Basketball notebook

Here are some South Dakota State basketball notes: 

Incoming Wisconsin transfer point guard George Marshall can’t play in a game for SDSU until the middle of next season. But he can start practicing next week once classes begin. He plans to be productive with that.
"Spent a lot of time working on my game and at the same time preparing the team for conference play coming up and the rest of the games throughout this year," he said. "It’s definitely an important time for me."

The addition of Marshall means that SDSU could end up getting big minutes from two transfer guards next season as Iowa Lakes All-American Deondre Parks is already signed and off to a hot start in his sophomore season.
Through 13 games, Parks is putting up 24.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals in 25.9 minutes per game. He’s shooting 53.3 percent from the field, 48.5 percent from deep and 83.3 percent from the foul line, where he’s getting 8.0 attempts per game.
Parks is viewed as a combo guard whereas Marshall is more of a true point. Both are smaller and quicker than their recent predecessors.   

SDSU coach Scott Nagy said that the postponed game at Buffalo is likely to be rescheduled for next season. The Bulls were hoping to play the Friday game on Sunday, but the Jacks weren’t certain they’d be able to get there in time due to flight issues in large chunks of the country.

As if a first career start wasn’t memorable enough, SDSU freshman forward Chynna Stevens made hers at No. 2-ranked Notre Dame on Thursday. She filled in for injured senior Hannah Strop.
The 6-footer from Clark - the second Jacks true frosh to make a start already this season - finished with seven points, five rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes.  
"It felt bigger than usual, but we still have to go into it trying to play it like a normal game," said Stevens, who is averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds. "That was the intention."
As for Strop, she didn’t practice last week and will be evaluated in the coming days for her availability for Thursday-Saturday home games. Coach Aaron Johnston said he wasn’t sure what label - questionable, doubtful, probable - to put on her. 

The SDSU women finish with nine non-conference, regular-season wins. That’s their third-most since joining the Summit in 2007-08 behind 2008-09 (14) and 2012-13 (11). The three regular-season wins over power-conference teams is tied for its second-best total since joining the Summit behind 2008-09 (five) and tied with 2012-13. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Here’s a tour of the iconic Notre Dame campus in advance of the South Dakota State women’s basketball game there Thursday night.

I’ll have live coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. CT.

A trip unlike any other

Part of what’s made the South Dakota State women’s basketball program unprecedentedly successful in its transition to the NCAA Division I level is its willingness to schedule - and ability to occasionally beat - top-shelf teams. The tone was set in Game 4 of Season 1 at the major-college level: A road trip to Rutgers.

The Jackrabbits since have faced Baylor, Oklahoma, Maryland, Purdue, Xavier and Stanford - to name a few - at times when those programs were Final Four caliber.

But tonight’s meeting with Notre Dame seems on the surface to be a different challenge. The Irish are undefeated and ranked No. 2 in both polls, the highest standing of any SDSU opponent ever. They’ve won 33 regular-season games in a row at home, where they average more than 8,500 fans. They’ve been to the Final Four or deeper three years in a row and won the national title in 2001.

Notre Dame is almost inarguably among the top 5 programs - not teams, but sustained programs - in the women’s game at the moment. The list probably goes something like this: UConn, Tennessee, Stanford, Notre Dame and Baylor. Maybe Duke.  

The point is that the Irish are elite at the moment and over the past several years. They’re not just big in name, they’re considerable in game. SDSU has not faced a situation like this – a true road game against a legit powerhouse in the regular season. (This feels akin to a first-round game in the NCAA tournament.) And new experiences have gotten harder to come by given the time at the D-I level (10 years) and success (seven consecutive postseasons) for the Jacks.

However, it’s unclear what the contest will or won’t mean for the team and the program. The SDSU program will benefit from this game in that it’s part of a home-and-home contract; getting Notre Dame to visit Brookings in one of the next two seasons is a major coup. On the other hand, the SDSU team has struggled mightily on the road this season - perhaps a decent showing will be a confidence booster?

It seemed like the Jacks had moved past the point of moral victories. There’s an answer forthcoming.

I’ll have complete live coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. CT.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

A few words about basketball signing day

The South Dakota State basketball teams Wednesday locked up a total of eight recruits. Here are (literally) a few words about each from their future head coaches Scott Nagy and Aaron Johnston:

Mike Daum, 6-9, F, Kimball, Neb.: “In terms of what you would call a 4 or 5 he might be the best shooter we’ve ever recruited.” … Plays on the block in high school … Good in the open floor … Mom was a hoops standout at Wyoming and dad played football there and briefly in the NFL.

Deondre Parks, 6-3, G, Iowa Lakes Community College: “He really shoots it, but can put it on the floor - he’s a strong, physical guard.” … Shooting 3s at 63 percent early this season and is getting to the foul line with great frequency … “He’s not afraid of anybody. We need some toughness. He’ll give us that.”

Reed Tellinghuisen, 6-5, G, East Sac, Iowa: Multi-positional and multi-talented … One of the top shot blockers in Iowa … “He puts it on the floor and really, really shoots it.” … older brother attends SDSU.

Ian Theisen, 6-9, F, Osseo, Minn.: “He’s in the mold of the big kids we have now who are highly skilled.” … Great hands, great passer, good in the low post … Can play both post spots and go inside and outside.

Lexi Alexander, 5-7, G, Champlin Park, Minn.: Primarily a point guard … “She can get up and defend full-court when we want her to and continue to push the pace in transition.” … Also knocks down open shots … Played summer ball for North Tartan, one of the traditional powers in Minnesota.

Macy Miller, 5-11, G, Mitchell: Can play the 1 or the 2. … Scores, rebounds and passes at a high level … “She has a savvy about her that she wants to take big shots in big moments.” … Prep teammate of freshman wing Kerri Young and cousin of NBA veteran Mike Miller. 

Kaitlyn Severyn, 6-foot, G, Pierre: “Really athletic wing player and just in the tradition of our wing players.” … Plays bigger than her listed height because of her athletic ability. … Her parents went to SDSU and her brother, Lane, is a true freshman wing on the men’s team. 

Ellie Thompson, 6-1, F, Chaska, Minn.: In the mold of a Megan Stuart and with a strong offensive game … “Really runs the floor. Can shoot from 3. Very physical. Can score around the basket.” … Her mom grew up in Arlington … The first player SDSU has landed from the Minnesota Fury, an up-and-coming program heavy on D-I prospects. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

St. John’s forward JaKarr Sampson and coach Steve Lavin address the media after a loss to No. 20-ranked Wisconsin at the Sanford Pentagon.

Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan after a win over St. John’s at the Sanford Pentagon. 

Inspecting the Summit schedule

While I was away, the Summit League announced the schedule for conference games during the 2013-14 basketball season. It is, for the second year in a row, a mirror format meaning the men and women face the same schools on the same nights in opposite locations (with a few exceptions). That’s regrettable, but understandable due to the relatively late departure of Oakland for the Horizon League.

Other noteworthy – or at least semi-interesting wrinkles – within the slate:

* Cutting down to only 14 league games means no more awkward single Summit weekend in December. League play starts the second week of Jan. and rolls right through the conference tourney in early March without interruption. Most coaches will see that as a positive.
Likewise, no BracketBusters interruption for the men in February because that event has been put to sleep by ESPN.

* Travel partners go as follows: SDSU-NDSU, Fort Wayne-IUPUI, Omaha-Western Illinois, Denver-USD. The only holdover in the bunch is SDSU-NDSU, a roughly 190-mile drive up I-29. Indy to Fort Wayne is roughly 125 miles, Omaha to Macomb is 350 miles and Denver to Vermillion is 590 miles, although Sioux Falls has direct flights to Denver. 

* Barring late changes agreed to by the league and individual schools, there will be only one game not played on a Thursday or Saturday: USD at SDSU women on Feb. 2.  That’s to avoid a conflict with the SDSU at USD men on Feb. 1.
So that means, as things stand now, there rest of the SDSU vs. USD and SDSU vs. NDSU games – rivalries for sure – will stick to the mirror format. Hard to see that not hurting attendance and/or media coverage.

* With only seven schools eligible for the conference tourney, the top seed will get a bye in the men’s and women’s event in Sioux Falls. That puts added weight on earning that distinction. It also changes the rhythm of the event, as there only will be two games Saturday –opening day – instead of four.

* The schedule looks reasonable in terms of streaks – consecutive games at home or on the road. For example, the SDSU men won’t play more than three games in a row at home or on the road in league play. They also won’t have any one-game stands at home or on the road. That should allow teams to be more settled in terms of travel and hosting.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

South Dakota State men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy speaks at winter media day in Brookings.

Bye, bye and Flatten verbals

A two-pronged blog today: Some news and notes as the South Dakota State football team comes out of the bye week and prepares to host Western Illinois plus more on the Jackrabbits landing another men’s basketball verbal:

SDSU sophomore running back Zach Zenner continues to lead every level of NCAA football in rushing yards at 1,077. There’s only one other player over 1,000 – and Division III back – and nobody in Division I is averaging more than 178 yards per game compared to Zenner’s 215.

The Jacks continues to be ranked in the top 10 in arguably the two most important defensive categories: total defense and scoring defense. The Jacks are eighth in the FCS in total defense (294.2 yards per game) and sixth in scoring defense at 14.0 points per game. Remarkably, that scoring stat is only third-best in the Missouri Valley Football Conference behind North Dakota State and Indiana State.

The Valley continues to lead the FCS in the Sagarin Ratings, just ahead of the CAA. SDSU moved up to fourth in the Valley at 118th, jumping Illinois State and trailing No. 37 NDSU, No. 95 Northern Iowa and No. 105 Youngstown State. The Jacks will face each of those teams in the second half of the season.
Western Illinois is 185th. SDSU is favored by 13 this week in Brookings.

The teams the Jacks have played so far this season are a combined 9-20. Their remaining opponents are 17-14.

As for Flatten, the 6-foot-5 guard from Clark/Willow Lake becomes the fourth (and final) member of the Jacks’ 2013 class and the sixth player to commit since the end of the 2011-12 season.

During his last summer even with the Schoolers, Flatten said that he was likely to wait until spring to make a decision, wanted to see what might happen with a big senior year. And he did pick up a subsequent offer from UTEP. But in the end he made only one visit: To SDSU. Why the change? He talked it over with his family – both of his parents played college ball at Huron – and decided to pull the trigger.

It probably didn’t hurt that SDSU had just one scholarship spot left in light of recent verbals from Pierre wing Lane Severyn, Alexandria (Minn.) forward Logan Doyle and Lakeview Christian Academy (Minn.) guard Anders Broman.

Flatten plays a lot of point guard for his high school team, but projects to be more of a combo guard at the NCAA Division I level. Although he can shoot it (the product of a jumper overhaul two years ago), the thing that people mention most is his athletic ability. And, as prep coach Jerome Nesheim pointed out, he only turned 17 in July – he’s young for his grade.

Nesheim brought up another interesting aspect about the process, saying that Flatten really wanted to play for Scott Nagy and was concerned that the coach might leave SDSU if the Jacks repeat as Summit League champions, as they’ll be favored to do.

So expect that to be a question that pops up as the SDSU staff moves on to the 2014 class.

"He wants someone that’s going to challenge him," Nesheim said of Flatten. "Even when he was a freshman, we never told him you’re going to start - he wanted to prove to people that he earns his position. Over the years, he’s really done that. We never let him get comfortable in what he’s doing."

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Week 3 wrap plus Anders Broman

Some final thoughts on South Dakota State’s 12-8 victory over UC Davis on Saturday plus extra info on Anders Broman, the latest recruit to give a verbal to the SDSU men’s basketball program:

The Jacks’ first five pass completions went to tight ends - three different ones. Was that by design?
“It’s just the read,” coach John Stiegelmeier said. “We did a lot of three-step stuff and a lot of 5-yard up-and-outs and threw to the guys that were open.”
Still, the SDSU pass game again wasn’t as sharp as expected given that it led the Valley last year. Stiegelmeier attributed some of that to the still-healing hand of QB Austin Sumner - the high balls, in particular, are an indication that it’s not as strong as usual yet. But he was pleased that Sumner was making the right reads, and figures the connections will come in time.

How much has the SDSU defense improved? The Jacks gave up at least 28 points in every home game last year. They also have 12 sacks through three games after totaling 22 in 11 games last season and have yet to allow 200 yards passing in a single game.

The biggest area of concern after the game: The punt return game. The Jacks pulled Dom Wright in favor of Jason Schneider after repeated shaky decisions. Schneider did better … until he did. SDSU wound up taking over 10 yards or less from its end zone four times, including a couple of mind-boggling fair-catch attempts inside the five.
No, you’re not crazy – the rule of thumb for fielding punts hasn’t changed, according to Stiegelmeier. It’s put your heels on the 10 and don’t move backward.
He said that the punt return unit – a group he’s in charge of – “did everything wrong.”
On the flipside, punter Ethan Sawyer had the best day of his career and wound up earning Valley special teamer of the week. The sophomore from Brandon Valley kicked seven times for an average of 47.9 yards with a long of 72 and one inside the 20. The Aggies did not have a single punt return, limiting the touches of Jonathan Perkins (the CB who returned the pick six.)

The UC Davis running back who left with an injury in the first quarter, redshirt freshman Tavior Mowry, is the younger brother of twin actresses Tia and Tamara.

SDSU RB Zach Zenner said the injury that cost him a couple plays during the game was a stinger on his left side. During one of those absences, redshirt freshman Reggie Gandy converted a key third down with a 20-yard catch and run.

As for the latest basketball verbal …

Broman is a 6-foot-1 senior guard and scoring machine. Among the most unusual numbers:

  • He averaged more than 43 points per game last season (unofficially the highest in the nation)
  • put up 71 in a single game on the road (second-most in Minnesota prep history) by going 17 of 24 on 2s, 8 of 13 from deep and 13 of 14 from the foul line with six rebounds and nine assists
  • has more than 3,800 for his career, putting him on track to break the state record this coming season. (Here’s a game-by-game, if you are interested.)

Broman spent the summer with Howard Pulley, a renowned club in the Twin Cities, playing in the backcourt alongside Tyus Jones – a top-5 recruit in the 2014 class – and Quinton Hooker, who recently gave a verbal to North Dakota. He wound up averaging 13.4 points per game (second on the team behind Jones), while knocking down 59 3s and 73 free throws.
Broman said that he received 20 NCAA Division I scholarship offers, and visited Vermont and Yale before taking an official to SDSU over the weekend. As you might expect, the Jacks’ recent success and community support played in their favor.
Also of note: His dad, John, was a Winter Olympian in 1980 in ski jumping, and he passed up opportunities to play for larger high schools in order to stay loyal to LCA, but opted to join Pulley for one summer after previously suiting up for the Minnesota Glory.
What does he do well? Shoot and score.
“To get ready for college, I’m going to be working on my ball handling, my play-making ability,” Broman said, “and being able to defend and getting in the weight room.”
For what it’s worth, ESPN ranks him 59th nationally at shooting guard.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

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