Moving on up

Jacks basketball hopes future holds postseason success

For South Dakota State University men’s basketball fans, this was supposed to be the year that they would get some national recognition by winning a NCAA Tournament game. With four seniors, three of them being starters, it seemed like it could happen. If it weren’t for a bad match up and terrible first half shooting, it probably would have.

The Jackrabbits fell to the Maryland Terrapins 79-74 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Washington on Friday to end their season with a record of 26-8. Now 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament, the Jacks are still looking to take that next step in becoming a perennial mid-major team in the tournament. They are almost there with being in the tournament three out of the last five years and if it weren’t for unluckiness with pairings, they would have that first win.

 In 2013, the Jacks’ second trip to the NCAA Tournament, they faced off against the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines handled the Jacks pretty easily and ended up losing in the national championship game. This year the Jacks faced Maryland who, although a No. 5 seed, could very well find themselves in Houston for the Final Four.

 The Jacks have certainly taken major steps as a program in the last five years and could take even bigger steps in the next five years. Although they will lose three starters in guards Deondre Parks, George Marshall, Jake Bittle, and key reserve Keaton Moffitt. SDSU has something to look forward to next season in Mike Daum. The redshirt freshman, soon to be sophomore, finished the season leading the team averaging 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

 Daum also vastly improved on defensive side of the ball throughout the season. He’s already one of the top five most offensively efficient players in the country, so if he can improve on defense he could become one of the best all around players.

 The Jacks are going to have to find some players to replace the shooting and scoring of Parks and Marshall. They each averaged 14.9 points a game and shot over 40 percent from the field this season.

 One of the guys who could do that is freshman guard Tevin King. He only averaged 3.7 points a game this season, but only averaged 14.3 minutes per game coming off the bench. King is a guy who loves getting to the basket. Something the Jacks have never really had. He’s very athletic and could have a breakout season next year. If he wants to improve on his scoring, he’s going to have to improve his jump shot as he only shot 29 percent from three.

 There are a couple of guys who redshirted this year that the Jacks are really high on. They are point guard Cole Gentry and forward Adam Dykman. Both could see the starting lineup this year as they have impressed in practice and exhibition games.

 Gentry is only 5’10 but is very quick, a good ball handler and great passer. Also after watching practice at the NCAA Tournament, he can stroke it from long distance if open. Dykman is 6’7, very athletic and can jump out of the gym. The thought is that he would be a great counterpart to Daum in the front court and then they could move sophomore Reed Tellinghuisen to the small forward where he is more well suited for his size. Like Daum, the Jacks are hoping that redshirting these guys gave them the chance to get stronger and progress to get ready.

 It should be another great year of basketball for Jacks fans. h will open the season with a 29 home game winning streak and it looks as though they will be tough to beat again next year.