How Does UND’s Roster Look Without Bernstine?

News came late Thursday that UND forward Drick Bernstine plans to transfer.

That’s a pretty big blow to UND’s 2017-18 squad. Bernstine had his ups and downs as a junior, but his frame and skill set were such an advantage at times. At 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, Bernstine became one of the best rebounders in the Big Sky Conference. Against Arizona in the NCAA tournament, Bernstine also showcased his value as a ball-handler. He had 20 points and 15 rebounds against the Wildcats.

UND is going to rely heavily next season on Conner Avants inside. Avants (9.5 ppg on a team-best 55.3 shooting percentage) put together a good 2016-17 season and was a force at times. He was also clearly undersized and sometimes struggled to finish at the rim. Avants averaged 4.8 rebounds per game last season, compared to Bernstine’s 7.5.

With Bernstine and Shanks gone from the post, UND is going to need someone to step up defensively. That could be Josh Collins, who’s 6-6, 220. He’s an impressive athlete but a bit unpolished. Another potential replacement for Bernstine is Dale Jones, a transfer from Iowa. UND hasn’t made the Dale Jones move official but I expect the school to do that within the next 10 days or so, I would guess.

UND expects a jump in production from Kienan Walter (2.5 points per game). The 6-8 freshman, though, isn’t the wide body underneath that Bernstine provided. Walter has more of a perimeter game. Whether in the post or on the wing, the Fighting Hawks are going to need Walter to emerge. The coaches have been high on his potential.

In total, UND’s core is still strong with Geno Crandall, Avants and Cortez Seales (who actually outscored Bernstine this past season), but the Fighting Hawks will probably take a bigger dip in preseason polls now and depth is a major concern. I’m curious to see if Dale Jones can shake his injury history and provide big minutes.

It’s also going to be interesting to see what kind of impact Creighton transfer Marlon Stewart can provide. It sounds like Stewart is in the Quinton Hooker mode, where he’s a thick body that likes to get into the paint. If that’s the case, he and Crandall will get to the basket quite a bit and open up shots on the outside. Who takes those shots next season? Two years ago it was Adam McDermott and last year it was Corey Baldwin. I don’t think there’s an obvious candidate for that role in 2017-18.

I’m interested in what fans are thinking next year’s squad will look like. Let me know in the comments.

15 Responses

  1. Rob

    Think there’s any shot of another post transfer? Also didn’t Moody say he was going to have the opportunity to be the 6th man? Maybe he can be the guy from the outside if he truly is ready.

    1. Tom

      I actually almost mentioned Moody, but I don’t know exactly if he’s the leading candidate in that group of guys coming in or not. I would guess so. But I don’t know a ton yet about Buchanan from Illinois or Franken from Iowa.

  2. gregory fritz

    Bernstine did the team a disservice by waiting until June….Collins not skilled enough and not quick off his feet….Huge Loss on a team lacking bigs. Avants is a 4 playing the 5. Team drops from a long shot BSC contender to a no shot BSC contender….Would not be surprised to see them in bottom 3rd of BSC.

    1. Tom

      It’s hard to disagree with that. I’ll hold out Big Sky predictions until I hear more reports on Stewart, Dale Jones, Walter.

  3. Ted

    I also find it worrisome that Jones still has not signed a new contract. Could that of had anything to do with Bernstein leaving?

  4. Kent

    Pack Owner–Sioux recruit the best perimeter players in Big Sky or Summit but can’t find any horses like Werner of the bison. Tough to beat the good teams with a bunch of 6’5 guys

  5. Mike

    Will you be having anymore info about the late decision by Drick and why he made the decision? Would be curious how caught off guard the coaches were or were they kept in the loop?

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