After having difficulty creating a buzz around basketball at UMD, men’s head coach Matt Bowen is trying to do just that in his third season. Although Bowen’s career record sits at 20-34, there has been great improvement in the program since he’s come in. Last year, UMD had their first double-digit win season in the last three years after finishing 12-15 under Bowen’s command.
After last year’s growth, Bowen sees a bright future for the Bulldog men’s basketball program.
“I want to continue to show improvements to this program,” Bowen said.
A big key to the season’s success lies off the court.
Bowen strongly believes that incorporating fans from campus and the community can play a huge role in the team’s success.
“We’re trying to improve by connecting the program from within the community on campus, our peers and members of the city,” Bowen said.
Even though Bowen would love to bring basketball to life in the area, he is aware that it’s a process. However, he also knows you have to put a product on the court that the fans will appreciate and be excited about.
“We want the UMD community and the entire city of Duluth to join us on our way to improvement,” Bowen said, “but we have to put out a brand of basketball people will want to see.”
Bowen said he’s excited for his new recruiting class to play alongside his key veterans and seniors. He feels the team is more experienced this year after having a big freshman class last year.
“We’re vastly more experienced; we played with a lot of younger kids last year, and now we’re older and more athletic,” Bowen said.
Senior captains Brett Ervin and Reece Zoelle have bought into Coach Bowen’s beliefs and system for the team’s success. From talking to Bowen and two captains — seniors Brett Ervin and Reece Zoelle — it seems everyone is on the same page as far as what it takes for the team to be successful this year.
Both Ervin and Zoelle felt that getting better starts every day at practice and preparation for a game.
“Every single day we have to make sure we’re in line for practice,” Zoelle said. “Every day counts. We can’t take days off.”
Ervin echoed Zoelle’s statement by adding, “You can’t breeze through practice. You have to take advantage of every practice and every day like it’s your last day of basketball.”
Ervin and Zoelle are pretty excited about the talent that surrounds the team, but both players admitted that building on-court chemistry with the new talent is the key to the upcoming season.
Players and coaches around the program feel that defense and rebounding are also big keys to a successful season. Last year, Bowen thought the team was light in the post, which led him to focus on defending and rebounding to address the issue.
BY NICOLE BRODZIK Sports Editor