With a new coach, five players graduating, two players transferring out, and a new coach; it is definitely going to be difficult for people to just pencil in the Jackrabbits as the best team in the Summit League again in 2017.
Iowa State Assistant, TJ Otzelberger, who I may refer to Taco John Ostrich Burger at some point, will be taking over as the head coach of the Jackrabbits. I’m sorry about making fun of someone’s name, I was forced to watch an episode of One Tree Hill last night, so I’m just in a mood. Former Coach Scott Nagy left the program for Wright State, which seems like an odd move to most outsiders.
Seriously, the basketball writing in One Tree Hill is awful. For starters, two brothers for some reason get super excited to go see a Charlotte Bobcats game. Later on at one point, the team captain walks into the coaches office and the coach tells him he’s going to run the triangle offense this season just for him. I love that some writer in LA just turned on a 2002 Lakers game and heard the words “triangle offense” and just rolled with it because they didn’t know what else to do. Then the whole team gets in a fight right as being introduced to the crowd, which just turned into a dog pile fight for literally no reason. The captain started a fight with his brother, then all the players just reacted to fighting each other with absolutely no build up to fighting each other. Then in the post game the coach lets the captain remain captain and makes his brother co-captain so they “can figure it out together.” What a terrible show. One Tree Hill just makes me worry about…everything on this planet.
Wait, what happend? I blacked out.
Otzelberger had two separate stints at Iowa State, recently one under Fred Hoiberg and a few more years under Greg McDermott. He spent a few years at Washington under Lorenzo Romar, who is an idiot, and he has been a part of recruiting some top nationally ranked classes at Iowa State and Washington. That’s great. Recruiting classes are everything, especially when you get a bunch of overrated chubs that don’t do a bunch and you cannot even reach the top 25 with that class during the regular season. I’m mostly referring to Washington’s teams…and no one can talk me out of Craig Brackins being incredibly over hyped at Iowa State. I believe I saw that at one time in high school he was rated over Blake Griffin. That worked out. Don’t take this as me bashing Otzelberger being an overrated recruiter or something, it takes an entire coaching staff to recruit and actually develop their players and team…not just one assistant; and I have no idea how much of a role he had in actually recruiting those players…but if it’s going to be bragged up on the internet by South Dakota State on how great of a recruiter and developer of post players coach that Otzelberger is, we should discuss how worthless of a college basketball player Shawn Kemp Jr was in the process.
Otzelberger’s scheme does not sound all that much different than Nagy’s, he wants the team to get out and run at a fast pace, which is similar to just about what everyone in the conference seems to be moving to. He basically wants the Jackrabbits to be Omaha, but with defense. I will say, it appears Otzelberger is incredibly excited for this opportunity with South Dakota State and he sees big things for his new basketball program.
There is a problem with the Jackrabbits as of right now in time. They currently only have 8 scholarship players returning, and have one junior conference guard committed for next season. Two of those eight returners redshirted last season. It’s tough to count out South Dakota State already since North Dakota State almost had the exact same situation in 2014-2015 and they ended up winning the Summit League tournament.
Unless the Jackrabbits get a graduate transfer with one of their remaining scholarships, the team will have no seniors on their roster…which is usually not good, but the Summit League is not going to be filled with seniors in 2017. Otzelberger may not be going for those transfers as he stated he wanted to go for 4 year players he can develop, but coaches say a lot of things, and coaches have a tendency of going after transfers to load their new teams with some needed experience in their first year when there is a lot of turnover from the year before. Do you not remember Dana Altman’s CBI run at Oregon in his first season?
The Jackrabbits will return Summit League First Teamer and 6th Man of the Year, Mike Daum, who is a great player. He is going to go from almost always being the 3rd or 4th option on the court to always being the first option. Some player do not adjust to that very well, especially as sophomores, and Daum seems like a pretty well mature guy; but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on at how well he adjusts to this. Denver, Omaha, IUPUI, and South Dakota have quicker forwards that can get out and bother Daum a little; so maybe Jackrabbit fans wont see Daum take a quick jump his sophomore season, as much as they expect.
Another core player returning to the Jackrabbits will be Reed Tellinghuisen, who I really thought took a step back his sophomore season. His freshman season he appeared to be up there with AJ Jacobson and Tre’Shawn Thurman as one of the top three freshmen in the Summit. He put on some muscle going into his sophomore season but dropped in field goal percentage from 45% to 40%, dropped in three point field goal percentage from 41% to 37% and dropped in free throw percentage from 66% to 61%. He was still 7-of-9 from three in Omaha, though.
In most situations this season Tellinghuisen was playing at the 4 with the Jackrabbits, and it was maybe a mistake on the part of the Jackrabbits staff, even if they did have limited options on where to play Tellinghuisen. I sit with a perfect few of the baseline in Baxter Arena, and Tellinghuisen looked great on offense; but you could literally see the fear on Tellinghuisen’s face when Tre’Shawn Thurman got the ball on the baseline and Tellinghuisen had to play defense in the post. He had nothing he could do to Thurman other than just foul him. Tellinghuisen played best when he was on the court at the same time with Mike Daum and center Ian Theisen in the front court.
That front court has the potential of being the best front court in the Summit League next season. Theisen has a little bit of Cody Larson with his post game, but needs a little jump shot to really be an all conference player. Since Otzelberger is apparently such a great developer of post players, perhaps he can make Theisen into an incredibly scary post player for the Jackrabbits. Or he might just look sweet since the Jackrabbits don’t have many other post players (as of yet) and he will get 35 minutes a game. Who knows, it’s a crazy world and it’s the Jackrabbits league…we’re just living in it. The team will be adding Nebraska-native Adam Dykman to the front court, who redshirted his freshman season…and I know a number of people that watch a lot of Nebraska high school basketball that really felt the bigger schools really made a mistake by not recruiting Dykman.
The Jackrabbits went into the 2016 season with having what was expected to be the top back court in the Summit League, and let’s just be happy that the Tra-Deon Hollins & Devin Patterson back court challenged them for that top spot. The Jackrabbits back court will be relatively unproven going into 2017. Tevin King will be the only returning player in the back court, and he saw limited action really since he was playing behind three seniors in his freshman season…which sounds great from a development standpoint. King only shot 4-of-14 on threes in his freshman season, which would worry me as a Jackrabbit fan, and he only shot 59% from the free throw line.
The team recently added 6’1″ guard Andre Wallace from Iowa Western, who could really be a great player in the Summit League for the next two seasons. He was a 40% three point shooter for the Reivers and had 4 games of scoring 20 or more points in his sophomore season. He wasn’t known for being a great defender at Iowa Western, which could suck for the Jackrabbits in a guard dominated league. The Jacks will also have Cole Gentry, a point guard out of Chicago, who redshirted his freshman season. The redshirt freshmen in the Summit League have been exceptional the last few years: AJ Jacobson, Mike Daum, John Konchar just to name a few…so who knows if Gentry can be a great player right away or not.
With what is going to be an entirely new look for the Jackrabbits, to their roster and their coaching staff, there are going to be a large amount of questions for South Dakota State at the start of the season. Usually those teams with a lot questions get rated low in preseason rankings, but it’s South Dakota State so they will probably get tabbed as the preseason favorite just because.