After another grueling non-conference slate of games, the South Dakota State women's basketball team will see how they stack up against the rest of the Summit League starting this week when the Jacks host IUPUI Thursday night and Fort Wayne Saturday afternoon.

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

Despite graduating the likes of Ashley Eide, Katie Lingle, and Leah Dietel last sesason,  SDSU has some veteran leadership on this year's team beginning with junior Megan Waytashek.

Waytashek is leading the team with nearly 12 points a game, and has notched 10 double figure scoring efforts in the first 16 games.

That kind of production is exactly when head coach Aaron Johnston told me he's looking for from Waytashek this season:

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

Pierre native Steph Paulch is back on the floor for the Jacks this season after missing all of last year with a knee injury.

She's responded with nine points a game so far, as she works to regain her confidence:

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

One of the key newcomers this season is Kerri Young, who was a standout player in Mitchell during her high school days.

She's averaging nearly eight points a game, and poured in 21 against Central Michigan December 15th:

As has been the case for South Dakota State over the years, the non-conference schedule read like a 'Who's Who' of college basketball:  BYU, Creighton, Georgetown, TCU, Stanford, Penn State, Notre Dame, and others.

The results were mixed.  Big home wins over Georgetown and #12 Penn State, blowout losses on the road at #6 Stanford and #2 Notre Dame.

But coach Johnston is quick to point out that those games aren't simply about wins or losses, but about getting better against some of the best teams in the nation:

More troubling than four losses by more than 20 points, were the 20 plus turnovers the Jacks committed in six of their seven losses so far:

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

It doesn't get any easier to open the Summit League schedule this week, as SDSU welcomes IUPUI to Frost Arena Thursday night.  The Jags are not only the last team to beat the Jacks in Brookings, but also swept SDSU least season, with a physical style of play and players like pre-season first team all-conference player DeArria Goss.  IUPUI also return starters Dee Dee Bellamy and Nevena Markovic:

Tipoff is 7:00pm Thursday night in Brookings.