The South Dakota State men’s basketball team started their season with wins over Bradley (81-65) and Stephen F Austin (83-71), while losing to number 14 Alabama (88-107). We learned a lot about the team in three games including many positives and a couple things to keep your eyes on for the rest of the season.
First the positives. Noah Freidel is back and is still a scoring machine. He scored 16, 23, and 25, averaging 19.5 points per game, while shooting at an efficient 46% from the field and 40% from three. If this continues all season, Noah is going to take the Summit League by storm again. Baylor Scheierman is back to his double double ways and is dominating the glass. The 6’6 guard is taking advantage of his size and aggression to get rebounds. He has averaged 10 points and 16 boards per game, including a career high 18 points against Alabama. Zeke Mayo is showing that he is ready to play at the D1 level already, scoring 12 against Alabama. While being five of nine from the field, Mayo is efficient and attacks the rim. His defense is also going to come in handy for the Jackrabbits this season with his ability to guard the one through three. He will be very effective for the Jacks come conference play. Finally, the new rotation. We have not seen the Jacks feature a four guard lineup too many times in the past, but when they do with Doug Wilson at the 5,it has been effective. We have seen a different combo of guards but the lineup seems to work best with Doug at 5.
Some things to take note of and to watch for; the Jackrabbits frontcourt had multiple games with players in foul trouble, especially during the Alabama and Stephen F Austin games. While Matt Dentlinger has avoided foul trouble due to his clean defense, the Jackrabbits need Luke Apple and Wilson to stay on the court. Lastly, continue to watch Scheierman’s shooting from deep. Hopefully his early season slump does not turn into a concern long term. Baylor is shooting 22% from three and we expect him to turn that around but it is worth noting the early game struggles.
Overall the first three games were an overwhelming success. The men beat Bradly, a good top tier mid-major team at home, went toe to toe with Alabama, one of the best teams in the NCAA, e and finished the weekend with a win against Stephen F Austin, a team that doesn’t lose at home often. This team will be fun to watch this season and the players and fans expectations will only get bigger if they play the way they did to start the year.