Tuesday Tidbits

Here’s your weekly does of tidbits. Eat up:

There are 16 left in the WNIT after a batch of Monday night games. Round 3 is Wed.-Fri.
The highest-ranked team in the field based on RPI, No. 30 Southern Miss, bowed out Monday in a double-overtime loss at Mississippi State. MSU has a regional tie – all-SEC center Martha Alwai is from Worthington, Minn., same as SDSU guard Gabby Boever.
Also of note: 
* There are four Big Ten teams left. Two face off with Indiana hosting Northwestern. There’s also an all-SEC meeting with Mississippi State hosting Auburn. The Pac-12 as two reps in Washington and Colorado.
* The RPI range of the remaining field: 32-138. That’s Bowling Green State on top and Seton Hall at the bottom.
* Home teams are 40-8 through two rounds.
* Minnesota at SDSU on Thursday is the best game in terms of RPI, the only matchup of top 50 teams. The Gophers are 46th and the Jacks 49th.

The Old Dominion club that eliminated SDSU from the College Basketball Invitational clobbered Radford 82-59 on Monday night to reach the semifinals. The others in the group: Siena, Illinois State and Fresno State.

The SDSU baseball team (11-11) starts Summit League play this week, visiting Western Illinois (2-15) in a Friday doubleheader than taking on Omaha (10-9) for two on Sunday.
The latter figures to be especially important; the Mavericks are the defending regular-season champs and the Jacks are the defending conference tourney champs. At the moment, they lead the Summit in wins, too.
SDSU coach Dave Schrage said the non-conference slate has prepared the Jacks for just about anything. And he continues to feel good about the pitching and defense.
Still, injuries have started to surface. Third baseman/DH Jordan Varga will play through a shoulder issue, while senior pitcher Kolton Emery may miss time as the No. 4 starter. If he does, Joe Erickson or Marcus Heemstra – back from basketball – could fill in. 

Former SDSU pitcher Blake Treinen on Monday was cut from Washington Nationals spring training and sent to minor-league camp. That’s despite making a serious run at making the opening-day roster in the bullpen. The righty worked 9.2 innings over six appearances, allowing five earned runs, walking three and striking out nine.
Treinen finished last season with Double-A Harrisburg. The Nats’ Triple-A club is the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Postseason roundup 3/24

The NCAA Division I basketball postseason continues in Brookings and around the country. Some notes:

Creighton women’s coach Jim Flanery said after a Sunday loss to South Dakota State that the Bluejays are slated to play in Brookings again during the 2014-15 season. He also expressed that his program aspires to have the kind of fan support that SDSU does.

SDSU made available for free 600 students tickets for the Creighton game. Only about 100 were claimed prior to game day. Still, attendance was up about 300 from Round 1. Things are expected to spike this week for the game against Minnesota. 

Elsewhere in the WNIT, home teams went 27-5 in Round 1 and favorites based on RPI went 24-8. The only teams that won on the road AND pulled off an upset: Southern Utah, IUPUI and Harvard.
Round 2 features a Pac-12 vs. Pac-12 matchup (Washington vs. Oregon) and includes 12 teams ranked in the top 64.

SDSU is the only Summit League rep left in the WNIT with IUPUI falling 88-52 at Northwestern on Sunday. That game was attended by 585 people.

This is the third time in Summit history a team has won two games in the same postseason. The others: Valpo in the 2002 WNIT; Oral Roberts in the 2011 WNIT; and USD in the 2013 WBI.

The NCAA women’s tournament moves into the Round of 32 today. Four teams the Jacks faced during the regular season (Penn State, Notre Dame, BYU and Stanford) are still in the mix, while Middle Tennessee State, Florida Gulf Coast and South Dakota are done.
On the men’s side, SDSU foe Stanford is into the Sweet 16, while North Dakota State made the Round of 32.

How do you handle your rival school getting into the Round of 32 of the NCAA tourney? If you’re SDSU true freshman guard Anders Broman you go to the gym. He was at Frost Arena getting up shots well the SDSU women’s WNIT game on Thursday.

The Forum this week dove into the future of NDSU men’s basketball coach Saul Phillips. The article mentioned that Denver coach Joe Scott was scheduled to make $412,000 this season and Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton $483,000.
Phillips is at $175,000. SDSU coach Scott Nagy got bumped up to $200,000 after taking the Jacks to consecutive NCAA tournaments.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Creighton coach Jim Flanery after losing at SDSU in Round 2 of the WNIT on Sunday.

Postseason roundup 3/21

More postseason basketball notes today. The next batch of live coverage comes Sunday afternoon from Frost Arena for South Dakota State vs. Creighton in Round 2 of the WNIT:

SDSU knocked down 10 3-pointers on a season-high 28 tries from deep in a Thursday night win over Butler. The Jackrabbits improved to 3-2 all-time in the WNIT.

Jacks freshman Kerri Young, the sixth woman of the year in the Summit League, did not score for the first time this season. She finished 0 of 1 from the field in 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, all-Summit pick Megan Waytashek did not grab a rebound for the first time this season.

Butler center Liz Stratman – the Big East defensive player of the year – finished with 15 points, 12 boards and six blocks. Four of those blocks came in the first 8 minutes of the first half, the Jacks effectively adjusting from there to end up with a 24-18 edge on points in the paint.

The Jacks improved to 18-0 when leading at the half.

Attendance for the game was 1,812. That’s one less than the SDSU regular-season average and about 3,000 less than its previous low for a WNIT home game.
Still, it was only about 100 off what Drexel drew for the 2013 championship game. Butler averaged 519 at home this season, and coach Beth Couture praised the environment.

The winner of SDSU at Creighton will face the winner of SMU at Minnesota in the Round of 16 somewhere from March 26-28.

Like SDSU, IUPUI won a first-round game in the WNIT on Thursday night. It makes the first time the Summit League has won so many Round 1 games in the event. The Jags – who beat Central Michigan minus injured MAC player of the year Crystal Bradford – will play at Northwestern in Round 2 on Sunday.

As you might have heard, North Dakota State topped Oklahoma in the NCAA Division I men’s tourney to become the first Summit squad since 1998 to reach the Round of 32. There is a direct financial benefit in the form of an extra tournament share – that’s about $1.5 million over six years. The Summit typically splits that between the member schools.

In the CIT Round of 16 Fort Wayne will visit VMI on Saturday and Omaha heads to Murray State on Monday. The Summit previously hadn’t had two teams advance in the same men’s postseason event in a single season.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Postseason roundup 3/20

Plenty of postseason hoops Wednesday night - and more tonight with South Dakota State hosting Butler in the WNIT. (I’ll have live coverage starting at 6:30 p.m.). Some notes and/or thoughts:

The SDSU men were done in by a disinterested first half against Old Dominion in Round 1 of the CBI, falling to 0-3 in NCAA Division I postseason games. It’ll be interesting tonight to see if the SDSU women seem similarly deflated by not being in the Big Dance. (Coach Aaron Johnston hasn’t been pleased with the recent practices.)
The Jacks end the season at 19-13. That includes an 0-3 start, an 0-2 end and 19-8 in between. (More on the season next week, after some time to process.)

One of the obvious bright spots in the loss was the play of junior wing Zach Horstman. He put up a career-high 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting plus 5 boards. It’ll be key for the Jacks that the Winner grad carry that momentum (and stay healthy) into the summer and the next season. 

ODU reported an attendance of 1,487 for the game. That’s at $10 per ticket with students getting in free. In other words, the Monarchs made a max of $14,870 on ticket sales and paid a minimum of $35,000 for the right to host. Worth it? I think there are reasonable arguments on both sides.
The minimum to host a Round 2 game is $50,000. SDSU may have been in line/on the hook for that in light of Radford upsetting Oregon State. (The Beavers were favored by 16; it was basically the top seed in the tourney vs. the last.)

Around the CBI, the tourney got some nice names into the quarterfinals including Penn State, Texas A&M, Fresno State, Princeton and Illinois State.
O’Gorman grad Ced Lang and UTEP dropped a home decision to Fresno State on Wednesday.

In Round 1 of the NIT, two SDSU foes – Belmont and Minnesota – prevailed. Belmont has 25 wins this season.

Elsewhere in the Summit, Fort Wayne and Omaha won first-round home games in the CIT over Akron and North Dakota, respectively – the first D-I postseason games for both. The Fort Wayne women fell in the WBI, getting outscored by 19 in the second half against UIC.

The WNIT got going Wednesday night with five games. The home teams won all of them. Of those only Montana over Washington State was an upset based on RPI.
In the Jacks quarter of the bracket, Minnesota scored the last seven points to steal a 62-60 decision over Green Bay and former SDSU star Megan Vogel, now a Phoenix assistant. Green Bay led by 10 at the half and by five with 50 seconds remaining.

SDSU is expecting a crowd in the 2,000-2,500 range tonight. That would be larger than the season average yet less than half of what it drew for WNIT games in 2007 and ‘08.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Too Much TV: Scott Cacciola

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The New York Times found reason to send a reporter to Sioux Falls last week, Scott Cacciola blowing into town to file a feature about the Skyforce – their unique longevity and relationship to the Miami Heat.

Cacciola previews that piece and talks about the wild goings on with his beat – the New York Knicks – on this week’s episode of the Too Much TV podcast.

Here are three ways to listen: linklink and link.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Selection Sunday; Selection Monday

Here are some postseason-related notes that at least tangentially relate to South Dakota State. Frankly, there are so many that they’ll spill into Tuesday Tidbits:

Coach Scott Nagy said that the Jackrabbits staff found out Saturday that they’d get a CBI bid. In other words, they were included before so many teams (ranging from Indiana to William & Mary) publicly bowed out. The same might not be true for Hampton, Tulane and Radford as all three have RPIs in the 200s.

How did SDSU fare against fellow postseason qualifiers? It went 0-3 against NCAA tourney teams (NDSU, Stanford), 1-1 against NIT teams (Belmont, Minnesota) and 3-3 against CIT clubs (Fort Wayne, Omaha, North Dakota, San Diego).
Meanwhile, the Texas Southern squad that visited Frost Arena earlier this season for the Progressive Legends Classic got in the field of 68 by winning the SWAC tourney. It’s coached by former Indiana boss Mike Davis.

Ready to play six degrees of separation with the Big Dance Field? Here goes with a few random thoughts:
Nebraska is coached by Doland native Tim Miles. … Creighton freshman forward Zach Hanson is from Pierre. … SDSU forward Cody Larson used to play for overall No. 1 Florida. … SDSU guard George Marshall used to play for No. 2 seed Wisconsin. … SDSU forward Jordan Dykstra was verbally committed to No. 6 Iowa State for two years.

Former Jacks guard and assistant Austin Hansen helped Northern Colorado land a CIT bid in his first year with the program. The Bears (18-13) will host Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the Round of 32.
Ex-Jacks star Megan Vogel and the Green Bay women lost in the Horizon League title game Sunday. They have an automatic bid to the WNIT waiting for them.

The Summit League wound up with four men’s postseason picks. That’s equal to last year and one shy of its personal best set in 2012.

North Dakota put teams in both Big Sky tournament finals in its second year of eligibility. The men lost at Weber State, while the women rolled past Montana in Grand Forks to reach their first Dance.
Neither of the tourney games involving the UND women drew even 2,000 fans.
Meanwhile, this means all four Division I schools in the Dakotas have qualified basketball teams for the Big Dance within 10 years of moving to that level.

Bids for women’s postseason events will be handed out tonight. SDSU has a guarantee for the WNIT and a “fighting chance” of making the NCAA, according to ESPN.com.
Here’s a very broad overview of how the Jacks do stack up against other supposed bubble teams based on (March 10) RPI, record and quality wins:

26. Bowling Green State (27-4)
Best wins: Central Michigan, Ohio State
Strike against: Lost in conference semis

39. Florida State (20-11)
Best wins: Michigan State, Florida, Syracuse)

42. SDSU (22-9)
Best wins: Penn State, Central Michigan
Strike against: Lost in conference semis

43. Vanderbilt (18-12)
Best wins: Dayton, Tennessee, Texas A&M, LSU, Georgia
Strike against: Went 2-9 down the stretch

44. Minnesota (20-12)
Best wins: Ohio State

56. South Florida (19-12)
Best wins: Rutgers

59. Oklahoma (18-14)
Best wins: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas

63. Florida (19-12)
Best wins: Florida State, Kentucky (twice)

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Moving on

Unless the women have built up a pile of goodwill with the selection committee, South Dakota State will not be sending a basketball team to an NCAA Division I championship this year. It will be the first failure to do so in six years of being eligible.

Not the first MAKE, but the first MISS.

The Jackrabbits men and women combined to win seven Summit League tournament crowns in their first 10 opportunities. I’m not good at math, but I’m pretty sure that’s a high success rate for schools in one-bid leagues.

By comparison, Fort Wayne – a school that moved to Division I a tick earlier and joined the conference at the same time – had never made a Summit tourney final on the men’s or women’s side before this week. That’s despite being plenty respectable most years.

Did SDSU play to its season averages in its semifinal losses? No. For that, fans can be disappointed – players and coaches were, too. But to suggest, as some have, that the sky is falling or at least that systems are broken? That’s nonsensical especially since both teams did enough to earn consideration from other postseason events.

This will be a learning experience, a part of the maturation process for a school still in its first decade at the D-I level: Dealing with falling short, getting ready for a Small Dance instead of the Big One and probably being differently motivated going into the summer.

Again, this isn’t what anybody associated with the Jacks wanted, but it’s not all bad, either. It’ll challenge players, coaches, fans, fundraisers – you name it. In some ways, it’s a more interesting turn in the story.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

To Summit up

A few final notes from the Summit League basketball tournament at the Arena. It concluded Tuesday night:

Comparing the late shot hit by North Dakota State senior Taylor Braun to the one made by Bison legend Ben Woodside in the 2009 final was not a media gimmick – the NDSU players and coaches brought it up multiple times during the press conference.
Braun and Woodside – now a pro playing in Europe – are summer workout partners, and many members of the 2009 club were at the game.

This was just the second time in tournament history that the men’s bracket went exactly to seed. That also happened in 1994.
Of this year’s games, only two of the six were decided by less than 15 points.

NDSU will head into the NCAA tournament on a nine-game win streak. It’s RPI was No. 38 as of Monday. ESPN.com projects that the Bison will be a No. 13-seed. SDSU was a 13 last year.
The Summit champ hasn’t won an NCAA game since 2005 when Oakland prevailed in a play-in affair.

The Arena’s run as Summit tourney host has ended after six years and 82 games. That includes 12 title tilts – six men and six women. Of those 12, seven were decided by six points or less and three went into overtime.
Still, the No. 1 seed prevailed five of six times on the men’s side and three of six on the women’s side.

Postseason invites will be handed out Sunday for the men and Monday for the women. Summit officials feel good about getting at least three men’s teams into an event (NDSU, Fort Wayne, SDSU) and think that Omaha and Denver will be considered, too. On the women’s side, IUPUI is the most likely to join USD and SDSU.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday (tourney) Tidbits

This week’s weekly segment is Summit League-based in light of the basketball tournament concluding today at the Arena:

Two-time U.S. Open champion golfer Andy North attended the Monday night games. The Wisconsin resident is friends with North Dakota State coaches Saul Phillips and Will Ryan and South Dakota State assistant Joe Krabbenhoft.

SDSU is the first Summit women’s team to lose just one game in the league season and not reach the tournament final.
Also, SDSU did not match Valpo in being able to reach both the men’s and women’s finals three years in a row. The Crusaders did that from 2002-04.

The SDSU men had been 15-1 when allowing less than 70 points. Then again, they’d also made a 3-pointer in the first half of every game this season. (In fact, it had been at least two seasons.) Both went awry Monday.

Jacks coach Scott Nagy said he was unsure sophomore guard Jake Bittle would be able to play due to an ailing foot. He missed eight games with a foot problem early this season.
If SDSU makes a postseason event, Bittle may be held out.
Jacks junior Zach Horstman started in place of Bittle, the first nod of his career.

The Jacks-Fort Wayne game is the only single-digit decision so far in the men’s bracket.

Attendance update: The three-session total in the women’s bracket is 12,347 through three sessions and the men 16,569.
Last year, the event totaled 21,158 on the women’s side and 23,710 for the men. Both were Summit records. This year’s tourney has two fewer games.

Former SDSU star Nate Wolters, now a starting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, returns to his home state of Minnesota tonight to take on the Timberwolves. It’ll be his first regular-season NBA game at Target Center, located roughly an hour from his hometown of St. Cloud.

Women
No. 6 Denver (9-22) vs. No. 4 USD (18-13), 1 p.m.

Sagarin says: Coyotes by 8
Series: DU leads 2-1
Season results: DU won 91-84 at home and USD won 88-67 at home.
Of note: This is the first 4 vs. 6 title game since 2003 and the second in league history … USD is in the final for the second in as many years since becoming eligible … The Pioneers have two players from Minnesota and each one from Iowa and Nebraska. … The Coyotes have never been to the Division I tournament (this is only their second year of eligibility), while Denver hasn’t been there since 2001.

Men
No. 2 Fort Wayne (24-9) vs. No. 1 NDSU (24-6), 8 p.m.

Sagarin says: Bison by 5
Series: Tied 9-9
Season results: IPFW won 82-71 at home and NDSU prevailed 69-58 in Fargo.
Of note: This is the first championship berth in men’s or women’s basketball for Fort Wayne since joining the Summit in 2007 … NDSU is the 20th No. 1 seed in 21 years to reach the title game. The Bison also won the tourney in 2009. … NDSU is coming off the most lopsided semifinal win in tourney history, besting Denver by 35. … The Mastodons had been 0-4 this season against conference foes when scoring less than 65 points, a streak they ended by beating the Jacks.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.


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