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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 03 2012

Bison men's, women's basketball teams hope to put late-season woes behind them

FARGO – North Dakota State is hoping its men’s basketball team from the first half of the season shows up today. The Bison women are hoping to erase a mostly forgettable season in one fell swoop.

It’s the Summit League tournaments for both teams – and a chance for both to rectify what has gone wrong of late.

“We have to play a lot differently than we’ve played in the last month,” said men’s coach Saul Phillips.

To help, the Bison coaches showed some videotape from earlier in the season, a period that saw them win the San Francisco tournament, defeat Wisconsin-Green Bay, Fresno State and take down Oakland University (Mich.) by almost 30 points. NDSU was cooking at that point, with a combination of stout defense and interchangeable parts on offense.

That defense has left them. Opponents have shot 49 percent from 3-point range in the last nine games.

“That isn’t going to win you much,” Phillips said.

At one time a threat to win 20 games, NDSU now has to make some noise to make any postseason tournament, whether it be the NCAA, NIT, College Insider.com postseason tournament or the College Basketball Invitational.

“It’s funny. One win in the tournament changes your whole perception on everything,” Phillips said. “All of a sudden you’re one game from the championship. It’s very much a sprint and not a marathon and it happens in a short period of time.”

All men’s and women’s tournament games will be televised by Midco Sports Net and Fox College Sports with the exception of the title games. The men’s championship set for 8 p.m. Tuesday will be aired on ESPN2. The women’s game at 3 p.m. earlier in the day will be on ESPNU.

Each Bison team have a rematch from its final regular-season game. The men lost both games to Western Illinois this season in different ways.

The offense was dreadful in a 55-51 defeat in Macomb, Ill., in December The defense wasn’t very impressive in a 77-64 loss at the Bison Sports Arena last Saturday.

“We have to find that happy medium and level it out,” Phillips said.

The Bison women simply need to find a higher level to get very far in this tournament, and they’ll have to do it without starting guard Jamie Van Kirk, who tore the ACL in her knee on Monday against Indiana Purdue-Indianapolis.

“We have to adjust,” said junior Dani DeGagne. “Mostly, we have to stay positive. It’s tough to swallow but at the same time, it’s part of the game.”

NDSU rallied to gain the Summit’s fourth seed after spending about a month toward the bottom of the standings. Head coach Carolyn DeHoff said playing IUPUI again will be a matter of looking back and fine-tuning some things.

Forward Abby Plucker, who missed the IUPUI game with a sprained ankle, is expected to try and play today, DeHoff said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia