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After notching its first Dakota Athletic Conference win of the season, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team will bump up a level as the Hardrockers travel to Vermillion Saturday to squared off with the University of South Dakota Coyotes – a soon to be NCAA Division I school
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- After notching its first Dakota Athletic Conference win of the season, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team will bump up a level as the Hardrockers travel to Vermillion Saturday to squared off with the University of South Dakota Coyotes – a soon to be NCAA Division I school.
The Hardrockers enter the game with a 6-6 record after defeating Black Hills State in the DAC opener last Wednesday, followed by a tough loss to Rocky Mountain College this past Saturday. The Coyotes are 6-4 on the season and will head into Saturday on a two-game tear.
“They actually have a lot of new guys this year and are probably not playing at the level they want to be playing at, but they will be soon,” said Hardrocker head coach Jason Henry. “They have some very talented players. They are now a (NCAA) Division I school and recruiting that type of talent.”
The Coyotes have four players that are averaging double figures this season. Eric Hall, a junior out of Huron, leads the team with 164 total points and averaging 16.4 each game. Teammate Dylan Grimsley, a sophomore from Sioux City, Iowa, isn’t far off that pace with 16.1 points per game average and a total of 161 points.
Henry felt that Hall was the catalyst for the Coyotes and if he gets on a roll, the rest of the team will follow suit. Along with Grimsley and Hall, junior Dustin Little (from Castlewood) and sophomore Jesse Becker also have the touch on the perimeter. Becker is averaging 13.4 points a game and Little is knocking down 11.7.
“We have to make sure we get to (Hall) and not just let him stand out and shoot,” Henry said. “But they just have so many weapons – depth wise. They are playing a number of guys and trying to figure a bunch of things out. They do have a lot of transfers and have just lost a lot of guys from last year.”
Being a NCAA Division II school, the Coyotes are definitely playing at a high level, but the Hardrockers have been matching up with teams outside their division for most of their non-conference season. On paper, the Coyotes are very similar to the talent of Azusa Pacific and Concordia, Calif. --- two teams that SDM took on over the Thanksgiving holiday.
One of the main factors in USD’s success this season is their defensive effort --- something that they are notorious for.
“They have always been known for there matchup zone,” Henry said. “That’s kind of been their forte. That gives everybody a lot of problems and it is something that we have spent a lot of time on.”
The Hardrockers bring a wealth of experience to the table with their five seniors and after traveling to the West Coast to face two NAIA powerhouses, Mines may just have the right formula to combat the Coyotes.
Senior center Casey Schmitz is having a stellar season thus far for the Hardrockers. He is averaging 13.8 points a game and is leading the team in scoring with 166 points. His latest efforts earned him DAC Player of the Week. Fellow senior Brandon Fredrickson is also having a productive season, scoring 10 points a game and has a season total of 120.
Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. (CST)
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