BY JEREMY HOECK
At some point, you’d have to think odds would eventually turn in your favor, if you’ve continued to drop close game after close game, right?
One of those, you’re the team that gets a crucial rebound, or a well-timed defensive stop, or some other “clutch” play.
The USD men’s basketball team has had its share of situations like that work against it this season.
The Coyotes, losers of six straight, haven’t had much of anything go right in the past month, since a 19-point win at Oakland on Jan. 19. Since then, it’s been losses by 5, 13, 19, 15, 1 and 13 points.
Not that long ago, USD found itself in the middle of the pack in the Summit League standings and looking like a team that could be a 4 or 5 seed in the post-season tournament in Sioux Falls. Now, the Coyotes have dropped all the way down to a seven seed (if the tourney were to start today). USD and Kansas City are both 4-10 in conference action, but the Kangaroos own the tiebreaker by virtue of a season sweep.
Only IUPUI, at 1-13, stands between the Coyotes and the cellar.
Still — yes, still — you listen to the players after the games this weekend, and you get the sense that this team believes it can contend in the Summit League tournament.
There are still two regular season league games left, both on the road, for USD, so there could be some shakeup. At best, the Coyotes could vault to the No. 5 seed, and at worst the No. 7 seed.
We’ll see what happens.
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Also from this weekend:
Starting guards Juevol Myles and Brandon Bos had very different outputs over the weekend. The Canadian duo combined for 45 points on 14-of-25 shooting against Oakland on Thursday, but were just 4-of-16 for 15 points against Fort Wayne.
The biggest difference on Saturday was the defensive intensity those two faced against the Mastodons. They were constantly hounded, faced-up, pressured and bothered, though they only combined for five turnovers.
Casey Kasperbauer, the third starting guard, saw a similar story, but in reverse fashion. He scored four points vs. Oakland, but 11 against Fort Wayne. The freshman from Carroll, Iowa, is proving to be not simply a spot-up shooter, but a kid who can create his own shot; no doubt key in the Summit League.
Junior forward Trevor Gruis had himself a nice second half (10 of his 12 points) against Fort Wayne, and the Coyotes are really going to need him down the stretch and into the Summit League tournament. Without him being effective, USD really doesn’t have much of an inside presence. People like Steve Tecker and Karim Rowson are forced to play against bigs, and that’s an area the Coyotes have struggled with this season (Oakland had a 14-0 edge in second-chance points on Thursday).
On a related weekend note, the DakotaDome attendance and energy was basically non-existent. Saturday’s official attendance was 1,815, but anything from an involved crowd. Students were there, but provided no noise (heck, not even a Harlem Shake timeout routine couldn’t spur them on), and the folks in the bleacher seats and reserved seats provided nothing in the way of energy. Not sure what’s going on, but suffice to say, I know athletic department officials are concerned as well.