The USD men’s basketball team ended the 2018-19 season with a 90-76 loss to Purdue-Fort Wayne at the first round of the Summit League tournament on March 10, a sour finish to Todd Lee’s first season as USD’s head coach.
The Coyotes spent the winter enduring injuries, inexperience and sluggish stretches of offense to finish the regular season at 13-17 overall, 7-9 in the Summit League, where they finished in sixth place.
Here’s a look at the good and the bad— and what it means for next year.
Up, up and Umude
A 6-foot-6-inch guard from San Antonio who hadn’t started a game of college basketball before this season, Stanley Umude emerged as the Coyotes’ featured offensive force early in the season.
Through the first seven games, he averaged 3.4 minutes and 1.1 points per game. He finished his sophomore campaign as USD’s leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 14.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game.
Though listed as a guard, Umude took the role of a forward in lieu of injuries to senior forwards Trey Burch-Manning, Logan Power and Dan Jech. Umude’s aggressive play underneath the basket on both sides of the ball (he also tallied a team-high 1.2 blocks per game) earned him a spot on the 2019 Summit League First Team.
In December, Umude posted 28 points in an 89-53 USD loss to No. 1 Kansas. Following the game, KU head coach Bill Self said Umude “was, without question, the best player on the floor tonight… He killed us.”
Umude’s sudden success is promising for a player with only 18 starts under his belt, and the departure of three senior forwards will create the right environment for Umude to grow into a national scoring threat next season.
After the university announced his hiring, Todd Lee vowed his new Coyote team would be “the best prepared defensive team in the country.”
Through personnel experiments conducted by any first-year coach, USD and Lee posted one undeniable result: they caused problems.
Allowing a Summit League-low 71.2 points per game, USD held opponents to 45 percent shooting and 35.7 percent from 3-point, both third in the conference. The Coyotes also ranked third in forced turnovers with 12.2 a game.
The defensive focus also came in part to the low scoring numbers the team’s offense posted. Lee said in a press conference early in the season, “Our rule was, if we could score over 60, we were going to beat you.”
Stanley Umude’s season was one shining spot on an otherwise bleak USD offense. The Coyote offense averaged 70.6 points per game through the season, ranked eighth of nine teams in the Summit League. Despite a sturdy defense, USD was 2-11 when their opponent scored more than 71 points.
USD didn’t have extensive problems turning the ball over or spreading it across the floor, but simply floundered in the game’s basic premise: putting the ball through the net. They shot 43.8 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point land, both last in the Summit League.
The team’s leading 3-point shooters (minimum 50 attempts) were Trey Burch-Manning (43 percent) and Cody Kelley (37.4 percent). Umude lead the team in field goal percentage at 49.1 percent.
Lacking true forwards for the majority of the season didn’t help the Coyotes’ case. Freshman Matt Johns started the season as the team’s center, but at 6-foot-8-inches, he was still undersized compared to many other teams. When Johns wasn’t on the court, Burch-Manning was often the “biggest” player on the court at 6-foot-6-inches. Not having an inside presence limited the offense.
The fact that no guard shot over 38 percent from beyond the arc was also an issue. The return of senior forward Tyler Hagedorn next season and another offseason of putting up shots will bring balance to an offense in need.
The Core Returns
Five of six Coyotes that averaged more than 20 minutes per game will return to the floor next season; Triston Simpson, Tyler Peterson, Cody Kelley and Brandon Armstrong will return as seniors, Umude as a junior.
The sixth player averaging 20 plus minutes, Trey Burch-Manning, will be replaced by senior Tyler Hagedorn, who averaged 13 points per game over the 2017-18 season but redshirted the 2018-19 season due to an ankle injury.
The Coyotes’ lack of depth didn’t help in close games (USD lost 11 games decided by 10 points or fewer), but a deeper, experienced, uninjured roster will aid an improvement in the quality of late possessions.
USD held halftime leads in 18 games this season. They went 10-8 in those games. The Coyotes were also out-rebounded in 19 of their regular season games, going 6-13.
Depth looks to still be an issue for the Coyotes who lose two bench players to graduation and a third, freshman Nate Robinson, to transfer. However, Lee has three committed recruits as of right now.
Bailey Zubke contributed to this story.