Basketball season starts with madness


Laura Lorenz And Faith Moldan

The loss of four starters and three other players and the move to Division I are two factors that will make the 2004-2005 men’s basketball season one to watch.

The Jacks, 27-7 last season, lost all-North Central Conference guard Andy Moeller, all-NCC forward Derrick Schantz, guard Marquise Richardson and Jared Gass. The only starter from last season returning is sophomore forward Joe Green. Also not returning are center Josh Cerveny, forward Matt Jones and Calvin Melaney.

These losses leave head coach Scott Nagy, in his 10th season, with holes to fill.

“The team is very young,” Nagy said. “The seniors are given leadership; they have no choice.”

Many players -especially those that are far from home for the first time – are still adjusting to the mentally and physically draining practices, Nagy said.

The coaching staff does not have a starting line-up pegged yet, making the first month of practice important. Nagy said this is the first time in 10 seasons that not even one starter is known before the season.

“We need to find our go-to guys,” Nagy said.

SDSU was playing at the highest of Division II last season. This season they face some of the highest of D-I, such as Marquette (Wis.) and Colorado. The team will also face low- to mid-level D-I schools, which Nagy said is no different than playing the highest of D-II. Seeing the success of the football and volleyball teams against D-I opponents has added confidence to the basketball program, Nagy said.

“The toughest part is playing on the road. Those are tough games to win,” Nagy said.

The first eight games will be important ones. Seven of eight are on the road versus D-I opponents.

“There’s a chance that we could play very well and not win any,” Nagy said. “The response of the team will be important. This could make them stronger. ‘Will they fight?'”

The team’s ineligibility for the post season has had little effect on the team.

“There’s nothing we can do. It’s not the focus for the team,” Nagy said. “If it was, our attitude would not be good and would affect play. We’re going to do the very best with the games we have,” Nagy said.

SDSU’s women’s basketball team has finished among the top of Division II the past two years. This year’s move to D-I will challenge the successful program.

“There’s no game where we can coast. This team can send a message to future teams, so we need to start playing now,” head coach Aaron Johnston said.

Another change for the team will be its ineligibility for the post season.

“Every game is a big test, not just at the end of the season,” Johnston said.

He believes the team’s ineligibility will place more of an emphasis on all games, not just on the games in March.

Johnston, in his fifth full season, believes this season’s team is the most talented.

This year’s team is led by four seniors: guard Stephanie Bolden, guard and forward Brooke Dickmeyer, forward and center Shannon Schlagel and center Sarita DeBoer.

“The seniors are always the most important. They have experience, are vocal leaders and set an example for the underclassmen,” Johnston said.

This year’s seniors have played every year together, and have won and accomplished a lot of firsts.

The coaching staff is excited to have all the returning players healthy and able to play together, Johnston said.

Schlagel is expected to rewrite a lot of records throughout the course of this season and junior Heather Seiler to contribute more offensively. The roles of sophomores Chelsey Hegge and Corrie Dickmeyer will increase too.

The Lady Jacks bring in a talented freshmen class this season, Johnston said.

Guard Andrea Verdegan and forward Sarah Meckley will help right away as the first players from Wisconsin for this coaching staff. Center Courtney Grimsrud finds a way to get things done, Johnston said. He describes guard Isha Vanterpool as an explosive player that shoots well. Forward Angie Hugoson will help replace the depth that was lost with her physical play and rebounding.

From start to finish, this season will be a memorable experience as the coaching staff and seniors, Johnston’s first recruits, spend their last year together and the underclassmen help build SDSU’s D-I program.

Midnight Madness kicked off the start of SDSU men’s and women’s 2004-2005 basketball seasons Friday, Oct. 15.

“After conditioning hard for the past few weeks, this is kind of a reward for them to come out and play,” said men’s head coach Scott Nagy.

Bolden, from Marshall Minn., said going Division I has been a positive move by providing more chances for game experience.

Teammate Isha Vanterpool, a freshman from Huron, said this will be a season of ups and downs.

“It will be enjoyable. We’re going to play and prove that we deserve to be Division I,” she said.

The men’s first game is Nov. 13 against Concordia-St. Paul at 8 p.m. and the women’s first game is Nov. 9 against Southwest Minnesota State at 7 p.m.