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Time to adjust: Short-handed Tigers prep for Red Raiders

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Dakota Wesleyan University's Ty Hoglund (24) shoots over the reach of Mount Marty College's Colby Johnson (22) during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Dec. 5 at the Corn Palace.

The approach will be the same, but the personnel will be a little different for the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team.

In the span of two days, the No. 7 Tigers were rocked by two suspensions, one potential season-ending injury and they dropped a 74-60 decision at No. 1 Morningside College on Saturday.

DWU junior guard Tyson Smiley was dismissed from the university on Friday for violating the terms of his probation. Smiley, who was arrested in September 2018 for domestic abuse and intentional damage to property, was allowed to rejoin the team after serving a nine-month suspension from the university. He started 16 games for the Tigers, but “unfortunately he violated the terms of his probation and will no longer be with the program,” DWU Athletic Director Jon Hart said in a text message to The Daily Republic on Friday. “He had an infraction related to student life and university policy.”

Tiger junior guard Nick Harden served the first of a two-game suspension against the Mustangs for “a campus dorm violation and an academic issue,” said Hart.

To make matters worse, senior forward Tristan Teichmeier suffered a knee injury against Morningside College and DWU coach Matt Wilber said, “everything is in play from a possible return to a season-ending injury.”

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But despite the adversity and noise currently surrounding the program, Wilber’s approach is going to remain the same.

“I am going to continue to my job the best I can and I am going to be enthused and excited for our guys,” Wilber said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t feel badly for what happened and what went down. But I have got to be excited and enthused to go to work for our basketball team. I am expecting the same response out of our guys.”

It will also mean more opportunities. Sophomore wing Mason Larson started his first game of the season on Saturday, finishing with 13 points and four rebounds in a season-high 36 minutes. Sophomore guard Koln Oppold played a season-high 24 minutes and his role could continue to increase.

“Mason Larson jumped into the starting lineup and I thought he had been trending in the right direction for us anyway,” Wilber said. “Koln Oppold is one who definitely has had opportunities, but limited and those are really going to expand for him.”

Teichmeier’s absence could also lead to more minutes in the post, but Wilber said those opportunities will be determined in practice and everything is in play right now.

“I am hopefully that somebody else will emerge,” Wilber said. “But that’s going to happen in practice. … We are looking at all of our guys frankly and as we practice here we are going to find some depth or we are going to ride out five guys on the court.”

Wilber anticipates an adjustment in style of play, but the Tigers will adjust on the fly as they’re in the heart of the conference season.

The Tigers (14-3) will now face No. 19 Northwestern College (14-4) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in Orange City, Iowa. Northwestern College is No. 1 nationally in total scoring and No. 5 in total 3-pointers made (206).

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“Obviously going down to Morningside we had very little time to prepare and we don’t have much more with our game against Northwestern,” Wilber said. “There are things we are going to have to change and especially for one more game before we get Nick back.”

Wilber said the Red Raiders are physical and their guards are aggressive, while he also expects them to also throw an unconventional defensive scheme at the Tigers.

“There are things you have to be ready to do and make adjustments as you are going,” Wilber said. “We are going to have to go down there and be a really tough, hard-nosed team.”

The Tigers have the No. 7 scoring defense in the nation, giving up an average of 67.2 points per game. DWU senior guard Ty Hoglund is sixth in the nation in scoring at 23.2 points a game.

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