Three tips: what Dakota Prairie BBB must do to succeed this season

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DAKOTA PRAIRIE – Average. This word could have best defined the Dakota Prairie Knights during the 2020-21 season, at least in terms of the win-loss record. With their 60-49 loss to the Benson County Wildcats in the District 7 Tournament on Mar. 1, the Knights finished with a 10-11 record. 

A new season, however, brings a unique opportunity for the Knights. With their returning talent, Dakota Prairie will look to find more momentum in the hopes of collecting more wins. Here are three tips for the team as they begin their 2021-22 season. 

The Dakota Prairie Knights pose for a photo before the 2021-22 season.

1. Adjust, adjust and, you guess it, adjust 

What the Knights might lack in depth, they make up for in adapting on the fly. While every team adjusts depending on the opponent, it is more paramount to the Knights. If they wish to put a damper in the plans of the bigger teams, they will need to adjust on the fly and at the snap of a finger. 

Doing so will lead to success. Not doing so? Well, you can fill in the blanks. 

“It is very important,” Dakota Prairie head coach Thomas Trostad said. “We cannot play against a team like Four Winds/Minnewaukan the same way you are going to play against a team like Harvey or a team like Lakota or Warwick in our district. You have to adjust and play things differently, but you don’t want to adjust too much where you get away from your own style. We have our strengths we play to, but I feel like our boys are really good adjusting with me and everything, so we keep it what we are comfortable doing, but we also have to adjust. It depends on who we are playing.” 

2. Shoot in volume 

The return of Cade Stein, Garrett Syverson and Garrett Haakenson (more on him below) should automatically make Dakota Prairie fans jump up in excitement. After all, the first two players averaged double-digit points last season (Stein averaged 21.8 points per game, while Syverson averaged 11.8 points per game). 

You get the idea solely based on the raw numbers – they love to score. However, the numbers might not show the pace at which they like to score. 

In fact, from Dakota Prairie’s perspective, it is all about speed. This, paired with the sheer amount of looks the Knights yearn to find from the perimeter, makes for a potentially devastating combination. Look for a similar strategy this year. 

“Since I have taken over with some of the players I had, our offensive side has been we like to try to get points quick,” Trostad said. “Not necessarily full pressure and create turnovers and get points quick, but I encourage getting shots up, like three-point shots. You see Cade hit 65 three-pointers last year. If we get good pull-up looks quick in the shot clock, I am OK with that, but then, if that is not working, we like to break it down and draw up some nice plays that will get us good looks at the rim and get the inside-out game working with [Garrett] Syverson.” 

3. Play Garrett Haakenson early and often 

Yes, Stein and Syverson are critical to the offense keeping tempo. However, while Stein and Syverson might be the engines to the machine, it is Haakenson who is the oil. Without Haakenson, Stein and Syverson can get teamed up and trapped. Haakenson’s utility ability will only make Dakota Prairie’s offense harder to defend. 

“He [Haakenson] is a guy who will do anything you want of him,” Trostad said. “He will take the ball, be the point guard when you want to get it out of Cade’s hands and get the focus off of him. He’ll guard their best guy, [and] he works his butt off. He’ll go over until I have to tell him to stop or slow down in practice. He does everything. He is a leader, [and he] gets all of the other boys in line. He is loud, he is vocal and he is our leader.” 

To the opposition, it is about picking your poison. With mof Haakenson at the helm, opposing defenses must choose from one more dose on the shelf.