UND transfer Dale Jones overcomes injuries to help Hawks' inside game
In the past two seasons, Dale Jones played a total of 11 games at Iowa. Injuries derailed what he hoped would have been a successful collegiate basketball career.
"It might not have been the outcome I necessarily wanted," said Jones.
The NCAA, however, granted Jones a sixth year of eligibility since he lost two full seasons at Iowa. Jones transferred to UND in the offseason and now is making the most of his final season.
The 6-foot-8 forward from Waterloo, Iowa, has played 11 games so far at UND—matching the total of his past two seasons at Iowa.
And he believes he's beginning to find his stride as UND opens Big Sky Conference play tonight at The Betty against preseason favorite Idaho.
"I'm starting to get my groove back," said Jones before Thursday's practice.
Jones gives UND a presence inside as he leads the Fighting Hawks in rebounding, averaging 6.8 per game. And he's also a perimeter scoring threat as he's hit 18 three-pointers, making him a match-up problem for opponents. He averages 9.9 points per game.
"We have shown spurts of being a really good team," said Jones. "But we have to do that on a consistent basis. It's up to us whether we want to do it or not."
UND (4-7) enters Big Sky play as an undersized team. But the presence of Jones helps.
"He's really rebounding well for us," said UND coach Brian Jones. "Dale also stretches the defense and he's also an underrated passer. His rebounding is huge for us."
His teammates also appreciate the contributions Jones has made in 11 games.
"He's one of our biggest pieces we have on the team," said UND junior Cortez Seales. "He's been through a lot, seen a lot and played at a higher level.
"Just his knowledge and what he brings to the table every day is helpful."
UND is set to embark on its final season in the Big Sky Conference as the program will transition to the Summit League next season.
UND has had success in the Big Sky. UND is 52-38 in league play. But the Hawks are 1-4 in league openers, including a 74-71 loss against Idaho on New Year's Eve of 2015.
Idaho is led by Victor Sanders (19.8 ppg). He is one of four senior starters for the Vandals, who come in at 8-4. Idaho's most impressive win was a 91-64 win over Pac-12 member Washington State.
Idaho at UND
• When: 7 p.m. today
• Where: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
• Records: UND 4-7, Idaho 8-4
• TV/Radio: MidcoSN, 100.3 FM
• Of note: UND beat Idaho 69-64 in last season's semifinal game in the Big Sky Conference tournament in Reno, Nev.