Dragon men soar to best start in more than 40 years

by Turner Blaufuss

blaufusstu@mnstate.edu

The Dragons have been dominating the Northern Sun this season, as they’re off to a school-record 22-1 start.

The Dragons are putting the clamps on defensively, winning by an average of 20 points per game.

At the reins for MSUM is Chad Walthall, and his team doesn’t underestimate any of their opponents by looking too far down the road. They choose to take it a day at a time and get the job done.

“Our approach is ‘let’s practice today, get better today,’” Walthall said. “Then we’ll do the next thing tomorrow. That’s kind of the goal and how we do it.”

Coming into the year Walthall knew he had plenty of experienced players to work with. A near-perfect record through 23 games likely exceeded the team’s expectations coming into the season.

“We had a great nucleus coming back, and I thought if we can put it together we’d have a nice team,” Walthall said. “The rest is up to the players to buy in. We have a good mix of seniors and underclassman that have gone through it before. I felt like we’d be a team that would be good, but you don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”

The biggest difference from last year’s squad and this year’s team is the defensive play. These Dragons can lockdown their matchups and cause fits for opposing offenses.

“We’re guarding,” Walthall said. “We’re a much better defensive team and we’re playing with toughness and more urgency on the defensive end. That’s been the biggest improvement by far.”

MSUM Captain Jordan Riewer is having his best year yet. The senior guard is leading the Dragons in scoring (16.2), assists (5.6) and rebounds (4.9). Riewer is the team’s motor and makes his impact felt on both ends of the court.

“[Riewer’s] a first class player and first class person,” Walthall said. “He’s our leader. We’ve seen him grow and mature from a redshirt freshman to one of the best players in the league.”

The MSUM fans have been supportive throughout the year, but the Dragons hope to see their best turnout of the season this weekend.

“They’ve always been great,” Walthall said. “We really want to emphasize everyone coming out next weekend. We got two great teams coming in and it’s our second to last weekend at home.

“I really encourage all the students to come out, and get it as crazy as it can be.”

The Dragons look to keep the train rolling with a Friday night matchup against Concordia St. Paul at 8 p.m., then a Saturday night game with Minnesota State.

Walthall and his team look to continue to take everything a day at a time, and keep getting better.

“Win the day,” Wathall said. “When the season’s all done we’ll see where we are. If we take care of business Monday as we prep for Friday, then everybody’s done their part and we’ll let the chips fall.”

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