It's been quite an incredible time for the University of South Dakota women's basketball team the past two years.

Heading into play in the fall of 2012, the Coyotes had a brand new head coach, five regular players on the shelf for the year with season-ending injuries, a first-ever chance to compete for a championship in the Summit League, and modest expectations to say the least.

Fast forward 24 months, and USD opens the regular season at Drake Friday night with back-to-back conference tournament championship appearances, a Summit League Tournament title, and a first-ever NCAA Division I tournament berth.

That puts a target squarely on the Coyotes' backs this season, as they are picked to finish second in the Summit League, making head coach Amy Williams approach her third season in Vermillion a little differently:

Williams says that effort began with the Coyotes first round loss to Stanford in the NCAA Tournament in March, a defeat that left her squad wanting more after a historic season:

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

The 2014-15 season will be one of reloading, not rebuilding in Vermillion.

USD returns all of their key players but one, including All-Summit League first teamer Nicole Seekamp, who enters her senior season as the Coyotes' leading scorer each of the last two years.

Coach Williams says Seekamp's impact on her team is measured by a lot more than just her point production:

(Photo by Dick Carlson/Inertia)

The one void on the roster? The one left by the graduation of center Polly Harrington, who anchored the low post the past two seasons.

Coach Williams says it's going to take more than one player to replace Harrington:

Two areas Williams stressed to her team in pre-season workouts: defense and consistency.

Defending the ball was so important that Williams devoted an entire week of October workouts to what became known as 'Camp Defense'.

As for consistency, Williams is looking for a way to keep her team from going through a stretch like they did at the beginning of Summit League play last season, when the Coyotes started 0-4.

But she admits, coaching consistency isn't as easy as it sounds:

South Dakota's first four games are on the road.  The Coyotes home opener is November 24th against UC Irvine in Vermillion.