Tournament tidbits

Sports Staff

By Marcus Traxler & Spencer Chase

Senior Griffan Callahan has given a lot to the Jackrabbits men’s basketball team and that was the case in the Jackrabbits’ 68-60 loss to Baylor on March 15 in Albuquerque, N.M. Callahan finished the game with five points, including a three-pointer in the opening minutes of the game. As both the coach and the team will attest, he means a lot more to the Jacks than what shows through on the stat sheet.

“It is going to be hard for us to replace Griffan,” SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said. “It just is. His leadership, his toughness, we’ll have to have people fill those gaps for us. But that’s the way it always works.”The loss was rough on the Seneca, Ill. native, who was a Jackrabbit in the rougher Divison I years but saw his and the team’s best season come to an end in Albuquerque.

“We stopped boxing out and that’s where we lost it on the offensive glass. They got some secondchance points, and they just beat us up in the first half,” Callahan said.

To say that he’s made an impact probably would be putting it lightly.

“We’ve got to replace Griffan, and Griff’s a role model of mine,” Chad White said. “We’ve got to have some players step it up. Yeah, our expectations are up now, and I think we have a target on our back now.”A national stage

Despite a loss to Baylor, SDSU received over two hours of marketing that the school would have a hard time ever paying for. The players also cite it as an opportunity that will be hard to replicate elsewhere, unless they get back to the tournament soon.

“You can’t explain the experience. The best thing is to have your kids be able to go through it one time. If you ever get back here with those same kids, it will be a lot easier. It will be less overwhelming,” Nagy said.

The Jackrabbits finish the season at 27-8 and Nagy will be the first to note that SDSU is not guaranteed to have the same amount of success next year, despite losing one senior and having a promising group of recruits coming in.

“But for me, the most satisfying thing is not to go through it as a coach,” Nagy said, “But to go through it with that group of kids who we love very much and who have given us everything that we’ve asked them to give us.”

The drive for five?

After losing two excellent scorers in Jill Young and Jennie Sunnarborg, women’s basketball head coach Aaron Johnston pretty well knows what his team will return in 2012-13.

Losing great players is the norm for the Jackrabbits, especially since the Jacks have made the NCAA Tournament over the previous three years and SDSU has moved on past the likes of Jennifer Warkenthien, Maria Boever, Ketty Cornemann, and the list goes on. However, like those off-seasons, the Jacks have wondered about the point guard spot and while the platoon role of Young, Steph Paluch, Tara Heiser, and Gabby Boever did the trick this year, that doesn’t mean it’s not a spot for improvement.

“I think we’ll be a very different team because of that point guard position,” Johnston said. “Having more true point guards is going to change our team dramatically. We’ll get back to being a little bit more up-tempo and get back to getting the pace we want out of our offense.”

“Next year, even though there will be a lot of the same faces. It’ll be fun to see how the team evolves over the spring,” the head coach said.

Hot in Indiana 

It’s not only unseasonably warm in South Dakota, but all across the nation and that was the case over the weekend in West Lafayette, Ind., the home of Purdue. The air-conditioning-less Mackey Arena got swelteringly hot during the Jacks’ first round game.

While it didn’t affect the game, it did make for an interesting subplot amongst the fans and the media, with temps near 80 degrees and high levels of humidity. The game drew more comparisons to the sweaty gyms of the summer instead of the cooler times of March.

“I don’t think it affected things. We were aware that it was going to be hot. We practiced in the heat [the day before], so I don’t think it affected anything,” Katie Lingle said.