The SDSU men’s basketball team entered Division I opening their season with a young, inexperienced team.
This was obvious Friday, Nov. 19, when SDSU struggled to play on the same level as Butler (Ind.).
“Butler was simply a lot better, more experienced team,” said head coach Scott Nagy.
The 52-80 defeat may have been caused in part by the greenness of the Jacks, who started two freshmen and a sophomore. The Jacks have struggled to replace standouts Andy Moeller, Derrik Schantz and Matt Jones. Moeller transfered to Mankato State while Schantz graduated and Jones is out for health reasons.
The Bulldogs returned many of their key players that had advanced Butler to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament two years ago and led them to a 27-6 season last year.
“Early on our inexperience will have a big effect, like with missed free throws and turnovers,” Nagy said.
Although the Jacks failed to obtain the lead, they did cut the Bulldog’s lead from 16-2 to 24-15 in the first half. Whenever the Jacks attempted to cut Butler’s lead, the Bulldogs revealed the athleticism and experience they possessed.
While Butler shot 52 percent and went 29-56, SDSU shot just 35 percent and committed 14 turnovers to the Bulldog’s 7.
Freshman Steve Holdren led SDSU scorers with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Sophomores Joe Green and Ben Beran added 12 and 10 respectively.
On Sunday, Nov. 21, SDSU lost to Manhattan by just four. In the 73-69 defeat, the Jacks faced an opponent that had advanced to the NCAA Division I tournament last year.
In the end, turnovers and missed free throws cost SDSU the game. The Jacks out-shot Manhattan 50 to 41 percent and out-rebounded them 35-32. Manhattan, however, made up the difference at the foul line, sinking 21-of-30 to SDSU’s 11-of-23. SDSU also had 24 turnovers to Manhattan’s 12.
“The main thing we need to do is cut down on our turnovers,” said senior guard Brady Hokenson.
Beran led the SDSU offense with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Holdren and senior Jared DeJong contributed 13 and 11.
SDSU will begin home action on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. against Mayville State (N.D.).
“We need to prepare mentally and take care of the basketball better,” Nagy said.