By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- Ask any college basketball coach and they will tell you, all conference games are important --- the first one even more so because it can set the tone for the rest of the season. Tack on a rivalry matchup and it has the making for a fairly explosive outing.
That is exactly what the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team is saddled with as they prepare to square of with the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets Wednesday at the Young Center in Spearfish.
“We’ll be up for it. I don’t know how it will go being a rivalry game and all,” said Hardrocker head coach Jason Henry. “I think we have an advantage because our seniors have been there. (BHSU) has a lot of new faces and transfer students who might not know what that game is all about.”
With five seniors in the lineup, each one of them has had at least one experience in the legendary BHSU vs. SDM matchups. But after dropping two road games this past weekend in Colorado, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball squad has to shake it off and prepare for its biggest matchups of the season --- the first Dakota Athletic Conference game.
“It has nothing to do with the fact that it’s BHSU. It just makes it that much more crazy up there. The bottom line is that this is a conference game,” Henry said. “If we were 0-10 coming into this game --- this is the one that is most important.”
The Hardrockers are in fact 5-5 on the season after dropping games to NCAA Division II Colorado School of Mines Friday, 73-64, and Johnson and Wales Saturday in Denver, 75-70.
“We definitely have to come out ready to go (Wednesday), but it is frustrating coming off a weekend where we should have won two games,” Henry said. “But the weekend is over and we need to win our conference game and go into Christmas at 1-0 in the DAC --- no matter who we play.”
The Yellow Jackets are currently 4-6 on the season. After losing five in a row to open the schedule, BHSU rattled off four straight wins before falling to Rocky Mountain College this past weekend in Montana. The Yellow Jackets do have a new cast of characters in the lineup after graduating six seniors from last year’s team.
“They are defiantly guard oriented and they shoot the three pretty well. They had won four games in a row and probably have a lot of confidence,” Henry said. “They definitely have some guys that can shoot it. I wouldn’t say they are up-tempo.”
The Jackets have 10 guards listed in their active lineup. Seniors Andre Goldberg and Jacob Deines along with juniors Forrest Dorr, Pafait Nayigihugu, Corey Doolan, Dan Russell and Sam Kim all play important roles on the team and are all capable of running the offense at any given point over the 40 minute contest. Defensively, BHSU doesn’t do a lot of ball pressure, but does possess that option if they so desire.
“They play behind the post and like to double down and get those guards flying around. But they are capable of pressuring (opponents.)”
One of the main factors in the two losses over the weekend for South Dakota School of Mines was the high amount of turnovers. The Hardrockers will have to get a handle on that to take the upper hand Wednesday. Also The Hardrockers should have somewhat of a height advantage as well as the experience factor working for them. Seniors Casey Schmitz, Blake Tideman and Matt Lyndoe have all been through the whole production many times and will know what to expect, while fellow seniors Brandon Lord and Brandon Fredrickson had two run-ins with the Jackets last year as transfer students.
“It will be a fun game and the kids will be ready to go. It is just a matter of if we can execute and limit our turnovers.”
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.