So the Coyotes finished 2016 as the 8 seed in the Summit League tournament after being preseason picked as the 5th team in the Summit.
At the beginning of the year, I said, no, this team is not in the top half of the conference. They lost 54% of their scoring going into the 2016 season, which was the most in the conference. Now, actually heading into the 2017 season, the Coyotes will lose almost 70% of their scoring…but they cannot get worse than 8th, right? I mean, right? Similar to Tim Miles at Nebraska, Craig Smith was supposed to improve this team year after year.
The Coyotes had three transfers sitting out this season who could immediately help the Coyotes try and improve next season and stay away from the 9th spot in 2017. 6’3″ Junior guard Carlton Hurst will join the Coyotes from Colorado State. Hurst averaged 4.2 points per game and shot 44% from the field in his freshman season, but his production dropped his sophomore year to 1.8 points per game. That CSU team his sophomore season won a program record 27 games and made the NIT.
Trey Dickerson is a 6’0″ point guard who transferred from Iowa after being upset that he was the 3rd string point guard for the Hawkeyes…and also probably because Fran McCaffrey messed up Dickerson’s income taxes. Seriously, McCaffrey looks more like the team accountant than the head coach. Apparently, Dickerson has the potential to be the fastest guard in the Summit League next season… He only played in 15 games for the Hawkeyes and averaged 2.7 points and 1.2 assists over those 15 appearances. Not super impressive numbers, but yeah, I would be throwing a parade if the Mavericks had a transfer from Iowa being thrown into their lineup. It would be the world’s worst parade. It would be more like a random guy walking down Center Street screaming incoherent babblings.
Lastly, the Coyotes will be adding Air Force transfer, Matt Mooney, who will be a 6’3″ sophomore. Mooney averaged 7 points in a Princeton offense his freshman season at Air Force; he shot 45% from the floor and 39% on threes. He had 8 games of scoring in double figures for Air Force. Mooney cited that bullying was one of the reasons for wanting to transfer away from Air Force.
Each player has potential to be at least Honorable Mention in the Summit League in 2017 and/or 2018 and help the Coyotes reload their roster quickly. Granted, they finished 8th in 2016, so maybe rebuild is a better word here than reload.
Aside from just bringing in transfer players, the Coyotes will also be adding Lincoln native, Triston Simpson – who held offers from South Dakota State, North Dakota State, and also the Mavericks. Simpson averaged 16.2 points and 6.2 assists per game in his senior year for Lincoln North Star. I feel like I hardly heard Simpson’s name throughout the high school basketball season, but maybe that is just because he is from Lincoln? The Lincoln Journal Star named him to the 1st Team Super State team. South Dakota also signed two wing players: 6’4″ guard Tyler Peterson from the state of Minnesota who also had an offer from North Dakota; and 6’5″ Brandon Armstrong, from the state of Texas, who also held offers from New Hampshire and Texas-Arlington.
South Dakota may be losing 70% of their scoring, but they still have some interesting pieces coming back. Forward Tyler Flack finally came back after sitting out for nearly a year and a half with a back injury. Flack ended up averaging 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17 games this season. He had a bit of a coming back party in Omaha when he had 14 points and 6 rebounds against the Mavericks at the end of January. After that game Flack looked like an All Conference player averaging 12.9 points and 6.4 points per game. If Flack can come back and be healthy all season, the Coyotes can actually make a pretty big jump from 8th place next season. The Yotes also have their two big freshmen Dan Jech and Tyler Hagedorn coming back for next season, who both had flashes of potential in 2016, but they both kind of fell out of the lineup when conference play started and Flack was back in the lineup as a key player to the team. A player that probably surprised us all was sophomore Dejon Davis. His freshman season he averaged 2 points a game, but jumped to 9.2 points per game in his sophomore season…his minutes did increase by almost 20 minutes per game as the Coyotes did not have much depth at the wing…so it wouldn’t be shocking to see his production drop off in 2017 after adding the transfers and incoming freshmen.
Craig Smith and his staff still have 2 scholarship spots to fill, and Smith is likely to still go after some transfers from bigger schools as that is how he has tried to jump start a heartbeat into his program so far. It would seem pretty typical of Smith to go after Nebraska transfer Johnny Trueblood, as Smith used be an assistant for the Huskers and he clearly likes to recruit out of the state of Nebraska. Jerk.
I’m going to throw out another potential name that makes me want to punch a stack of bricks. Marvin Clark, Jr… Smith has also made attempts at going after players from the Kansas City metro area, and Clark is originally from Kansas City. Clark played two seasons at Michigan State where he saw his minutes drop to 10 minutes per game in his sophomore season, but he was working himself back into the rotation near the end of the season due to some injuries on the team. He would be a 6’7″ 225lb junior (and could add more weight sitting out for a year) in 2018 and could really make the Coyotes a favorite in the Summit League that season, and he would immediately replace Flack after he graduates.
They may not be from bigger schools, but Milwaukee had a few players leave their team this last month after the coach had been fired; and both Austin Arians and Cody Wichmann had offers from South Dakota out of high school. Arians would be eligible to play immediately, and at 6’6″ he could really help improve the wing position of the Yotes; he averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a junior…he also made 2.5 threes per game; but Arians visited Wake Forest last week so he may be a little too classy for South Dakota. Wichmann will also graduate and be eligible immediately; he is a 6’5″ smaller power forward type similar to Casey Harriman (Creighton alum). Wichmann averaged almost 5 points and 2 rebounds per game in 2016, he shot 47% from the field and 48% on threes in his junior season…He might not be the huge impact to the team that Clark or Arians would be, but he would still help the Coyotes look better than 8th in 2016.
So 2017 may depend on how quickly the Coyotes can get the new faces acclimated to their program, but they can quickly make a jump and hopefully not trend down. They will be one of the youngest teams in the Summit, which is never great, but they will have players that have been around the block before. This was also a team that had a decent amount of injuries in 2016, and even a couple of mid season departures, so who knows what can happen if they can actually be healthy in 2017.