Through 10 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference games, the Minnesota State Moorhead men’s basketball has already equalled the number of conference losses from the three previous years combined.
The Dragons (4-12, 2-8 NSIC) have lost seven consecutive games heading into Friday night’s league game against Augustana at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.
“We knew it was a reset button type of year … Even on a reset year, we’re not where we should be.” Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said. “I think we will come out of it a little bit. At this point, you can’t look at the results. You have to get back to enjoying the game a little bit because losses can pile up on you.”
The Dragons were a combined 58-8 in league play the previous three seasons. MSUM was the overall NSIC regular-season champion last season and also won at least a share of the four previous North Division championships.
“This is our turn to kind of look up at some people. You’ve got to respect,” Walthall said. “When you’ve been on the high side, these teams are going to come in and they’re not going to care what your record is.”
The Dragons are redshirting five players this season, including four freshmen: Bryce Irsfeld, Siman Sem, Gavin Baumgartner and Jesse Bergh. Walthall likes the talent and potential in that group.
“We made the decision to redshirt five kids. I would still do the same thing,” Walthall said. “We’ve got great players in the program.”
Tanner Kretchman, a 6-foot guard, is the lone senior on the roster and leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.9 points per game. The Dragons depth has shrunk in recent weeks. Evan Hines and A.J. Nywesh left the team, Walthall said.
The Dragons haven’t had a below .500 record since Walthall took over the program for the 2010-11 season. MSUM went 15-12 that season. Walthall guided the Dragons to an 89-16 record in the three previous seasons.
“We’ve been struggling offensively. I think the main thing is we can’t be negative. It’s been difficult. I’m not going to lie,” Walthall said. “Our attitude and our practice habits have been really impressive. I’m proud of how they’ve handled that.”
The Dragons are averaging 74.2 points per game, shooting 46 percent from the field. They are allowing opponents 83.9 points per contest.
Walthall said this has been a learning experience for him as a coach.
“It’s different for me,” Walthall said. “As a coach, you learn. You learn how to appreciate winning a little bit more and learn how to handle losing.”