SDSU shows mastery of D-I move to USD


For the Jackrabbits, everything about Thursday night’s game went to plan.

A sold out arena with passionate fans, energetic students ragging on their in-state rival and an atmosphere that hasn’t been matched for a men’s game at Frost Arena since SDSU jumping from Division II.

And that was just off-the-court.

The Jacks dominated the Coyotes in a most convincing fashion, handing an 86-56 beat down of the newest member to the Summit League. When you consider all of the media coverage garnered by the game, it did not live up to the hype and it’s possible that it wasn’t destined to. SDSU was favored by double-digits, after all, but the game got out of hand quickly.

SDSU had every shot that they wanted, sometimes making one too many passes to give up on an open look. The Coyotes were out of sync offensively and defensively, appearing almost starstruck amidst the roiling crowd.

The Jackrabbits made the only statement they could. At home, the pressure —real or perceived — is that the Jacks had to win. USD, in addition to being the road underdog, is still transitioning and this game and a win over the Jackrabbits, still doesn’t count for the Coyotes in the overall picture. The definitive play for this writer in the first half was when guard Nate Wolters took a rebound and proceeded to run past all five Coyotes on the court for tough layup and two points

“This rivalry is hard on us because we know how everyone else feels about it,” SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said. “If our goal is to win a league championship, we can’t treat this one any differently.”

That has become a realistic goal for the Jackrabbits, as amazing as that sounds considering that the Jackrabbits won just six games in 2006-07 and eight games the year after. SDSU could be within striking distance of a conference championship at the end of the year. That would put SDSU on the national basketball map, more than any of the 116 wins over USD have ever accomplished.

After the game, USD coach Dave Boots was asked about what he thought about the having the rivalry back in South Dakota. He went about saying that it was good to have the series back in the state on a permanent basis but downplayed the signifcance.

“When you get beat by 30, I don’t know that you can say that you had fun,” Boots said.

USD is finding out the hard way, at 1-6, that the Summit League is no Great West Conference; the likes of Houston Baptist and the New Jersey Institute of Technology now out of the picture. Coyote senior Louie Krogman said after the game that they had some rivalries in their previous hodgepodge conference but I hope he was just being nice. There is no comparison in that league to what he witnessed Thursday. There was never a thought that anyone at Chicago State was going to throw something a dead animal out on the court.

To that point, credit will be given to SDSU, USD, and the Summit League. They scared students and others enough with security to not dare try to throw anything on the court or do anything that could end up being detrimental. Aside from a few “Screw the U’s” and the tacky “Louie Sucks” chants, the crowd was tame and well-behaved.

At some point, USD will be there and will be competitive. It took SDSU three seasons and now they have flourished, this year at the top of the league in their fourth year. The transition is tough and it’s not wrong for Jacks’ fans to feel sympathetic towards the Coyotes.

The Coyotes will have their crack at the Jackrabbits again in Vermillion on Feb. 9 and that game will not be a 30-point blow out. Much like the two games against North Dakota, everything went right for the Jacks and UND saw everything go wrong in Brookings. They played five days later in Grand Forks and UND was a different team. Expect a similar story to play out in less than a month.

“Rivalry resumed” is all anyone has heard about this week. On the court, bragging rights will have to wait a little bit longer.