Beavers show positives on recent Canada trip

Minot State University men’s basketball coach Matt Murken returned from Canada late Sunday night pleased with his team’s progress.

The Beavers took advantage of NCAA rules allowing one foreign tour every four years, and finished 2-1 in two exhibition games against the University of Winnipeg and one exhibition against Brandon University.

“I think from all the guys, returners and new guys, we saw flashes of why we’re excited they’re in our program,” Murken said. “We just need to become a little more consistent.”

Senior forwards Chris East and Samuel Johnson – a transfer from Montana State University-Billings – scored 17 points apiece in Saturday’s 86-78 win over Winnipeg. Junior Adam Randall scored a team-high 20 points in a 70-55 win over Brandon on Friday, while Johnson chipped in 16 points and six boards.

Junior forward Lazar Boskovic recorded 15 points and 17 rebounds in Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg.

Murken divided teams so every player got to play 15-20 minutes in at least one game. Randall said the eight practices the Beavers held before the trip were particularly valuable to the eight players that are either new to the program or redshirted last season.

“It’s huge teaching the new guys all the new stuff and kind of giving them a head start,” he said. “It gives everybody a head start to the season and teaches them what practice is like.”

Murken said he was impressed with the leadership of his returning players.

“Besides basic offensive and defensive fundamentals, we just wanted to impress on the new guys how hard we expect them to play,” he said. “I think we did a good job getting that across.”

Another benefit of the exhibition trip is it allowed the Beavers to get current video of players in game situations. With about six weeks until the start of practice, the game tape will inform the individual instruction of each player.

“We can break down the whole before breaking it into parts for our preseason,” Murken said. “I think that’ll allow us to be more focused than we were last year in terms of us coaches knowing what everyone needs to work on.”

Daniel Allar reports on Minot State University athletics and assists with high school coverage. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.