Sensing a New Direction for the USD Coyotes
Following a 71-55 defeat to Denver in the opening round of The Summit League Basketball Championships, the USD Coyotes (sorry, South Dakota Coyotes) looked defeated and deflated.
I found my way into the press conference area, interested to see what would be said by current interim head coach Joey James. Before he walked on the set, it appeared that he was rather emotional.
Whether that was because of how the season ended, or if he was told about the future is still undetermined.
Everyone attending the press conference wanted to know if there was any status update for coach James.
"I have no idea to be honest with you. Hope they see that we made some improvements, but Im sure we'll sit down and talk soon. It's not for me to answer. I'd love to be back."
While the press conference concluded, I couldn't help but feel as if I just watched James give his sign off.
James was given the reigns back in September following the departure of coach Dave Boots. To his credit, James did win one more Summit League game this season than the team has won in the past. The fact remains though, the Coyotes were unable to get past the first round of the tournament.
As a former Coyote, I remember going to The Summit League tournament and wishing for the day in which USD would be playing for a chance to go to the big dance. I envisioned that the stands would be half-red, half-blue, and the two in-state rivals would meet in the finals for a championship one year.
That vision hasn't been met yet outside of them just being there.
After two losses to South Dakota State, and another first round exit in the tournament, I can see Athletic Director David Herbster switching directions. Herbster's hands were tied and had to give James the opportunity, as it was too late to conduct a national search.
This is also where Herbster could run into his first major coaching decision. On one hand, he has the "hometown kid" as the coach and a lot of people like James. On the other hand, he hasn't had the chance to hire "his guy." With a new arena breaking ground, and interest level rather low, I have a hard time believing that James will return next year.
Interest needs to increase within the fan base for the program. The only way that the fans will start to show passion and attend is by winning. Winning one game at The Summit League tournament would do wonders. Bringing in a coach with a bit of 'buzz' and a hope of wins could change the Coyote culture for the future.
We'll see what direction they decide to go, but from all indications last night I'm sensing a change of direction for the USD men's program.
*You can contact Jerry at Jerry@espn991.com or @Jerrysworld991*