UNC's Bears prepping for first season of Division I basketball
GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado coach Craig Rasmuson is honest when it comes to assessing the upcoming season, his program's first in Division I-A
"It is brutal," he said Monday. "But we knew we had to bite the bullet."
The most troublesome part of the transition from 25 years in Division II is the scheduling. UNC has only nine home games and must play the remainder of their 28-game schedule at places like Colorado, Iowa State, Loyola Marymount and Rutgers.
Rasmuson has also decided to redshirt last year's leading scorer, Sean Nolen (18.1 points and five assists a game), and James Randle, an athletic 6-foot-7 forward.
"Nolen is in line to have five or six school records when he finishes here and Randle made great strides last year," Rasmuson said. "We need Nolen's toughness and Randle's athleticism for Division I, but I didn't want to send them out with nine home games either."
The loss of Nolen leaves Rasmuson without his best point guard. He will turn to senior Heath Orvis, sophomore Chris Gebhardt or freshman Matt Kline to fill the void.
"Those three guys are really going to have to step it up for a three-year starter and our quarterback," Rasmuson said. "Playing all those road game without much experience at point guard will be tough."
Orvis, who played one year at St. Johns, will see most of the minutes at shooting guard. The rest of the minutes will be divided between Kendrick Irby and junior college transfer Michael Frazier.
Sophomore Erik Olson will be the starting small forward with Parish Brockman and football player Vincent Jackson in reserve. Jackson (10.6 points, 3.8 rebounds a game) could also see time at power forward.
The starting power forward job is wide open between Jackson, Trei Steward, Ari Zandman Zeman and Bryson Gholston. At 6-9, Kirk Archibeque will share time at center with Zeman and Gholston.
"I feel we can still have a winning program this year," Rasmuson said. "Even with all of those Division I games and the fact we have to beat some people on the road which we haven't done since I've been here."
Northern Colorado opens its season with an exhibition game at Colorado State on Nov. 17 before playing host Western State on Nov. 21.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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