By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The last thing Shawn Huse wants is that tonight will turn into a glorified pickup basketball game.
The Montana State University-Northern men's basketball coach knows that it very well could when the Lights take on the Concordia University College Thunder in the opening round of the Rocky Mountain College Invitational basketball tournament.
Northern and Concordia are eerily similar in what they want to accomplish on the basketball court.
The Thunder sport a 10-2 record this season and have had no problem putting points on the scoreboard thus far. Concordia averages a gaudy 92 points per game while shooting close to 50 percent from the field.
"They can score the basketball," Huse said. "They try to get out in transition by forcing turnovers by scrambling and trapping all over the floor."
The Thunder's style should be familiar to Huse and his team, since it is basically the same way they try to play.
"It's kind of our style," Huse said. "We should be used to it and have some success against it."
Offensively, Northern has also been effective. The Lights average 93 points per game and shoot 50 percent from the field.
"We've been clicking on offense for the most part," Huse said. "The guys have been very aggressive and that's the key. You can't be hesitant against teams like this."
With both teams wanting to play an uptempo style, the scorekeeper should be fairly busy. But just because both teams want to run doesn't always translate into a good basketball game.
"It's easy for things to get out of hand," Huse said. "There's a difference between running a good fundamentally sound fast break and running and gunning. We don't want to get confused about that."
Indeed, while the offense has been consistent, Huse wants his team to be better defensively. Opponents are averaging 85 points per game against Northern. It's a number that Huse wants to be lower.
"We have had some lapses defensively," Huse said. "We need to do a better job of staying focused for the entire game."
It won't be easy for Northern as Concordia gets offensive production from a variety of players.
Forward Keith Miller leads the Thunder in scoring, averaging close to 17 points and four rebounds per game. The guard duo of Daryl Balog and Grahame Reid both average in double figures while forward David Vandervelde averages 12 points and five rebounds per game
"They're going to be a tough team," Huse said. "Their coach said it's the best team he's had since he's been there. They have plenty of experienced players who have played together for a long time."
On Saturday, Northern will play another ACAC team in the Prairie Bible College Pilots. Prairie Bible is 0-10 on the season, but that makes Huse even more wary.
"You can't overlook any team," Huse said. "We treat every opponent the same because if you don't that's about the time you get beat."
PBC is led by freshman guard Tony Dornbusch, who is averaging 22.1 points per game this season. Dornbusch gets his points from all over the floor and has sunk 23 three-pointers in 10 games.
The Pilots are a young team with only one senior on the squad and the rest mainly freshmen and sophomores.
"We need to keep getting better and play a smarter game on the floor," Huse said. "We know it's going to happen, but it's not going to happen overnight."