Sioux men's basketball team to play KU in Kansas next season
The UND men's basketball team will ring in the new year in style. The Sioux will play traditional powerhouse Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., on Dec. 31. "We're excited to be able to play a program like Kansas," UND coach Brian Jones...
The UND men's basketball team will ring in the new year in style.
The Sioux will play traditional powerhouse Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., on Dec. 31.
"We're excited to be able to play a program like Kansas," UND coach Brian Jones said. "For schools in a transition situation like us, sometimes it's about exposing kids to the heritage of basketball. That excites me as a coach -- to allow them to learn about the environment and the tradition behind college basketball. It should be fun and educational. And I don't think there's a bigger stage in the country."
Kansas, the 2008 NCAA national champion, finished the 2010-11 season ranked No. 4 in the final poll. The Jayhawks were ranked No. 1 for a week last season, but will have to replace four regulars. Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Josh Selby declared for the NBA draft, while Tyrel Reed graduated.
In search of three guarantee games each season, Jones said he has discussed with his team which teams would be most desirable to play. The Jayhawks always were high on the list.
"As soon as they heard the Kansas contract came in, they were all very excited," Jones said. "Plus, it's on New Year's Eve and has the potential to be a television game. It should be a great opportunity to promote our university."
UND is expected to bring back its top six scorers from last season -- one that the Sioux finished 19-15 and earned a bid to the CIT tournament. UND's freshmen class, which featured four starters, had the largest percentage of team production of any rookie group in the country.
"Our guys understand that the big message to them is that every day matters," Jones said. "This is a different offseason than the past. They're coming off a very successful season. We won't sneak up on teams any more.
"The guys have done a nice job since the season let out, understanding that they have the opportunity to build toward our mission. They've had tremendous energy and excitement about where we are going."
This won't be UND's first trip to Allen Fieldhouse.
In 2000, the Sioux lost 92-61 in Lawrence. The next season, KU made the trip to Grand Forks and beat the Sioux 108-77 in front of 13,280 in Ralph Engelstad Arena. That Jayhawk team included six future NBA players -- Drew Gooden, Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien.