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Eric Peterson, Published January 19 2014

Former MSUM coach Engen has NDSCS firing on all cylinders

Wahpeton, N.D. - Last week, North Dakota State College of Science head men’s basketball coach Stu Engen hit a milestone, but didn’t dwell on the achievement.

Engen earned career win No. 350 last Wednesday in a 96-78 victory at Lake Region State College.

“The most important thing is the year you are having, not how many years you have coached,” Engen said.

The Wildcats (18-1) are in the midst of a stellar year under Engen, winning their past 16 games. NDSCS is slated to host Mon-Dak Conference rival Williston State College

(18-4) at 8 p.m. today.

A season ago, NDSCS won the conference, while Williston State College beat the Wildcats in the NJCAA Region XIII final.

“It has gone back and forth,” Engen said of his team’s rivalry with the Tetons. “They are a good program, and they have a nice facility like we do.”

A strong freshman class has fueled the Wildcats this season. Johnny Woodward leads NDSCS with 17.4 points per game. Engen said Woodward, a 6-foot-4 guard, is getting recruiting interest from Big Ten schools.

Quashingm Smith-Pugh, a 6-3 guard; Jamal Davis, a 6-4 forward; and Trayvon Palmer, a 6-5 forward, are the three other freshmen who start for NDSCS.

Sophomore center Tim Gill, who stands 6-7, rounds out the starting lineup. Engen said all five starters are receiving interest from D-I schools.

“We’ve been tested on several occasions,” Engen said. “They are all pretty talented.”

Engen has a 43-7 record in his second season at NDSCS.

“I enjoy coaching at an institution that values excellence,” Engen said. “The administration wants to be good at everything we do.”

Williston State College will present a solid test for the Wildcats. Engen has multiple connections to the Tetons coaching staff.

Williston State College head coach Eric Peterson was an assistant under Engen for one season at Minnesota State Moorhead. Tetons assistant coach Andrew VanHavermaet played for Engen for three years, including a redshirt season, at MSUM.

“He’s probably one of the best Xs and Os guys I have been around,” Peterson said of Engen. “He’s really good in the film room with kids. … He’s probably one of the most organized coaches I have been around.”

The Tetons also feature Division I-caliber recruits on their roster. Trey Dickerson, a 6-0 freshman guard, leads Williston State College with 20.4 points and 6.0 assists per game. Peterson said Dickerson is getting interest from Big Ten and SEC schools.

Tahjee Williams, a 6-2 freshman guard, is scoring 16.8 points per game and also grabbing 5.9 rebounds per game.

“There is going to be a lot of talent and a lot of athleticism on the floor,” Peterson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com