South Dakota men’s basketball team plans 2021-22 season
South Dakota Men’s Basketball Head Coach Todd Lee has always said it: You have to have experience of a mid-level team. The Summit League has won and will continue to win NCAA tournament games, he said. It’s good to have some permanence on your roster to pull you through the season.
But last year “it was different,” he said. The Coyotes had only one senior last year (leading scorer Stanley Umude).
âAnd we led the league from start to finish,â said Lee.
The USD, which finished second in the Summit League in 2020 (Summit League record 11-4), will look very similar this year. There are only four seniors on the roster this year, and many of them have a year of eligibility to follow the season ahead.
Here are some notes from the South Dakota basketball media day on the men’s team as they envisioned their 2021-22 season:
A more balanced approach offensively
Lee said that as the Summit League tournament approaches, the Coyotes have a good chance of winning it all. But just before the start of the tournament, starting playmaker AJ Plitzuweit dislocated his knee and was ruled out for a period which – even now he’s “ahead of schedule,” Lee said – should not. not allow it to come back before spring.
On top of that, Umude, who led the Coyotes with 21.6 points per game last season, has moved to Arkansas.
âThat’s the most points a Division I program has lost to two guys,â said Lee. “So it’s a big hole.”
Although Lee’s side had two benchmark scorers last year, he doesn’t expect that to be the case this season, allowing his side to take a more balanced attacking approach. He even joked that he would force his team to “pass it six times before you shoot it.” The USD did not have a more than 10 point marker beyond Umude and Plitzuweit, and while Lee expects players to get an increase in the number of points they provide, he does. not think there will be a guy or two carrying all this load.
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Guard Xavier Fuller, striker Tasos Kamateros and guard Kruz Perrot-Hunt were the next top scorers behind the top two players and are the most likely to take the offensive step. Perrot-Hunt will likely play a primary guard role in Plitzuweit’s absence.
Who will close the games?
Lee feels comfortable with the way the Coyotes will approach the offensive side of the ball from start to the middle of the 30-second possessions. A balanced offensive approach will have plenty of passes and plenty of players to hit. But the clock eventually runs out. Matches will be closed in the Summit League this year. The biggest question left for Lee is who will have the ball in their hands at the end of time when they need to score?
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It is normally much easier to see who these people will be. Last year it certainly was. But this year will demand a lot more from players who were previously actors. Lee wants to keep it simple at the end of the clock, he said. Put the ball in the hands of a good player, set up a screen, take advantage of a defensive liability on the opposing team. Who this player is remains to be seen at the start of the camp.
âYou have to have someone who can make a basket at the end of the clock,â Lee said. âIf you’ve got a really good player and that helps when he’s a really good free throw shooter – and our guys can really shoot free throws – then we’re trying to figure that out. “
A defensive accent
In each of the past six years in the Summit League, Lee has said that a team that has finished first or second in field goal percentage defense has won the league. The USD finished first in this category last year, allowing opponents to shoot just 42% of the field against them. This led to a solid finish last year, and with less offensive options to look to, Lee said “we have to do that and better this year”.
âI really think we need to put our hat on more defense,â Lee said. “Last year I think we could get away with it sometimes.”
That means they have to be the best rebounding team, the best defensive team and the “toughest” team in the league, Lee said. He said they had the players to do it. The Coyotes are already deviating from where the offense will come from, or questions of individual improvement. Defending the team will be the key to taking the next step.
âI think our focus this year is just on defense,â Fuller said. âThe offense will come. “
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Follow Sioux Falls Argus Leader reporter Michael McCleary on Twitter @mikejmccleary.