On Jan. 5, the University of South Dakota Coyotes men’s basketball team watched with grins on their faces as rival South Dakota State walked off the court with a loss. USD (8-13) will now have to repeat their efforts as they travel to Brookings, S.D. to take on the Jackrabbits on January 31.
The Coyotes will have their work cut out for them, as SDSU has been the staple of success in the Summit League, winning the conference last year, while currently lying in second place with a 16-6 record.
The last time USD traveled to Frost Arena they saw the Jackrabbits run them out of the gym, winning by 30 points. Despite the big loss and their current record, senior point guard Juevol Myles says the game plan remains the same.
“We are going to stick with what we know,” Myles said. “We’ll go in their with plenty of confidence and stick to our strengths.”
The biggest challenge the Coyotes will face is slowing down highly regarded point guard Nate Wolters. Wolters is having a stellar senior season, scoring a whopping 21 points per game as well as dishing out 5.7 assists per game.
Despite the All-American like numbers, junior center Trevor Gruis says the team will do its best not toworry about Wolters and play him like any other opponent.
“Wolters is a fantastic player but we can’t worry too much about him,” Gruis said. “If we do, he’ll find open teammates to pass to.”
The next biggest challenge for the team will be to stay calm and not let the hostile environment swallow them up. The game is expected to be sold out and the players know there will be plenty of screaming and heckling from the SDSU fans.
“They are going to be booing instead of cheering, so we’ll have to deal with that,” Gruis said. “Last year we looked like a deer in the headlights and kind of froze when we got there. But I think we’ll be alright if we keep it close early on and get settled in.”