K-Heart Sports – 03/15/23

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MINOT, N.D. (MSU) – Minot State head coach Alex Lehocky and the Beavers have been working hard this offseason in preparation for another season on the court. While the Beavers continue to prepare on the court, Coach Lehocky is pleased to announce that the schedule for the new season is set as the Minot State volleyball team will open its fall 2023 season on Friday, September 1, in a tournament hosted by Montana State-Billings, the start of a 26-match slate that includes nine NSIC contests in the friendly confines of the MSU Dome.
The returners and newcomers will get their first tests of their talent and teamwork in non-conference matches in a tournament hosted by the Yellowjackets on Sept. 1 and 2. The Beavers open against Southeastern Oklahoma State on Friday, then wrap up the day against host MSU-Billings. Minot State then plays Black Hills State (S.D.) and Lubbock Christian (Texas) on Saturday, Sept. 2, to wrap up the weekend in Montana. Minot State then heads to Texas to play four more non-conference matches in Lubbock Christian’s tournament on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, wrapping up preparation for the NSIC campaign.
The NSIC and home opener is slated for Friday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m., as the Beavers will welcome St. Cloud State to the MSU Dome, the first of nine home matches, all league contests. The Beavers are back in action at home the following day, hosting Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 2 p.m. Minot State then hits the road playing at Minnesota Crookston on Sept. 22, and at Bemidji State on Sept. 23, before returning home for a 3-match homestand that begins with Southwest Minnesota State on Friday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. The Beavers also will host Minnesota State, Mankato on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m., then wrap up the homestand hosting Minnesota State Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 6 p.m. Next on the slate for Minot State is a road trip to Winona State for a match on Oct. 6, and a stop at Concordia, St. Paul, on Oct. 7. The Beavers then return home for their lone meeting of the season with in-state rival the University of Mary on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. After hosting the Marauders, Minot State is back on the road playing at Northern State on Oct. 14. Minot State is back home the next weekend hosting Augustana on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m., then the Beavers make their final road trip, a four-match, two-weekend stretch that starts with action at Wayne State on Oct. 27, then at Sioux Falls on Oct. 28. The road trip wraps up the following weekend at Minnesota State, Mankato on Nov. 3, and at St. Cloud State on Nov. 4. The Beavers then close out the 2023 regular season at home, hosting Bemidji State on Friday Nov. 10, at 6 p.m., then hosting Minnesota Crookston on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND) – University of North Dakota Director of Athletics Bill Chaves announced on Tuesday that Head Men’s Basketball Coach Paul Sather has received a contract extension through the 2025-26 season. Sather completed his fourth season at the helm of the Fighting Hawks in 2022-23, helping mold a young core that reached its peak during the final month to win six of its final nine games to reach the quarterfinal round of the Summit League Tournament. Over his career at North Dakota, Sather has produced multiple all-conference selections, including the program’s first All-Summit League First Team honoree Marlon Stewart in 2019-20 as well as two Summit League Freshman of the Year selections. The Princeton, Minn., native became only the third coach in Summit League history to reach the tournament title game in their first year as the bench boss, while also picking up a win over Big Ten foe Nebraska, the first for the program since 1933, before navigating a global pandemic the next season en route to the highest Summit League finish for UND since joining the league. Off the court, Sather’s teams have received multiple academic distinctions as well as pacing the entire Division I in community service hours by a men’s basketball program. Sather’s family includes his wife, Kelsie, and their two children, Sam and Becca.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND) – University of North Dakota Director of Athletics Bill Chaves announced on Tuesday that Head Women’s Basketball Coach Mallory Bernhard has received a contract extension through the 2025-26 season. Bernhard took over the program as the interim head coach during the pandemic-filled 2020-21 season and began to carve out a new culture for UND. In that season, she helped the Fighting Hawks battled multiple opponents to overtime and tight contests, establishing an attitude for relentlessness and grit. She was named the seventh head coach of North Dakota in March 2021, becoming the first former student-athlete of the program to take the reins. During her first full year, Bernhard engineered a 13-win improvement to lead the Fighting Hawks to a fifth-place finish in the Summit League standings.
The 2022-23 season saw an even larger improvement under Bernhard, with the Fighting Hawks climbing the Summit League standings to a program-best third seed in the postseason league tournament with an 11-7 conference mark. UND also put together its best home record since the 2013-14 season at 13-1, which included the first wins over rivals North Dakota State and South Dakota since she took over the program. Bernhard also earned NoDak its first national postseason tournament appearance since 2016-17, accepting an invitation to the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) for later this week. Multiple players have garnered conference accolades under the tutelage of Bernhard, with Kacie Borowicz earning back-to-back All-Summit League First Team selections and two other earning spots on the league’s all-defensive team. Off the court, the Fighting Hawks have thrived with academic and community service success, most recently posting one of the highest semester GPA’s in program history. She is married to husband, Nick. They live in Grand Forks with their son, Louis, and daughter, Lizzie.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (NDSU) – The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) released its 2022-23 men’s basketball all-district teams on Tuesday, following voting from its national membership. North Dakota State’s Grant Nelson was selected to the All-District Team in District VI, which includes every Division I school in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Nelson becomes just the second Bison to earn the USBWA All-District honor, joining Ben Woodside in 2009. Only 90 total players are honored as All-District by the USBWA each season – 10 players from nine geographic districts. In 21 games against league opponents this season, Nelson averaged 19.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks, shooting 54 percent overall. He led NDSU in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals for the season, and was the only player in The Summit League’s top 11 for all five of those stat categories.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NDSU) – North Dakota State junior Grant Nelson earned All-District recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), the organization announced Tuesday. Nelson was voted to the District 12 first team. Nelson joins Ben Woodside (2009), Taylor Braun (2014), Lawrence Alexander (2015), and Vinnie Shahid (2020) as the five Bison who have earned first-team NABC All-District honors in the Division I era. Nelson led NDSU in points (19.9 ppg), rebounds (9.8 rpg), assists (2.4 apg), blocks (1.7 bpg) and steals (1.1 spg) – both for Summit League play, and for the entire season. He was the only player in the league’s top 11 for all five of those stat categories, and the only player in the league’s top five for scoring and field goal percentage. Nelson led the Summit League in rebounding and ranked second in the league for blocks. He recorded 10 double-doubles against conference opponents. The Devils Lake, N.D., native became the 21st player in NDSU history to score 500 points in a season. Nelson also earned All-Summit League first team honors this season.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings cleared the necessary space from their salary cap the day before the start of free agency, with a big boost from a contract restructure for quarterback Kirk Cousins. This time, the Vikings held off on another commitment. The Vikings reached an agreement with Cousins on Tuesday to change bonus language in his existing contract that saved them $16 million in cap charges for 2023, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiation. The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce it.
The Vikings also reached agreements to bring back center Garrett Bradbury, long snapper Andrew DePaola, kicker Greg Joseph and backup quarterback Nick Mullens, before they were due to hit the open market as unrestricted free agents at the beginning of the new league year on Wednesday.
Cousins will enter his sixth season with the Vikings, who have yet to signal their interest in keeping him beyond that. Owner and president Mark Wilf did not directly answer a question this week during an NFL Network interview about what the future holds for Cousins in Minnesota. “Kirk’s an outstanding quarterback. He’s done a great job for us this past season. I think with Kevin O’Connell, he took our offense to the next level. So we’re looking for great things in ‘23, and Kirk’s going to be our leader on the offense,” Wilf said. Recently at the NFL combine, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said Cousins meets that threshold of being a quality and proven starting quarterback. “How long does he meet that threshold? Those are things we’ve got to answer. Is there a chance to add somebody maybe with different skill sets? Those are all questions we’ve got to answer,” Adofo-Mensah said.
The Vikings also added two more voidable years to Cousins’ deal as part of the bonus conversion to spread out the money as much as they could. He’ll still make $30 million in 2023, including a $10 million base salary, but his cap charge will now be $20.25 million. That includes prorations from two different bonuses. So while Cousins now has four automatically voidable years after this on his deal, those are merely accounting mechanisms. He remains on an expiring contract, set to hit the market in 2024, unless the two sides strike an extension sometime in the coming year. The Vikings gained cap relief in 2020 and 2022 with extensions for Cousins, who first signed with the Vikings in 2018 as a free agent on a fully guaranteed $84 million deal. Cousins had a $20 million roster bonus due next week, but this conversion and the accompanying addition of two more void years allowed the Vikings to spread that money evenly on their cap at $4 million annually over five years. The extension Cousins got a year ago came with a $25 million signing bonus and two void years to spread that money evenly at $6.25 million from 2022-25.
The Vikings dived into the open market on Monday by reaching agreements with tight end Josh Oliver and defensive end Marcus Davenport. Bradbury’s return on a three-year, $15.75 million deal, according to NFL Network, will retain the entire starting offensive line. The Vikings last year declined the fifth-year option on Bradbury’s contract and will now have him coming off his most effective season at a more cap-friendly price. The return of DePaola and Joseph — a deal announced by his agent, Brett Tessler — will keep the team’s kicking game specialist trio intact for once after several years of turnover. DePaola was an All-Pro last season. Rookie punter Ryan Wright also had a solid debut.

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