Enter, Eric Henderson: A look at Jackrabbit men’s basketball coaches through the years

Carson Herbert, Sports Reporter

Eric Henderson is set to begin his first season as head coach of the South Dakota State men’s basketball team. Before the Jackrabbit men tip off the 2019-20 season, here is a look back at how the last three head coaches of the program faired in their first seasons in Brookings.


T.J. Otzelberger 

First year: 2016-17 

Record: 18-17

Current position: Head coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Otzelberger’s first month was challenging as the Jacks went 3-6 to begin the season in November. The Jacks lost five of their first six Summit League contests; however, a strong finish to league play brought momentum into the conference tournament. A magical run, which included a win against Denver and a Michael Orris buzzer-beater to upset top-seeded South Dakota, helped the Jacks reach the conference championship game where they defeated Omaha. SDSU’s postseason run would end with a 66-46 loss against Gonzaga in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.


Scott Nagy 

First year: 1995-96

Record: 24-5

Current position: Head coach at Wright State University

Nagy’s squad won 18 of 19 games from the end of November to the beginning of February. The Jacks would go on to take the North Central Conference title and win their first game of the Division II North Central Regional against North Dakota State. Their season came to an end after falling to the host team, Fort Hays State, in the regional championship game. 


Brad Soderberg

First year: 1993-94

Record: 19-8

Current position: Assistant coach at the University of Virginia

No coach on this list had a better start than Soderberg. The Jacks won 12 consecutive games to start the season with Soderberg on the bench, but a four-game losing streak to finish off the month of January cooled a hot Jacks team. SDSU finished off the season with three straight wins but would fall to St. Cloud State 66-53 in the first round of the NCC Tournament.


Jim Thorson

First year: 1985-86

Record: 7-20

An 83-39 opening-night loss against Iowa State previewed what would be a challenging season for Jim Thorson’s team. Whatever the team’s New Year’s resolution was that year, it didn’t help the results on the court. The Jacks lost 15 of 17 games after the calendar turned to 1986. The team failed to win a road game that season.