CANMORE, Alta. — Last season, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks punched their first-ever ticket to the NCAA Tournament. While they fell to the Arizona Wildcats in the First Round, it was still a successful season for the program.
In the off-season, the Fighting Hawks said goodbye to several contributors from last year’s team.
Forward Drick Bernstine transferred to the Washington State Cougars, while fellow big man Carson Shanks transferred to the Loyola (IL) Ramblers. To top it all off, one of the program’s all-time greats graduated, in two-time College Court Report Player of the Year Quinton Hooker.
Coming into 2017-18, many expected junior guard Geno Crandall to take on a starring role for the Fighting Hawks. Through two games, he has lived up to the preseason billing, and even exceeded some expectations.
Simply put, North Dakota will be just fine with Crandall at the helm.
Through two games at the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Crandall has been the go-to guy for North Dakota. He put together one of the more impressive second half performances you will see all season in the team’s opener on Friday.
After leading North Dakota to an even 1-1 record over their first two games in Hawaii, Fighting Hawks’ junior guard Geno Crandall has been named the College Court Report Player of the Week(end) for November 10 – 12, 2017!
On opening night, the Fighting Hawks took on the Troy Trojans in the opener of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, hosted by the Hawaii Warriors.
It was a quiet start for Crandall, who recorded just four points in the opening half. North Dakota trailed by three at the break, but Crandall found his groove in the second frame.
The junior from Minneapolis, MN was responsible for 37 of the Fighting Hawks’ 53 points in the second half, and North Dakota held off Troy in the final seconds for the 83-80 win.
Crandall finished with 41 points on the night, to go along with six rebounds and five assists.
What made his performance even more impressive were his shooting numbers from Friday night. Crandall went 15-for-19 (78.9%) from the floor, and 7-for-9 (77.8%) from three point range. That’s an impressive way to kick off a season.
Then, on Sunday night, the Fighting Hawks took on the host Warriors in the second of three games in Honolulu to open the season.
Crandall didn’t put up 41 points again, but he did keep the Fighting Hawks close with Hawaii right to the end of the game. North Dakota had a shot to tie the game at the buzzer, but it went by the wayside and the Warriors held on for the 81-78 victory.
For the second game in a row, Crandall was impressive from the field, going 5-for-10 (50%) from the floor, and 4-for-5 (80%) from three point range on the night. He scored a team-high 21 points, and was one of four North Dakota players to score in double-figures.
Over the first two games of the season, Crandall is averaging 31.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per contest. He has shot a combined 20-of-29 (69%) from the field, and 11-for-14 (78.6%) from three point range.
It looks as though Crandall will be just fine as the face of the North Dakota Fighting Hawks over the next two seasons.
Looking at the week ahead, the Hawks close out the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic on Monday against the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions before returning to the mainland. Next Sunday, the 19th of November, the Fighting Hawks head on the road to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
For his efforts over the opening weekend, a stretch that saw him open the season with a nation-high 41 points, North Dakota junior guard Geno Crandall has been named the College Court Report Player of the Week(end) for November 10 – 12, 2017!
– T. Bennett
**College Court Report Player of the Week recipients are selected from teams in the following conferences:
America East, Atlantic Sun, Atlantic 10, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon League, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, Summit League, SWAC, Sun Belt, West Coast, and WAC