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While most people tend to over indulge during the Thanksgiving Holiday and talk themselves into that extra turkey leg, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team will more than likely opt for a lighter meal
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- While most people tend to over indulge during the Thanksgiving Holiday and talk themselves into that extra turkey leg, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team will more than likely opt for a lighter meal.
The Hardrockers will be hosting the US Bank Thanksgiving Classic men’s hoops tournament Friday and Saturday at the King Center, and with the quick, up-tempo style of play their opponents bring, a few extra pounds may hurt.
South Dakota Mines will square off with Haskell Indians Nations University (Kan.) Friday followed by a bout with Johnson and Wales out of Denver, Colo., Saturday. Both teams are fast and have up-tempo characteristics.
The Hardrockers enter the two-day event after posting a win over a very patient and determined Montana Tech team last Saturday in Rapid City. The Rockers defeated the Orediggers, 62-55.
“Our defensive intensity was back. That was nice to come out and see,” said Hardrocker head coach Jason Henry. “When you don’t shoot the ball overly well in a game you need to pick it up else where. That team was averaging 70 points a game and they only got 55 against us.”
In preparing for this weekend’s tournament, Henry said his team will continue to keep the defensive effort and have been working on the same things in practice since the start of the season.
“We are still doing the same type of stuff. It’s preseason still, so we are 80 percent worried about ourselves and only 20 concerned with the other teams,” he said. “We are trying to get our post active, and getting them healthy is a big part of what we are working on.”
Andrew Brown, a Division I transfer (NDSU) from Dickinson, N.D., has not fully healed from an ankle injury during the team’s California trip two weeks ago, but Henry said the 6-foot-8-inch junior is progressing and is about 70 percent. Brown got some playing time against Montana Tech where he netted 11 points and five rebounds.
Henry added that working on passing and making good decisions has also been stressed in practice.
The Haskell Fighin’ Indians show a lot of youth on their roster. They have six freshmen listed, one sophomore, three juniors and just one senior. They are 1-5 on the season, but that record may be a little deceiving.
“They are competitive. In the five losses that they have had they have led in three of them during the last four minutes (of the game),” Henry said. “They haven’t been blown out and they are playing good teams.”
Haskell was set to have a number of veteran players in the lineup this season but that fell through and they were forced to throw some of the underclassmen into the mix.
“They have a big post (6-7 freshman Lewis Rideshorse) inside and they also have some good shooters and guys that can get to the basket,” Henry added. “They like to get up and down the floor. They are pretty quick. They are not overly deep by any means but they do have guys that are fast.” The Hardrockers won’t get any relief during Saturday’s matchup when they are pitted against JWU. The Wildcats are still very fresh into their season and are still looking to pick up their first win of the year, but that doesn’t mean they are not a competitive unit.
“They are very very quick,” Henry said. “They have a point guard that is averaging about 20 points a game (6-1 junior Eric Daniels). He doesn’t shoot the three overly well but he can put the ball on the ground and get to the basket --- just create some different things for different guys. They have guys that are spot-up shooters and he just creates so much for them. He is a guy that has to be contained.”
The Wildcats are mainly made up of juniors, with seven on the roster. They also have one senior, four sophomores and four freshmen. They don’t have a lot of height, but should be able to get by with three 6-5 athletes in the lineup.
According to Henry, the Wildcats like to get up in their opponents face and take away the passing lanes. Do the little things that make playing that much tougher.
But despite the run and gun philosophy that both teams are prone to, Henry feels his team should match up just fine.
“We are deeper than both of those teams. I don’t know how much they will be pressing and doing all that stuff,” he said. “We still have to do the things that we need to do offensively and defensively and not get into their style of play.
Black Hills State will take on Johnson and Wales Friday at 6 p.m. followed by the Haskell-SDM game at 8 p.m. The Yellow Jackets will then square off with Haskell Saturday at 4 p.m. and the Hardrockers will take on the Wildcats at 6 p.m.
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