« NDSU Bison

Won't Win A Popularity Contest

by Dan Gunderson

I wrote a blog post last week explaining what questions the 2013-14 North Dakota State University men’s basketball team had to answer this season. I’m excited about this year’s team because they have been so well put together by head coach Saul Phillips and they play solid, fundamental basketball.

I noticed that many of those who read my posts decided not to read the post on the men’s basketball team. I’ll be honest, it bothered me. It made me wonder why a team that could possibly be going to the NCAA tournament this year is not generating a major amount of buzz.

This team should be as popular as the 2008-09 version that ended up going to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Then, it hit me. This team will NEVER be as popular as that team for three very distinct reasons.

1) The football team at NDSU is good.

Back in 2008, the Bison football team went 6-5 after going 10-1 the season prior. Everybody thought NDSU would be able to coast into the playoffs and make some noise in their first year of post-season eligibility. When it was quickly found out this would not be the case, fans began to lose interest.

With less interest in one sport, the fans turned their attention to a team they knew would be good, the men’s basketball team. That is not the case this year. The Bison football team looks to be on their way to defending their back-to-back national titles. This means that the men’s basketball team will not start receiving much fan attention until about late January.

2) This team is too boring.

If you like 65-55 games, you are going to LOVE this team. Reality is offense creates buzz in basketball. Defense is boring. This team plays really, really good defense.

When people went to go watch in 08-09, they saw an offensive juggernaut compared to what this year’s team can do offensively. That season’s team averaged nearly 81 points per game. This season’s team had a game last year they lost 49-36.

3) They don’t have Ben Woodside.

As a sophomore in college, when I would go to games at the Bison Sports Arena, I never really cared about the opposing team or who was on it. All I cared about was watching Ben Woodside. The guy was special in the way that you will be talking about him for decades. This year’s team does not have that.

Sure, Taylor Braun might be the closest thing, but at 6’7” you expect him to do some unbelievable stuff. Woodside was listed at 5’11” (generously) so you didn’t expect him to do what he did on the basketball court. He defied basketball logic and nearly beat the University of Kansas single-handily. He was, and still is, what you think about when you hear NDSU men’s basketball.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.