By Brad Blume
‘Rocker men face DAC’s best this weekend
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team resumes Dakota Athletic Conference play this weekend and will probably see one of the toughest matchups of the season, facing Valley City State and Jamestown College, the two squads with the best overall records in the DAC.
“We have the top two teams in the conference coming in this weekend. There is no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ about it until someone proves different,” said Hardrocker men’s head coach Jason Henry.
The Valley City State Vikings are slated for the Friday night game as the Vikings are sitting on top of the conference standings with a 12-3 overall record. They have a talented roster with three players averaging over 10 points a game.
Leading the way is junior Mike Stowman. The 6-foot-3-inch guard is averaging 14.5 points a game, has 203 total markers this season and is currently shooting 89 percent
from the free throw line going 48-54.
Junior Zac Wolff (6-7 post player) and freshman Tyler Macomber (6-4 forward) seems to provide the balance in the middle as each player is averaging just over 10 points a game. Macomber also leads the team in rebounds averaging seven a contest and has a total of 98 for the year.
“Stowman is definitely their top shooter and understands how to play the game very well,” Henry said. “Wolff, inside, has been playing very well for them too. He is just a big, strong kid. He was kind of a garbage guy, but over the last couple years he’s improved his post moves and has become a good post player for them.”
As a team, the Vikings are scoring just over 70 points a contest while holding their opponents to 60. VCSU has nine national category rankings including three top 10 mentions --- No. 4 in turnover margin (5.27), No. 6 in field goal percentage on defense (38) and No. 7 in scoring defense per game (60).
“One of the big things defensively for Valley City is their pressure defense. They are very physical with you and make you do things you haven’t done before or are capable of doing as far as hurrying passes, rushing shots and turning the ball over,” Henry said. “But those are things we struggle with anyway.”
In the conference, the Vikings are 1-0 on the season, defeating Jamestown College back in December. They top the DAC rankings for scoring defense and have the fifth best scoring offense. Individually, Macomber is ranked third in total rebounds and Wolff is No. 1 in the steals category with 24 on the season ---1.60 per contest.
“A lot of their offensive stuff is taken off of their defense,” Henry said. “They push and they shove and they grab you. If we let it get to us it could be a long night. They do a great job of hurrying teams.”
Saturday’s matchup doesn’t get any easier for the Hardrockers with the Jimmies coming in with a 10-5 overall record and the preseason favorite to win the league.
The Jimmies also received votes this week for the NAIA Top 25 poll after being ranked 22nd in the last poll before Christmas. It’s easy to see why with 10 national category rankings including two Top 10 mentions --- No. 10 in total rebounds on defense (29.3) and No. 10 in field goal percentage (.50). “They are just a veteran team. They have six or seven seniors that have been playing together for four years,” Henry said. “They have probably one of the Top 5 post in the country on their team in Kyle Iverson.”
The Jimmies also measure up in the conference, ranked first in scoring offense (84.87 points per game), first in field goal percentage on offense (.50) and second in total assists with 268.
“Again, they are a solid veteran team that doesn’t make silly mistakes. They let things come to them,” Henry added. “In my mind, they are still the team to beat in the league.”
Individually, Jamestown is sparked by senior Jake Holan. The 6-3 guard is averaging 20 points a game, ranking him first in the conference and 16th in the nation. He has a total of 299 markers this season and is also rated third in the NAIA for free throw percentage (.90) and 10th in three-pointers made per game (3.4).
Iverson is also having a stellar year, scoring 16 points a game. The 6-8 post player is ranked second in the conference in field goal percentage (.54) and fourth in total rebounds (97).
Senior Jordan Olson is another Jimmie that contributes on a nightly basis. The 6-6 forward scores 14 points a game, and is rated first in the DAC for field goal percentage (.58) and fifth in rebounds per game at 6.6.
The Jimmies had a tough non-conference schedule this year and their only conference loss was to Valley City in a low scoring affair.
The Hardrockers enter the weekend looking to snap a five-game losing streak. The last time the SD Mines men’s team won was the last DAC matchup where the Hardrockers handily defeated the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets back in December.
With a young squad looking to develop during the non-conference schedule and shore some things up, the Hardrockers return to DAC action rated fourth in the conference in scoring defense (76.40) and field goal percentage on offense (.47) and fifth in total assists with 228 (15.20 per game).
Individually, the play from underclassmen Robbie Fedor (sophomore) and A.J. Trennepohl (freshman) are encouraging as they lead the team in scoring. Fedor is averaging 12 points a game and ranked 12th in the DAC while Trennepohl continues to develop his deadly shot from the outside and is currently averaging 11.47 points a game and listed 15th in the conference. Junior Brandon Smith has provided balance in the paint and is scoring 11.27 points a game, while freshman Michael Ross contributes with 11.13 markers a contest.
“That’s been an advantage for us. We have different guys stepping up. That’s also a disadvantage because we don’t have a guy that we know is going to come out and get 15-20 points a game,” Henry said.
The coach feels that the Hardrockers can compete with any team in the DAC.
“It just a matter of us executing and playing next to a perfect game. It’s that time of year. When you get into conference you have to play as well as you are capable of playing,” he said. “We need to shoot the ball better. We should be shooting 50 percent from the field and not turn it over as much as we have in the last few games. When we do that we win the game or have a chance to win the game.”
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