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Eric Peterson, Published December 10 2010

Bison players get acclimated with renewal of an old rivalry with Sioux

Freddy Coleman recalls where he was the last time the Bison and Sioux played in men’s basketball.

“I was in high school walking through the hallways waiting for lunch period,” the fifth-year North Dakota State senior said as he cracked a smile.

“That’s the thing, we really don’t know too much about it. From a rivalry standpoint … we don’t know what the rivalry is.”

Like Coleman, no North Dakota State player has played in the rivalry that was put on pause in 2004 when the Bison made the move to Division I.

The Bison host the University of North Dakota at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome, the 283rd game in the series that dates back to the 1904-05 season.

A crowd approaching 10,000 fans is expected.

“We know the rivalry has existed in the past and I think it will carry over,” said Bison fifth-year senior Michael Tveidt. “The fans are usually the people that make a rivalry. I know this game means a lot to our fans and we are looking forward to it.”

Associate head coach

Dave Richman will be the only person on the Bison bench Saturday who has experienced the rivalry. Richman was a NDSU graduate assistant the last time the teams played on Feb. 7, 2004, in Grand Forks at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Sioux won that game 76-73 in overtime.

“It’s been a little bit surprising how the guys have picked up on it. I think you read about stuff, you hear about stuff. You still listen to the chants today, even though we haven’t played them in six years,” Richman said. “I just think it means so much to so many people. That’s the kind of message that we’re trying to send to our guys. ‘You might not understand this, but there are thousands and thousands of people that do.’ You can tell that by the draw of the crowd.”

Bison head coach Saul Phillips was an assistant at Wisconsin the last time the Bison and Sioux played. He joined the NDSU staff as an assistant under Tim Miles a year later for the 2004-05 season. Phillips has been with the program since.

Phillips said he has received more comments from alumni and fans for this game “than any other single game I’ve been involved with.”

While his players have never played the Sioux, Phillips said there are fans that have helped relay to the magnitude of the game to the current Bison.

“Can they fully get it? No,” Phillips said. “And I don’t think anyone from either side can fully get it, but when you get out in that dome and that, ‘Let’s go Bison,’ chant gets going and that first loose ball goes on the floor and there’s bodies everywhere, I think it will pick up in a hurry.”

Playing his high school basketball in Pierre, S.D., Tveidt had a front-row seat for the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State rivalry.

“I can relate to it because they are very similar,” Tveidt said.

For this group of players, SDSU has served as the rivalry game with the Sioux off the schedule. The Bison and SDSU play each other twice in the Summit League. Both schools also made the transition to Division I around the same time.

Does that mean SDSU has replaced the Sioux as the chief rival?

“Maybe for now because they are in our conference and we play them two times a year every year at least,” Tveidt said. “That might make that the rivalry a little bit more so, but we don’t have 10,000 fans there for that game either, so we will see what happens.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com