Summit League Tournament Preview: Coyote Men Are #8 Seed, Play #1 Fort Wayne
Sprinkled throughout the 2015-16 season there have been some promising moments for the South Dakota men's basketball team. Non-conference wins over Minnesota and Big Sky opponents Sacramento State and Portland State, a road win at the Summit League's #4 team, IUPUI, and double digit leads in games against #3 Omaha and #2 South Dakota State.
A 2-8 start to the conference schedule erased a lot of those positives, but a 4-3 finish was enough to get the Coyotes into the Summit League Men's Basketball Tournamnent.
South Dakota (14-17/5-11) enters the post season as the #8 seed, meaning a first round match-up with #1 Fort Wayne.
The Coyotes were fifth in offense in the Summit League this season, eighth in defense. They were one of the best teams in the conference taking care of the basketball, but near the bottom in rebounding and three-point shooing and three-point defense.
There was some roster upheaval with the departure of starter Shy McClelland after nine league games. Only two players (Casey Kasperbauer and Eric Robertson) statred all 16 conference games. Tre Burnette led USD in scoring during Summit League play, with 12 points per game. coming off the bench the last eight games.He's sixth in rebounding, seventh in blocked shots. Casperbauer is one of the top three-point threats in the Summit and the league's #1 free throw shooter.
Fort Wayne (23-8/12-4) swept the Coyotes this season, winning by an average of 16 points. The Mastodons lost one of their top scorers, Mo Evans, for academic reasons in January. That didn't slow down Max Landis. The senior won the conference scoring title and is the Player of the Year in the Summit League. He torched USD for 44 points, including 11 three-pointers, in February. He's joined on the All-Summit League First Team by redshirt freshman John Konchar, the league's top rebounder. Konchar was also on the All-Newcomer Team.
The Mastodons were second in offense, seventh in defense this season. IPFW was the sixth best three-point shooting team in the nation and the Summit's top rebounding team. Jon Coffman was the Summit League Coach of the Year.
Tipoff is 6:00 PM, Saturday, at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls.
I talked with Coyote head coach Craig Smith about the 2016 Summit League Tournament and last week's split with IUPUI and Western Illinois: