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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 21 2009

Depot hosts big Bison crowd

MINNEAPOLIS – For every Ben Woodside on the Metrodome court Friday, there was an Adam Dobmeier who helped him get there. Eleven days of celebrating an NCAA tournament berth started early in the morning at what is becoming an annual event for NDSU: a pre-game party at The Depot conference center in downtown Minneapolis.

Dobmeier was one of the players who built the NCAA tournament-berth foundation in the early years of the Division I reclassification. Before a Summit League title, there were some tough days when Dobmeier was part of Division I independent basketball his last two years in 2004 and 2005.

“When things really got tough, I’m sure there were a lot of people wondering what we were doing in this phase of our program,” Dobmeier said, amidst a sea of yellow and green. “This is a pretty exciting time.”

The Bison qualified for the NCAA tournament in their first year of eligibility, a feat that drew thousands to the Metrodome. NDSU fans dominated the announced crowd of 15,794.

The Depot event wasn’t the packed pep fest from the NDSU and University of Minnesota football game two years ago, but it’s obvious the Division I move has made for a bigger Bison bandwagon. The NDSU Alumni Association said about 2,500 were on hand.

“For just four days notice and to get 2,500 in that room, the response was outstanding,” said Sherri Schmidt, associate executive director for the Alumni Association.

Two of the fans, Ron and Mary Alice Bergan, didn’t need an invitation. They have spanned the country following NDSU athletics for years and, like Dobmeier, they were part of the foundation.

“This is a culmination of many years, really. It was hard to go through that transition, but this is so good and I’m looking forward to more,” Mary Alice said. “It’s really exciting – it’s hard to contain myself.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia