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Spring/Summer 2015


Basketball Builds


under Smith

New Head Men’s Basketball Coach Craig Smith effectively used

an undersized lineup to create matchup problems and steal road

wins during a 17-16 inaugural campaign with the Coyotes. It was

the program’s first winning season in four years. South Dakota

beat every Summit League team to turn in a 9-7 league mark

and scored its first Summit League Tournament victory in

Sioux Falls.

Smith added 6-foot-5 junior transfer Tre Burnette (Williston

State) and 6-foot-10 senior transfer James Hunter (Washington

State) to a guard-laden starting lineup. Despite the lack of height,

the Coyotes led the Summit in offensive rebounds and still

snagged more boards than their opponents.

Much of that success was due to the emergence of senior

Tyler Larson, who became the first guard in Summit League

history to win a rebounding title (7.8 rpg). Larson went from

defensive stopper off the bench to first-team all-Summit League

performer in one season. He led the team in scoring at 14.4

points a contest and led the league with 11 double-doubles.

South Dakota lost its first five games and was 3-8 with three

overtime losses by mid-December. Two wins in the Dome during

a three-game streak got the Coyotes going, but winning on the

road became the mantra. USD beat preseason favorites Denver

and Fort Wayne near the start of league play away and downed

defending champion North Dakota State at home to start 3-1 in

Summit play.

“We went from California to Connecticut and back to

California on road trips at the start of the year,” said Smith. “We

were on the road so much that it became more comfortable for us

to play away from the Dome than inside it.”

The Coyotes won five of eight road trips in Summit play

and finished 8-7 in true road games. South Dakota was the only

Summit team with a winning road mark, and the team’s eight

victories ranked amongst the highest in the nation.

South Dakota won seven of its final 10 games, including

an 80-64 drubbing of South Dakota State at home on Senior

Day. The Coyotes earned the four seed at the Summit League

Tournament, where they got a career night from senior star

Brandon Bos to advance past Fort Wayne. Bos was perfect from

the field in a 19-point first half en route to a career-best 29-point

performance. Bos would finish a fine four-year career with 1,200

points—25th most in program history.

Smith was one of 10 finalists for the Joe B. Hall Award,

presented annually to the top first-year coach at the Division I

level. For an encore, he will need to replace nearly 50 percent of

his points and 40 percent of his rebounds from this past season.

Rest assured, help (and height) is on the way and the Coyotes

will be ready to attack come November.

This picture captured from the top of

Coyote Village in mid-April shows the

first walls going up and the first steel

beams put in place as work continues

on the new arena. The new facility

will be ready ahead of the 2016–17

academic year.

New Arena Progress