The Summit League Tournament will take over Sioux Falls beginning this Saturday; however the five time defending champion SDSU women will have to wait a few days until they hit the court.
The Jackrabbit women clinched their fifth regular season Summit League title in the last seven years with a record of 13-1. Head Coach Aaron Johnston's team is looking to win its sixth consecutive tournament, but he knows this team hasn't won anything to defend.
"We never really take it as a defending idea or what we have done in the past type of approach. This is a brand new tournament, a lot of faces are going to be brand new, we will just have to see how it plays out," SDSU Women's Head coach Aaron Johnston said.
"Every team is going to give us their best game. We just need to enter each game with confidence and knowing that the target is on our backs," SDSU Junior Guard Megan Waytashek said.
With the tournament only an hour from Brookings, it is no secret that South Dakota State fills up the most seats. It is that fan support that has propelled the blue bunnies to a 15-0 record at the Sioux Falls Arena.
"It's awesome to run out on the court for the first time and see everybody stand up on their feet. That is a unique and awesome experience to have. It is definitely special for us South Dakota girls to see all of the fan support," SDSU Senior Guard Tara Heiser said.
In years past, the Jacks have been led by several key players. This year's squad is the definition of team. They have nine players averaging five points or more, with three of them being freshman.
"It has been nice to see how everyone on this team contributes. Each player whether they are young or old, freshman or senior, plays really well. Everyone knows their role on the team and can really step up at any time," SDSU Senior Guard Steph Paluch said.
This is the third year in a row that SDSU enters as the number-one seed, but it is the first that they will have bye in round one. The Jacks will await the winner of either USD or Western Illinois.
"It will be different because it will be our first game and their second. Some of those early nerves may have already left either team, but for us it will be brand new out there. We are looking forward to getting on the court and seeing how we can do," Johnston said.
SDSU will play Monday at noon and will only have to win two games to punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament.