VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — The USD Men’s Basketball team will be under new direction this season, as former Coyotes assistant Eric Peterson takes over the program. With plenty of experience returning, the expectations in Vermillion are high.
Though Eric Peterson previously served as an assistant at USD, no one on the current roster was here during that time.
“Everything is new, and just getting in the gist of having to get new plays, new everything, new defense, new players. It’s just like coming into a new program again,” Senior Guard Mason Archambault said.
The Coyotes have 8 returners from a season ago and eight new faces in the locker room.
“For the guys that are now, it’s just bringing them along right. It’s like having your best friend with you when you meet someone new. It’s easy you know what I mean. You can bounce things off of them. It’s just easy to work new guys in when you have such strong bonds with those that stayed,” Senior Damani Hayes said.
One of those returners is a name very familiar to Coyote fans as A.J. Plitzuweit is back after missing all of last season due to an injury.
“Yeah, we talked a lot about getting his body right and getting into the weight room and just having that body to play an entire season again. I’m just proud of him that he’s back and he’s fighting though it,” Head Coach Eric Peterson said.
With Plitzuweit, Kruz Perrot-Hunt, Mason Archambault all returning, and former Dakota Valley standout Paul Bruns transferring in, the Coyotes backcourt is loaded. But perhaps the biggest key to their success this year will be the continued development in the post.
“A lot of people say guards win games, and they do, but if you don’t have an inside game, it’s hard to make a deep run. It’s hard to win a conference championship when you don’t have an inside game,” Peterson said.
While the coaching staff is new, and each player’s role may differ, their ultimate goal has never changed.
“I sat down with Mason in my office, and asked Mason what if your role is not the same, Coach I just want to win. Kruz, what if your roles isn’t the same, Coach I just want to win. And it was the same message from every single player I talked to,” Peterson said.
USD opens its season on Monday, November 7th at the University of Wisconsin.