The Jackrabbits’ men’s hoop squad has seen some troubles in D-I move

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

The SDSU men’s basketball season is over, and to call it a disappointment may be an understatement. The season was long for both players and fans; the best news for the Jacks is that next year will start soon enough to forget the pain.

The season started out with a strange feeling for the men’s hoop squad, optimistic and confident with a large chip on the shoulders to go along with a hunger for victories. As the Summit League Pre-Season Polls were released, you could feel the anger as Nagy’s team was picked below the Centenary Gents, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne and the rest of the Summit League in the pre-season prediction list.

Optimism and confidence were a welcome sight for many Jackrabbit fans, as it has been a long Division I transition for the men’s program. Before the upper division move, the Jackrabbits were competing as one of the better programs in the Northern Plains region.

The combination of injuries, transfers and unfortunate events made the move to the next level difficult. The Jacks won 33 games while losing 84 in the four years of reclassification. The second worst four-year span is 53 losses from 1985-89.

The 2006-2007 season was the worst record, at 6-24, for any SDSU squad, and it was compiled without a league to call their home. In the Summit, Nagy and crew reached 8-21 this season, to go with 10-18 and 9-20 records for their first two seasons; the win total does not come close to a .3 winning percentage.

For Nagy and crew, the losses have taken a toll. These past four years have seen the Jacks lose more games than the first nine seasons of Nagy’s career, and it certainly is not his fault for the long season and long reclassification.

From injuries and key players transferring, to a court case gone wrong and doubt, they have all played a role in the Jackrabbits’ woes. We have all been on the losing end of things, and I think we can all say that losing sucks, and even for college kids at this level, losing does weird things to your mind.

Take the first half of the Oral Roberts University game on Feb. 28. The Jacks went 0-for-15 to start the game and barely shot over 10 (10.3) percent in the first half. The two first halves against ORU the Jacks made only 10 shots out of 58. For you non-math majors, that is 17.2 percent. Ouch. And by the way, a Mark Engen (6-10, the tallest player on the roster) 3-pointer was SDSU’s first field goal; what was the over and under on that?

Getting back to this season, Nagy assured us that the Jacks were not the worst team in the league as selected by the Summit League head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members. He suggested that the polls were inaccurate and hated the disrespect shown to his squad, turns out they were right.

Although, the season started well as the youthful Jackrabbits earned a win against the University of Mary (N.D.) After dropping two, the Jacks beat a Missouri-Valley Conference power, University of Northern Iowa, 61-55. After winning on the road against Western Athletic Conference foe University of Idaho, SDSU at 3-2 looked promising. The Jacks then lost four games in a row; all the games except ORU were close. Back-to-back victories against Idaho and the University of Denver saw the Jacks at 5-6. After beating Denver on Dec. 18, SDSU’s highlights were few and far apart. An IPFW victory, beating Southern Utah and a win at the Pork Classic against Western Illinois were bright spots

Their 8-21 overall record, 3-15 in the Summit and 1-13 on the road, may not give credit to how hard these young men have played. Nine of their losses were decided by six points or less, and the majority of this team are freshmen and sophomores.

The good news for the Jackrabbit men’s basketball team is that next year the youngsters can use the lessons they learned. If they play well enough, they have a chance to make NCAA tournament, and the Jacks will no longer be in “transition” mode, I will see next season.