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Bison basketball team helps with flood fight

Last week, the Bison men’s basketball players were battling on the court during the team’s first NCAA Division I tournament appearance. Now, they’ve joined another fight.

Team members and coaches are among the thousands of volunteers who are battling the rising waters of the Red River and its tributaries. On Tuesday, the squad filled sandbags and helped built dikes in Oxbow and Briarwood, N.D.

“This is a no-brainer for us. People need help, and we’ve got able-bodied guys,” explained Saul Phillips, head basketball coach. “Anybody who has been around our program knows how well the community supported us, and they need us now. They’ve got us.”

At Matt Engen’s home in Briarwood, seven NDSU players and four coaches joined the volunteers and neighbors working to protect the property. Engen estimated about 3,000 sandbags are needed to encircle his home.

“It’s pretty amazing to have local celebrities out here helping,” an appreciative Engen said. “We’re fairly new to the neighborhood, so it means a lot to us to have these superstars help us out. It’s really nice to have the troops here.”

For the players, like center Lucas Moormann, the chance to pitch in was an opportunity not to be missed.

“This is a great way for us to give back to the community. The people of this area have done so much for us through the years,” said the senior from Dickinson, N.D., as he shoveled sand into a bag. “As we saw down at the NCAA tournament, we have a ton of fans. This is one way to give back to them and help the community.”

Moormann added, “We just want to say thanks to everyone who has supported us. From people on campus to the people that we’ve met at the grocery store, it’s been great to get to know everybody. It’s been great to become a part of this community.”

Sophomore forward Michael Tveidt took a short break from carrying sandbags to say, “It’s fun to be able to help people out. Some of these guys have been coming to our games, and we’ve been talking about that as we work,” said the Pierre, S.D., native.

“Their faces light up when they see people coming to help,” Tveidt said. “It feels good to help.”

Finishing with a record of 26-7, the Bison were the Summit League regular season champions and won the conference’s post-season tournament. NDSU was defeated by the University of Kansas, the defending national champions, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.


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