USD men’s and women’s basketball teams garnered an abundance of preseason awards announce during Summit League media day in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Monday.
Both USD teams were picked to finish at or near the top of Summit League standings and Coyotes took home both preseason Player of the Year Awards.
Coyote women tagged Summit League favorites
The Summit League tabbed the Coyote women as the preseason favorite, as they gathered 20 of the 34 first-place votes. South Dakota State was picked second, followed by Denver in third. The Coyotes finished second in the Summit League last season, going 14-2 in conference play with losses at SDSU and Denver.
Senior Ciara Duffy, named Summit League preseason Player of the Year, looks to lead the Coyotes this year. Duffy averaged 14.6 points per game last season. Duffy is joined on the all-Summit first team by junior forward Hannah Sjerven, who a season ago won Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year, averaging 11.8 points per game. Senior Madison McKeever and junior Chloe Lamb were listed preseason
“There are a couple of things we have been diligently attacking right now.” USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “One of them is our full-court offense and defense, our transition offense and conversion defense and the other part, in the halfcourt, we’ve been really focusing on our defensive ability.”
The Coyotes open play Nov. 5 in Boston, Massachusetts to play Northeastern. Last year’s Coyote team made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large No. 9 seed and finished runner-up in the Summit League regular season and tournament. The Coyotes cracked the Associated Press Top 25 poll as well as the USA Today/Coaches poll, peaking at No. 22. USD lost one player last season, Allison Arens, and bring in three freshmen.
South Dakota State was picked second in the Summit League coaches poll. The defending Summit League champions made a run to the Sweet Sixteen a season ago, but graduated Macy Miller and Madison Geubert, who were their leading scorers. The Jackrabbits return preseason all-Summit first-teamers senior Tagyn Larson and junior Myah Selland, as well as second-teamer junior Tylee Irwin. South Dakota State received 13 of the remaining 14 first-place votes, seven behind the Coyotes 20.
USD and SDSU won their
The first meeting between the rivals and Summit League powerhouses is Jan. 18 inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
“For us now the challenge is to continue to refine who we are,” Plitzuweit said, “and to continue to take some small details and get better in some of those areas on the court.”
The two South Dakota schools make up seven of the 11 members of the preseason all-Summit teams. Denver’s seniors Lauren Loven and Madison Nelson join the first team, while Western Illinois senior Olivia Kaufman and Oral Roberts junior Keni Jo Lippe join the second team squad.
Coyote squad of returners picked runner-up
The Summit League preseason coaches poll expects major improvement out of the Coyote men, who finished sixth last season and return four starters. Junior Stanley Umude was named the Summit League preseason Player of the Year, joined by senior Triston Simpson on the all-Summit first team. Hagedorn, who joins the Coyotes after missing the 2018-19 campaign due to injury, made the preseason all-Summit second team.
“This is my second year and it is completely different from the standpoint that we’ve got a lot of guys returning,” USD head coach Todd Lee said. “I always say at the mid-major level, to be good, you’ve got to be old and we are old this year with five seniors and two juniors.”
Umude averaged 14.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. Simpson was right behind Umude in scoring at 14 points per game. The Coyotes also bring back seniors Tyler Peterson, Cody Kelley and Brandon Armstrong.
“We’ve got a lot of veterans back, and a really good group of leaders,” Lee said. “I’ve always said great teams are lead by the players not the coach, and we’ve got that opportunity this year.”
USD opens regular season play in Hawaii for the Rainbow Classic Nov 8-10. The Coyotes graduated three players, but return a strong senior class this season. USD looks to rebound from a first-round exit against Purdue-Fort Wayne last March in the Summit League tournament.
“It seemed like last year in January and February we were still putting in the base of our offense and defense,” Lee said. “I know that sounds crazy, but it just felt like we were constantly trying to teach last year. This year we have players who are teaching other players. We have already put in the base of our defense and offense, now it’s about fine-tuning it.”
The Coyotes were picked to finish behind last season’s tournament champion, North Dakota State. The Bison are predicted to repeat as conference champions, receiving 23 of the 34 first-place votes. USD was honored with six such votes. South Dakota State, the defending regular-season champions, are picked to finish fifth.
NDSU is returning five starters from last season’s NCAA Tournament appearance team, including seniors Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward, who are selected preseason first and second team, respectively. USD and NDSU split their regular-season games against each other a season ago, each team winning their respective home game. The first meeting between the two schools is Jan. 15 in Fargo.
USD and NDSU make up half of the preseason first team. The other half includes Oral Roberts senior Emmanuel Nzekwesi and sophomore Kevin Obanor and Western Illinois junior Kobe Webster. The preseason second-team includes Omaha senior JT Gibson, Omaha junior Matt Pile and Purdue Fort-Wayne senior Matt Holba.