This season, the teams are focused on getting better and winning the Summit League Tournament.
Men: Get better everyday
Last season, the Coyote men lost the second game of the Summit League Tournament against SDSU by a last second shot.
This year, they’re looking to avenge that loss. The Coyotes have 13 returning players on their 17-man
“Even though we’re a relatively young team, we have a pretty experienced team,” said head coach Craig Smith.
Included on the returning players list are junior forward Trey Burch-Manning and junior guard Matt Mooney.
During his sophomore season and first season as a Coyote, Burch-Manning started all 34 games and averaged 9.2 points per game. Mooney started 34 games during his first season with the Coyotes and averaged 18.6 points per game.
Noticeably missing from the Coyote roster is Tyler Flack who, though he spent part of his senior season injured, averaged 15.2 points per game.
Smith said he isn’t worried about filling his spot, as he has several players who played in his absence last season who are ready to take over full time.
“Tyler Hagedorn and Austin Sparks and Jack (Stensgard) were able to get a lot of meaningful reps,” Smith said. “And really had a positive impact on our game.”
This season, to prepare for the closely-fought Summit League games, the Coyotes will be taking on highly-ranked teams such as Duke, UCLA and TCU, last year’s NIT winner.
“The non-conference is really good, we play really good competition,” Hagedorn said, “So that’s going to prepare us for the battle in the Summit League Conference.”
The men play their first game of the season on Nov. 4 at home with an exhibition match against the University of Sioux Falls.
Women: Defend, compete, execute
Last season, the Coyotes finished with a 23-9 run. After losing a close game to Omaha in the first round of the Summit League Tournament last season, the Coyotes have been focused most on defense.
“Last year we had a really good year, we scored very efficiently offensively,” said head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “But this year we’re really focusing on becoming a better defensive team.”
Junior guard Allison Arens said they’ve been focusing a lot more on defense this year.
“That’s been our main goal,” said junior guard Allison Arens. “Just pressuring the ball.”
The Coyotes have nine players returning this season to the 14-player roster. Notable returning players include sophomore guard Ciara Duffy and Arens.
Duffy started all 32 games her first Coyote season and averaged 11.2 points per game. Arens also started all 32 games during her sophomore season and averaged 17.1 points per game.
The Coyotes are facing a tough schedule this season. It includes Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Tennessee all before December.
“It’s the toughest non-conference schedule that we’ve ever had. It’s been awesome to have that in the back of our minds just motivating us all through the summer and preseason,” said redshirt senior guard Caitlin Duffy. “We know we’re going to have to be ready to go right away.”
Arens said she’s excited to get the season started.
“We’re all eager to get better,” she said. “Right now everyone is playing super hard so we’re pushing each other really well this year.”
The Coyotes open the season against Iowa State in Iowa on Nov. 10.