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Old 11-12-2016, 08:36 PM   #1
Marc Wigim
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Default ***ARTICLE*** New Faces, Same Places

New Faces, Same Places

What do you say about a game where 14 players saw at least 3 minutes of playing time? What do you say about a team that featured nine players that had never played a regular season game wearing a UNI jersey? The first thing that came to mind in my case was “Wow, there was a plethora of new faces on the floor.”

The question marks surrounding this team are plentiful, but they don’t seem to have those close to the program in a state of panic. Many fans ended up having their questions placated early on, as this team came out of the gates in a rush and never looked back. The best part of the whole experience was the impressive flashes of play they would show throughout the contest. UNI rather quietly jumped out to a 22-4 lead, and it became apparent early on that the smaller, thinner Kohawks were going to be outmatched. I don’t bring that up to take a jab at Coe College (a place I considered going to college for those who want to know more about the writer), but rather to point out how far UNI has come in the past ten seasons or so.

The athleticism the Panthers showed was undeniable. They were fast, long, and passed the ball with the kind of precision you wouldn’t expect out of a freshman-laden team in its first game. Senior Jeremy Morgan decided to take the reins and lead the team early, netting 11 points. Junior Bennett Koch made his presence felt inside, getting 5 rebounds and scoring 11 points, nearly all in the post. Those first-year players understood their roles from the word go, scoring 44 points as a group.

There were standout plays, too. Justin Dahl made a statement with a powerful tomahawk slam over a hapless defender trying to get the defensive board. Isaiah Brown caught on fire late in the first half and would eventually score double-digits with 10. Four different players would end up bringing the ball up the floor, making an exciting indication that the Panthers are much deeper at guard than the pundits predicted.

Now UNI faces a tough test in Orlando with Bobby Hurley and the Arizona State Sun Devils. Thankfully the Curtain of Distraction will not be in attendance, but a young and dynamic group of young men ready to take on all comers will be. It won’t get any easier after that, as the Panthers will get either Oklahoma or Tulane. These are the breaks for a program on the rise, and now comes the time to seize the opportunity.

"Once it starts, it never ends."
-Eldon Miller
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