Jackrabbit women tabbed second, men fifth in preseason poll

Carter Schmidt, Sports Reporter

With less than a month to go before the first basketball games of the 2019-20 season, the Summit League hosted its 2019 Basketball Media Day on Oct. 7 in Sioux Falls.

Coaches from all nine Summit League schools were present at the new Summit League offices to take questions regarding their 2019-2020 campaigns. This meant appearances from first-year South Dakota State men’s basketball coach Eric Henderson and longtime women’s basketball coach Aaron Johnston.

Johnston, who led his program to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year, highlighted their historical season and previewed key players and newcomers for this upcoming season.

“Our group is coming off of a historical year,” he said. “A year where you are going to look back and go, ‘how do you top that?’ As a coach, you can always find ways to top that, so that won’t be the challenge. The challenge will be meeting those expectations again.”

The women’s squad was picked to finish second in the Summit League preseason poll, right behind rival South Dakota. In addition, three Jackrabbits made the All-Summit League Preseason teams. Senior Tagyn Larson and junior Myah Selland were named to the first team, with junior Tylee Irwin making the second team.

The women begin the season with three straight away from home starting with Drake on Nov. 8. This includes a neutral site showdown with Dakota Wesleyan at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. The first home game is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 21 against Montana State.

On the men’s side, Henderson boasted of his excitement taking over the program and how they’ve been adjusting to key losses from last year’s squad.

“The last six months, what a whirlwind it’s been,” he said. “I can tell you all, I’ve never had as much fun coaching the game of basketball than I have these past six months. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to lead a program that has so much tradition in history as the Jackrabbits do.”

After losing many key components of the 2018-19 team, the men’s squad is picked to finish fifth in the Summit League preseason poll. No Jackrabbits made the preseason all-league team on the men’s side.

Preseason polls and awards are voted on by league coaches, sports information directors and select media.

SDSU’s men open the regular season against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 in Brookings.