With the Minot State University men's basketball team sitting at 1-5 - and its only victory against an overmatched Division III opponent - the Beavers could use a win.
But for first-year MSU coach Matt Murken, a victory tonight against Jamestown College would be a bittersweet triumph.
"Tuesday will be a tough day for me because regardless of what happens, there'll be some kids I care about that lose," said Murken, who coached the Jimmies to a 46-16 record the past two seasons.
Matt Murken is pictured coaching at Jamestown College, where he led the Jimmies for the past two seasons. Now a first-year coach at Minot State University, Murken will take the Beavers into a game against his former squad tonight. Photo courtesy of JC sports information.
Justin Wieck has taken over at Jamestown and steered a team primarily compiled by Murken to a 7-6 record.
"With his taking (the Minot State) job so late in the summer and me taking this one even later, a lot of the same guys are here," Wieck said. "He did a good job building the program on both sides of the ball. Obviously, we have some new stuff that we're doing, but he did a great job teaching the game of basketball and we're just trying to continue that on."
Murken remains in touch with his former players and tracks the Jimmies' progress.
"He'll text back and forth every once in a while, give us congratulations on a win," said Mark Hoge, a 6-foot-3 guard who leads Jamestown at 20 points per game. "But especially with him being a coach, it's really a busy time."
Murken knows exactly how tough of an opponent the Jimmies are. Under his direction, the program won the 2012 Dakota Athletic Conference title and achieved a top 10 ranking in NAIA Division II.
"The guys that played for me really believed in our program," Murken said. "They really did everything that I asked them to do, so I'm really proud of them and what we accomplished there. They're dangerous now because they're a program that's used to winning."
Wieck said the Jimmies are a perimeter-oriented group this season. Along with Hoge, 6-5 guard Davon Thomas averages 15 points per game and 6-foot guard Taylor Newton chips in nine a contest.
While Murken has gotten off to a rough start at MSU - which is in its first season in NCAA Division II and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference - he believes he can duplicate the success he had at Jamestown.
"The level of competition that we'll face here will be much better, but a lot of the things that make you win in basketball are the same," Murken said. "You learn how to compete at a high level, you learn how to trust your teammates and trust in your program, you learn how to execute a game plan. That doesn't change no matter what level you're at."
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.