Over the past three years I have watched Jackrabbit basketball games. I was even there when the woman’s team won the National Championship. Each year has brought excitement and nail-biting games.
This year has been different though. With so many road games and so few home games, it has been hard to get to games and back the Jacks.
For the women’s team, it has been a year filled with games that no one should miss. For the men though, there have been many games that we could have done without. Going into the weekend the women of South Dakota State have a 13-5 record overall and a tremendously strong record against Division I teams, 7-5. The men have had a difficult season with a record of 4-13. Their most recent loss being to the NAIA school Morningside.
How does this happen? How is it that these two teams are having completely different experiences in their first seasons in Division I? The women are rolling and kicking some butt, rear, whatever you want to call it, along the way. The men on the other hand are struggling. I’m not talking struggling like you-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed struggling. This type of struggling is like you don’t know what to do, you’ve hardly won any games, your dad just died, you just killed Bambi and every time you drive down the road you want to jerk the wheel into a bridge embankment. Yeah, that kind of struggling. (Yes, it’s from Tommy Boy.)
What in the world do these boys have to do to win some games? Not only that, but with the way they have been playing, how are they going to get people in the stands? No one wants to watch bad basketball. The men have been sloppy, inconsistent and, at times, out of control on the court. The women have been controlling, aggressive, determined and most of all they have found a way to win. Even when games were bad, they stuck it out and got a “W” on the board.
What do I see as the difference maker? The women have more contributors on the floor. Game in and game out different girls step up and lead. They don’t just look to one person to get it done, they use everyone. Everyone on the women’s team has made a difference at least once.
The men are always looking to the same guy. No one else on the team has even come close to stepping up and taking a share of the lead. The talent is there, especially from a very talented freshman class. But when it comes to delivering and playing ball, no one has impressed me. Their passing has been sloppy, their defense gets broken down and at times, they have struggled to even break a press. They lack leadership from the team and they certainly are lacking the ability to find a way to win.
This is all going to change though, take my word for it. This past week these boys have been getting worked, and not by opponents this time either. I got a sneak peak at practice this week and Coach Scott Nagy is not going to let this team go down quietly, because he was anything but quiet. They could just roll over and die. That would be the easy thing to do, but Nagy is definitely not going to let that happen. I felt bad for them; I really did because I have never seen a practice like that in my life. They are getting a huge wakeup call. Keep it up coach, grind them into the ground and get their butts in gear. Light a fire under something and these boys will start to win. All it takes is a spark and maybe a few extra line drills and something will turn around.
If you get a chance though boys, watch the women before your next game. Maybe they could teach you a thing or two about winning.