Grand Forks, N.D. -- The 2016-17 men’s basketball season was certainly a year of firsts for the Fighting Hawks, who ended the campaign with a 22-10 record to go along with Big Sky regular season and tournament titles. The 20-win season was the first for UND at the Division I level (since 2008-09) and first since the 2004-05 team went 20-10 at the DII level.
Those efforts helped UND wind up in the final CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll for the first time in program history, finishing in the 23rd spot (complete poll).
UND capped its historic run with the program’s first NCAA DI Tournament berth after reaching the DII NCAA Tournament 19 times. The Fighting Hawks fell 100-82 to No. 2 seed Arizona in the opening round of the West Region.
The regular season title was the first for head coach Brian Jones in his 11 seasons and first for the program since the 1994-95 team shared the North Central Conference crown. The conference tournament title was the third for Jones, who has led UND to postseason tournament play in six of the last seven seasons.
Senior Quinton Hooker received many of the same accolades from his junior campaign, repeating as an All-Big Sky First Team selection and Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American after averaging 19.3 ppg. Hooker also defended his College Court Report Mid-Major Player Fan Vote title and captured Big Sky Tournament MVP after scoring 28 points in the title game vs. Weber State.
FIGHTING HAWK TRIO GARNERS BIG SKY RECOGNITION
RENO -- Senior Quinton Hooker along with sophomores Geno Crandall and Cortez Seales all earned recognition Monday by the Big Sky Conference for their contributions to the Fighting Hawks’ regular season title. UND set a Division I program record with 19 regular season victories with 14 of those coming in league action.
Hooker was one of three unanimous selections to the All-Big Sky first team as he landed a spot on that squad for the second-consecutive season. Crandall was selected by the league’s head coaches to the second team, while Seales was named the league’s Reserve of the Year.
Hooker closed out the regular season with a spectacular performance on Senior Day to lead the Fighting Hawks to their first conference title since the 1994-95 season. He scored 29 points and UND won the outright title with an 83-74 victory over Portland State.
Hooker surpassed the 1,700-point plateau in the victory and ranks seventh on UND’s all-time scoring charts with 1,704 career points. The 20-point plus game was his 14th of the season and the Brooklyn Park, Minn., native averaged 20.1 ppg in 18 league contests to go with 5.2 rpg and 3.3 apg.
He closed Big Sky play with 12-straight, double-figure scoring games and shot 49 percent from the field, 45 percent from 3-point range and 91 percent from the foul stripe.
Crandall gave UND a dynamic one-two punch in its backcourt, as he averaged a career-high 15.6 ppg and ranked fifth in Big Sky play in assists, averaging 4.3 apg. He had a pair of 31-point games in key league wins over Weber State and Southern Utah and finished with eight 20-plus point scoring games.
He shot 51 percent from the field in league play, which was tops among starting guards in the league, and his 39 steals in league action (2.2/g) were tied for the second most.
Seales averaged 6.3 ppg in his first nine Big Sky games, but came on strong in his final eight, averaging 13.3 ppg off the bench to help the Fighting Hawks go 7-1 in those contests that he played. He scored 21 points in the win over eventual second-place finisher Eastern Washington and added a season-high 23 during the overtime win at Northern Colorado. Seales is the second UND player to earn that accolade after Jamal Webb collected the same honor following the 2013-14 regular season.
ALL-BIG SKY CONFERENCE AWARDS
Jacob Wiley, Sr., Eastern Washington (unanimous)
Tyler Hall, So., Montana State (unanimous)
Quinton Hooker, Sr., North Dakota*# (unanimous)
Jeremy Senglin, Sr., Weber State#
Victor Sanders, Jr., Idaho
#Two-Time First Team selection
Bogdan Bliznyuk, Jr., Eastern Washington
Geno Crandall, So., North Dakota
Ahmaad Rorie, So., Montana
Randy Onwuasor, Jr., Southern Utah
Justin Strings, Jr., Sacramento State
Jordan Davis, So., Northern Colorado
Harald Frey, Fr., Montana State
Jordyn Martin, Sr., Northern Arizona
De’Sean Parsons, Sr., Portland State
Michael Oguine, So., Montana
BIG SKY INDIVIDUAL AWARD WINNERS
MVP: Jacob Wiley, Sr., Eastern Washington
Newcomer of the Year: Randy Onwuasor, Jr., Southern Utah
Freshman of the Year: Harald Frey, Fr., Montana State
Defensive Player of the Year: Jonah Radebaugh, Fr., Northern Colorado
Top Reserve of the Year: Cortez Seales, So., North Dakota
Coach of the Year: Brian Jones, North Dakota
HOOKER REPEATS AS CCR MID-MAJOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
It was a bigger field, but the same result for Quinton Hooker as North Dakota’s senior captain claimed his second-consecutive College Court Report Mid-Major Player of the Year Award on Monday. The first of Hooker’s back-to-back fan vote titles was in a 64-man field, but this season CCR officials expanded the field to 96 to include as many of the top Mid-Major players in the country as possible.
Hooker had a first-round bye during the seven-week voting process that saw more than 190,000 total votes be tallied. After that, he was never seriously challenged until his Final Four matchup against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Rashawn Thomas. He picked up nearly 62 percent of the votes against Thomas that were cast online, via Twitter and by liking photos of the individual athlete on CCR’s Facebook page.
In the finals, Hooker ended up outdistancing Wright State’s Mark Alstork by claiming almost 70 percent of the total votes casted on three platforms with a majority of those coming from the online portion, according to CCR officials.
Hooker and Alstork met up on the hardwood as well this season with the Raiders picking up a tightly-contested 83-79 victory on their home court in late November. Hooker had 18 points and five rebounds in the contest, while UND held Alstork to just 10 points (all free throws).
Here are Hooker’s round-by-round results by percentage of votes:
First Round: BYE
Second Round: def. Jordon Varnado (Troy), 70.77–29.23
Round of 32: def. Dallas Moore (North Florida), 71.96-28.04
Sweet 16: def. Joe Cremo (Albany), 73.24–26.76
Elite Eight: def. Trayvon Palmer (Chicago State), 72.16–27.84
Final Four: def. Rashawn Thomas (TAMU-Corpus Christi), 61.87–38.13
Finals: def. Mark Alstork (Wright State), 69.36–30.64
HOOKER REPEATS AS LOU HENSON ALL-AMERICAN
PHOENIX -- For the second-consecutive season, North Dakota senior guard Quinton Hooker was named to the Lou Henson All-America Team. Hooker was one of 30 Mid-Major players selected to the team and Monmouth’s Justin Robinson was recognized as the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year.
Hooker was one of 14 players on this year’s Lou Henson team that played in the 2017 NCAA Tournament as he led the Fighting Hawks to their first Big Dance. He scored 25 points in UND’s first-round loss to second-seeded Arizona.
Hooker was also a first team All-Big Sky performer for the second year in a row after averaging 19.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 3.6 apg in leading the Fighting Hawks to a Division I-program record 22 wins and the Big Sky regular season and tournament titles. He averaged 20.1 ppg in league play, helping UND win the conference with a 14-4 overall record.
Hooker is the second UND player to collect Lou Henson All-America honors in back-to-back seasons, joining former standout Troy Huff, who earned similar accolades in 2013 and 2014.
2017 BIG SKY LOU HENSON ALL-AMERICANS
Tyler Hall (Montana State)
Quinton Hooker (North Dakota)
Jacob Wiley (Eastern Washington)
HOOKER AND JONES EARN ALL-DISTRICT 6 RECOGNITION
KANSAS CITY – North Dakota head men’s basketball coach Brian Jones was named the NABC UPS All-District 6 Coach of the Year and senior Quinton Hooker was named to the All-District 6 Second Team on March 22. Jones and Hooker guided the Fighting Hawks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance at the Division I level.
Jones, who was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year, led his squad to the league’s regular season and tournament titles, while amassing a DI-program record 22 wins.
Hooker, who earned a spot on the team for the second-consecutive year, was one of six Big Sky players to land on the team that also featured four players from the Western Athletic Conference. The Brooklyn Park, Minn., native averaged 19.3 ppg during his final collegiate season and he moved into sixth place on UND’s all-time scoring charts, finishing his career with 1,787 points.
LAST TIME OUT: (2) Arizona 100, (15) North Dakota 82
SALT LAKE CITY – No. 2 seeded Arizona brought an end to a magical season for 15th-seeded North Dakota as the Wildcats defeated the Fighting Hawks 100-82 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. UND senior Quinton Hooker scored 25 points in his final collegiate game and junior Drick Bernstine added season-highs in points (20) and rebounds (15) to pace the Fighting Hawks (22-10), who played in front of 16,341 fans on the first full day of March Madness.
Bernstine was a force in the paint for the underdogs, but the taller Wildcats were too much to handle in the end. The Aurora, Colo., native had registered his fourth double-double of the season by halftime with 12 points and 10 boards. Unfortunately, the Wildcats came out scolding hot the from the field and built a 53-37 advantage by the break.
UND’s resiliency showed up in the second half, however, and the Fighting Hawks outscored the Wildcats 24-15 in the opening nine minutes of the second half to trim the deficit to 68-61.
After another defensive stop, Hooker had a 3-point attempt that hit high off the rim, but fell off. Kadeem Allen raced the ball down the court and converted a 3-point play that would spark a game-clinching run for Arizona. The Wildcats would get the next 12 points to push their advantage to 19 and end any thoughts of UND putting on the postseason event’s preverbial glass slipper.
Allen was one of five Wildcat starters to reach double figures. Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins each had 20 for Arizona, who built its 16-point lead at the break on the strength of 61 percent shooting from the floor. The Wildcats were also efficient at the free-throw line where they went 24-for-28, while UND had its struggles making only 8-of-16 attempts.
Sophomore Geno Crandall helped spark UND’s strong start to the second half as he finished with 12 points and had five of his game-high six assists and eight of his points after the break. Hooker’s fellow seniors Corey Baldwin (12) and Devon Pekas (3) also scored in their final games for UND. Baldwin went 4-for-9 from deep and two of those early connections had UND out to an early 10-7 advantage.
Hooker connected on 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and made his final attempt before being subbed out for the final time. Pekas, a walk-on from Hawley, Minn., capped the game’s scoring by burying a 3-pointer from the corner, while classmate Thomas Blake added two rebounds and an assist in his final court time for the Fighting Hawks.
Q AND COREY LAND ON ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Senior classmates Quinton Hooker and Corey Baldwin were both named to the All-Big Sky Tournament Team and Hooker collected Tournament MVP honors for their efforts in leading UND to the title. Hooker nearly exceeded his scoring output from the first two games (30) in the title game alone with a 28-point performance against Weber State. Baldwin posted the first double-double of his career in the quarterfinal victory (18 pts/10 rebs) over Portland State. Baldwin also went 11-for-16 from 3-point land in Reno and led the team in scoring in both the quarters and semis. He averaged 14.6 ppg and reached double figures in all three games.
Senior Corey Baldwin entered the Big Sky Tournament having made only three of 18 attempts from beyond the arc in the four games leading up to Reno. However, in the three tournament victories, Baldwin made 11-of-16 (68.8%). As a team, UND shot 47 percent from distance (25-for-53).
JONES IN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS
With the 2017 Big Sky Tournament title, head coach Brian Jones improved to 15-4 in DI conference tournaments since UND moved up divisions prior to the 2008-09 season. He has led six of those seven teams to the semifinals or further, including the 2011 and 2012 Great West Tournament titles. His teams are 8-3 in four Big Sky Tournament appearances.
UND’s last three regular season conference championship teams all had one things in common, each of them went undefeated in February (1990-91, 8-0 NCC; 1994-95, 7-0 NCC; and 2016-17, 6-0 BSC).
THE ONE AND ONLY
Senior Quinton Hooker is the only player in program history to score 1,700 points (1,787), grab 400 rebounds (494), dish out 400 assists (417) and net 150 steals (194) in a career.
HOOKER PASSES PHIL JACKSON, MOVES UP ASSIST CHARTS
With his 17-point and seven-assist performance in UND’s quarterfinal victory over Portland State (Mar. 9) at the Big Sky Tournament, senior Quinton Hooker moved into sixth place on the program’s all-time scoring chart and fourth on the all-time assist chart. Hooker passed former UND legend and current New York Knicks’ President Phil Jackson (1,704) on the scoring charts and became just the fifth player in UND history with 400-plus career assists.
GENO TAKES DOWN RENO
Sophomore guard Geno Crandall averaged 16.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 6.3 apg during UND’s three victories in Reno. He made timely shots throughout the tourament, but none were bigger than his layup with seven seconds to go in regulation against Weber State in the title game. The acrobatic effort throught traffic squared things up at 81-81. He was at his best in crunch time, helping UND erase a 10-point deficit in the final 7:26. Crandall scored eight of UND’s 20 points in that closing stretch and added four more points in overtime to seal the third victory of the season over Weber State. UND entered the season with a 1-9 all-time record against the Wildcats and had been knocked out of all three of its previous Big Sky Tournaments by them as well. Crandall helped change the momentum in the series by averaging 22.3 ppg against the Wildcats in those three victories, while senior Quinton Hooker added 24.0 ppg against his career-long nemesis.
JONES COLLECTS BIG SKY COACH OF THE YEAR ACCOLADE
RENO, Nev. – After leading the Fighting Hawks to their first regular season conference title at the Division I level, North Dakota men’s basketball head coach Brian Jones was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year on Wednesday. League officials made the announcement in Reno, Nev., on the off day for the men before play resumes again Thursday with four quarterfinal matchups.
Jones set a DI program record by leading his team to 19 regular-season wins and a 14-4 record in Big Sky play. “This is extremely humbling and I’m appreciative of the hard work that our staff and players put into this season,” Jones said. “This award is as much for them as it is me and is a byproduct of the special season we have had. I’m grateful to be honored by my peers.”
After winning just eight games two seasons ago, Jones has led UND to 17 and 19 wins, respectively, over the past two seasons and has the Fighting Hawks on the brink of their first 20-win season since the 2004-05 season.
UND enters the Big Sky Tournament after winning eight of its last 10, including an 82-73 victory on Saturday that clinched the first regular-season conference title for the program since sharing the North Central Conference crown in 1994-95.
The 2016-17 season also included the first regular-season sweep of defending Big Sky Champion Weber State and the 14 conference wins were the most in five seasons as a league member. With the regular season title in hand, Jones and his team will participate in a postseason tournament for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
UND’s 100-82 loss to Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament marked the only time this season that the Fighting Hawks lost when scoring 80 or more points in a game. UND won its first 16 games when reaching that point total. The Fighting Hawks were only 6-9 when being held below 80 points and dipped below 60 for just the second time this season in the 57-53 loss to Sacramento State (Mar. 2). UND was held to season lows for first-half points (23) and total points (57) by the Hornets.
UND owned a 14-0 record this season when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and opened the Big Sky Tournament with a 55.9 percent clip in the victory over Portland State (Mar. 2). The Fighting Hawks’ best effort from the field this season came in the home win over Weber State (Jan. 19) when they shot 56.6 percent from the field.
SIGNED, SEALES AND DELIVERED
Sophomore Cortez Seales, who was named the Big Sky Reserve of the Year, found his scoring groove late in the season. In the three games in Reno, Seales averaged 10.3 ppg. In his last 10 regular-season games, he averaged 12.7 ppg and reached double figures six times. Seales scored a season-high 23 points off the bench in the overtime win at Northern Colorado (Feb. 25). It was the third 20-point plus game of his career and first time he led UND in scoring since dropping 27 in his collegiate debut vs. Minnesota-Morris. In UND’s final three road wins of the season, he averaged 16.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg and shot 50 percent from the field (20-for-40).
UND improved to 4-0 this season in overtime contests with the four-point win over Weber State in the Big Sky title game (Mar. 11). Since moving to the Division I level (2008-09), the Fighting Hawks are 12-5 in overtime games. The Fighting Hawks ended last season with back-to-back overtime setbacks (Weber State; Big Sky Semis and UC-Irvine; CIT opening round).
With the 84-81 overtime win at Northern Colorado (Feb. 25), UND capped its first perfect February since the 1994-95 season by going 6-0. Those six victories included three wins on the road and three at home. The Fighting Hawks also started and ended the month with overtime wins against the Bears and won the only matchup with Eastern Washington this season, 95-86 at The Betty. The Eagles are currently a game behind UND in the Big Sky standings with road games at Southern Utah and Northern Arizona this week.
The month also included the program’s first victory over Weber State in Ogden -- a 77-68 victory on the 18th. That triumph vaulted UND into first place in the league standings. The Fighting Hawks now control their own destiny and will look for the program’s first conference title since that same 1994-95 team that went unbeaten in February shared the North Central Conference title.
UND finished the 2016-17 regular season with an 11-2 record at The Betty this season and has won 13 of its last 14 at home against Big Sky foes dating back to last season. The Fighting Hawks averaged 84.8 ppg and shooting 50.3 percent from the field in home games this season, while opponents are only averaging 68.5 ppg and shooting just 41.4 percent from the field. Senior Quinton Hooker averaged 21.2 ppg in 13 home games this season.
HALFTIME DEFICIT, WHO CARES
The Fighting Hawks trailed at the half in 13 games this season and found a way to come back and win seven of those contests. In fact, UND trailed at the half in nine of 18 Big Sky games and rallied to win six of those contests. For the season, the largest halftime deficit overcome was an 11-point spread vs. CSU-Bakersfield (Nov. 27) during the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic in Dayton, Ohio. UND closed that game on a 16-0 run to win 57-55.
Over the past two seasons, Quinton Hooker has turned in three of the top four single-game scoring performances at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center since it opened for action before the 2004-05 season. Hooker had the single-game record last season against Portland State (Feb. 25, 2016) with 38. The single-game scoring mark set by an opponent of 34 has been set twice (Taylor Braun, NDSU; Nov. 24, 2013 and Mark Yelovich, SIU-Edwardsville; Feb. 18, 2010). Here’s a look at UND’s top individual scoring performances in the building:
Player: Points; Opponent (Date)
Quinton Hooker: 38; Portland State (2/25/2016)
Quinton Hooker: 35; Eastern Washington (2/9/2017)
Troy Huff: 34; Northern Colorado (3/4/2014)
Quinton Hooker: 34; Sacramento State (2/27/2016)
Patrick Mitchell: 33; NJIT (2/23/2010)
Troy Huff: 32; NDSU (11/24/2013)
Geno Crandall: 31; Weber State (1/19/2017)
Troy Huff: 30; SDSU (11/21/2013)
CRANDALL NETS FIRST BIG SKY WEEKLY HONOR
Sophomore Geno Crandall picked up the first Big Sky Player of the Week award of his career on Feb. 20 in an announcement made by league officials. The 6-foot-3 point guard averaged 18.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 5.5 apg in a pair of road wins that vaulted the Fighting Hawks into first place in the Big Sky standings with a 12-3 league record.
In the Thursday 77-61 victory over Idaho State, Crandall scored 18 points, pulled down a career-high nine rebounds and dished out five assists. He finished 6-for-12 from the floor and made a season-high four 3-pointers in the 10th-straight win for UND over the Bengals.
In the Saturday 77-68 win at Weber State, Crandall added 19 points, three rebounds and six assists in what was UND’s first victory over the then league-leading Wildcats in Ogden. Crandall also added a pair of steals for the second-consecutive game and finished 7-for-12 from the floor to lead the Fighting Hawks to a regular-season sweep of the defending Big Sky champions.
For the week, he connected on 50 percent of his 3-point attempts (6-for-12) and shot 54.1 percent from the floor to keep his position as one of the top shooting guards in the league.
HOOKER CLAIMS SECOND BIG SKY WEEKLY HONOR OF SEASON
North Dakota senior Quinton Hooker collected his second Big Sky Player of the Week honor of the season on Feb. 13. He shared the weekly accolade with Sacramento State’s Eric Stuteville. Hooker finished the week averaging 28.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 apg and 2.0 spg in victories over Eastern Washington and Idaho. He was an efficient 54.8 percent from the field (17-for-31), 58.3 percent from 3-point range (7-for-12) and 88.2 percent from the charity stripe (15-for-17). The Brooklyn Park, Minn., native now has four Big Sky weekly honors in his career. Stuteville had a pair of double-doubles for the Hornets in home wins over Weber State and Idaho State, averaging 20.0 ppg and 13.0 rpg in those victories.
WELCOME TO SPLITSVILLE
During the Big Sky conference season, each team has four different road trips with back-to-back games at varying travel partners. Since joining the league, UND has split 15 of those trips, swept three of them and been swept just four times. Overall, the Fighting Hawks own a respectable 21-25 record in Big Sky road games over the last four-plus seasons.
SHANK YOU VERY MUCH
Junior Carson Shanks picked up the second double-double of his career and only third of the season for a Fighting Hawk with 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench against Idaho (Feb. 11). Shanks also added a career-high five blocks during a season-high 27 minutes of action. Shanks recorded his first double-double as a redshirt freshman in an overtime win at Southern Utah (Feb. 5, 2015). In four career games against the Vandals, Shanks is averaging 10.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 2.3 bpg.
UND’s 7-2 start halfway through the Big Sky schedule was the program’s best start in five seasons as a league member and matched the best conference start since the 2001-02 North Central squad also started 7-2.
EXTRA INSIGHT ...
• UND went 5-0 this season when Geno Crandall and Quinton Hooker score 20-plus points in the same game.
• Senior Corey Baldwin made his 100th career 3-pointer against Eastern Washington (Feb. 9). It was the only trey he connected on, but the Bridgeport, Conn., native made two or more triples in 23 of 32 games this season and went 11-for-16 in the Big Sky Tournament.
• Sophomore Conner Avants led the team and ranked seventh in the Big Sky in field goal percentage (55.3). He posted 15 double-digit scoring games on the season (31 games), which was five more than he had in a reserve role as a freshman in 32 total appearances.
• The Fighting Hawks improved to 7-3 all-time on New Year’s Eve with the eight-point, overtime win at Sacramento State (Dec. 31).
• UND’s 37-point loss to Portland State (Dec. 29) to open league play was the largest for the program in a Big Sky contest in four-plus seasons. It was only the fifth 20-plus point setback in 41 all-time league losses. The worst previous defeat was a 95-63 loss to Weber State during UND’s first season in the league (2012-13).
• Junior Carson Shanks scored a career-high 17 points in 17 minutes of action at Northern Iowa (Dec. 10). Shanks went 8-for-10 from the floor against the Panthers.
• After being held to a season-low four points at NDSU (Dec. 7), senior Quinton Hooker responded with a team-high 22 points at Northern Iowa (Dec. 10). Hooker was held to single digits just twice last season as a junior in 32 games. One of those was a four-point outing at Montana and he responded with 25 points in the next game at Montana State.
• UND’s eight-point loss to the Panthers was a 38-point improvement from last season’s 97-51 loss to UNI at home. The Fighting Hawks trailed 54-20 at halftime of that contest and led the Panthers 33-29 this year.
• Hooker was named to the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic All-Tournament team after averaging 18.7 ppg during the team’s three games at the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. Hooker’s 29-point outing in the opener vs. North Florida was one shy of his season high of 30 set in the win over Mayville State (Nov. 15).
For just the second time as a Big Sky member, North Dakota had a trio of players score 20-plus points in the Fighting Hawks’ 90-85 victory over Montana State (Jan. 12). The Bobcats were also the first victim of that accomplishment by UND back in 2012-13 when Jamal Webb (23), Aaron Anderson (20) and Troy Huff (20) achieved the feat in an 86-73 win over MSU in Grand Forks (Jan. 12). In this win over the Bobcats, Quinton Hooker (24), Geno Crandall (22) and Conner Avants (20) all scored 20 or more points for the Fighting Hawks.
HOOKER COLLECTS BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD
Senior Quinton Hooker collected his first Big Sky Player of the Week award and third of his career on Jan. 10 after leading the Fighting Hawks to pair of home wins over Northern Arizona (Jan. 5) and Southern Utah (Jan. 7). He averaged 21.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 4.0 rpg in those two victories.
In each of the past five seasons, head coach Brian Jones and his staff has coached a game in their barefeet to help raise awareness for the Samaritan’s Feet cause. The nonprofit group is dedicated to providing shoes to impoverished children throughout the world. Last year, Jones was named the organization’s 2016 Barefoot Coach of the Year and was recognized at a special breakfast during Final Four Weekend in Houston. The Fighting Hawks have also participated in local shoe drives each of the past five years where the staff and players pass out shoes to those in need and also wash the feet of the children receiving the shoes. For more information on Samaritan’s Feet, visit www.samaritansfeet.org.
All three of UND’s opponents at the MABC Classic in Dayton won 20-plus games in 2015-16. Cal State-Bakersfield participated in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, while North Florida was the Atlantic Sun regular season champion and played in the NIT. In fact, UND’s seven Division I non-conference games were all against teams that reached the 20-win plateau a season ago. Five of those teams participated in postseason play. Northern Iowa and Iowa both won a game in the 2016 NCAA Tournament before bowing out in the round of 32. The Panthers loss to Oklahoma in a game that featured a frantic comeback by the Sooners, while the Hawkeyes fell to eventual National Champion Villanova 87-68.
-- UND --