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Eric Peterson, Published February 17 2013

Cobbers senior McKenzie is essential to Concordia’s pressure defense

Moorhead

Dewon McKenzie grew up in a small town in Arkansas that had no stoplights, one grocery store and one gas station. The Concordia senior point guard never imagined basketball would lead him to Moorhead.

“I wouldn’t change anything about my journey because I have learned so much and experienced so much,” said McKenzie, who moved to Minneapolis after his freshman year of high school.

McKenzie finished his prep basketball career at Robbinsdale Cooper before playing junior college in Fergus Falls, Minn., for two years.

“I had never even heard of Moorhead until my sophomore year at Fergus (Falls),” McKenzie said.

In his second year in the program, McKenzie has found a home with the Cobbers. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound McKenzie leads the team with 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

“Dewon kind of just hides around during the course of the game, but the thing about him is his defense is so big for us,” said Cobbers senior Ebo Nana-Kweson. “It’s kind of something that people don’t notice, but we definitely notice it on the court.”

McKenzie lived in Earle, Ark., which is about a half hour west of Memphis, Tenn., before he moved to Minneapolis. He was an Arkansas Razorbacks basketball fan, especially when Nolan Richardson was the head coach.

Richardson’s teams were famous for their intense pressure defense, which was commonly referred to as “40 Minutes of Hell.”

McKenzie is a central figure for the Cobbers when they want to turn up their defensive pressure.

“He kind of gets our team going,” said Cobbers senior Aaron Lindahl. “He’s kind of one of those scrappy guys. He will go in there and even get a rebound here and there.”

McKenzie said he played a lot of basketball when he lived in Earle – a town with a population around 3,000 – because “there was not much else to do in the town.”

McKenzie moved to Minneapolis, where his father lived at the time, because McKenzie said the bigger city would give him more “opportunities to advance or better” his life.

“The winter when I came up here was ridiculous,” McKenzie said with a smile. “I had never seen so much snow. … I quickly adjusted.”

McKenzie has been a strong late addition to a six-player senior class that is the backbone of this Concordia team. The Cobbers are the No. 2 seed for the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoffs. That is the highest the Cobbers have finished in the league standing since 1995-96.

Cobbers head coach Rich Glas likes the consistency that McKenzie provides.

“He’s solid,” Glas said. “He is a hustler. He works hard. You don’t have to worry about his preparedness for a game or for a practice. He plays hard all the time.”

McKenzie didn’t start when he was at Cooper, playing two years on varsity. He was the sixth man his senior season on a team that featured Minnesota Gophers forward Rodney Williams.

“To watch him jump was like crazy,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie remembers one time in practice when Williams took off from near the foul line for a 360-degree, two-handed dunk.

“Nothing really amazes me now when I see people dunk,” McKenzie said.

And while McKenzie dreamed of playing for the Razorbacks growing up, he is grateful to be playing for the Cobbers.

“Once I came here, I knew this was the place for me,” McKenzie said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com