George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
The Montana State University- Northern men’s basketball team opened its season last Saturday in impression fashion. The Lights beat a solid University of Lethbridge team, and looked very good in doing so. But as MSU-N prepares to open play today in the Coaches vs Cancer/ Northwestern Energy Classic against the University of Regina, Lights head coach Shawn Huse knows that last Saturday is all in the past. “Regina is going to be a big test for us,” Huse said. “We played really well last weekend, but we have had to put that game behind us, because this is a totally different team. “Regina is a big, physical team at every position,” he added. “And they are a veteran team that came into our house and beat us last year, and that’s something that didn’t happen to us very often last season.” Northern and Regina will square off today at 4 p.m. in the first of two games for the Lights in the annual tournament. The men’s portion of the tourney begins this morning with the University of Great Falls taking on Multnomah College. On Saturday, MSU-N plays Multnomah at 8 p.m. to wrap up the weekend’s action. “We’re excited about hosting this tournament again this year,” Huse said. “Obviously, it’s a great thing for us to be associated with Coaches vs Cancer and it’s an issue and an illness that effects so many people. So our program feels very good about being able to do something for the cause. “And I think this weekend, you’re going to see some pretty exciting basketball too,” he added. “ And it starts this afternoon with the Lights and Cougars. Regina is expected to contend for a CIS title this season, and the Cougars are already five games into their season. Regina is a big team, and the Cougars don’t suit up a player under 6-0. And for that reason, Huse expects them to present plenty of matchup problems for the new-look Lights, who are still in the early stages of coming together as a team. “I just think overall, we’re going to have to play much better defense this weekend,” Huse said. “I felt like we played s o l id de f ens e agains t Lethbridge, but Regina is a totally di f ferent team. They are more seasoned and more accomplished and they will make us pay for our mistakes. I also think they are just very efficient offensively. They don’t do anything too flashy, but they are just really solid. So we are really going to have to play our game against them and stick to things that we do well.” And what the Lights did well last Saturday against Lethbridge was shoot the ball. Northern made 14 3-pointers as a team, and guards Delvaughn Tinned and Travis Noble combined to hit nine of them. MSU-N had five players in double figures in the game, including newcomers Derek Trembley and Shaun Tatarka. Tatarka, playing as a true freshman, gave the Lights a big spark on both ends of the floor, collecting a pair of timely steals, and nailing a long-range bomb as well. “I like how we played for the first game of the season,” Huse said. “But I think these guys have already put that behind them. We have worked really hard to prepare for this weekend, and I think you’ll see us come out with a lot of effort and energy.” On Saturday night, Northern faces Multnomah. The school is located in Portland, Ore., and Huse admits he doesn’t know much about the team, but says his Lights won’t take them, or anybody else lightly. “We’ll be able to watch them play UGF,” Huse said. “And then on Saturday, we’ll have a cram session to prepare for them. We aren’t going to overlook them at all, and we feel like every game on our nonconference schedule is important this season, so we’ll be ready to play them on Saturday.” Of course, the tournament, on both the men’s and women’s side will help raise money for cancer research. The 3-point club will donate money and there will also be a donation bucket throughout the weekend. The 2007 Coaches vs Cancer/ Northwestern Energy Classic tips off thi s mo rning wi th UGF and Multnomah. The Lights will take on Regina at 4 p.m. On Saturday, UGF faces Regina at 11 a.m. and Northern squares off against Multnomah at 8 p. m. All of the action will take place at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.