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November 10, 2015 04:45 PM

MBK: USD Buying Into Coach Smith

Vermillion, SD

In his first year as head coach, Craig Smith, showed that his Coyotes can be a contender in the Summit League. He and his players were at Media Day to discuss their expectations for his second season.

It was a much more energetic Media Day for the USD men compared to years past and for good reason. Head Coach Craig Smith led his Coyotes to a 17-16 record in his first season, while picking up a win in the Summit League Tournament. However his players still want more.

"It felt good and that our hard work was paying off, but we're still not happy. We come into practice every day to do better than we did last year. This season we want to surpass everyone's expectations," USD Senior Guard Tre Burnette said.

In order to do that the Coyotes will have to replace their big man James Hunter as well as the 28 points Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos racked up each game last season. Smith does have the luxury of returning five new seniors and he believes they can carry the load this year.

"Replacing the combination of Brandon and Tyler, who led us in minutes played and were our two leading scorers, means some guys have to step up. We'll see who that is going to be. Is it going to be Casey Kasperbauer, Tre Burnett, or Shy McClelland, or Eric Robertson? I'm not sure who it's going to be, but eventually the cream will rise to the top and we will figure this thing out," Smith said.

The Coyotes will have to figure out their roles against some of the biggest names in the country. On November 20th they will travel to take on K-State. In December they will clash with Minnesota, Illinois, and UNLV before meeting Florida Gulf Coast in the Pentagon on the 28th.

"You play all of those teams to help you prepare for Match Madness and for us to be the best team that we can be at the right time of the year and that is in March," Smith said.

"Obviously that is something that we came into college to do and that is to make the NCAA Tournament. For five of us, this is our last crack at it," Kasperbauer said.

The Coyotes will get their season underway with a three game tournament in Dekalb, Illinois this weekend. Their first game is Friday against Wright State.

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