Originally published: December 8, 2014
MARSHALL – Southwest Minnesota State is a young team with four freshmen and three sophomores in the regular rotation.
Inconsistency is to be expected.
That inconsistency was on full display in the Mustangs’ 78-74 loss to Upper Iowa on Saturday night.
“Tonight was a good reminder that we have a long ways to go. We have a team that can play with anybody, but also the margin of error that we can lose to anybody,” SMSU coach Brad Bigler said. “Our freshmen looked like freshmen tonight. Our guys who have not been through the consistent battles showed it tonight. We just have to work through that.”
Coming off a big win Friday night over Winona State, Bigler thought the step back from Friday to Saturday was more physical than mental.
“I thought we looked fatigued early in the half, which resulted in some miscommunication on defense and poor shot selection on offense,” Bigler said.
The poor shot selection can be partly attributed to Upper Iowa’s strong defense.
The Peacocks forced 17 SMSU turnovers and were able to turn that into 23 points on their end.
“We do a great job of getting into the passing lanes and getting deflections,” Upper Iowa coach Brooks McKowen said. Our rotations have gotten so much better throughout the year and it’s been really good for us. Our guys are buying into defending, and that is making us a good basketball team.”
For two seasons from 2011-2013, McKowen coached under Bigler on the SMSU staff. The two of them developed an offensive system that both teams still feature heavily in their playbooks.
“We both run very similar systems. There’s a lot of different stuff out of it, but when I was here, Coach Bigler and myself designed it together,” McKowen said.
McKowen has a lot of respect for Coach Bigler, which just adds to the feelings for him coming back to Marshall.
“Coach Bigler does a good job, obviously. I learned so much from him in the two years I was here and carried a lot of it over to what I do at Upper Iowa, McKowen said. “It’s a little bittersweet to come back and play. It’s fun to come back to see him and the people that I knew so well, but it’s tough to play against someone you look up to so much.”
After opening the Northern Sun Intercollegiate season with three home games, the Mustangs now will go on the road for three games. That stretch starts on Friday, as SMSU will travel to Bismarck, North Dakota, to play the University of Mary.