Leaders return for men’s basketball

Tim Knutson

Tim Knutson

As Halloween gets closer, so does the opening game of the South Dakota State Men’s basketball program. The team opens its 2005-2006 season at Frost Arena against Morningside (Iowa) in an exhibition game Oct. 31, starting at 8 p.m.

This is the second season that the Jacks will play a Division-I schedule. Last year SDSU’s men finished 10-18. Head Coach Scott Nagy knows he has a better team than last year, but also realizes that the schedule this year is more challenging.

“It’s good (playing such a tough schedule), it helps us see where we are at and it really helps with recruiting,” Nagy said.

The team returns its two leading scorers, Ben Beran and Steve Holdren, from last year. Both were named to Street & Smith’s Preseason All-Independent Team. Michael Loney, Mackenzie Casey and Andy Kleinjan, who all saw time off the bench last year, will join them. The Jacks have three red-shirt freshmen from last season and transfer student Eric Heien, who came last year from Mount Marty but did not see any playing time. A hand full of newcomers, including three freshmen and two transfer students, will also join the Jacks this season.

The Jacks have a tough year ahead of them with games against teams like the University of Kentucky and University of Illinois. The hard schedule is an attempt to gain experience and a reputation playing at the D-I level.

The Jacks feel that one thing that is going to help them is playing at home.

“We worked hard to schedule home games when the student body would be able to attend them. It is important to use that to gain support from the fans so they can do what they can to help us win,” Nagy said.

Last year the majority of the Jacks’ home games fell over the students’ Christmas break.