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With the worst of the schedule behind them, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team can focus on the second half of the Dakota Athletic Conference season and know that the cards are stacked in their favor
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- With the worst of the schedule behind them, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team can focus on the second half of the Dakota Athletic Conference season and know that the cards are stacked in their favor.
“We have the best schedule out of everybody,” said Hardrocker head coach Jason Henry referring to the remainder of the season. “We have four games in a row at home now and then two on the road and then we finish up at home against (Black Hills State).”
And after amassing a 4-3 conference mark, as well as playing the last four games on the road, and currently sitting third in the DAC rankings, the Hardrockers are well on track to having a fruitful postseason.
“When it is all said and done, our goal at the end of the season is to host a (playoff) game that first round,” Henry said. ’That means we have to be in that Top 4 at the end of the season. We are still setup to be in the Top 2.”
The Hardrockers were tied for the top spot in the DAC standings with Valley City State a week ago, but after dropping games this past weekend to the Vikings as well as the Jamestown College Jimmies, the Vikings grabbed sole possession of first place and the Mayville State Comets snuck into the second spot, leaving the ‘Rockers in a tie for third place with Minot State.
“We missed our goal by one game,” Henry said. “We wanted to be 2-2 on the road, instead we are 1-3.”
This past weekend proved to be the toughest road trip of the season for Mines. In Friday��s loss to the Jimmies, the Hardrockers faced a team that were pretty much backed into a corner. To keep pace in the league, Jamestown had to win, as they pulled out a 72-53 win.
“They did exactly what they had to do to win a couple games at home,” Henry said. “We got down early and they just kept coming at us. We didn’t handle it that good until the last six or seven minutes.”
Jamestown’s defense shutdown the usually effective play of the SDM post players and forced the visitors to attack on the perimeter. Henry said that’s what he wanted his squad to do to them.
“They wanted to do to us exactly what we wanted to do to them as far as how they handle screens and how they handle pressure,” the coach said. “It was basically everything on both sides of the ball. The just ended up executing better because they played less timid. They got up into us and we didn’t handle it very well.”
The big men inside were all held to low scoring figures. SDM senior Brandon Fredrickson was a bright spot on the perimeter scoring a team high 17 points.
“We have to do a better job of getting our posts some touches. We don’t win very often when our posts only shoot eight or nine times (a game),” Henry added.
The Hardrockers will have to contend with the leagues top rated defense Saturday as the Jimmies have been holding teams to under 70 points all season. Kyle Iverson, the DAC third highest scorer, along with Lawrence Brooks and Jake Holen will also have to be handled for SDM to win the game.
But before worrying about the Jimmies, the ‘Rockers have a high-powered matchup with Valley City on Friday. Their last exchange lived up to its hype as the Vikings and ‘Rockers toed it up for an exciting game last Saturday. Valley City was able to capitalize down the stretch and won the shoot-out, 73-70.
“It was a heck of a game. They are on top of the conference for a reason. They have some very athletic kids and some very good players,” Henry said. “Both teams were just back and forth the whole second half. They made plays toward the end when we had to make plays, but we did too. We missed a couple shot and didn’t rebound a couple times and they converted on those.”
Friday’s matchup proves to be just as exciting as the previous encounter.
“I expect the same this weekend,” Henry added.
The Vikings applied a lot of pressure in the first half of play last Saturday, causing Hardrocker turnovers. Henry said he had to move some guys around and spread things out. When his players had an open lane to the basket they were given the green light to score.
“Bottom line is that we just put our heads down and went to the basket,” Henry said. “They had us spread out pretty far. Instead of just throwing the ball across the court we put it down and went to the basket and converted.”
The Mines offense was more effective against Valley City as Brandon Lord led all scorers with 18 points while Matt Lyndoe and Frederickson both cashed in for 11 points.
Valley City does have a stingy defense, also holding teams under 70 points this season.
The Vikings square off with Mines at 7:30 p.m. Friday while Jamestown will play the Hardrockers Saturday at 6 p.m.
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