Kriens sizes up football recruiting and Summit League seeding

Travis Kriens

Travis KriensSDSU Psychic

Some random thoughts:

Men’s Basketball

While this is no doubt the best men’s basketball team of the Division I era, it may be hard for them to end the conference season any better than they did last year.

They finished fourth last year with a 10-8 record and one game ahead of IPFW, the team that knocked the Jacks out in the first round of the Summit League tournament.

They currently are in fifth place at 4-3 as we near the midpoint of the 18 game conference slate. Six of the last 11 games are at home, but they have two games apiece against number one Oakland, two against number two IPFW, a home game versus IUPUI and a road trip to Fargo to close out the season against North Dakota State.

I can’t see anything better than the same 10-8 conference mark that SDSU had last season even if this team is greatly improved. A matchup against UMKC, Western Illinois or Southern Utah in Sioux Falls in March at the conference tournament is as close to a guaranteed win as it comes, but don’t hold your breath waiting to see one of those three teams face off against the Jacks in the first round.

A first round matchup against the other five conference schools, except Oakland, would be a tossup. IPFW is the surprise teams in the league this season. They always play SDSU tough and will be at Frost this Saturday. The Jacks kept it close at IUPUI losing by five to last season’s runner-up. Oral Roberts defeated SDSU by eight points at Frost with two of their top players out two weeks ago after an historic three-point performance (82 percent from the three-point line) that you won’t see again anytime soon.

Then that leaves NDSU. The Jacks losing streak to the Bison has long been chronicled and their Feb. 25 game in Fargo to close out the regular season has a chance to play a role in how the final seeding for the tournament ends up. Worst case scenario is that the Jacks lose to the Bison in Fargo and have to play them again eight days later in Sioux Falls in a four vs. five game with the winner getting conference favorite Oakland the next night.

Women’s Basketball

For the women, it all comes down to getting healthy and avoiding Oral Roberts until the conference championship. The Golden Eagles are without a doubt the best team in the conference and the Jacks are the only team that stands in their way on the way to the NCAA Tournament. A four or five seed would be the worst position for the Jacks because that would set up a potential semi-final versus Oral Roberts with ORU having a day of rest while the Jacks played just 24 hours earlier. We are still over 40 days from the four-day tourney in Sioux Falls, but it is never too early to look at what if’s for the conference tournament.

Even though SDSU defeated IUPUI on Saturday on the road, I did not feel good about the victory. The Jacks’ let a 14 point first half lead slip away while the Jaguars led by two at around the halfway point of the second half. I didn’t see the game nor have I seen the IUPUI women play this year, but from what I know, they are one of the 15 worst Division I team out there (out of 343 teams) according to the Sagarin ratings. They are 3-14 with two of those wins coming vs. IU-Southeast, a NAIA Division II team, and against the worst D-I team in the country, Centenary. The Jags have won six of its past 47 games and only three of their last 25 Summit League games. And this game was tied at 55 with less than three minutes left. Not good.

SDSU Football

For those that haven’t heard, and I would guess that would be the majority of you, the SDSU football team has had a couple of impressive verbal commitments the past couple of weeks.

Running back Reggie Gandy is listed as 5-8 and 5-10, 180-85 pounds and was the Associated Press player of the year in Minnesota this past season. He had 3,116 rushing yards on 307 carries with 42 touchdowns as a senior. No, those numbers are not misprints. Over 10 yards a carry and over three TD’s a game. This includes a four-game stretch early in the season with 121 carries for 1,523 yards (12.58 yards per rush) and 18 touchdowns. The numbers are ridiculous and nice to look at. It also creates some excitement for fans in the off-season. The knock on Gandy is his size, speed and level of high school competition, similar to SDSU’s second all-time leading rusher Kyle Minett. He may end up being redshirted this season, but with Minett graduated and Tyrel Kool expected to get most of the carries next season after switching to receiver for a season, it will be interesting to see how good Gandy will be in blue and yellow.

The other big name verbal was QB Eric Kline from Blaine, Minn. The 6′ 4″ former receiver was named the Gatorade Players of the Year in the state as well as the Minneapolis Star Tribune Player of the Year. A multi-sport athlete, Kline could be a threat with his arm and legs. He had four 100-yard rushing games his senior year.