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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 05 2011

Phillips hopes shake-up in starting lineup could ignite Bison men's basketball team

There was one place in Fargo this week that was more intense than the latest blizzard: the North Dakota State men’s basketball practices.

No travel was advised.

“We’ve had some pretty rough practices in here, which have been really good for us,” said senior forward Michael Tveidt. “We’ve been getting after each other. No one is getting hurt, but we’re going nuts and it’s been fun.”

The last three games have not been fun. The result was three straight defeats on the road at Fresno State, Missouri-Kansas City and Southern Utah, with the latter two causing head coach Saul Phillips to think about lineup changes.

He said only Tveidt is safe.

“Every other position is open right now,” Phillips said. “Everyone else is fighting for their starting job, although we don’t put a lot of emphasis on who starts. We’ve used a bunch of starting lineups already.”

Phillips said effort has not been a problem, although senior guard Freddy Coleman said it can get better.

“The effort is there, but it

doesn’t look like it on tape and that’s what hurts,” he said. “On tape, it’s not even close to what we expect.”

The Bison host Summit League foe Oral Roberts on Thursday night at the Bison Sports Arena. At 1-2 in the league and 7-6 overall, NDSU is in danger of falling into the lower half of the conference.

Phillips said one poor weekend road trip has not changed his outlook on his team. Tveidt said it’s important not to get too high or too low during the season.

But Phillips also said it was time to step up the intensity between the lines this week.

“Definitely the word is, ‘toughness,’” Coleman said. “The little things like boxing out and ball pressure. There are a lot of little things that we define as toughness.”

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