Jackrabbit men looking for a ‘new life’ in S.F.

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

The 2009 Summit League Basketball Tournament will be the 25th edition of the event, but the first for SDSU.

The four-day tournament at the Sioux Falls Arena will start at noon on Saturday, March 7, and go through March 10, with the men’s championship being broadcast on ESPN2.

The Jacks will have a lot of work to do to get to March 10, as they are the seventh seed in the eight-team tournament with three-time defending league champion Oral Roberts waiting in the wings.

The Golden Eagles have won nine straight tournament games and hold a 4-0 all-time series record against the Jackrabbits. The 8:30 p.m. tip-off on Saturday night will mark the second game between the two teams in nine days.

“It doesn’t matter who we play,” said head coach Scott Nagy. “The question is can our guys gather themselves. That’s my concern. We have lost four in a row, and it’s just a big monkey on the kids’ back. You can see it in the way that they play. The question is can we shake that and can we go play with a fresh mindset.”

Historically, the seventh seed has a 9-22 (.290%) all-time record in the Summit League Tournament, with just a 5-18 record in first-round games. However, they have made the championship game three times, with Oakland winning as a seventh seed in 2004.

On the other hand, the second seed is 18-5 in first round games, with a 35-19 (.648%) overall tournament record and four championships. Oral Roberts had three championships of their own and an 18-6 tournament record.

“Unfortunately, I look at our kids, and I am concerned that the tournament won’t bring new life into them,” Nagy said. “They just look so beat up and so fragile. The guys that we need to step up just look fried. I just hope that the tournament will bring new life into them.”

This will be the first time the Jacks have had a chance to play in a postseason conference tournament since 2004.

The winner of this game will face the winner of number three Oakland and six Southern Utah, two teams that the Jacks have defeated at home and lost to on the road.

On the other side of the bracket, number one seed North Dakota State will face eight-seed Centenary with number four IUPUI going against number five Southern Utah.

The number one seed has never lost a first-round game (18-0) and has won 14 of the 24 conference tournaments.