South Dakota Becoming a Hoops Hotbed

13 Nov

Certain states are a hotbed for college basketball.  North Carolina has tobacco road with the likes of North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest.  Indiana has Indiana, Butler and Purdue among others and Kentucky has the Wildcats and Louisville.  Over the past two or three seasons South Dakota has become a quasi-hotbed for mid major hoops and is the state the Summit League title will run through again thanks to the intrastate rivalry that has developed between the South Dakota Coyotes and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

In 2015 the Jackrabbits took down the Coyotes in the Summit League semifinals.  Last season South Dakota won its first league championship under the tutelage of head coach Craig Smith finishing 12-4 in conference and 22 wins overall, but again met up with their nemesis in the conference semifinals and again South Dakota State came out on top in an albeit closer game 74-71 on their way to the tournament title.  This season the two Mount Rushmore State squads are the consensus favorites again in the Summit League.

Coach Smith returns six of his top eight scorers including leading scorer, junior guard Matt Mooney who averaged over 19 points per game.  The Coyotes have to replace their leading rebounder and assist man from last season, Tyler Black and Trey Dickerson respectively but junior Trey Burch-Manning  averaged 6.6 rebounds and sophomore Triston Simpson 2.5 assists last season seem more than ready to step into those roles.  The Coyotes have a schedule that will test them before league play begins.  They have games at TCU, Duke and UCLA.

South Dakota State has been a bellwether program in the Summit league for the past six seasons with three regular season titles, four conference championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances since 2012.    The reigning two-time Summit Tournament champions return their two double digit scorers from last season Reed Tellinghuisen (11.7) and junior Mike Daum not only averaged 25.1 points and 8.1 rebounds last season but there is some talk that Daum could end up an All-American by the end of the season.  Like their rivals, Coach T.J. Otzelberger has a few tests in his non-conference schedule to get his team ready for Summit League play. The Jackrabbits play at Kansas and Wichita State as well as a match up with Missouri Valley favorite Missouri State.

They may not have the lineage, history or following of those teams in North Carolina, Indiana and Kentucky but for the middle of the country, mid majors and certainly the Summit League the state of South Dakota is becoming a hoops hotbed thanks to the Coyotes and Jackrabbits.


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