St. Cloud State men’s basketball coach Kevin Schlagel said Friday afternoon that junior center Tim Bergstraser will make his season debut against Ashford today.
Tip-off is at 3 p.m. at Halenbeck Hall. Ashford is an NAIA school out of Clinton, Iowa.
Bergstraser hasn’t played since re-tearing the ACL in his left knee last March in a game against Bemidji State in the Central Region Tournament in Golden, Colo.
Bergstraser has been rehabbing for the past eight-plus months in preparation for his return. He wasn’t expected to play until after Jan. 1, however.
“We’re going to try and play him,” Schlagel said. “He’s done everything he can do to get back. We want to see what he can do. He’s passed all the trainers’ tests and he’s gone through practice in spurts. We won’t play him for long periods, but just having him in there will be a big plus.”
Bergstraser averaged 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds a game last season and was named a second team All-NSIC pick. Bergstraser will add depth and bulk to the front line for the No. 19-ranked Huskies (7-1).
“He was a great player for us when he was healthy,” Schlagel said. “We don’t know exactly what level he’s going to be coming back at. But one thing’s for sure, he’ll reinforce our inside game.”
The Huskies will have a new player eligible to play Saturday in junior guard Nash Faulk. Faulk transferred to SCSU last January and had to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. He previously played at Central Lakes Community College.
Schlagel wasn’t sure if Faulk would play against Ashford (11-4).
“Nash knows all of our stuff. He’s good to go,” Schlagel said. “We’ll see how our rotation goes. Our guards have been playing well.”
Junior forward Kenquane Brown won’t play for the next few weeks after he underwent knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear on Wednesday. Brown is one of the Huskies’ best defenders.
Ashford is a solid NAIA program. They made the NAIA Tournament last season and went 20-11. Schlagel thinks his team will get a good test in their first game since Dec. 15.
“They’re a very quick and athletic team,” Schlagel said. “They can shoot the three extremely well. It’s good to have this game before we get back into the conference season.”