John Hanstad was certain his days of playing organized basketball had ended at Dickinson High School.
Though he had planned to attend Dickinson State University, Hanstad was not convinced he had what it took to suit up for the Blue Hawk men’s basketball team.
“I remember sitting in the hallway outside the office, talking to John and saying, ‘Hey, give it a try. You never know what’s going to happen,’” DSU head coach Ty Orton said.
Five years later, Hanstad is preparing to wrap up a career in which he has become his team’s most trusted leader and, along the way, cemented himself as one of DSU’s all-time leading 3-point shooters.
Hanstad wraps up his surprisingly successful five-year career at DSU this week as the Blue Hawks host the University of Great Falls (Mont.) at 7:30 p.m. today and Montana State-Northern at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Scott Gymnasium. The team’s season ends Saturday since they are out of the race for the top six spots in the Frontier Conference and will be left out of the league’s postseason tournament.
Though he would have liked his senior season to have lasted longer, Hanstad said there’s a silver lining in being able to end his career on DSU’s home court.
“It’s definitely better than being on the road,” Hanstad said. “That’s what I was telling my dad yesterday. It’s going to be fun to have the last two here at home.”
Dickinson State senior Jarek Hansen isn’t a type of basketball player who can be easily categorized. Hansen has steadily increased his output each of the three seasons he has been with the Blue Hawk men after transferring from Williston State College.
He is averaging 10.6 points and three rebounds per game while shooting 89 percent from the free-throw line and 39 percent from 3-point range, all of which are by far the best marks of his collegiate career.
The Dickinson State sophomore has the attitude and demeanor of an upperclassman — of which there aren’t many on the Blue Hawks’ roster — and all season she has played like one too.
“That’s what makes me most excited is if she just stayed where she is right now, she’s a great player,” DSU first-year head coach Caleb Harrison said. “We’ll get to the end of the season and her numbers are going to go up and she’s going to be playing at an even higher level.”
Moore, a 5-foot-11 forward from Sidney, Mont., leads the Blue Hawks in just about every major category coaches expect a frontcourt starter to lead — and even some they wouldn’t.
Johnie Sanders’ time at Dickinson State is already supposed to be done.
Before the 2011-12 season, Sanders had committed to spend his final year of college basketball eligibility playing for the Blue Hawks. Then, he ran into eligibility issues that forced him to bail on DSU and return to Northwest Oklahoma State, where he had played his junior season.
When DSU head coach Ty Orton gave Sanders a second chance to be a Blue Hawk last spring, he jumped at the chance.
“I should have been here last year, but things happen for a reason,” Sanders said. “I’m here this year. I’m happy that coach Orton took me back under his wing.”
On Monday night, I spent 20 minutes chatting over the phone with Colorado senior forward Austin Dufault. The 2008 Killdeer High School graduate and former North Dakota Mr. Basketball winner leads his team into their first NCAA tournament game since 2003 when they face UNLV at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M.
Below is our complete interview. In bold is a brief overview of the questions I asked Austin. Make sure to check out my feature story on Dufault in Wednesday’s edition of The Dickinson Press.
Hereâ€™s a quick update on the Dickinson State menâ€™s basketball teamâ€™s trip to China according to an e-mail from head coach Ty Orton.
On its second day, the team visited Tiananmen Square and ate â€œunique foodsâ€ in the alley food shops nearby. Needless to say, senior Nathan Lebsock and freshman Zach Edward didnâ€™t enjoy their fish and brains combo meal.
Everywhere the players go, they have been asked to take numerous photos â€œThis adds 15 to 20 minutes of extra time at every place we venture to. The people are impressed with the size of our guys and that they happen to play basketball,â€ Orton said.
On their third and fourth days, the Blue Hawks spent time at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling and played in two basketball games. â€œThe tour was fun and very informative for the players and coaches,â€ Orton said.
The teams first game was played in front of 4,000 students who Orton said took off a national holiday to stay and watch the game. Orton said he was told the university turned away more than 8,000 students who wanted to watch the game in the packed facility. â€œThe game was a great success and everyone involved enjoyed the experience,â€ he said.
Sophomore Matt Lee was named the gameâ€™s Most Valuable Player after scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Blue Hawks won 82-67.
The team played in game with mixed teams on their fourth day.
On the fifth day, yesterday, Orton said the team was having trouble finding an Internet connection or cellphone reception.