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Old 10-30-2016, 08:43 PM   #1
Marc Wigim
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Default ***ARTICLE*** Making A Case

Making A Case

They looked young, but they didn’t look nervous. Even when Bemidji State had successfully taken away Northern Iowa’s ability to kick out to the perimeter and effectively shut down their offense in the first half, the Panthers stayed poised. That poise paid off as the end result was a satisfying 16-2 run that would essentially seal the game. The rest, as they say, was business as usual.

UNI defeated Bemidji State 71-48 on Friday in front of 3,737 ever-loyal and proud fans eager to see what awaited them in the 2016-17 men’s basketball season. It was an exhibition game, but the contest had an undeniable feel of the real thing, especially with such an impressive fan turnout. The students also made their presence felt as this game seemed to serve as their time to get their cheering chops in order. Everything smacked of preparation and anticipation, which is the way it should be for the UNI basketball program.

The theme of the game itself was new blood. Of course Jeremy Morgan was his usual self, playing lockdown defense and distributing the ball to his teammates with surgical precision. He would finish with 10 points, most of those coming in the second half as the Panthers began wearing the Beavers in methodical fashion. Other standouts included hailed incoming freshman Juwan McCloud, whose 10 points came on consistent and exciting drives to the hoop. Redshirt freshman Spencer Haldeman also contributed 10 points to effort on precision shooting and impressive defense. Wyatt Lohaus rounded out the 10-point club with his play, and everything just seemed to fall into place for the Panthers once they got comfortable playing with one another.

It would be easy to say that this team is reloading as opposed to rebuilding from last year’s thrilling campaign, but honestly it’s too early to tell. The freshmen and first-year players were impressive, giving fans a lot of hope for the 2016-17 season, but it’s a long grind. One would have to think that if Jacobson can go at least 10-deep all season with this group of young men, the future looks bright. Role players like Isaiah Brown, Justin Dahl, and Hunter Rhodes will go along way as they proved they can provide valuable minutes to what appears to be a solid starting five.

It’s an understatement to say that Panther fans are excited for this season. Some questions were answered after Friday’s exhibition, but many still remain. Either way, it will be a fun journey throughout the year.
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