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Dennis Hutter's yearslong relationship with UND coach Mallory Bernhard leads to hiring

Apr. 2—GRAND FORKS — UND women's basketball coach Mallory Bernhard called Dennis Hutter, Mayville State's head coach, following every game against the Comets since she joined UND's staff in 2013.

She would ask how he scouted the Fighting Hawks, what weaknesses he saw and what Bernhard should work on with the team.

Bernhard called Hutter again this spring after he led the Comets to a historic season and a trip to the NAIA Sweet 16 in his 19th year. The conversation was like every other before it, with the two talking about basketball and the seasons they had.

Eventually, it was mentioned that UND was

looking to fill two positions

after assistants Travis Bledsoe and Sabra Wimberley's contracts weren't renewed after this season.

"I think initially, she didn't think I would want to leave Mayville," said Hutter, who started coaching at Mayville State when Bernhard was playing at UND. "But as we talked a little bit more, she realized I was open to the idea."

Hutter decided joining a Division I program was a challenge he wanted, and he was

named the associate head coach

Friday.

"I'm ready for a new opportunity," he said. "I have a lot of respect for UND and a lot of respect for what they stand for and how they go about their business. When that opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it to just take on the next challenge. It was really hard to leave here. I've loved my time here. I'm so proud of what we've built here, but I'm ready for a new challenge and I feel like UND offers that opportunity for me."

It's the second consecutive year Bernhard has had to fill two open spots on her staff. This time around, though, she found a successful, seasoned coach who knows what it takes to win.

"Honestly, I look at those Mayville State teams, and they played their butts off," Bernhard said. "They played so incredibly hard. You can just tell they loved each other like family. You could actually feel and see the great culture that they had there.

"I think that's a huge piece. You can tell that it's incredibly real, his passion and the work he puts into it."

Hutter will start Tuesday, giving him ample time to learn Division I recruiting and to implement new schemes before players arrive this summer.

"It's intriguing to me to see if what we've done here can work there," said Hutter, who hasn't coached at the Division I level before.

He had multiple offers to coach elsewhere during his time at Mayville State, but other opportunities would've forced the Hutters to move. The UND job allows him to commute to Grand Forks, and his youngest son will be able to stay at May-Port-C-G instead of transferring schools.

Hutter is joining a program that went 9-21 overall and 5-11 in Summit League play last season. But UND has three solid recruits coming in: Grand Forks Red River standout guard Jocelyn Schiller, Presho, S.D., guard Skyler Volmer and Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier forward Mataeya Mathern.

The Hawks will still be a young team, with five juniors and no seniors on the current roster for next season.

"I'm a highly intense guy," Hutter said. "I love winning. I absolutely love winning, and I love competing. It's not like a win-at-all-costs mentality. To me, if we're going to put a lot of time into something, I want that something to go well. I put a lot of time into my marriage. I want my marriage to go well. I put a lot of time into coaching. I want coaching to go well.

"We'll put a lot of time into the team. We want the team to do well. Part of that well is going to be winning. I hope that I bring in a winning attitude, a winning mindset."