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Nebrasketball: South Dakota State Preseason Preview

Huskers face their first major test from a team who won the Summit

South Dakota State v Ohio State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I’ll try to make sure I do a better job about including a proper and interesting intro for you all with the rest of these previews. I thought about talking about my brief list of qualifications for talking basketball, but then realized I wanted to talk about what I find a fun difference between my husband and I in the importance of the date of the Huskers next game of the season.

I googled it to see that firearms season for deer hunting in Nebraska is awfully short and a different start date than what we always had growing up. November 10th-18th to be exact. Out in western Nebraska, or even rural parts of the east, was this much of a big deal for you guys? The husband being from Fremont and having shot a rifle only once he’s never really mentioned deer season to me.

In contrast, while I’m a deerless troll, (points to anyone who gets the “Escanaba in Da Moonlight” reference) where I initially grew up was a big farm area of the state so most of the kids in the school district would wait for a bus out on dirt roads in open field areas. Hence every year on November 15th (season runs until November 30th) we got the day off from school if it was a week day to keep kids safe from any accidental shooting. I even got my dad to take me out a few times before he’d go into work but never got lucky and got a deer. When I moved further north for high school it was a compact district so we didn’t get the day off, but there were always a few kids absent that day and bragging about the buck they got the very next.

Anyways all of that is to say I can’t help but see November 15th on a calendar and not immediately note in my head that its opening day of rifle season to this day. This particular year will be 6 years to the day since I met the now mother-in-law as well as we flew into Omaha and had lunch with her on our way to Lincoln in 2013. Well, now that I’ve said all of that, don’t think most of my intro’s will be so long. Onto the preview!

South Dakota State University

Date: Friday, November 15th 8:00 PM ET BTN

Location: The Vault, Lincoln, NE

2018-2019 Season Record: 24-9

2018-2019 Conference Record: 14-2

Conference: Summit League

Mascot: Jackrabbits

Head Coach: Eric Henderson

Entering 1st season after serving on staff as an assistant for the past three. He replaces TJ Olzelberger who was hired by UNLV at the end of last season. Graduate of Wayne State (Neb, have to note this for my own sake rather than all of yours to avoid confusion) where he played under Greg McDermott and was later inducted into the hall of fame in 2008. He worked as an assistant from 2001-03, eventually working at Iowa State from 2006-09 among other jobs. Overall he has a promising background and will be fun to watch how it works out for him.


South Dakota had a strong season last year, winning their conference with a record of 14-2 including a one point loss in Omaha to UNO to split the series with the Mavericks. A tough break in the Summit League Tournament saw them fall to Western Illinois by three points after two absolute beatings dealt by SDSU during the regular season with wins of 100-58 at WI and the regular season finale in Brookings 86-66. Had they not been upset in this rematch 7 days after their 20 point win expect it to have been a likely NCAA berth after a conference tourney title for them instead of the NIT where they fell to eventual [National] champ Texas (just threw up a little writing that but click the link for a good laugh) in the first round.

Having said all of that about their success, the lost a lot of their their minutes and production to graduation at the end of last season. Leading scorer Mike Daum (835 points, 25.3 a game), Skyler Flatten (510 points), and Tevin King (299 points, 4.2 assists a game) all graduate, and represent three of the four leading minutes for the season. However, the other player who falls in this list is David Jenkins who transferred to UNLV after chipping in with 19.7 points a game with a fairly hot hand of 45.3% shooting behind the arc and 45.8% from inside.

Returning will be Alex Arians who averaged 4.9 rebounds a game while averaging 28.8 minutes with 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 9.1 points as a guard. SDSU will need other returning players to step up when they fill in those lost minutes and expect to see players like Matt Dentilnger come in at forward and work to increase his presence from his 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 points in 11.7 minutes from last season along with guard Owen King increase his production of 4.1 points in 16.6 minutes a game.

SDSU came in at 128th RPI, and even was as high as 7th at one point in the season. Notable wins for the year included the home win over 125h ranked UNO, UT-San Antonio at 139th, 153rd N. Iowa, 197th E. Washington, N. Dakota St. 166th, and the six point loss to 40th ranked Texas in the NIT. KenPom is kinder to them, ranking SDSU at 92nd and adjusted offense is all the way up at 37th in the country. Their adjusted efficiency SOS came in at a measly 287th, however.

Recruiting wise, their incoming class includes a transfer out of Memphis, rising sohpmore David Wingett as shooting guard, who will have to sit out this season. He also received an offer to play at Auburn his senior year of HS so expect him to be a big contributor in future seasons for the Jackrabbits.


Being SDSU has a new head coach and probably all new starting line-up expect this to not be as tough a game as it would have been last season. The Jackrabbits might come out and make it a fight if they’re gelling offensively and hot, so the Huskers better lock down on defense and get some steals and stops to avoid any chance of an upset. Expect to see a double digit win in the end, though. Let’s call it 85-64 in the end. GBR!