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Concordia seniors keep it all together

For every game, Nate Ferrier wears the initials 'B.D.' on his shoes. Three long years later, the memory of Bryan Dunn still inspires and motivates at Concordia University.

Coach Brad Barbarick recruited five freshmen in 2000, knowing he needed to replace virtually his entire roster. Four still play on the team: Ferrier, brother Matt Ferrier, Jerry Smith and Andre Johnson. The fifth, Dunn, died in an automobile accident in the summer of 2001, after starting 29 games as a true freshman.

'He was the best player out of all of them,' Barbarick says.

So, in their own way, the seniors memorialize Dunn Ñ through initials, by their play and by the mere fact that they have stuck together through the years.

'It's the perfect kind of team for Brad,' says Craig Moody, a former Barbarick assistant and ex-Cascade College coach, 'because it's mostly kids who've grown up in the system' and not junior college transfers.

'We've worked hard to build the program and done it the right way,' says Barbarick, whose team entered the week ranked No. 18 in the NAIA Division II national poll. Albertson College beat the Cavaliers 77-72 on Tuesday, dropping Concordia to 12-6 overall and 4-2 in the Cascade Conference.

'If we sign a JC kid, he has to be a good student and he has to be a good fit for our school and our program,' Barbarick says.

The Ferriers came from Elma, a Class 2A school in Washington, where they enjoyed much success. Johnson, from Carson, Calif., arrived 'as a wild stallion. But I love his effort. I love guys like that,' Barbarick says. Smith once started, but now he comes off the bench and doesn't complain. 'Great student. Talented musician,' Barbarick says.

The Cavaliers have a legitimate chance to win the Cascade Conference, or the league tournament Ñ a victory in either would qualify them for the NAIA national tourney. The Cavs were hurt when Barbarick dismissed point guard Michael Lay from the team before the season. Shooting guard Steve Ford has played the point, and excels, but he hasn't learned the subtleties of the position, things like calling the coach's plays and then executing them.

'We get after it defensively,' Barbarick says, 'but we're out of sync offensively.'

Junior Brandon Erlandson leads in scoring (15.3 points per game), ranks second to Nate Ferrier in rebounding (6.7) and shoots .582 from the field (.464 from 3-point range).

Erlandson arrived at Concordia the roundabout way. After graduating from Franklin High, where he was all-PIL his senior year in 1996, he signed with Concordia but grew disenchanted with college life. He quit and went to work for Freightliner. He played briefly at Portland Community College but mostly lit up the Portland city league for about four years.

'I got laid off by Freightliner, and my wife thought it would be a good idea if I played again, if I wanted to,' Erlandson says. 'I had worked out every day like I was in college. I was definitely in shape.'

A year after rejoining the Cavs, he's one of the league's best players. A 25-year-old junior beating youngsters up and down the floor.