Lost in the hoopla surrounding last night’s game was that, based on RPI, South Dakota State represented the best team the Coyotes have ever beaten.
I didn’t write a thing about Charlie Westbrook in today’s game story, but he hit 8-of-14 shots and scored 18 points. Nice night for a senior who has been a consistent performer this season.
Before the game I thought USD was going to have to get a “night” from someone other than Westbrook and Krogman. Tecker was the guy who had it, scoring 11 points. He’s an intriguing talent with a versatile set of skills and I’m guessing the coaches are going to want – need is probably the better word – to see more out of him offensively next year. He played 36 minutes and was heavily involved in some of the best plays of the night for the Coyote offense.
SDSU’s offensive firepower was evident in the second half. While USD hit 15 of 22 from the field, the Jacks were outscoring them 44-38. What was at least a little different in the postgame was that I got the impression the USD coach and players had at least as much respect for how good the Jacks are as they did after they got drilled by 30 at Frost.
I tend to belabor this when writing of basketball, but a lot of the time outcomes are determined by whether the ball is going in the hoop or not. Coaches and media tend to concentrate on more controllable elements like defense, rebounding and energy, but SDSU went 0-for-8 in the first half on 3-pointers and most of them were pretty good looks. Half those go in and people aren’t talking as much about energy and defense, etc.
An underrated part of the game involved the first five minutes of the second half. The Jacks had essentially shut down USD over the final minutes of the first half and looked to be ready to take control. Then the Coyotes came out and put another good run together, extending the lead to 48-32 on a jumper from Westbrook with 15:14 to play.
The loudest I’ve heard a DakotaDome crowd in the last eight years came on Ricardo Andreotti’s dunk with 30 seconds left that gave USD a 70-65 lead.
Though Nate Wolters didn’t shoot as well as he would have liked, he’s quite a player. I realize this isn’t news, by the way. He seems to be one of those guys who sees things coming at him at a slower speed than most other players. He’s incapable of looking awkward or out of control on a basketball court.
OK…now onto the epic nature of sport….
I was thinking last night that if you are a fan of a particular team, you expect to be rewarded occasionally with a big night. USD fans have not had a lot of those big nights in recent years, just as the Jackrabbit men’s program scuffled along at the same point in its transition.
Last night was one of those big nights at USD. The first game USD and SDSU were rivals as the hammer is a rival to the nail, but now it’s on. With benefits to be reaped by both parties, whether they want to admit it or not. There are Coyote fans at present who might be fretting over a million different things clogging up their lives, but they’re happy today because of the unlikely victory that took place Thursday night. When the SDSU men win a Summit League tournament title next month in Sioux Falls (my prediction), the same feeling will be there. They’re the rare moments and you don’t have to give them back.