DWU’s Harden returning to form: Tiger point guard coming off 24-point performance

Senior guard coming off Achilles injury

Dakota Wesleyan University's Nick Harden (3) goes to the basket in front of Dakota State University's Brady Van Holland (4) during a game on Wednesday night at the Corn Palace.

Nick Harden is doing Nick Harden things again.

The Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball senior guard missed 15 games last season due to an Achilles injury, while he sat two games this season with a hamstring injury.

But Harden, an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention selection in 2018-19, has been rounding into form the past four games, averaging 21 points and 5.2 assists per game. He’s coming off a 24-point and 5-assist performance against Dakota State University on Wednesday. He added a 26-point and 5-assist outing against Dickinson State University on Nov. 27.

“He’s just ready to go in these games,” DWU coach Matt Wilber said. “He’s taken advantage of it and his ears are pinned back and he’s ready to rock and roll.”

Wilber has had to tell his downhill point guard to ease up at times, but likes his mentality early in the season.


“His foot is always all the way down on the gas and I like that,” Wilber said. “He’s just so fun to coach because of his ability and his competitiveness. He is so competitive.”

Harden orchestrated the offense in the 81-63 win over Dakota State. He dished out four of DWU’s 11 first-half assists as it led 48-32 at halftime.

“My main goal going into a game is to get my teammates involved first,” Harden said. “That’s my main priority. … Eleven assists are nice because we know everybody is touching the ball and everybody is getting a good feel for the game and we can roll together.”

Zorr takes advantage of increased role

Wednesday was a career night for Ace Zorr.

The DWU junior forward played a career-high 26 minutes and responded with career-highs in points (16), rebounds (eight) and blocked shots (four).

“We can have a bad possession and it can turn really good because he can just go and get it,” Wilber said. “He’s just got great ball skills and instincts. He had a tremendous game (Wednesday). He was a huge lift for us.”

Zorr, who finished 6 of 8 from the field, made a living off assists from teammates and finishing around the rim.

“I am just trusting my other guys that they find me and I will find them,” Zorr said. “It’s a lot of trust. I have a lot of trust in our guards and it just works out.”


He’s gained Harden’s trust.

“Every day in practice I go up to Wilber and say ‘Hey Ace needs to play more. He needs to play more,’ ” Harden said. “I just love playing with him because he’s bouncy and he’s athletic.”

The 6-foot-5 rugged defender and rebounder earned the uptick in minutes from his practice production, said Wilber. But now the challenge is trying to carve out more minutes for Zorr.

“We have to find him more minutes and I am not always looking for this much production from him,” Wilber said. “But you can see how much he can do out there and how different he is.”

DWU continues homestand

The Tigers will host Doane University at 4 p.m. Sunday in a Great Plains Athletic Conference contest. DWU (6-1, 3-0 GPAC) is in the midst of a three-game home stretch and it will host Northwestern College on Dec. 9 to conclude it.

Doane (4-5, 1-3 GPAC) went 21 days without playing a game due to coronavirus issues, but it’s played four games since Nov. 25.

Wilber isn’t sure what Doane will have for personnel, but said in the past it ran a similar offense to Dakota State.

“They run the same type of offense and they’ve got players and shotmakers running around out there and it’s a GPAC game for us,” Wilber said. “You are talking about a big-time game.”


The DWU and Doane women will play at 2 p.m. to start the doubleheader. It will be DWU’s first game since Nov. 11.

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