Summit League Preview: Coyote Men at Denver, Omaha
As we hit the halfway point of the 2016 Summit League men's basketball schedule, South Dakota is still in search of the kind of consistency that helped them beat the likes of Minnesota, Eastern Washington, and Sacramento State during a five-game winning streak in late November and early December.
Since then, the Coyotes (10-11/2-5) have gone 4-8 and come in to the final conference game of the first half tied for seventh in a nine-team league.
The team they occupy seventh with is up first this week - Denver.
The Pioneers (10-10/2-5) are the most deliberate offensive team in the conference, scoring the fewest points in the Summit and attempting the fewest shots per game. Freshman guard Joe Rosga leads them in scoring, averaging 14 points per game.
USD will try to play the game at their pace, which means, on average, ten more shot attempts a game than DU. The Coyotes have been one of the best in the league at taking care of (10 turnovers per game) and distributing the ball (15 assists per game). The scoring has been balanced with four USD players (Casey Kasperbauer, Shy McClelland, Tre Burnette, D.J. Davis) all averaging in double figures. Burnette is also in the top ten in rebounding in the Summit.
Tipoff is 8:00 PM in Denver Thursday.
South Dakota switches gears to face the fastest team in the league Saturday when they play at Omaha.
The Mavericks (14-7/6-1) are in sole possession of first place in the conference with a one-game advantage on South Dakota State, Fort Wayne, and IUPUI.
UNO and Fort Wayne lead the league offensively, scoring 83 points per game. The up-tempo Mavericks have two of the top four scorers in the conference on their roster (Devin Paterson, Jake White) and are the most accurate shooting team (49%) in the Summit.
The Coyotes led the Mavs by 21 in the second half of their first meeting three weeks ago, only to see UNO reel off 46 of the next 69 points to win 79-73 in Vermillion. Tra-Deon Hollins led the Mavs with 17 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and five steals. In all, five UNO players scored in double figures. McClelland (15 points) led four USD double-figure scorers.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM in Omaha Saturday.
Last week, the Coyotes snapped a three-game with a 76-67 win over Western Illinois. Kasperbauer turned a ten-point deficit into a USD lead when he scored 14 points during a nine-minute stretch, he finished with 26 points on the night. Burnette added a double-double (14 points/13 rebounds), while Davis had 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
USD shot 60 percent on the second half.
Saturday, the Coyotes jumped out to an 11-point first half lead against South Dakota State before Jackrabbit guard George Marshall sparked a run just before halftime that continued into the second half. Redshirt freshman Mike Daum led the SDSU scorers with 23 points, as the Jackrabbits won 79-75.
I talked with USD head coach Craig Smith about last week's split and this week's match-ups with Denver and Omaha: