So tonight’s got some potential, huh? South Dakota State hosts Oakland in Summit League men’s basketball. (I’ll be live blogging starting at 6:30.) The contest features:
* two teams picked to finish in the top 3 of the improving conference * two teams that have spent in the mid-major top-25 and own wins over power-conference clubs * two of the top 25 (according to some) point guards in all of NCAA Division I hoops in Nate Wolters and Reggie Hamilton (the reasons there will be an NBA scout on hand) * the two-time defending league champs against an upstart that is 1-9 in the short series.
Plus, the Golden Grizzlies are coming off their fourth-worst Summit loss Wednesday, the same night the Jacks picked up their most lopsided win since joining the conference.
Some people have been asking if this is the biggest regular-season game SDSU has hosted since moving to the D-I level in 2004-05. My response to that: It might be … for now.
Think about what’s in front of the Jacks (and area basketball fans) the next few weeks besides a visit from this talented Oakland club: They’ll host the University of South Dakota for the first time in eight years; they’ll host preseason conference pick Oral Roberts (a recent winner over Xavier and Texas Tech); they’ll host rival North Dakota State (a team they haven’t beaten in forever); they’ll host an ESPNU BracketBusters game (potentially on national TV?) and they’ll host IUPUI and NBA prospect Alex Young.
Soak that up for a second. That’s good stuff, especially at a time when the Jacks are in position to prove themselves as contenders rather than just trying to pull off an upset. They’ll have to defend that title every night out.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that SDSU had a long list of things to prove this season, the first one being that it could win in Indianapolis for the first time. While the Jacks got that done in overtime, equal and larger challenges await - one after the other. That’s the beauty of the program both improving and becoming established within a league, and a rising one at that. The next game really is the biggest game.
No weekly live chat today, but that doesn’t mean El Bloggo has to go dark …
Is it just me or is the Summit League portion of the SDSU basketball season genuinely starting to take on a different feel. More strategic and familiar and intense and … candid?
Jackrabbits women’s coach Aaron Johnston put some of that on display during an interview leading up to this week’s home games against Oakland and IPFW - the teams the Jacks beat in the final four of the Summit League tournament last year en route to a third straight title.
Asked to define any traits that are on the rise in the improved Summit, he said: “I think the league is probably more athletic than it used to be in some regard. I don’t know if that applies to our team.” Plenty of folks have been thinking that about SDSU, but it’s another thing to have the coach volunteer that.
As for opening the bulk of the conference slate with two quality foes, he said: “Last year, we lost a couple of close games here to those games, and it’s been on my mind all year long, and I hope on my players’.” Again, not surprising that SDSU didn’t like suffering consecutive conference home losses last year. But interesting that Johnston, who can be insightful yet calculated in his public comments, would admit it’s been bothering him.
This - coaches being more open and candid - is one of the things that comes with settling into a true conference home. It’s refreshing and welcomed and bound to make the next 10 weeks thoroughly entertaining.
Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. We’ve got a few days to prep for that whole happy new year thing:
A whole bunch of Football Championship Subdivision presidents and administrators - including some from South Dakota State – will be in Frisco, Texas, during the upcoming national championship game. Why? The second annual FCS Summit. Basically, it brings together all the stakeholders to discuss ongoing issues like playoff bids, television rights, etc.
Likely to be amply discussed at that time: Proposed scholarship cuts. In January, the NCAA will vote on moving FBS scholarships from 85 to 80, FCS from 63 to 60, men’s basketball from 13 to 12 and women’s basketball from 15 to 13. There’s also been talk about reducing the number of regular-season games by 10 percent. Add that to all the controversy about stipends and, well, it’s an interesting and important time for Division I legislation.
The SDSU basketball teams host four Summit League games in four days this week. That starts Wednesday with the men hosting IPFW. The Jacks beat the Dons three times last season, and take on two-time defending champion Oakland two days later. Is coach Scott Nagy concerned about his players looking past IPFW? "I have zero concern we’ll overlook them," he said. "We could come in and not play well, but it wouldn’t be that we overlooked them."
Despite all the real and alleged buzz about SDSU renewing its rivalry with the University of South Dakota in basketball, tickets were still available for the men’s and women’s games as of Monday.
With one exception, the South Dakota State basketball teams have completed the non-conference portion of their schedules, and start Summit League play in earnest this week with four home games. Here’s a recap of where things stand:
Men Record: 10-4 overall, 2-0 Summit Sagarin Rating: 87 (third in the Summit) Strength of schedule: 86 Best win: at No. 84 Washington Worst loss: at No. 262 North Dakota What’s left: 17 games, 10 at home The bottom line: SDSU is in perhaps the best possible position given its schedule so far, reaching the 10-win mark and getting national attention in the form of a road upset and a coming-out party for star Nate Wolters. These opportunities don’t come along all the time. The Jacks need to find a way to get to 20 wins and earn their first D-I postseason bid even if it’s not to the Big Dance. But they won’t have to play outside of themselves to do it.
Women Record: 7-6, 2-0 Summit Sagarin Rating: 124 (third in the Summit) Strength of schedule: 61 Best win: vs. No. 59 Washington State Worst loss: at No. 113 Middle Tennessee State What’s left: 16 games, nine at home The bottom line: Yes, the offense has struggled mightily at times, but the defense has been excellent. While the Jacks won’t be in contention for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament this year, they’re probably better than their record indicates based on the fact that five of their six losses have come to top-100 teams. If SDSU merely wins the rest of the games in which it will be favored this season, it’ll hit that 20-win mark and set itself up for a sixth straight Division I postseason entry.
John Stiegelmeier feels like he’s been on vacation this week. No, he’s not lounging in Saint-Tropez, he’s just not out on the road recruiting because it’s a dead period in that process. Sometimes, that’s as good as a break. At least, that’s what the South Dakota State football coach said. Here are a few other notes from our conversation. There will be a more extensive recruiting update in the Saturday edition of the Argus Leader:
On associate head coach Luke Meadows staying on staff by virtue of not getting the top job at South Dakota Mines. It’s the second time in two years that he’s been a finalist for an NCAA Division II post: “I’m excited. I was excited either way because our profession’s also about pursuing your dreams, and it seems like most of the guys – assistant coaches – that a person is around want to have their own program, want to run their own program, so I need to support that. I’ve never made a guy feel awkward about pursuing their dream. But I’m excited he’s back because of staff continuity is huge in football.”
On senior wide receiver Dale Moss receiving an invite to the East-West Shrine Game – a modern first for the program – after playing just one year of college football: “That’s his hard work for a lot of years giving him an opportunity to showcase his ability. I think it’s a tremendous, almost unbelievable statement about pursuing your dream. A lot of guys spend a number of years trying to get something like that. I’m happy for him, proud of him. Obviously, it gives us a little public relations, but mostly I just hope he stays healthy and shows well and has a chance to play more football.”
On the University of South Dakota hiring Joe Glenn, an SDSU adversary on a regular basis when he was at Northern Colorado: “Professionally, Joe’s an engaging, outgoing and just a happy-go-lucky man - and he’s a great coach. He’s always fun to be around even when you’re competing. He’s a very positive guy. Prior to them naming that, I was disappointed for Ed Meierkort. You never know what does on good or bad inside (a program), but when a guy’s got the same first name as you (“Coach”), you hurt for him and his family and his staff.”
On adding a director of football operations, a new position that will be filled by Marc Davis, formerly the assistant director of football ops at the University of New Mexico: “He will really be my assistant and really the foreman of the football program, the guy that gets so much of the stuff done behind the scenes that bogs coaches down from coaching. He won’t sit and watch film - he’ll work on banquets and travel and academics. The job is infinite.”
Here is the replay from this week’s live chat - a special holiday edition.
We’ll be back again next week in addition to having live game blogs from four South Dakota State basketball games – that’s Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday – as the Jacks get into the heart of the Summit League schedule with a set of home dates.
We’re breaking new ground this week on the Too Much TV podcast. For starters, we have two guests - Brad Schlossman and Tom Miller from the Grand Forks Herald. They fill us in on the athletic pecking order at the University of North Dakota, the Fighting Sioux logo controversy and the school’s future in the Big Sky Conference. Secondly, the discussion takes place in my car on a late night in downtown Grand Forks.
Before we get down to it, a quick reminder that I’ll have live coverage of the SDSU women’s basketball game at nationally ranked Nebraska on Wednesday night starting at 6:30 p.m. …
What did the SDSU basketball players do in the hours after knocking off Washington? Watch film at the airport before flying to their respective homes for Christmas break.
Some notes on juco safety Andrew Brown, who has given a verbal to the Jacks: Iowa Western Community College coach Scott Strohmeier said that Brown was a two-year all-conference pick on consecutive 9-2 squads. The Reivers wound up ranked 11th in 2010 and 7th in 2011. (Last year, the program moved on nine players to the NCAA Division I ranks.) Strohmeier said that Brown plays smart and has a GPA to match (3.6). He’s cleared to be in Brookings next month, which would allow him to participate in spring ball.
Meanwhile, Scout.com has been reporting that the Jacks have a verbal in their other projected area of need for a juco: defensive end. That’s in the form of Marshall Peugh of Glendale (Ariz.) Community College. He also had an offer from Western Illinois. Here is his highlight reel.
In further football news, expect SDSU WR Dale Moss to play in a senior all-star game. He already has one invite in hand and could end up with more.
SDSU is showing up in a couple mid-major polls this week. The Jacks are No. 25 in men’s swimming and No. 25 in men’s basketball. In the hoops rankings, only Murray State (12-0) has more wins than SDSU (10-4).
Here are some leftovers from South Dakota State’s 92-73 victory over the University of Washington on Sunday in Seattle. Guess the Argus Leader made the right call in sending me …
The Huskies have 865 wins at their current home arena (above), the most in NCAA Division I. And the 32-game home non-conference win streak that was snapped Sunday was the most in school history. If my math is right, UW hadn’t been beaten that badly at home - conference or non-conference -since falling to No. 17 Gonzaga in 2004.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said he tried to warn his players about this game - and SDSU’s Nate Wolters - beforehand, telling a story about when one of his teams underestimated a mid-major team with a standout point guard and subsequently lost. That player: Steve Nash of Santa Clara, an eventual NBA MVP. Romar also compared Wolters to NBA star Jason Kidd in the way that had total control of the game. "People get so caught up in these mock drafts," Romar said. "I haven’t seen his name on there. He wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American."
SDSU put up 51 points in the first half. That’s the most scored by the Jacks in a first half this season and the most allowed in any half by Washington. Individually, five SDSU players shot 50 percent or better in the game, the only exceptions being Chad White (4 of 10), Taevaunn Prince (0-1). Meanwhile, the Jacks led Washington more than eight points below its season average and to just 33 in the first half. A big part of that was shutting down standout Terrence Ross. The 6-6 sophomore finished with six points in 23 minutes before fouling out, his first single-digit effort this season. CBSSports.com lists him as the No. 23-overall player in college hoops this season and is considered a potential lottery pick. Jacks coach Scott Nagy also lauded the defensive efforts of Brayden Carlson against C.J. Wilcox, who went 4 of 15 from the floor.
Washington has six former players currently in the NBA: Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter, Martell Webster and Isaiah Thomas. The recently retired Brandon Roy also played at U-Dub.
The Huskies were picked fourth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, while SDSU was tabbed third in the Summit League. None of the BCS schools that beat the Jacks this year (Minnesota, Georgia, Nebraska) were picked as highly in their leagues. SDSU had never played a Pac-12 team before, although it did face current member Colorado when the Buffs were still in the Big 12. The Jacks came in as an 11-point underdog based on the Sagarin Ratings.
SDSU had maybe 50 fans at the game. A chunk of them were there to support sophomore forward Marcus Heemstra, whose mom is a Washington native.
Although the Jacks didn’t storm the floor or anything after the win, they were all smiles outside the visiting lockerroom. "It was a lot of fun," Wolters said. "I was a little worried in the second half the whole time, just looking at the clock, but it was a lot of fun."
How does this power-conference upset compare to the ones that SDSU pulled in 2008 at Iowa State and in 2010 at Iowa? The games in Ames (which the Jacks won 65-58) was also the last one before Christmas break and the opponent had at least one NBA prospect (Craig Brackins). This was like the contest in Iowa City in that SDSU won by double digits (79-69) and wore its alternate black uniforms.
The South Dakota State men’s basketball team played the University of North Dakota on Thursday, marking the first visit to Grand Forks by one of the Jackrabbits’ marquee programs since 2004. (It didn’t go well, as you might have read.)
Combine that with my North Dakota roots and, well, I couldn’t help but wonder how things might be different if SDSU and the University of South Dakota had been established in larger cities like Grand Forks or Fargo? (Groundbreaking, right? Like no one has ever wondered that before … )
Don’t get me wrong: Brookings and Vermillion are fine and supportive towns with their own unique strengths (including warmer temps than their northern counterparts). But size is not one of them and, that shapes and/or complicates many things. In particular, there are challenges in terms of recruiting and drawing fans to games. More people in the immediate area means more potential student-athletes and more potential supporters. In a smaller town, you you have to capture higher percentages in order to achieve similar totals.
Of course, things have changed dramatically in the Dakotas since the four largest schools were founded (roughly) in the late 1800s. There’s no guarantee that things would be any different today for the schools and their host cities. For example, maybe the geography and natural resources dictated that Grand Forks and Fargo - located in the fertile Red River Valley - were going to be decent-sized cities with or without major colleges.
Common sense says population is more complicated than whether or not a city has a sizable university. If it wasn’t, Brookings would have every reason to be as large as Grand Forks.
In some ways, the big-school-small-town idea fits the personality of South Dakota, a state that seems intent on spreading wealth (or community-sustaining businesses) evenly when possible. And North Dakota just might be more into pooling its resources (the oil boom in the western part of the state and early advancements in facilities like the Fargodome come to mind).
One’s not right, one’s not wrong - they’re just different, maybe even very different considering how similar the Dakotas are in terms of location, size, population, etc. In that regard, North Dakota and South Dakota are siblings not twins.
Just some food for thought at the end of a long day traversing the Dakotas.
Also, stop back later this week for all the South Dakota State basketball coverage you can handle. I’ll be in Grand Forks on Thursday (6:30 p.m.), Brookings on Friday (6:30 p.m.) and Seattle on Sunday (1:30 p.m. CT).
On Monday, the South Dakota State football team landed its first offensive verbal of the recruiting season. Quarterback Nate Meyer led Rocori to the Minnesota Class 4A state championship, the first in school history. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than 700 in a spread offense as a senior, holding down the starting job since part way into his sophomore season. He’s also one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Football Award in Minnesota. Meyer (whose step-brother, Eric Decker, is a receiver for the Denver Broncos) said that he was offered after a weekend visit to Brookings, which was his fourth or fifth time on campus. What did he like about SDSU? The coaches and the opportunity to play at the NCAA Division I level. And what did he think about coming into a program that has a couple of heralded QBs (starter Austin Sumner and true freshman Eric Kline, former player of the year in Minnesota)? "That’s a challenge," the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder said, who is also a solid basketball player, "and if you’re going to play Division I, everything is going to be a challenge - nothing is going to be given to you. Just going to have to work hard and go from there."
One angle I didn’t hit on yet in regard to the Skyforce moving into the new Sanford Health Pentagon as early as 2013: The construction of that elite basketball training facility (which would be ideal for off-site practices) on top of a new events center and Sanford’s history as a sponsor sure seems to bode well for the Summit League tournament staying in Sioux Falls in the future. Right?
Ticket manager Christi Williams said SDSU sold about 200 basketball tickets during its Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotion. She was pleased with that number (considering that’s usually a slow weekend for ticket sales) and thinks the promotion could happen again in the future.
And, finally, check out how Summit League favorite Oral Roberts beat Arkansas-Little Rock on Monday night in men’s hoops. Unreal. Here’s the video.
Some leftover notes from a strange Saturday doubleheader at Frost Arena. To recap: The SDSU women started the game 2 of 31 from the field in suffering their (co-) most lopsided home loss in their D-I era, while the SDSU men opened on a 15-0 run and earned their (co-) most lopsided win against North Dakota in the long history of that series.
After failing to score even 80 points in six straight games, the SDSU men (8-3) have put up 92 or more in three of their last four. They’ve also shot better than 50 percent in consecutive games, setting a new season high in each. In other words, the offense is coming around, getting closer to what it was last year. Balance has been big. Ten players have seen time this year and nine of them have at least one double-digit showing. Six (Wolters, Prince, White, Callahan, Fiegen and Dykstra) have reached double figures three times or more. The Jacks look to continue those trends tonight against Dakota State (7-4), its second and final lower-level game of the season. I’ll have live coverage starting at 6:30.
The Jacks have won four in a row against the Fighting Sioux - the defending Great West tournament champions - and six of seven. The clubs will meet again Thursday at the Betty Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. SDSU has never played in the 3,300-seat arena, which opened in Aug. 2004. (Again, I’ll be there with live coverage starting at 6:30.)
Strange note about the Sioux: They have players from eight states plus Canada. Also, they have only two seniors, meaning this is largely the same squad that will debut in the Big Sky Conference next season.
As for the SDSU women, it continues to be all or nothing. They’ve failed to score 50 points in four games, losing them all. (In two of those sub-50 games, 1,000-point scorer Jill Young didn’t make a shot from the field.) And they’re scored 60 or more in six games, winning all of those. Individually, Young and Jennie Sunnarborg - the other senior - are the only players to reach double figures more than twice.
Meanwhile, the Jacks (6-4) continue to defend well. They’ve given up more than 63 points just once - and they won that game. Last year, SDSU allowed more than 63 six times in its first 10 games, sitting at 4-6. So maybe it’s better to struggle on offense than on defense? The Jacks have a few days to figure things out. They don’t play again until Friday, hosting an Arkansas-Little Rock club they beat on the road last week.
Kansas State ranks 12th in the history of Division I women’s basketball for total victories - just ahead of UConn. SDSU has never beaten a team in the top 15 of that list, going 0-2 … both against the Wildcats.
After a slow start, the South Dakota State football team has landed five (known) verbal commitments in the past two weeks. And already a theme (or two) has developed.
Of the five players, only Milbank safety Nick Mears played 11-man football in high school. Herman Kleinsasser, a cornerback from Sully Buttes, played 9-man. DE Brian Bayer, DT Jordan Brichacek and DT Logan Rath all played 8-man ball in Nebraska. In fact, Bayer and Brichacek were on the same Howells squad that took down Rath (and Iowa recruit Drew Ott) of Giltner in the Class D-2 quarterfinals.
What’s more, all five play defense.
What does this mean? Nobody can be sure until signing day when coach John Stiegelmeier can divulge whether this is coincidence or strategy. But the commits are excited about it.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Bayer is the most recent verbal. Like Brichacek, he had other FCS scholarship offers. "We know how good some of the athletes are we played during the year," said Bayer, whose describes himself as explosive. "We’re excited a lot of the guys are going to South Dakota State. We know how good they are."
It’s not like these are the first 8-man recruits SDSU ever had. In fact, the Jacks have been to Howells before. It’s the home of recent defensive tackle Steven Bazata (who just so happens to have more football-playing relatives coming up the ranks).
That relationship helped ease the minds of the recruits. Just as some coaches (or fans) might be leery of small-town players, players from small town want to make sure they’ll be accepted by a program.
"They’re definitely comfortable with us," Bayer said. "There’s definitely a trust factor between us and them about recruiting 8-man players and not doubting their ability."
Here is the replay from today’s live chat. Good times, good times.
Also, a couple programming reminders: I’ll be making my live television debut Friday night on Midco Sports Net during the Northern State-Wayne State doubleheader. And on Saturday, I’ll be right back here with live coverage of the SDSU men’s and women’s games against North Dakota and Kansas State, respectively.
The NBA season still hasn’t started, but the D-League is in full swing. In conjunction with that, commissioner Dan Reed is making the rounds. He was in Sioux Falls recently and agreed to take part in our little podcast.
Now, there’s no lockout talk because not all of the issues were resolved at the time of taping. But there’s still plenty to discuss including the Skyforce moving to the Pentagon, L.A. coming back from hiatus and Utah going on hiatus and guarding against disparity.
As you probably read in today’s Argus Leader, SDSU has picked up two more verbal commitments in football: Sully Buttes CB Herman Kleinsasser (above) and DT Logan Rath from Giltner, Neb. For what it’s worth, neither player had any other NCAA Division I offers and both of them attended the Jacks’ summer elite camp. Here’s some film from Kleinsasser, who is a reigning state champ in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. As for Rath, he was named Super State second-team by the Lincoln Journal Star as an offensive lineman and despite playing at the 8-man level. "I like to play defense better, but I just love to play in general," the 6-4, 245-pound Rath said. "I want to do what’s best for my team. I like to win rather than play where I want to play." Here’s his highlight reel.
You know how the SDSU men and women earned road sweeps in Summit League play last week, going a combined 4-0 at IUPUI and Western Illinois? That’s the first time that has happened since the Jacks joined the conference in 2007-08.
Despite canning coach Ron Zook, the Illinois football team has a bowl berth for the second year in a row. The Illini will take on UCLA (another squad making a coaching change) in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 31. That means SDSU has faced a bowl qualifier three seasons in a row (Minnesota 2009, Nebraska 2010).
SDSU and USD will square off in swimming (although I’m not sure “square off” is a swimming term) on Saturday in Vermillion, making up a dual that was postponed due to weather. The Jacks swept the Coyotes on the men’s and women’s sides last season.
And, finally, stop back here tonight for live coverage of the SDSU men’s basketball game against Southwest Minnesota State. I’ll get going at 6:30 p.m.
Today is Dec. 5. It’s far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far too early to declare South Dakota State a contender in the Summit League men’s basketball race.
However, it might have been reasonable to peg the Jackrabbits - picked third in the preseason poll - as a pretender if they hadn’t come away with a road sweep over the weekend.
Hear me out.
Coming into this season, its fifth in the conference, SDSU had yet to win a single Summit contest at Oakland, Oral Roberts, IUPUI and North Dakota State. That’s almost half of the gyms in the league - a league that has made a habit of moving its regular-season champ on to the Big Dance. The Jacks cannot be considered a contender with those droughts hanging over them.
That’s why this weekend was a step forward. First, SDSU staved off a massive choke job to earn that elusive first win at Indianapolis in the conference opener, setting a new tone. Of course, that wouldn’t have been worth much of the Jacks hadn’t followed it up by continuing their success against lowly regarded Western Illinois - and they did that, too, narrowly escaping the apparently improved Leathernecks in the last of an eight-game road trip. (They wound up 5-3 on the grueling swing, the longest in coach Scott Nagy’s 17-year tenure.)
It was just the third road sweep for SDSU since joining the Summit - the first that didn’t involve UMKC and Southern Utah.
What does this all mean? Not a lot in concrete terms. SDSU joins two-time defending champ Oakland as the only 2-0 squad in the Summit and remains unbeaten (6-0) this season against teams outside major conferences. I’m willing to guess neither of those things are on the team’s list of goals. But the 2-for-2 start does at least perpetuate the hope that things could be different for the Jacks this year.
They’re going to have several more opportunities to prove - or disprove - themselves.
The first week of December has been a busy one for South Dakota State baseball, the team finalizing its 2012 schedule and announcing six recruits.
That’s more noteworthy than usual because both are firsts under the new staff. Interestingly, coach Dave Schrage and assistant Brian Grunzke had everything to do with the players and little to do with the docket.
Former Jacks coach Ritchie Price had pretty much set the schedule before leaving to become an assistant at Kansas. In fact, he has much of the 2013 slate set, too. So let’s break the breakdown into two parts. What’s in place includes 28 road games to start, nine in a row in the state of Arkansas, six against major-conference clubs and three at TD Ameritrade Park - home of the College World Series. That last detail is one that Schrage added. As for what he hopes to see in the future, a road series against a Big 12, ACC or SEC foe is high on the list. "I think that’s a good measuring stick for where you’re program’s at," Schrage said. "I think it’s a good opportunity for your players. That’s something we’re trying to do for 2014."
As for the recruits who are coming on board, landing them was a unique process. Schrage wasn’t hired until August and didn’t want to do too much scouting until he had a feel for his current players. He went from zero to signed with all six players in a short period of time - none of them were being recruited by SDSU before. The ties that he and Grunzke have in Iowa from their time working there were integral to the process. For example, SDSU plucked two players from reigning Iowa state champ Des Moines Dowling - their prep coach was Schrage’s assistant at UNI. "We really are selling to the recruits that it’s an opportunity to come in and play for a winning program not a rebuilding program," he said. "I think kids like that. And if you look at the kids we recruited, obviously we’re recruiting winning kids."
As for some specifics about those kids: OF Zach Coppola will instantly become the fastest player on the roster and is prep teammates with Joe Erickson; Tyler Shannon is a defense-first shortstop who’s hardly short at 6-foot-4; Jake Ratz is a power-hitting lefty; Cody Sharrow has won two state titles; and Scott Splett continues the Twin Cities connection. This fall, SDSU brought in a group that was heavy on pitchers. But the emphasis in 2012 is on position players as five regulars are set to graduate. These first six will be joined by 2-3 more in the late signing period.
Here’s the replay from this week’s chat. Enjoy at your leisure.
No live SDSU events this weekend as I’ll be covering Skyforce home games Friday and Saturday. (Eric Musselman and the L.A. D-Fenders are in town). But I’ll have live coverage of four Jacks home contests next week starting Tuesday with the men taking on Southwest Minnesota State.