by Sara Folkestad, UND Athletic Media Relations 

 

Daniel Harkins has had a rollercoaster basketball career for the University of North Dakota.

 

The 6-3 guard averaged 7.6 points per game as a freshman only to miss his entire sophomore season and struggled his junior year due to an injury. Now as a senior, he is looked upon to be an impact player as the Fighting Sioux transition into NCAA Division I.

 

He has met the challenge every time.

 

Currently, Harkins is leading the team in scoring with an average of 14.7 ppg, and also grabs 4.5 rebounds per game. He also leads the team in minutes, clipping 29.3 per game. Harkins says he considers his greatest strengths as a player to be his ability to beat his man initially and make the extra pass to a teammate. He also says he’s good at encouraging his other teammates.  

 

Harkins, who came to UND on a “gut feeling”, says his role on the team this year is different than in years past.

 

“This year, I am looked to be more of somebody who will set the tone for the team and lead in different ways," Harkins said. "Whereas in the past, I played more of a supporting role on the team.” 

 

Having played the game competitively since 5th grade, he knew right away he wanted to continue in the sport, but wasn’t sure of the extent. That feeling has led him to UND.

 

The team has gotten off to a good start this year, starting with a big win down at Division I Missouri-Kansas City, a Summit League team, to open the season, and winning the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Tournament over Thanksgiving. Harkins noted a few keys to the success of the team.

 

“The keys to the success of the team are No. 1, to have fun," Harkins said. "There aren’t many winning teams that don’t have fun, and there are not many losing teams that do. If we do that, the rest will come. And second, our chemistry on the team will allow us to be successful. We’re a tight group with both new guys and seniors, and we all get along.”

 

Harkins also says the toughest part of being a basketball player is the offseason.

 

“Once the season ends," he said, "we have a week or two off to recharge your batteries and then we get back at it. We lift and do conditioning four days a week in the off season, and it’s emotionally draining.”

 

He also says the team is expected to win and to set the tone for the future of Division I. He says they need to start the journey off on the right foot.

 

The Sioux do play a good mix of both new Division I opponents this season, as well as some familiar opponents from the past that are not Division I. Some of the Division I opponents the Sioux will face include:  Texas A & M, Northern Iowa, Northern Colorado, and Wisconsin-Green Bay.

 

Harkins says there are new teams, but the old rivalries are still there, and it’s important to beat the familiar teams and start new rivalries with the new teams on the schedule. He also singled out a series with South Dakota as one rivalry he’s looking forward to continuing. The Sioux have had a long rivalry with USD and beat them on their home court last season and play them this year for a home-and-home series.

 

Emotionally draining or not, the men’s basketball team is looking to start Division I on a high note. A full slate of games is ahead for the Sioux, including three home games slated before the holiday break against Valley City State on Dec. 10, Jamestown on Dec. 13, and Dickinson State on Dec. 17.