the Year after being a D2CCA All-Region Second Team selection and an All-NSIC first-team selection the past two seasons.

Blaire led the Bulldogs in scoring at 19.9 points per game which was enough for fourth in the conference last season. Balire currently has 2,018 career points which puts him 28 points away from breaking the UMD program record of 2,045 points set by Brandon Myer from 2016-19.

Even though he’s had a great career the guard has been focused on the season ahead.

“Coming back, we’re just hungry for more. We wanted to attack this preseason hard, knowing that we know what it takes to get there but at the same time, it’s a whole other level once we got there,” said Blaire. “We definitely know what it’s like, but we knew we had to go harder and take everything to another level, so specifically this fall has been really good.”

The coaching staff realized this vision and has had a different focus during the preseason after a busy summer for the team that included a trip to play against teams in Spain.

”We got enough basketball in the summer, most of these guys have played 130 or 150 games by now, so it’s less about grinding in a single practice in September,” said Head Coach Justin Wieck. “I wanted to make sure our guys’ bodies were feeling really good, so a lot more weight room stuff than usual, a little less basketball, and then we’ve been able to crank it up here starting last week.”

The men have over two weeks to prepare for their season-opening exhibition game against UW-Eau Claire at Romano Gymnasium at 1 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Click here to download the Northern News Now app or our Northern News Now First Alert weather app.