The University of Sioux Falls football team surprised many in its first season as a member of the Northern Sun. Now it's the basketball teams' turn to see what they can do.
This Saturday the Cougar men will hit the road for its first NSIC game ever.
"It's finally here and we're pretty excited about it," senior forward David Maxwell said.
After a year of transition with no shot at postseason glory, USF has reached Division II and the Cougars are ready to make their NSIC basketball debut this weekend.
"Football got to play their schedule and we all went to their games. It was pretty cool. Just the atmosphere of those games is so much better being in the NSIC than in the GPAC. That just got us more excited," Maxwell said.
The Cougars kept pace and more on the gridiron this season creating higher expectations for the rest of the schools programs. While the men's basketball team won 20 games last year, there are a lot of new faces on the roster and they're in for a tougher task than in seasons past.
"Luckily for us this year we're playing about 12 guys so we're a little more equipped for that, just the style of play that we're implementing this year. You got to worry about your guys legs and mentally and physically just trying to keep them alert and ready to go at all times," head coach Chris Johnson said.
USF will tip off its conference schedule with three road games. Picked to finish last in the South division, the Cougars are anxious to see where they fit in.
"There's not going to be any games where you can just roll out there and just expect to win no matter how you play," Maxwell said.
A stout defense will help on the road. USF has allowed an average of just 49 points per game so far this season.
Tip off for Saturday's game in Marshall is set for 7 p.m. The USF women will also make their NSIC debut at SMSU, they get underway before the men at 5 p.m.