Dragons expect Prchal, transfers to grab controls

Eric Prchal is ready to shine. "I'm going to do as much as I can," said Prchal, a senior center on the Minnesota State Moorhead men's basketball team.

Eric Prchal is ready to shine.

"I'm going to do as much as I can," said Prchal, a senior center on the Minnesota State Moorhead men's basketball team. "I may not have done a lot of things to stand out in the past, but this is my final year."

Why is a guy who has averaged just 4.5 points a game over three years talking about leading the Dragons to the promised land?

Because he has to.

MSUM, which finished 19-10 and advanced to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament title game last season, lost four starters to graduation.


The departure of Jared Bledsoe, Kyle Staloch, Jake Kruse and Marlon Samuel means the departure of about 51 points a game.

That's roughly 70 percent of the Dragons' offense.

And that's not all.

Bledsoe was a clutch performer with a knack for hitting the big shot. Staloch was one of the top point guards in the conference. Kruse and Samuel had the ability to dominate the paint.

"It's a different look this year," said Prchal, whose team opens the season today at the U.S. Bank Classic in Fargo. "It might take a while to get used to everyone's style of play."

Second-year coach Stu Engen looked to the junior college ranks to help ease the burden.

Guard Marc Lewis was a third-team All-American as a sophomore at North Dakota State College of Science in 2000-01. He averaged 19.5 points and five rebounds a game for the Wildcats.

Eddie Small, a 6-5 center, earned All-American honors at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College.


Rob Sullivan averaged 13.3 points, four rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.7 steals at North Idaho.

Ridas Globys, from Lithuania, was a standout at Seminole State (Okla.).

"We feel good about our freshmen," Engen said. "But we knew we couldn't overcome this with just freshmen. We hope everything will work out."

But the biggest addition could be 6-foot-6 forward Deandre Buchanan.

Buchanan, who transferred from NCAA Division I Wisconsin, scored 17 points and 12 rebounds in the Dragons' exhibition loss to Westcon last week.

"He's a good athlete," Engen said. "He's just got a knack for being productive."

True freshman Kyle Nelson, a 6-9 center from Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg High School in North Dakota, is expected to contribute immediately.

Although Prchal is the only remaining starter from last year, juniors Ben Aalto and Chris Anderson and Alan Hoeper have all logged valuable minutes.


The Dragons were picked to finish seventh in the NSIC preseason coaches poll.

"My goal is to be better than that and I hope everyone has that same drive to get where we need to get," Prchal said. "We want to prove people wrong."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562

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