Summit League Preview: South Dakota Men Host Omaha, Play at South Dakota State
The non-conference portion of a basketball schedule means different things to different teams.
For the 2016-17 South Dakota men's squad it served as an ice breaker, as the Coyotes worked in four new starters who had never worn a USD uniform before, all in a beautiful new on-campus home.
Coach Craig Smith's crew has made the most of their new beginnings, posting the school's best Division I non-conference record ever (9-6), while quickly establishing a home court advantage at the new Sanford Coyote Sports Center by winning all six games in Vermillion so far.
Among the new faces, Air Force transfer Matt Mooney has been making the biggest impact, scoring in double figures in 12 of 15 games, while leading the team with 15 points per game.
Iowa transfer Trey Dickerson, Colorado State transfer Carlton Hurst, and Northern Idaho transfer Trey Burch-Manning are all new to the program and in the starting lineup.
The one veteran returner is center Tyler Flack, the team’s lone senior. Flack is leading the league in offensive rebounding.
Balance has been the key for the Coyote offense so far, with eight different players leading them in scoring so far. USD has been one of the more up tempo teams in the Summit after two months, averaging better than 60 shot attempts per game.
They have committed the fewest turnovers, have the second most rebounds, and are tops on the offensive glass.
The areas where they've struggled have been at the free throw line (less than 70%), shooting three-pointers (8th in the league), and distributing the ball (8th).
South Dakota's Summit League opener will come against another of the conference's more high octane offenses - Omaha. The Mavericks also average more than 60 shot attempts per game and are number two in the Summit in scoring. They also get to the free throw line more than any other team in the Summit.
Junior forward Tre'Shawn Thurman is off to a fast start, averaging 14 points, while hitting better than two-thirds of his shots. His eight rebounds a game are second best in the league.
Omaha is always strong at the guard position and a trio of back court players (seniors Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins, plus sophomore Zach Jackson) are all averaging in double figures. Hollins leads the conference in assists and steals.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM Thursday in Vermillion.
Saturday, the Coyotes are off to Frost Arena in Brookings to battle South Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits, under first-year head coach TJ Otzelberger, and with an influx of new faces on their roster, began the year 1-6 while trying to find the right formula for success.
Things began to click in late November, about the time SDSU set a starting five of Mike Daum, Reed Tellinghuisen, AJ Hess, Tevin King, and Sergio El Darwish. That group has posted a 6-2 mark in their time together as starters, pushing the Jacks to within a game of .500 (7-8) at the end of non-conference play. The Jackrabbits opened Summit League action Wednesday night with a 80-69 loss at home to North Dakota State.
Daum, a pre-season all-conference first teamer, has been the focus of opposing defenses, but has still managed to play some of his best basketball over the past few weeks, averaging 28 points per game, while shooting 56 percent from the floor, and going 38-of-39 from the free throw line in SDSU’s last four games of the non-conference schedule. He leads the league in scoring, averaging 22 points per game during the non-conference schedule.
The Jackrabbits are still looking to establish some depth off the bench. Junior guard Andre Wallace has played in all 15 games, averaging six points a game.
Tipoff is 1:00 PM Saturday in Brookings.