If there was a conversation between me and the State-U rivalry, it might go something like this:
Rivalry: “Hey Jeremy, guess who’s back?”
Me: “Rivalry, is that you? What the heck, what are you doing here?”
Rivalry: “Didn’t you hear? I’m coming back next February.”
Me: “Yeah I heard. That’s awesome, man. We’ve missed you around here. Are you excited?”
Rivalry: “Indeed. Get pumped!”
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Ever since last Thursday’s announcement that the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State women’s basketball teams will face each other next February, there’s been a buzz about the State-U rivalry.
The thing is, it was coming back anyway. When USD accepted an invitation in April to join The Summit League starting in 2011-12, it effectively meant the rivalry was back on. But then came last week’s announcement, which speeds up the timing.
For Tuesday’s story in the Press & Dakotan, I wanted to touch base with a few different people on both sides of the State-U spectrum to gauge their reactions. I was able to track down former USD women’s players Meghan Woster and Mandy Koupal, as well as former State grad and current Yankton resident Dave Cornemann, as well as SDSU radio man Steve Imming of WNAX.
The common theme I heard was essentially, “It’s about time.” Each was gracious enough to share their memories of the rivalry, whether was Cornemann in the early 80’s, or Woster and Koupal in the 2000’s.
Here are some interesting tidbits that didn’t make the story:
** The Coyotes and Jackrabbits will play on Monday, Feb. 15, 2010 at Frost Arena in Brookings. And interestingly, that’s two days after the SDSU women host North Dakota State. On that topic, Imming said of the USD game, “It’ll be interesting to see what the crowd looks like at Frost.”
** As I mentioned briefly in the story, Woster recalled how the Coyote women needed a police escort to get to the Frost Arena court when the two teams last played in 2004. Here’s the whole story: As the USD players were entering the building, some of the SDSU students were waiting in the main lobby, waiting to get to their seats. And so that made for an interesting showdown. Woster said security had to help form a tunnel so the players could get in.
** Woster on the new-look USD women’s program: “They play a different style now. It’s exciting to watch coach (Ryun) Williams; he’s brought a whole new energy to the program. USD will always be a traditionally good three-point shooting team, but now you’re seeing them do more things.”
** Here’s another anecdote I wish I could have weaved into the story. Cornemann told me that not only will SDSU host USD, the Jacks will host Minnesota State-Mankato (the defending Division II national champs) in an exhibition game. And that means Yankton native Andrea Walsh (at Mankato) will be playing childhood friend Ketty Cornemann (at SDSU).
** Cornemann on the other rivalries SDSU has developed: “There’s a pretty strong rivalry brewing with North Dakota State. We like to beat the Bison, but I don’t know anybody up in Fargo. So it’s hard to give them crap. It’s just not the same. Everyone at State wants to beat the Coyotes. That’s the rivalry that matters.”