Jacks become a force to be reckon with in league


The South Dakota State women’s basketball team had a terrific start to their season, and that momentum carried through Christmas break, ending the nonconference schedule for the Jacks and seeing them to a 3-0 record to begin Summit League play.

Coach Aaron Johnston’s squad has gone 4-1 since the end of finals, with their loss coming by one point at Green Bay on Dec. 21 in their second to last nonconference game. They came into Summit league play on a high note though, topping Bowling Green State University in their final game outside the conference.

“[The nonconference schedule] went very well,” Johnston said. “We probably could have had a couple more wins. That may seem like high expectations with the difficulty of our schedule, but we played that well. We had a chance to win two of the three we lost in the last couple minutes.”

The two losses that were winnable for SDSU were the Green Bay game and an 8-point loss to No. 6 Maryland in the Paradise Jam tournament over Thanksgiving break. Maryland was one of three ranked opponents the Jacks faced in their nonconference slate, going 1-2 as they fell to No. 3 Notre Dame at Frost Arena as well as Maryland in the Virgin Islands. They got over the hump against No. 16 DePaul in Frost on Dec. 15.

The Jacks started with a strong conference play, and Johnston thinks part of that stems from a conscious change of pace SDSU has been playing with offensively. 

“Offensively, we were kind of methodical in nonconference games and we ran a lot more set plays,” Johnston said. “In the Summit League, where our opponents are a lot more familiar with the types of things we try to do, we’ve been trying to push the ball a bit more so they don’t have a chance to get set up defensively.”

Sophomore guard Macy Miller has been a big part of the Jacks success this season. She leads the Jacks in scoring at 17.9 points per game, the team in assists, free throw percentage and shooting percentage.

“She’s one of the best players in the Midwest. She can do just about anything on the court,” Johnston said of Miller. “But what makes her great really is some of the players around her. We have a lot of players that can score and that takes a lot of pressure off her.”

One of the players who can help take pressure off Miller is freshman Madison Guebert. Guebert has started every game for the Jacks this year and had a breakthrough game scoring the ball in the Jacks’ most recent game against Omaha, when she pumped in a career-high 23 points, including six three-pointers.

“She’s really getting comfortable with what this level’s all about and where she can help our team,” Johnston said. “Generally as a freshman you don’t figure it out until January or February. You have to learn what kinds of things you can do against this level of competition and you and your teammates have to get to know each other.”

The Jacks now sit at 13-3 on the year, facing Fort Wayne on Wednesday Jan. 13 in Indiana before coming back to Frost Arena to host the South Dakota Coyotes on Sunday Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. USD is 11-5 on the year and 2-1 in Summit League play and are led by super-senior Nicole Seekamp’s 15.1 points per game.

“Seekamp is also one of those best in the Midwest and makes the players around her better,” Johnston said. “They play at a fast pace and shoot the three fairly well. We’ll have to be good defensively and find ways to score.”