As we say goodbye to 2014 this week and usher in 2015, we will also welcome the opening of the Summit League basketball season, which tips off Friday night.

For the South Dakota State women, they will begin defense of their third straight regular season championship when they host Denver, Friday night in Brookings.

The Jackrabbits are 8-4 in non-conference play, winners in seven of their last nine games, notching victories against powerhouse teams like BYU, UNLV, and Arkansas.

Head Coach Aaron Johnston told me he's been pleased with what he's seen up to this point:

BROOKINGS, SD - NOVEMBER 14: Megan Waytashek #24 from South Dakota State University lays the ball up against Savannah Irwin #42 and Morgan Bailey #41 from Brigham Young in the second half of their game Friday night at Frost Arena. (Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

This is a that has a strong base of senior talent, with Megan Waytashek leading the way scoring in double figures in nine of SDSU's 12 games.

Coach Johnston told me Waytashek's play is one of the keys for his teams strong start this season:

BROOKINGS, SD - NOVEMBER 14: Macy Miller #12 from South Dakota State University drives past Cassie Broadhead #20 from Brigham Young in the first half of their game Friday night at Frost Arena. (Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

But it's not just the veteran players that are making big contributions to the Jacks success so far.

Newcomers like Mitchell native Macy Miller, last season's Miss Basketball in the state of South Dakota, are having an immediate impact on the floor.

Miller has already led the team in scoring in three of her first 12 college games and is number two on the Jacks roster in overall scoring (12 points per game).

I asked Coach Johnston if he's been surprised by how quickly Miller has made the transition from high school to college:

SDSU has one final non-conference game on the schedule before opening Summit League play this weekend, a Monday night game at Northern Iowa.

I asked Coach Johnston what he wants to see from his team against the Panthers:

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

First up for SDSU on the Summit League calendar is Denver, Friday night at Frost Arena.

The Jacks swept the season series with the Pioneers last season, but Denver made it all the way to the Summit League Tournament title game, before losing to South Dakota.

The Pioneers are just 3-11 so far, but boast a talented back court with guards Morgan Van Riper-Rose and Paige Bradley combining for nearly 23 points per game.

I asked Coach Johnston about slowing down this duo Friday night:

Tipoff in Cedar Falls is 7:00pm Monday night.

Tipoff in Brookings is 7:00pm Friday night.