South Dakota (0-0) at St. Bonaventure (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reilly Center (5,480) -- St. Bonaventure, New York. Television: None. Home Record: South Dakota 0-0, SBU 0-0. Away Record: South Dakota 0-0, SBU 0-0. Neutral Record: South Dakota 0-0, SBU 0-0. Conference Record: South Dakota 0-0, SBU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: The Reilly Center will be the location for a season opener when the South Dakota Coyotes and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies meet up on the hardwood for a non-conference clash on Saturday.
This is just the fourth season at the Division I level for the Coyotes. The first three have not gone particularly well, especially last year when the team had just 10 wins, while doubling that total in the loss column. It was the second-straight 10-win season for the Coyotes. Head coach David Boots has a lot of experience to work with this year, with four starters returning from last year. Though one of them is not leading scorer Juevol Myles, a nucleus like that could be a real benefit for a team looking to improve, especially on defense. South Dakota will be very familiar with traveling on the road early on as seven of their first nine games are away from Vermillion including the next matchup with Canisius.
In 2012 the Bonnies were one of the best stories in college basketball as they stunned many with an Atlantic 10 Tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Andrew Nicholson, the star of that NCAA Tournament team left following the run and in his wake the Bonnies came crashing back down, finishing last year t just 14-15 overall. Other than the 20-win blip of 2012, the Bonnies have been, at best, a mediocre team with records hovering around .500 just about every season. If the Bonnies were to rise to 2012 levels this year it would again come as a major surprise as most of the NCAA Tournament team is gone, including last year's leading scorer Demetrius Conger. The Bonnies get another home game on Monday against Abilene Christian.
The Bonnies and the Coyotes will be going head-to-head for the first time in this matchup.
The biggest weakness for South Dakota last season was its play on the defensive end. It is difficult to pick up wins consistently when giving up 73.6 points per game on 46 percent shooting. Offensively, things were much different as the Coyotes scored a respectable 70.4 points per game, while netting nearly 45 percent of their field goal attempts. Losing Myles and his 15 points per game will make repeating that type of offensive success a difficult challenge. The Coyotes still have scorers to lean on but they will need to up their production. Trevor Gruis (12.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is a solid post player that scores efficiently (.567 FG percentage). He is the only player returning that started in all 30 games last year. Brandon Bos (11.0 ppg) and Casey Kasperbauer (8.8 ppg) will be the main scoring threats on the wings as each is a strong shooter from beyond the arc. Karim Rowson (7.9 ppg) and Tyler Flack (5.1 ppg) will also be called upon to carry the offensive load from time to time.
Conger (14.3 pg, 7.1 rpg) along with Eric Mosley (13.2 ppg) and Chris Johnson (12.6 ppg) were all that really kept the Bonnies in games last season and even so, the team finished just 14-15. All three are gone leaving an under-stocked roster for head coach Mark Schmidt. Matthew Wright (7.3 ppg) is the only player to have started at least 20 games. Wright isn't a very versatile player though, relying heavily on shooting from beyond the arc, which failed him last season when he barely managed to make over 30 percent of his 3-point tries. Charlon Kloof (5.3 ppg) and Marquise Simmons (6.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) will more than likely be the predominant forces as they get accustomed to life as full-time starters. During a five-game stretch in December last season Kloof scored in double figures four times, so he has upside as a potential go-to scorer. Simmons, a 6-foot-8 forward, had a pair of double-doubles and scored in double figures four times, though he failed to do so once over the last three months of the season. Youssou Ndoye (6.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg) will be in the mix up front as well.
It's tough to say which one of these teams has the edge in this game. Both are trying to recover from the loss of their leading scorers but the Coyotes look like more of a team on the rise. However the Bonnies are used to matching up with much tougher squads in the Atlantic 10. That experience, plus the edge of playing at home, will be the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: St. Bonaventure 69, South Dakota 59
11/09 10:39:14 ET