The SDSU men’s basketball team jumped into their season with a 76-54 exhibitioner victory of the South Dakota School of Mines on Thursday night.
Head coach Scott Nagy sent a flurry of newcomers onto the court, featuring eight players who because they are freshmen or transfers never saw a minute for the Jackrabbits last year.
Highlighting this group was junior college transfer Deondre Parks who looks to be an offensive leader this year at his guard position.
Parks led the team in scoring with 15 points and promises to give the Jackrabbits a great deal of energy. He said that fans can look for him to be aggressive defensively and a leader who steps up and makes big plays.
“I came out and played hard like my coaches asked me to and everything just went my way,” Parks said.
Leading the returners was senior Cody Larson who after being the new guy last year, transferring from the University of Florida, looks to be a leader on the court this year for the Jacks and is a preseason All-Summit League selection.
Larson finished the game with 10 points and four rebounds, playing only 15 minutes due to foul trouble and Nagy’s efforts to get a look at his roster.
“It’s weird because within one year I go from the new guy to the oldest guy on the team,” Larson said. “We have a great culture here and it’s been an easy transition. Guys like Zach Horstman and Cory Jacobsen who have been here longer than I have are great leaders too and I feed off of them and we have a good thing going.”
Perhaps the highlight of Larson’s night was an open three that he sank in the first half.
“Honestly, I’ve shot threes my whole career,” Larson said. “I just hadn’t had the confidence to do it [in games]. I was open. I didn’t think about it and just shot it. It was kind of fun.”
Last year Larson failed to make a three-pointer in three attempts, but Nagy is not adverse to Larson shooting from deep when he gets opportunities.
“Cody’s a good shooter and you can’t just leave him open,” Nagy said. “He’s a very good shooter so I don’t have any problem with him jumping up and shooting the ball.”
Behind Larson, Nagy said he’s confident in his young big men. Ian Theisen led the team with eight rebounds. Sophomore Connor Devine and redshirt freshman Logan Doyle contributed seven and six rebound respectively.
“If we get in a physical game and we have foul trouble, we’ve got options,” Nagy said. “All of our freshman are physical and play real hard.”
Another young big man to watch is Mike Daum. The six-nine freshman may look like a post player, but he’s a shooter at heart. He went one for three from deep in the game.
“Mike’s going to be a good player,” Nagy said. “He’s skilled and he shoots the heck out of it. He’s going to be a very good player for us.”
Overall, Nagy expects his team to be much deeper than last year due to his young talent both at the post and guard positions.
“I think that if we say healthy, by the time we reach January and February we will have four very good basketball players who see no time,” Nagy said. “That’s going to be hard for them, but it’s good for our basketball team. … We have more depth than we’ve had in a long time. We’re not going to play seven guys this year. We’re going to play eight or nine.”
In the meantime, Nagy said he will look to decide on redshirts and whether his team plays best in a big or small look, but no matter what he likes his options.
“We have so many guys that can play certain positions and [we’re] trying to figure out what is the optimal five guys at certain times and how they play together,” Nagy said.