In his first season at the helm, USD men’s basketball head coach Todd Lee led his team to a 13-17 overall record, a six seed in the Summit League tournament and a first-round exit at the hands of Purdue Fort Wayne.
Now, a year later, Lee has led the Coyotes to a 20-11 record, a third seed in the Summit League tournament and a date with six-seeded North Dakota in the opening round of the tournament.
The biggest difference between last year’s team and this year’s is in the shooting department. Last year, USD was last in the Summit league in team shooting percentage (43.8%) and three-point shooting percentage (34.1%). This season, the Coyotes had the highest team shooting percentage (49.4%) and three-point shooting percentage (39%) in the conference while scoring the second-most points per game (79.9).
Nationally, USD ranked sixth in team field goal percentage and seventh in team three-point field goal percentage. Lee said the shooting was one of the biggest keys to team success at the Summit League Tournament.
“We haven’t shot the ball well recently and that’s a big one for us,” Lee said. “There’s no secret there, we need to shoot the ball well. I think Cody (Kelley) has been pretty consistent, some of the guys off the bench have been fairly consistent. Triston (Simpson), Stanley (Umude) and (Tyler) Hagedorn need to shoot the ball well.”
Hagedorn, a redshirt-senior forward, returned this season from an injured foot to be one of the Coyote’s most vital pieces. Hagedorn had the third-best three-point shooting percentage among all qualified players in NCAA Division I at 51.5%. He also saw career-highs in points per game (18.1), rebounds per game (6.9) and assists per game (1.7).
Hagedorn is one of five seniors on the team this season. He said the seniority of this year’s team has been immensely important to their success.
“Going through a coaching change is never easy and I definitely saw some of those struggles last year,” Hagedorn said. “But now we’ve had a year of having (Lee) here and also all the guys getting older and getting more experience. We have a lot of experience as well as seniors and juniors that just really know basketball.”
One of the experienced juniors on the team is Stanley Umude, who stepped into a leadership role following a sophomore season where he emerged as one of the Coyotes’ best players. Umude said it’s important for him to be a leader on the team.
“I definitely need to make sure my voice is heard in practice, telling people where to go and helping people along,” Umude said. “I think it’s been a good role for me.”
Umude helped lead the Coyotes to a matchup against North Dakota in the first round of the Summit League tournament. USD went undefeated against North Dakota in the regular season, including a 77-67 victory over the Fighting Hawks on senior night. North Dakota ranked fourth in the Summit League in points per game (75.7) as well as third in team field goal percentage (46.1).
USD finished behind North Dakota State and South Dakota State in the conference, who finished first and second respectively. North Dakota State was the only team to defeat USD twice this season, while South Dakota State recently defeated USD 85-80 in the Coyote’s final road game of the season. Should USD defeat North Dakota in the first round, they will face the winner of SDSU and seven-seeded Purdue Fort Wayne.
The Coyotes are scheduled to take on North Dakota at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 inside the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls to open their tournament season.