I'll be "Comin' At Ya Live" from Moorhead, Minn. tonight (Jan. 13), as MSU Moorhead hosts an NSIC doubleheader with Upper Iowa. Al Bahe will join me on the call. Game times at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse are 6 and 8 p.m.
Here's a few quick notes to get you ready.
Women's Matchup: Upper Iowa (1-12, 1-8 NSIC) vs. MSU Moorhead (5-8, 2-7 NSIC)
There haven't been a lot of positives for Upper Iowa, though not much was expected of the Peackocks anyway. The Peacocks have four freshman playing significant roles this season, and the inexperience has certainly shown through. With that said, one NSIC assistant coach recently told me that the team is improving.
Last weekend is proof of that. After nearly knocking off St. Cloud State on Jan. 7, the Peacocks broke through for a 62-44 win over Concordia-St. Paul the following night. The win snapped a 29-game losing streak for UIU, which dated all the way back to Dec. 18, 2010.
Jeri Jacoboson, the team's lone senior, is in her second season at UIU after transferring into the program from Central Wyoming College. She recoreded a season-high 20 points and nine rebounds in the win over CSP. That was her fourth straight game in double figures, a streak that includes consecutive double-doubles on Jan. 2-3.
Whitney Kieffer is one of the top freshman in the NSIC. She leads the team in scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg). She's gone for 20-plus three times this season, and has scored at least seven points in every game this season.
While the Peacocks were expected to struggle, MSU Moorhead was not. The Dragons were picked fourth in the NSIC's preseason coaches' poll, but have fallen far short of expectations. MSUM (5-8, 2-7 NSIC) is currently 13th.
The Dragons did show some signs of life last Saturday night with a nice road win at Northern State, which snapped a six-game losing streak.
All-American Angie Jetvig (Sr., Hawley, Minn.) is in the midst of another fine season. She leads in the NSIC in minutes played (34.9 mpg) and rebounds (10.0), and is second in scoring (16.7 ppg) and free throw percentage (.908).
The problem is no one has emerged as a consistent second scoring option. Kaycee Charette (Jr., Prescott, Wis.) went for a career-high 25 points in the win over NSU, but scored just four points in a loss to U-Mary the night before. Megan Strese (So., Evansville, Minn.) is second on the team in scoring (6.8 ppg).
Men's Matchup: (Upper Iowa 4-9, 1-8 NSIC) vs. No. 16 MSU Moorhead (12-1, 8-1 NSIC)
On paper, it's not close. MSUM is the top team in the NSIC, while UIU is currently stuck in the cellar. But, before you go chalking this up as an easy win for the Dragons, there are a few things to consider.
Upper Iowa has been far more competitive than their conference record would indicate. Four of the Peacocks eight conference losses have come by six points or less, and they've actually held a second-half lead in each of the last eight games.
UIU's lone conference win was a 76-72 overtime decision at U-Mary on Jan. 3.
The Peacocks are led by 6-8 forward Tucker Wentzien, who leads the team in scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.2). He's very good at finishing around the basket, as indicated by his impressive shooting percentage (.568).
MSUM, ranked No. 16 in the latest NABC poll, is off to its best start since the 1970-71 season. The Dragons reeled off 12 straight wins, before falling at U-Mary last Saturday night. MSUM shot a season-low 29-percent in that loss, while surrendering a season-high 54-percent to the Marauders.
They got things back on track with an 81-74 win at Northern state the following night.
Chad Walthall is in his second season and has done a tremendous job. The Dragons were picked fifth in the preseason poll, so he has to be the early favorite for NSIC Coach of the Year honors.
Several players have stood out for MSUM this season, but pay particular attention to 6-10 forward Jake Lindfors (Jr., Elk Grove Village, IL). He transferred into the program this season after playing two seasons at Division I Albany University. He's athletic big man, but isn't afraid to step out and shoot the three (13-35 3pt FG).
You'll also want to look out for DJ Hamilton (Sr., Avondale, Ariz.) and Alex Novak (Jr., Oxford, Iowa). Hamilton leads the team in scoring (15.5 ppg), while Novak is one of the more dominant defensive players the NSIC has seen in a while. He already holds the MSUM career blocks record (146), and leads the NSIC in field goal percentage (.639 fg), rebounds (8.6 rpg) and blocks (1.8 bpg).
You're all set. Hope to see you tonight.