The Coyote men went small for the most part to post an 85-75 win over Morehead State at the DakotaDome on Wednesday night. They had the luxury of sticking with their plan because everyone stayed out of foul trouble.
A lot of nights — and I’m speaking of just about every college basketball team here — foul trouble can scuttle a game plan a team has been working on for two or three days. All of a sudden, you have to go to a lineup that has little to do with what you’d deemed prior to the game as being the most effective way to attack the other team.
USD’s lineup last night included Gruis, who played very well despite not reaching double-figures, Rowson, Bos, Myles and Kasperbauer. Steve Tecker, who came off the bench, ended up getting 30 minutes.
It’s a lineup that can work against teams like Morehead State as long as everyone gets medieval on the boards. If the sub 6-6 guys aren’t really making rebounding a high priority, taller teams will be able to keep the ball at their end forever. That didn’t happen against the Eagles, who were running some big dudes through the lineup, including 6-11, 270-pound Chad Posthumus.
Juevol Myles’ play was epic stuff. He was a game-time decision on whether he would even play after severely bruising his tailbone against Ball State and then went 40 minutes and scored 32 points. He said he was in pain the whole night, and I believe him. Myles is an interesting guy — definitely wears his heart on his sleeve, enjoys basketball and enjoys his teammates. He’s one of those players who doesn’t just say the right things, I think he really believes them.
And can I say a few things about Karim Rowson? If Rowson was a white guy from Baltic and played as hard as he does, all anyone would want to talk about is what a battler he is. When you’re an African American juco from New York City, you’re still going to get some props but that praise will never start with effort and desire. He’ll probably have some bad games here and there, but it won’t stem from lack of effort. Energy and hustle — that’s where the kind words should start with Karim Rowson.
OK, the Coyotes got another wicked mid-major contest coming up at Green Bay on Saturday night. The Phoenix have a talented big man in 7-1 Alec Brown, but last week suspended his frontcourt partner, 6-9 senior starter Brennan Cougil, indefinitely. Cougil, who played at Sioux City Heelan, is averaging 12.7 points and 6.8 rebounds. Many would remember he started at Iowa, then transferred out for a year, then returned to Division I. There were several programs in the area who were hoping for a taste, given that there was a second chance to recruit him. He was midst a solid two-year run with the Phoenix when he was benched for a violation of team policy.
Green Bay’s top scorer is Kiefer Sykes, a sophomore guard averaging 16.4 points a game. He had 20 in a marquee 49-47 win over Marquette on Wednesday night. Curiously, former Coyote Jake Thomas took Marquette’s last shot in the contest, missing a 3-pointer with two seconds left. Thomas, by the way, is averaging 16 minutes a game for the Golden Eagles. He’s hit 8-of-25 3-pointers so far this season.
“They’re very good defensively and they’re very skilled,” Boots said of the 3-7 Phoenix, who defeated NDSU earlier this season. “(Brown) is a very good player — an NBA prospect. He does everything for them. Sykes is probably quicker than (Morehead State guard Devon Atkinson) and is a great scorer. They’ll play a lot of half-court offense and press a little bit, but not like we saw against Morehead State. They’re from a great league — from top to bottom it’s one of the best mid-major leagues. It will be a big challenge for us.
“Our schedule has been incredibly good this year. Ball State had a one-point lead on Purdue this week with nine minutes left. That’s a quality opponent. We haven’t had any easy ones and that’s not going to change. That’s how we’re going to build our program — we’re going to schedule games like these. We’re going to take some losses but we’re eventually going to get the kids in here we need to get and get this to where we need to be.”