With their first-ever run to the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level behind them, the Jackrabbits begin their quest to return to the Big Dance on Friday, when they open the 2012-13 season against Southeastern Conference foe Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.
South Dakota State returns four of the five starters and all but two letterwinners from last year's squad that tied the school record for wins in a season with 27, compared to just eight losses. In addition to the three wins in The Summit League Championships that propelled the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Tournament, the Jacks picked up notable wins at Washington on Dec. 18, and at home against Buffalo on Feb. 18, in the first-ever nationally televised game from Frost Arena. The Jacks also won all three games at the CBE Classic Macon Subregional in Macon, Ga., with wins over Niagara, Sam Houston State and host Mercer.
A relative unknown to many last season, the Jackrabbits don't expect to sneak up on any opponents this season after gaining exposure during the run to the NCAA Tournament. In total, SDSU plays a total of 11 teams that qualified for the postseason in 2011-12, including four NCAA Tournament teams.
The three straight games against NCAA Tournament teams starts at Montana on Dec. 15, followed by games at Belmont on Dec. 19 and at New Mexico on Dec. 22, when the Jacks return to "The Pit" the same Arena where they played Baylor last season in the NCAA Tournament.
The Summit League looks a little different now with the addition of former North Central Conference foe Omaha (Nebraska-Omaha) and the loss of Oral Roberts and Southern Utah, but still requires the Jacks to stay focused in league play.
The schedule also includes a BracketBusters game on the road on Feb. 23 against an undetermined opponent.
RABBITS ON THE RADIO - Originated from the AM 570 WNAX studios in Yankton, S.D., SDSU men's basketball games can be heard on a total of five stations throughout South Dakota on the Jackrabbit Sports Network.
- 570 AM - WNAX - Yankton
- 910 AM - KJJQ "The Ranch" - Brookings
- 1060 AM - KGFX - Pierre
- 1480 AM KSDR - Watertown
- 1490 AM - KORN - Mitchell
Pierre, S.D., native Tyler Merriam returns for his second season as the voice of Jackrabbit men's basketball, and also serves as the voice of Jackrabbit football.
Radio play-by-play veteran Warren Swain fills in for Merriam in this weekend's opener at Alabama.
THE JACKRABBIT EXTRA ON GoJacks.com - Subscribers to the Jackrabbit Extra on GoJacks.com watch every Jackrabbit home game and select road games streaming live on the internet. In addition, subscribers can listen to every game, home and on the road, streaming live on the internet.
To learn more about the Jackrabbit Extra, or to subscribe, log onto GoJacks.com and click on "SIGN UP NOW"
THE JACKRABBIT INSIDER ON FOX - Fans of South Dakota State Athletics can get a weekly behind-the-scenes look at all 21 Jackrabbit varsity sports teams by tuning into "The Jackrabbit Insider."
Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the show airs on Sundays on KTTW FOX 17 at 10:30 p.m., and can also be seen on Fox Sports North at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.
JACKS POST FIRST 20-WIN SEASON AT DIVISON I - The South Dakota State Men's Basketball team beat UMKC 75-62 on Feb. 11, for their 20th win of the season, and first at the Division I level. The program now boasts 20 seasons with at least 20 wins, nine of which came during the Scott Nagy era.
JACKS TIE SCHOOL RECORD FOR WINS - Scott Nagy led the Jackrabbits to a school record 27-win season in 2003-04, the program's final season in Division II, and equaled that mark in 2011-12 with a 27-8 record.
WOLTERS CLIMBS THE 1,000-POINT CLUB LADDER - Nate Wolters became the 42nd member of the SDSU 1,000-Point Club in a win over Sam Houston State on Nov. 22, and instantly began the climb up the all time list. He enters his senior season with 1,628 career points, good for fourth all-time at SDSU.
WOLTERS SETS SDSU JUNIOR SCORING RECORD - Already the SDSU sophomore scoring record holder, Nate Wolters added the junior scoring record to his list of accomplishments in the Jacks 75-64 win over IUPUI on Feb. 25, 2012. Wolters finished his junior season with 721 points, breaking the previous record by 88 points.
WOLTERS CHASES ALL-TIME SCORING RECORD - Nate Wolters scored 907 points in his first two years as a Jackrabbit, including the SDSU sophomore record with 604 points. His SDSU junior record of 721 points gives him 1,628 career points, leaving him 304 points shy of breaking the SDSU of 1,931.
COUNTDOWN TO 1,OOO-POINT MILESTONE - Junior Jordan Dykstra scored 351 points as a freshman and 362 points as a sophomore, which gives him 713 for his career, 287 points shy of becoming the 43rd member of the SDSU 1,000-Point Club.
MORE THAN JUST A SCORER - In addition to his scoring prowess, Nate Wolters continues his climb up the all-time assists charts at SDSU. His 188 assists as a sophomore represents the third best single-season total in SDSU history, and his 202 as a junior marks the second-highest single-season total at SDSU. Adding to that, his 476 career assists ranks second all-time at SDSU, 130 shy of breaking the all-time mark of 605 assists.
PERFECT AT HOME - SDSU capped its third-ever perfect season at home with a 75-64 win over IUPUI on Feb. 25, 2012 for a perfect 14-0 mark at Frost Arena. The win also makes it 17 in a row for the Jacks at home.
SDSU went a perfect 18-0 at home in 1984-85, and 17-0 in the 2002-03.
NOT JUST NATE - Nate Wolters led the Jacks with 21.2 points per game last year and reached double figures in all 34 games he played, but he got plenty of help. In addition to Wolters' 34 games in double figures, the Jackrabbits combined for 84 double-figure performances in 35 games.
At least four Jackrabbits scored 10 points in the same game 15 times last season, with four players reaching double figures nine times, five players reaching double figures five times and six players once.
DYKSTRA SETS SDSU THREE-POINT RECORD - Jordan Dykstra made his final two three-point attempts vs. Buffalo on Feb. 18, 2012, went 5-for-5 from beyond the arc against Western Illinois on Feb. 23, 2012, and made his first four three-point attempts vs. IUPUI in Feb. 25, 2012. That marks 11 consecutive three-pointers over a span of three games and a new SDSU record, breaking the old mark of nine in a row.
NAGY NOTCHES 300th CAREER WIN - Already the most prolific coach in SDSU history, head coach Scott Nagy entered the 2011-12 season with 289 wins, just 11 shy of reaching the 300-win milestone, which he reached in the Jackrabbits 94-58 win over IPFW on Dec. 28, 2012. Nagy finished the 2011-12 season with a 316-198 career record and a .615 winning percentage.
2012-13 SOUTH DAKOTA
STATE SEASON PREVIEW
In its fifth year in The Summit League, and after four years of full Division I eligibility, South Dakota State finally reached it's goal of winning the league championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament, something the Jackrabbits would like to repeat in 2012-13.
"We reached one of our goals last year in reaching the NCAA Tournament, but just getting there doesn't mean that we accomplished every goal we set," head coach Scott Nagy said. "We can't rest on our laurels, especially if we want to get back to the tournament."
The Jackrabbits lose just one starter from the team that tied a school-record with 27 wins last year, and return a total of eight letterwinners, including all-Summit League first team selection Nate Wolters.
The only player in NCAA Division I ranks to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game last year, Wolters led the Jackrabbits with 21.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in 2011-12, setting the SDSU junior scoring record with 721 points in the process.
A St. Cloud, Minn., native, Wolters enters his senior season with 1,628 career points and 476 assists, which puts him on pace to break the school's all-time scoring mark of 1,931 points and the all-time assists mark of 605.
In addition to Wolters, the Jackrabbits return all-league second team selection Jordan Dykstra, who overcame an early season injury to average 11.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Now a junior, the 6-8 forward from Rock Valley, Iowa, can score from anywhere on the floor, which he proved during a three game stretch in February, when he set an SDSU record by making 11 consecutive three-pointers.
Senior forward Tony Fiegen and junior guard Brayden Carlson also return to the starting lineup, and even though they combined for 20 double-digit scoring performances in 2011-12, they do the dirty work on defense for the Jackrabbits.
"We think Tony is one of the best, if not the best, defenders in the league," Nagy said. "The work that he and Brayden do night in and night out doesn't always show up in the box score, but they both make teams earn every point they get, and we need that again this year."
The Jackrabbits need that defense to fill the role of Griffan Callahan, the lone starter lost and the lone senior from the 2011-12 squad. In addition to his defense, the Jacks need to replace Callahan's 10.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Junior Chad White and sophomore Taévaunn Prince enter the season as the front-runners to fill the void left by Callahan. White averaged 9.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last year, while Prince averaged 6.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in his first season as a Jackrabbit.
"I'm not worried about scoring points, I know we can do that," Nagy said. "We need guys to step into that leadership role and we need guys to play defense and rebound the basketball, stuff Griff did for this team every night."
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT
Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0, 0-0 SEC) - Picked to finish sixth in the Southeastern Conference in a preseason poll of both SEC and national media members, the Crimson Tide enter the 2012-13 season after posting a 21-12 record last season, when they fell to Creighton in their first NCAA Tournament game by a score of 58-57.
Alabama returns four starters, all guards, and a total of eight letterwinners from last year's squad that went 9-7 in SEC play and fell 66-63 in the second round of the conference tournament to Florida, after opening the event with a 63-57 win over South Carolina.
Like the Jackrabbits, the Crimson Tide played just one exhibition game, defeating Stillman College by a 76-68 score on Nov. 6.
Alabama sophomore Nick Jacobs scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed five rebounds in the victory, which featured 10 ties and 12 lead changes before Alabama took control on the strength of a 12-3 run over a 4:24 stretch the spanned the end of the first half and beginning of the second. The run by the Crimson Tide turned a six-point deficit into a three-point lead.
From there, the Alabama extended its lead by as many as 15 points, 69-54, with 4:09 remaining, before the Tigers made a late rally.
The Series vs. Alabama - First Meeting
The Jackrabbits Last
Game: Nov. 1 vs. Black Hills State (Exhibition)
South Dakota State opened its lone exhibition game of the season on a 13-0 run, and never let the visiting Black Hills State Yellow Jackets get any closer than 11 points the rest of the way in an 89-66 win in Frost Arena.
The Jacks answered the Yellow Jackets first score with five more points to go up 17-2 and held onto a comfortable lead for the duration, which allowed 13 SDSU players to see at least nine minutes and 12 of those 13 score points.
Taévaunn Prince led the Jackrabbits with 17 points off the bench on 7-of-11 shooting. Jordan Dykstra added 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including a perfect 2-for-2 mark from three-point range. Nate Wolters scored nine points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out three assists in the win.
Zach Horstman led the defense with five rebounds in just 10 minutes on the floor and added six points.
Black Hills State's Tanner Adler led all players with 32 points, including a 7-for-11 night from long distance. Brody Brisk added 11 and Joey Mitchell 10 points in the loss.
NEXT UP FOR THE JACKRABBITS - The Jackrabbits come home to begin the home schedule on Tuesday against Tennessee State inside Frost Arena at 7 p.m.