BY JEREMY HOECK
As the excitement still lingers from Saturday’s USD-SDSU men’s basketball showdown in Vermillion, here are a few notes, quotes and observations from that game — won by the Coyotes, 74-71.
— — — —
• How did USD make such a drastic turnaround from a beatdown Thursday?
Plenty of talking, coach Dave Boots said.
“We had a lecture practice (Friday). I brought them in at 1 o’clock, had a conversation with them that lasted about 20 minutes, then I sent them home. Kids are pretty resilient, but they needed to hear some things that I think were important for them to hear. That’s not going to be acceptable to have another poor performance in that type of game.”
You could tell right from the opening tip that not only were the Coyotes playing with more fire, they were directly feeding off the energy in the Dome. (Specifically with a loud and involved student section).
The key, as was obvious to anyone who watched the game in person or on TV, was USD point guard Juevol Myles. He’s that emotional spark that the Coyotes have sorely missed. “Heady” is a word that is perhaps used too much in the sports lexicon, but Myles certainly fits that bill.
“We don’t have a lot of people who’ve been in our program playing for us for a long time…We don’t have a lot of leaders,” Boots said. “He wants that responsibility. He plays with a lot of energy most of the time.”
• How did USD shut down Nate Wolters (1-of-8) in the first half?
A lot of was a lack of aggressiveness on the part of Wolters himself, but certainly the Coyote 2-3 matchup zone played a big role.
Said Coyote guard Brandon Bos: “I thought we did a good job collapsing on him; didn’t give him real open lanes or even a look. We knew he’d come out with a great second half. We always made sure we knew where he was.”
Wolters did put together an aggressive second half with 23 points, and as you watched him continually drive to the hoop and look to score, it was a wonder why he was so tentative in the first half.
Said Wolters, “We were down 17 (at half). We played desperate, and that’s what we needed to do in the first half. As a team, we just haven’t been clicking at the same time.”
• In his first game in the rivalry, USD freshman Casey Kasperbauer responded with 14 points. What was it like for a rookie?
“This was a crazy experience. I have been in big games before, but this was unlike any experience I’ve had.”
Kasperbauer was one of few Coyotes who played rather well in the loss Thursday to North Dakota State, and he was thrust into the starting lineup Saturday. Not only did he play 37 minutes, he was aggressive and hit timely three-pointers — perhaps none bigger than when SDSU got within 57-53 with 7:45 to play, and he responded on the next trip.
• SDSU has now lost consecutive games in Vermillion, not to mention the rivalry game with North Dakota State in Fargo a week and a half ago.
Asked about coming up flat in such situations, SDSU coach Scott Nagy had no real explanation.
“Number one, we’re just not a highly-emotional team. We’re just a very low-key team. It is part of our problem that we aren’t more emotional; it helps us in places, but it hurts us in this kind of setting.”
• Dave Boots on reaching win No. 500 at USD.
“I didn’t think I’d be here this long. You never anticipate that. I never wanted to be anywhere else. This university and the people we’ve worked with in the state of South Dakota, it’s just a special place. We’ve had incredibly good players over these 25 years, good character, passionate about playing the game. All the assistant coaches too. You don’t do this without a lot of people helping you do it.”