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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 12 2010

Bison notebook: Braun set for return to Oregon

If the North Dakota State men’s basketball team needs a tour guide of the University of Oregon’s basketball facility, they don’t have to go far to find an expert. Freshman guard Taylor Braun used to be a ballboy for the Ducks.

He grew up in Newberg, about two hours from Eugene. His father was a season ticket holder for Ducks football and basketball for years and Taylor has a bunch of friends who go to OU.

“There’s going to be a good amount of Bison fans there,” he said.

Bison fans for NDSU’s opener Friday night against the host Ducks in the Basketball Travelers Invitational. The Bison play UC-Santa Barbara on Saturday and Denver on Sunday.

One of the recruiting pledges NDSU head coach Saul Phillips usually makes to out-of-state players is to try and schedule a game with a school near the player’s hometown. The BTI Invitational was a stroke of good luck in that Phillips had no say in the scheduling.

“We try to do that with all of our guys but usually it’s easy with guys from Minnesota, Wisconsin or Iowa,” Phillips said. “It just happened that we’re going to be there and the first game of his career.”

Braun came to NDSU as skinny 6-7 kid with some potential. He’s added 20 pounds of strength to his present 185 and his game has improved greatly in other areas.

“He is why you redshirt a kid,” Phillips said.

He earned a starting spot in practice and maintained it through two exhibition games. Senior Michael Tveidt and junior Eric Carlson will be the starting forwards and the other two spots are uncertain.

Phillips said he doesn’t expect Braun to be distracted by the Oregon homecoming because of the way he’s wired.

NDSU has never played Oregon or Santa Barbara and is 1-1 against Denver. Braun knows a few Ducks players through AAU basketball. He played a state tournament game at McArthur Court his senior year.

It’s the start to a career that is tough to beat.

“Pretty perfect,” Braun said.

Solberg, Sprenkle after starting spot at 125

The 40th annual Bison Open is set for Saturday and as customary, it will be the University of Minnesota vs. everybody else.

Bison sophomore Trent Sprenkle, senior Vince Salminen and junior Tyler Johnson won titles at 125, 157 and 165 pounds respectively last week in the Daktronics Open at South Dakota State.

NDSU also returns Andre Patselov at 149, Mac Stoll at 174, Kenny Moenkedick at 184 and Drew Ross at 197. A weight to watch will be at 125 where sophomore Justin Solberg and Sprenkle are battling.

Whoever doesn’t get it will probably move up to challenge freshman Jake Love at 133, said head coach Bucky Maughan.

“I’m looking forward to see how we wrestle against Minnesota,” Maughan said.

Opening matches begin at 10 a.m. with finals expected to begin about 3:30 p.m.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. 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