Triston Simpson’s senior campaign started out rocky. Being forced to miss the majority of the nonconference season due to a knee injury created trouble for the Coyotes. But since his first game back in late December, Simpson has been a leader on the court.
The four year player for the Coyotes has accumulated 91 points from the field with a .460 average as well as being a key free throw shooter, averaging 75% from the line.
“My freshman year was the first year this arena was open so that was pretty cool,” Simpson said. “I’m thankful I’ve been able to play all four years here at USD.”
Along with Simpson, Cody Kelley, Brandon Armstrong, Tyler Peterson and Tyler Hagedorn all partook in senior day festivities Saturday during the home finale against North Dakota.
“It really did go fast, everyone’s kinda in my ear it’s your senior night is your last night. I’ve been the kind of guy not to look at it like that,” Simpson said. “I’m more of a smile because it happened not to cry because it’s over.”
The senior class was presented by their families with a photo of them framed. Simpson said he focused on what the game meant and how he evolved as a player.
While the 1,000 point scorer is almost done playing for the Coyotes, Simpson said the thing that shaped him the most the last two years is not the game, but his hair.
“The main thing is, I grew my hair out. I had short hair on the court my freshman and sophomore year and now it’s long,” Simpson said.
Simpson said he has grown more than just his hair in the four years he’s played for the Coyotes.
“My roles have changed and we got a different coach. As a player, I’ve matured each year and I’ve expanded my role,” Simpson said. “As I got older I was called on to score more and do more things defensively.”
The shift from Simpson’s first two years under formed head coach Craig Smith to the past two years under head coach Todd Lee forced the team to evolve as players came and went.
“When Coach Lee came in we lost three seniors and Matt Mooney to a grad transfer that year. So I knew right then that I was going to have to have a scoring role,” Simpson said, “We brought in (Kelley) who has done a great job at the two spot, after starting out at the one.”
The memory that sticks with Simpson after four years of playing are matchups against South Dakota State in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
“One thing I appreciated all four years is playing against SDSU in the sold-out crowd and those sold out games with the fans,” Simpson said. “It’s just a fun atmosphere. Playing them up in Sioux Falls is a fun atmosphere as well. The Showdown Series is one of the favorites of my college career.”
The men’s basketball team is seeking a memorable run in the Summit League Tournament next weekend in Sioux Falls at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
“We hurt ourselves losing these last couple of games so I don’t think we can get one of the top two seeds but we need to win this game to get the three seed,” Simpson said.
With the Coyotes’ win Saturday, they locked up the third seed in the conference tournament.
Simpson said the most important thing is playing one game at a time.
“We have to focus on each game each night and win,” Simpson said.