Coming into the season, fans, students and even experts had no idea what to expect from the 2012-2013 University of South Dakota men’s basketball team.
Last year’s team went 10-18, and on top of that it had three seniors graduate. Those three seniors consisted of the team’s top two scorers (Charlie Westbrook and Louie Krogman) and their top rebounder (Ricardo Andreotti).
Returning starter junior center Trevor Gruis said the team is doing well in replacement the absence of graduated seniors.
“We are doing alright. We have a different look, and we score in different ways than we did a year ago,” Gruis said. ”Those three seniors were vital parts to our team a year ago. Charlie (Westbrook) and Louis (Krogman) scored the majority of our points and Ricardo (Andreotti) was a huge asset on defense, but Flack has stepped in for (Andreotti), Juevol has stepped in for (Krogman) and Casey (Kasperbauer) is in there for (Westbrook).”
Coming into the season, the team knew what it was getting at the center position, where Gruis brings a solid presence inside for the Coyotes. Gruis has been as good as advertised early on, improving his stats to 12 points per game and 6.8 rebounds.
Head coach Dave Boots said Gruis has been playing well this season.
“Trevor (Gruis) is getting confident and he’s comfortable with what we are doing,” Boots said. “We have to have more than one or two guys play well though, so we’re looking to get more
The big question mark was how the team would replace the 995 points (35.5 per game) it was losing in Krogman and Westbrook. So far, that void has been split between two junior college transfers and two first-year students. Transfers Juevol Myles and Karim Rowson have pleasantly surprised the Coyotes this season.
“(Myles and Rowson) have played big roles for us this year,” Gruis said. “Transferring is hard because you have a short time to adapt to a new system. Juevol is only here for a year and Karim’s here for two so they have to make the most of that. Building team chemistry with them has been great so far, they have been good teammates and I think it shows in how great of players they are.”
Flash forward to today, where South Dakota has fought their way to a record of 4-6. One of the main staples in their success this season has been Myles, who through his flashy and exciting brand of basketball is currently leading USD in points and assists per game, with 13.7 and 4.2 respectively. The level of competition that the Summit League presents is nothing new to Myles, who transferred to USD after playing a season at Kansas State University.
Their other notable transfer, Rowson, has also provided steady play for Boots in the scoring department, averaging 11.2 ppg on percent shooting.
The Coyote’s most recent game was Dec. 8 when they traveled to Muncie, Ind. and took on Ball State. The Coyotes couldn’t buy a bucket and lost by a score of 62-51.
Boots said it was just one of those games where the shots weren’t falling.
“We didn’t play well on the offensive side of the ball (vs. Ball State),” Boots said. “It was a nightmare shooting the basketball, but I thought our guys played hard and competed with them.”
Ironically, USD’s next game is against Ball State again, this time at home Dec. 15. If the Coyotes want to pull out a victory this time around, they’ll have to do a better job of containing Ball State senior guard Jauwan Scaife, who led the team with 14 points and scored their final seven points. The Coyotes will also have to do a better job of slowing down the best rebounder in the Mid-American Conference, junior forward Majok Majok. Another note is that the team has been much more successful at home, with a 3-1 record so far.
The team will have one more home game after Ball State, hosting Morehead State Dec. 19 before traveling to Green Bay Dec. 22.