Dragons point guard Myren provides 'nasty' defensive mindset
Minnesota State Moorhead guard Gabe Myren has been a strong defender for the Dragons during his career.
FARGO — Minnesota State Moorhead sophomore Gabe Myren is a point guard with a defensive edge, a mindset he's had from his early days of playing basketball.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Myren relishes defense.
“I definitely take pride in it and it’s something that not a lot of people look forward to doing," said Myren, who played for Spring Lake Park (Minn.) High School prior to MSUM. “I’m really competitive so I have that mindset of getting annoyed if I get scored on or let up a play. That drives me to play really hard on that side of the ball.”
That defensive presence is something the Dragons have enjoyed since Myren has returned from injury. MSUM plays at St. Cloud State on Saturday and Minnesota Duluth on Sunday in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's basketball.
The Dragons (9-2, 4-1 NSIC) are tied for second place behind Minnesota Duluth (10-2, 6-0) in the North Division standings. The Bulldogs were the preseason favorite to win the NSIC. MSUM hasn't played since Dec. 10.
“This is huge," Myren said. "Two tough road games. We’ve got to stay focused.”
Myren missed MSUM's first seven games after hurting his ankle minutes before the team's season-opening game against Oklahoma Baptist on Nov. 11. He landed on a teammate's foot after going in for a layup.
“That was unexpected. It’s not something you really want," Myren said. “It put (things) to halt for me, which was hard to deal with, but our team was still playing great.”
Myren has played the past four conference games, averaging around 15 minutes per game. Those minutes should increase as his ankle improves. Myren said the winter break has been helpful in getting back to near 100%.
“I’m approaching that percentage-wise where I was at, I think, before the season," Myren said.
Myren is averaging 8.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in his four games, shooting 59% (13 of 22) from the floor. He's also made the only 3-pointer he's attempted this season.
“It’s been a big boost having him back," said Dragons guard Jacob Beeninga. “I think his potential is way higher than anything he’s shown. ... Some of the stuff he’s able to do, he’s got eye-popping athleticism at times.”
The 6-foot Beeninga has started at point guard with Myren — who was slated to start at point guard to start the season — working through the ankle injury. Myren and Beeninga are roommates and aren't worried about who gets the starting nod.
“We both play a different type of game and I feel like both of those styles contribute to our team in a good way," Myren said. “We don’t care who starts and who’s playing how many minutes and we trust each other.”
Beeninga is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game in his 11 starts.
“We kind of raise the standard for each other," Beeninga said. “As a point guard you need to be trusted and I think he’s definitely earned that trust.”
Dragons head coach Tim Bergstraser like the versatility and flexibility that Myren provides to lineups with a bigger point guard.
“It’s huge," Bergstraser said. “It’s nice to be bigger sometimes. He’s able to handle the ball and not turn it over a lot and at the same time guard the best player on the other side of the floor.”
Myren said his love for basketball started at an early age. His daycare provider's oldest son was one of the top players on the varsity basketball team. He would help Myren with his shooting and his love for the game has only blossomed since.
“I fell in love with it back then," Myren said.
Beeninga views Myren as one of the team's leaders.
“For the last few years, having to try to go against him in practice kind of sucks because he’s a really good defender," Beeninga said. “He has really good instincts on defense, which I admire. He’s got a nasty, I’m not going to let you score on me mindset.”