Tuesday Tidbits

Some fall sports are beginning to wrap up:

The SDSU women’s basketball team returns to the floor tonight for the first time since a lopsided opening loss at BYU. This one won’t be easy, either.
Although it fell to Drake in its opener, Creighton gained mention in some preseason top-25 polls and is 4-0 in the series against the Jacks, including two relatively recent wins in Brookings.
Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m. I’ll be there with live coverage.  

The SDSU soccer team has lost four in a row at the Summit League tournament after a 2-1 decision against rival North Dakota State on Friday in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Jacks had the better seed in three of those matches.
Still, they finished the season with 11 wins, an improvement of five over last season and their fifth double-digit effort in the last six seasons. 

It’s shaping up to be another unforgettable week for former SDSU star point guard Nate Wolters of the Milwaukee Bucks. There are four games in five days. That includes a trip to Miami on Tuesday to visit LeBron James and Co., a Friday contest against fellow ex-Summit League star George Hill and the Pacers and a Saturday home tilt against Mr. Kevin Durant and the Thunder.

The SDSU cross country teams head to the Division I Midwest Regional on Friday at Iowa State. Coach Rod DeHaven was especially pleased with the second-place showing in the Summit League meet by the women - a group with no seniors and just two juniors in its top 12. The Jacks also hope to benefit from the location of the next two conference championships - Fargo in 2014 and Brookings in 2015.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

Rain, rain go away … you’re depressing everybody:

Ballots for the Summit League basketball preseason polls were due last week. The SDSU men had three players up for all-league honors: Forward Jordan Dykstra, wing Chad White and guard Brayden Carlson - all seniors. The SDSU women were represented by junior wing Megan Waytashek, senior guard Steph Paluch and junior post Mariah Clarin.

SDSU women’s basketball coach and WBCA board member Aaron Johnston isn’t a fan of the NCAA moving to host sites for the regional rounds of the 2014 Division I tournament.
"It’s a money thing - that’s all it is," he said. "The NCAA tournament is trying to draw revenue. They feel like playing on campus sites is going to be better for that. We’ll see if that holds true. I think it will. If you put an NCAA regional game in Frost Arena we’d have 6,500 people there so I don’t think that’s a positive, but I think they’ll make more money off it."
Furthermore, Johnston suspects in 2015 a change will make the top 16 teams host sites for Rounds 1 and 2. He’s opposed to that, as well, because it presumes that those schools draw well - not always the case - and it will make it harder for teams outside the top 16 to advance and/or drum up new interest. 

Only one match this week for the SDSU soccer squad, but it’s a biggie - at home to North Dakota State on Saturday evening. The Jacks (9-3-2, 4-0) are unbeaten in league play, while the Bison (7-7, 3-1) have just one loss. It’s also a rival game, of course, and the precursor to a possible showdown for the regular-season title next weekend at nationally ranked Denver (12-1-1, 3-0).
SDSU is on a tear, going 9-1-2 since a pair of home losses to start the fall. In that time, the team has posted nine shutouts. Six of its wins have been by 1-0 margins, including the last four in a row.
Still, the Jacks are No. 207 in RPI compared to No. 14 Denver. The Bison are 256th. 

Based on the Sagarin Ratings, No. 15-ranked SDSU (4-3, 1-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) is a four-point favorite at Missouri State (1-6, 1-2) on Saturday. It will be homecoming in Springfield - the third consecutive homecoming contest for the Jacks. They lost their own and then spoiled it for Western Illinois last week. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

Man, it felt good to have one day of nice weather:

The next stops on the Nate Wolters pre-draft tour: Oklahoma City today, the Clippers on Wednesday and then Portland. His agent is pleased with the way things have gone so far. More on that in the print edition later in the week.  

SDSU senior associate AD Rob Peterson continues to face changing challenges in scheduling football games. He said that getting non-conference games with the Southland Conference, a willing partner in the past, will be harder with that league going to nine conference contests. And many Pac-12 schools are in a holding pattern in scheduling games against FCS foes beyond 2016 because of uncertainty in how strength of schedule will factor into the new football playoff system.

Summit League commissioner Tom Douple said that negotiations for its 2013-14 TV contract are moving forward with Midco Sports Net and Fox College Sports. He said that the weekly show will continue (ideally with new availability in Omaha and Denver), while the overall game total should increase.

SDSU women’s basketball coach Aaron Johnston this week is attending the Center for Coaching Excellence at Columbia. The three-day, invitation-based event focuses on leadership and industry issues. It’s in its third year of operation and is run in conjunction with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
Johnston said he’s been invited in the past, but was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. 
Meanwhile, Johnston - the only coach to lead a program to five NCAA tournament bids in as many years of eligibility - will spend 2013-14 on the WBCA Board of Directors, representing the Division I Midwest.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

These are heady times for South Dakota State fans. The football team is tied for first in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and both basketball teams are preseason favorites in the Summit League:

SDSU sophomore RB Zach Zenner still leads the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing yards per game (166.22) despite being held to a season-low 49 at Southern Illinois. He also continues to be second in total rushing yards at 1,496.
Plus, teammate senior linebacker Ross Shafrath is tops in the FCS in solo tackles per game at 7.22.

The SDSU wrestling team kicked off the Chris Bono era on Sunday by hosting the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open. The Jacks placed four in the top three in their weight classes, equaling their best finish in three years.
Up next: The first four duals under Bono. SDSU will face Cleveland State, Indiana, Northern Illinois and D-II Tiffin on Saturday in DeKalb, Ill.
As for the Jacks latest high-profile recruit, New Mexico prep standout Paul Mascarenas said he also had offers from Minnesota, Utah Valley and St. Cloud State. A freestyle national champ at 113, he projects to compete at 125.

The Summit League women’s soccer tournament concluded Sunday in Brookings with Oakland taking its eight postseason crown. The attendance for the championship match in a tournament that didn’t have a true host team: 130. By comparison, there were 348 fans at the 2009 title game in Brookings when SDSU was playing.

The SDSU cross country teams on Saturday will compete in the Midwest Regional meet in Springfield, Mo. The men are ranked 11th in the region and have hopes of a top-10 finish and perhaps a couple of national qualifiers in fifth-year senior Mike Krsnak and sophomore Trent Lusignan, who finished 1-3 at the Summit League meet. Krsnak narrowly missed out two seasons ago and took a redshirt last fall to gear up to make the leap.

The SDSU volleyball team needs a win at four-time defending regular-season champ NDSU on Friday - and maybe some help - in order to qualify for the four-team league tournament. And there’s no official word yet on the availability of star Kelli Fiegen.
Here are the Jacks’ playoff scenarios, as explained by the sports information office:

  • If Oakland sweeps and UMKC wins, SDSU is out no matter what happens at NDSU because Oakland would have 10 wins and UMKC has the tiebreaker on SDSU if both finish at 9-7.
  • If Oakland splits and UMKC wins, SDSU is in at No. 4 seed because all three teams would be 9-7, which would invoke a tiebreaker where the top two teams advance based on collective record against the tied teams.
  • If Oakland loses both and falls to 8-8 and SDSU wins, SDSU is in no matter what UMKC does because SDSU would be 9-7 and UMKC would be the only other team that can reach 9-7. So the final two spots would go to SDSU (No. 4 seed) and UMKC (No. 3 seed).
  • If SDSU beats NDSU, UMKC loses to Omaha and Oakland splits, SDSU would be 9-7, Oakland would be 9-7 and UMKC would be 8-8.
    Tiebreaker: Results of head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.
    Result, SDSU advances as No. 3 seed based on a head-to-head tiebreaker over Oakland, which would be the No. 4 seed. UMKC is eliminated.
  • If Oakland, UMKC, SDSU, USD and NDSU all finish at 8-8. SDSU would be 3-5 against those teams. Oakland is 3-5 against those teams. NDSU would be 5-3 against those teams. USD is 5-3 against those teams. UMKC is 4-4 against those teams.
    Tiebreaker 1: Results of each tied team’s collective record against the other teams tied for the same position. That eliminates SDSU, Oakland and UMKC, and puts USD and NDSU in the field.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

Yes, sir:

The SDSU wrestling program landed a second considerable in-state verbal Monday in Austin Oyen. The Tri-Valley senior – like Spearfish senior Nate Rotert – said he would not have considered the Jacks if not for the new coaching staff. Oyen met coach Chris Bono during a clinic and subsequently became interested.
"I just felt like I belonged there," Oyen said.

The Summit League will have its annual October meeting next week in suburban Chicago. Per usual, conference membership will be on the agenda. But commissioner Tom Douple acknowledges that the movement rumor mill has been working overtime, and that the topic will be actively discussed.
"Right now, we’ve got all nine (schools) on board, and we’re moving forward for next year with all nine," he said. "We do get caught up in our members being listed as potentially in this league or that league, and so forth. There’s a lot of wishful thinking."
Douple also stated that: “There’s a lot of interest from other leagues in our members, and we’ve just got to make sure we hold serve. We’re expressing interest in a lot of other members, as well, in other leagues. It’s a precarious situation right now in conference alignment across the country - our league’s no different.”

SDSU athletic director Justin Sell said that he has spoken with folks at Sanford Health about potentially playing a game - specifically wrestling, volleyball and or men’s and women’s basketball - at the Pentagon when it opens in 2013.
"But the only way that works is if it were a road game," Sell said.
For example, maybe a major-conference team wants to allow a player from this area compete close to him, and would be opposed to facing off in Frost Arena. In that scenario, a game in Sioux Falls would replace a road game rather than a home game.
"I can’t take away regular-season contests," Sell said. "I never say never to anything, but for football I can’t go anywhere. We’re doing great stuff – I’ve got students and businesses to think about, plus I don’t want to give away our homefield advantage."

Based on the Sagarin Ratings, the SDSU football team will be a three-point underdog on Saturday at Northern Iowa. The Panthers and Jacks are ranked 107th and 112th, respectively, in that metric. That’s right - the 1-5, 0-3 Panthers are ahead of the 5-1, 3-0 Jacks.

Wednesday is fall and spring media day at SDSU, meaning I’ll have a story and (probably) Twitter updates on men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, baseball, etc. Stay tuned.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

You know the drill:

Former SDSU pitcher and Minnesota Twins farmhand Caleb Thielbar starts play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League today. Thielbar, who finished the season in Triple-A, will play for the Peoria Javelinas, a club made up of top prospects from the Twins, Reds, Phillies, Padres and Mariners. The six-team league – now in its 20th season – will play through Nov. 15.

An update on some former SDSU football players in the non-NFL pro game:
Defensive back/linebacker Brock Campbell is with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League. He has 14 tackles on the season - seven of those came in one game last month, good enough for CFL defensive player of the week honors. He’s currently listed on the practice roster due to injury. Hamilton is 5-9 with four games left in the regular season.
Offensive guard Mitch Erickson is with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL. Linebacker Derek Domino is also in the UFL with the Sacramento Mountain Lions. Both players were with Edmonton of the CFL during the preseason. The league is down to four teams, but plays all of its games on the CBS Sports Network.

As for some current Jacks, both the volleyball team and the soccer team are sitting in sixth in the Summit League in terms of RPI. The volleyball team is 146th in NCAA Division I. IPFW is tops at 56th. On the pitch, SDSU is 289th. Oakland leads the league at 138th.

The SDSU men’s basketball team opens practice Friday. Media day is slated for next week and conference media day is the week after and then there’s a closed scrimmage at Wichita State. Related note: Here is the order I submitted for the preseason poll:
1. SDSU; 2. NDSU; 3. Oakland; 4. Western Illinois; 5. IUPUI; 6. Fort Wayne; 7. South Dakota; 8. Kansas City; 9. Omaha.
And on the women’s side:
1. SDSU; 2. IUPUI; 3. Oakland; 4. Kansas City; 5. South Dakota; 6. NDSU; 7. Fort Wayne; 8. Western Illinois; 9. Omaha.
My overall impression on both: Way more question marks than last year.

SDSU is participating in the “Fuel Up to Play 60” initiative started by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, hosting a camp from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at Frost Arena. Admission is free for kids 6 and older, and all participates will receive a free ticket to the SDSU vs. Western Illinois football game later that night.
Call (605) 691-0064 ext. 1911 for more info.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

Oh, October. Please be mild:

The watch list for the Walter Payton Award, given to the best offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, is scheduled to be expanded today beyond the original 20. Sure stands to reason that SDSU running back Zach Zenner would be a prime candidate to be included, given that he hit the 1,000-yard mark in the first half of his fifth game.

The SDSU women’s basketball team had its first official practice Monday. Coach Aaron Johnston said that everyone is ready to go, including senior point guard Steph Paluch, who suffered a torn ACL during the Summit League tournament. She’s already been cleared to do some 5-on-5 work.

Jacks volleyball recruit Mikala Hora recently surpassed 1,000 kills for her prep career, becoming the first Yankton High School player ever to do that.
Meanwhile, her future squad hosts two more Summit League matches this weekend, highlighted by a Saturday night affair against the University of South Dakota.

Lakeview Christian Academy boys basketball coach Bob Newstrom said there’s more to SDSU recruit Anders Broman than the record scoring stats. Specifically: He has the best work ethic of anyone Newstrom has coached; makes good decisions with and without the ball; is smart, tough and athletic; rebounds, dives for loose balls and plays defense.
In other men’s hoops news, yes, the Jacks have added two freshmen walk-ons. Josh White is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard from Edwardsville, Ill., and Ruben Silva is a 6-4, 205-pound guard from Almada, Portugal.
Here’s a highlight reel for White and the GoJacks.com bio for Silva, whom SDSU found through a friend of coach Scott Nagy.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

I move to stop the onset of fall. Who’s with me?:

Got my first look at the many (many) new faces for the SDSU baseball team Monday during its first-ever pro showcase. At this point, it appears that a bunch of the 15 newcomers will make an impact. Of note:

  • true freshman CF Zach Coppola is already challenging the speed marks set by recent four-year standout CF Billy Stitz
  • true freshman LF Paul Jacobson continues to be tracked by pro scouts
  • juco transfers 1B Jake Ratz and OF Scott Splett are big, strong and heavy hitters
  • the competition to replace four-year starter Eric Cain at SS should be good between juco transfer SS Tyler Shannon (a former pitcher) and true freshman Cody Sharrow (Vermont prep player of the year).

Almost everyone on that list played prep or juco ball in Iowa, and the Jacks stayed in that state to land a verbal from Ankeny senior Matt Johnson. He hit .438 and went 7-1 last season for a squad that went 43-2 and won the Class 4A state title. (He threw six shutout innings in the title tilt.) 
Ankeny coach Mark Hey said that Johnson (6-1, 195) can play several positions, including 3B and catcher in addition to pitching. He was named first-team all-state like Jacobson and Coppola.

In volleyball news, SDSU senior middle blocker Kelli Fiegen is 11th in Division I in blocks per set (1.50) and 38th in hitting percentage (.389) through Monday.
The Jacks are one of two 2-0 teams in the Summit League. The other: IUPUI. SDSU hosts the Jags on Friday night at Frost Arena.

A postscript on the men’s basketball schedule: The Minnesota game is part of a three-year contract; the New Mexico trip is a guarantee game; SDSU tentatively will play at Buffalo in 2013-14 as the return game for the 2011-12 BrackBusters contest at Frost; and SDSU is expected to start a new series with North Dakota next year, the first game being played in Grand Forks.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

Let’s keep after it:

Now that school has started, the SDSU football team is allowed to expand its roster. The Jacks have added 10 guys. Here are their names, hometowns and anything else I could dig up about them:
Ryan Flynn, Omaha: Linebacker from Creighton Prep. One Web site listed him at 6-3, 215 and among the top 24 senior players in Nebraska last year.
Shane Gottlob, Salem: True freshman from McCook/Montrose.
Jacob Hasz, Omaha: The 6-3, 270-pound defensive lineman was with the Jacks during spring ball, too.
Austin Haugestuen, Barron, Wis.: True freshman played WR in the Wisconsin all-star game. He’s 6-1, 205.
Jake Holt, Windom, Minn.: The 6-4, 220-pounder was an all-conference linebacker in high school and also played baseball and basketball.
Andy Kappenman, Montrose: Named MVP of the Class 11B state title game last year, rushing for 196 yards.
Blake Krings, Humphrey, Neb.: Younger brother of SDSU DE Nick Krings.
Nate Meixell, Lake Crystal, Minn.: The 6-3, 190-pound linebacker was a high school quarterback.
Ryan Swenson, Dawson, Minn.: The 5-11, 170-pound WR was with the Jacks during the spring.
Tyler Thielges, LaMoure, N.D.: A standout quarterback and basketball player in high school.

The SDSU baseball and softball teams have started fall practices. The baseball team has 14 new players, including Iowa all-state pick Paul Jacobson. Jacks coach Dave Schrage was able to land the Heelan grad in part because he long considered playing college football.
“We expect him to step in and play right away,” Schrage said. “He’s really a five-tool player.”
Schrage is also stoked about the summer that Layne Somsen had in the Coastal Plain League. The senior pitcher from Yankton made a slight tweak in his delivery that significantly helped his control, key in winning pitcher of the year honors in what some consider to be the second-best college summer league in the country.

Based on the Sagarin Ratings, the SDSU football team is a six-point favorite over UC Davis in the upcoming home opener.
That’s among a handful of interesting weekend events for the athletic department. Soccer hosts Iowa State on Friday and UNI on Sunday, the cross country team hosts its annual meet on Friday night - a change from the traditional Saturday morning – and volleyball hosts Summit favorite NDSU on Sunday evening.

The latest player to verbal to the SDSU women’s basketball team, Chaska junior forward Ellie Thompson, is ranked fifth in her class in Minnesota by the Breakdown.
Her summer coach with the Minnesota Fury, Nick Storm, offered this scouting report on the 6-1 Thompson: “Smart and plays really hard. Runs the floor well. Uses her body and seals well in the lane. Finishes inside with both hands. Has recently extended her jump shot to be a very consistent mid-range and 3-point shooter, as well.”
Math isn’t my strong suit, but I believe Thompson is the seventh player to verbal for SDSU for 2013-15.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

You know how they say that football players are never really 100 percent after the first week of practice? Methinks beat writers are in the same boat:

Did you know that there’s a preseason version of the Sagarin Ratings? Me, neither. But there is, and they have Kansas at No. 85 in all of NCAA Division I football and SDSU at No. 125. The line for their Saturday game: 11 points.
The line would be 12 if you compared last year’s final Sagarin standings. Both teams are projected to finish higher than they did in 2011 (91st and 140th, respectively).

Not to look too far ahead, but Week 2 is shaping up to be interesting for the Jacks. They’re slated to stay in Baton Rouge, La., and play at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, La. Both of those cities are being threatened by Hurricane Isaac. Baton Rouge closed its airport and several sports-related activities at SELU. Stay tuned.

SDSU baseball coach Dave Schrage got several mentions during the New York Yankees game Monday night as one of his former players at Notre Dame, David Phelps, made his MLB debut as a starting pitcher for Yankees. The righty gave up five hits and four runs in 6.1 innings and got a no-decision.

For all the buzz about the start of the football season, the SDSU men’s and women’s basketball teams start preseason work Tuesday. That’s especially key for the women because they don’t get the summer access that the men do. This will be the first time the staff can work with the new players.
Coach Aaron Johnston said the Jacks can do eight organized hours per week and two of those can be on the court. They’ll conduct three workouts a week. Real practice starts Oct. 1.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

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