Men’s basketball off to a 2-2 start

Toby Uecker

Toby Uecker

Four games into the season, the SDSU men’s basketball team has two wins under its belt and two defeats to learn from as the players look ahead to the rest of the 2001-2002 season.

Returning all five starters, the Jacks have the potential to continue the success from their 22-7, North Central Conference Regional Tournament qualifying 2000-2001 season. The Jacks opened their season with a loss at Winona State but then came back to an easy victory over Dakota Wesleyan at Frost Arena.

In Duluth this weekend, they split their two games, losing to Michigan Tech but defeating host University of Minnesota-Duluth in the American Family Insurance Classic. Some may be eager to write off these beginning games as unimportant in the grand scheme, as in-conference play doesn’t begin until early December.

However, because conference standing is based on overall record, Nagy’s opinion is that, “Every game counts the same.”

In each game, Nagy is expecting strong leadership from team captains Austin Hansen and Andy Cone. He points out that because the players themselves choose the captains, these two are seen as leaders by the team as a whole as a whole as well.

The other starters form a core group of players whose talent Nagy will rely on for a strong showing in the NCC.

Hansen in particular has been able to show his strength this season, breaking both the single-game and tournament-long scoring record and being named Most Valuable Player in Duluth this past weekend.

In addition to the starters, coming off the bench as a key player will be Chris Stoebner.

“He should be a starter,” admits Nagy. However, he points out that because of the way the strengths within the starting line-up Stoebner fits better as a reserve to keep the pace up when starters need a break. It is this strength and talent, both on and off the bench, that Nagy says gives the Jacks a strong advantage in games like the 103-61 win over Dakota Wesleyan last Tuesday.

“We have more depth,” he says. “As their players got tired, we still had fresh people to send in.”

Because of this talent advantage, the sound defeat of Dakota Wesleyan was not something that came as a surprise, according to Nagy.

“We did to them what we should have done,” he points out.

The team hasn’t spent the entire season playing at the level they would like, however. The season opener against Winona State saw the Jacks facing unexpected defeat, something Nagy feels was a matter of attitude.

“Obviously, it wasn’t a good start,” he says, “but Winona just wanted it a lot more.”

Nagy has faith that his team will establish the attitude necessary to thrive in coming games, though.

“The players have been around long enough to know that if they aren’t in the right mindset, there’s going to need to be something that changes.”

Overall, the team operates on a game-by-game basis for its goals, rather than looking all the way to the end of the season to determine what they want to accomplish.

“The goal is to play every game to the best of our ability,” Nagy said.

The Jacks will try to extend their win streak to two on Wednesday as they take on Concordia in St. Paul, Minn.

SDSU returns to Frost Arena this weekend as they close out their non-conference schedule against Northern State. The men’s game tips off at 8 p.m.

The Jacks open the NCC season at home on Dec. 7 versus the traditionally strong University of North Dakota.