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Eric Peterson, Published December 04 2010

Men's basketball: Phillips, Nagy prefer later conference start

While Saul Phillips has his team ready for today’s Summit League opener, the North Dakota State head men’s basketball coach would rather wait.

“It just feels out of place,” Phillips said. “I don’t think there is a coach in the league that wouldn’t want the entire conference season to take place in one block. … They haven’t been able to work it out where that is possible.”

The Bison (4-3) open Summit play against rival South Dakota State (6-0) at 7:30 tonight at Frost Arena in Brookings.

After today, NDSU has to wait 24 days to play its next Summit game. Due to how early the league tournament is scheduled, it limits the amount of weeks for conference play.

That forces teams to play Summit openers in early December before resuming league play near the end of the month.

“I think a lot of us (coaches) don’t like it,” South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy said.

One solution that would push back the start of league play would be to have travel partners, like NDSU and SDSU, play both their league games vs. each other in the same week.

“I’m in favor of that,” said Nagy. “It’s a little bit strange, but it’s strange for everybody so no one gains an advantage.”

One thing Phillips would like to remain status quo is his team’s recent success vs. the Jackrabbits.

NDSU has won the past eight meetings, including an improbable 90-85 double overtime victory in Brookings last February.

“It’s hard to explain the ones down there. Each one has been wilder than the next, culminating with last year’s absolutely bizarre finish,” Phillips said of the win streak. “Here we’ve played them very well. But down there, we’ve been tough, we’ve made enough plays, but somehow I have hard time explaining why. Quirky things happen in sports. We’ve been on the good side of that.”

From Pierre, S.D., Bison senior forward Michael Tveidt is hoping NDSU’s recent mastery of SDSU continues. Tveidt leads the Bison with 15.0 points per game and is shooting 63 percent (12 of 19) from 3-point range.

“You always want to get wins regardless,” said Tveidt, who redshirted in his first season with the Bison. “I’m from South Dakota so I have a little bit extra weighing on my mind a little bit, but I’m used to it. I’ve been there for four years now, going on five. I’m used to the edge you need to go in there with and we expect to win no matter what.”

SDSU is off to a strong start, winning its first six games. Included in that streak is a

79-69 victory at Iowa. The Jackrabbits are averaging 80.8 points per game and shooting 47 percent (55 of 117) from beyond the 3-point line.

“They’re really playing well together and they shoot the ball at a really high pace because they share the ball so well,” said Phillips. “Our challenge is to go in and do something no one has done against them, which is to slow them down offensively.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com