VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO)- The USD men’s basketball team finished 13-17 a year ago with a first round loss in the Summit League Tournament to Purdue-Fort Wayne. The Coyotes will look to improve on last season as head coach Todd Lee enters his second season.
“I feel like we’re a lot more focused this year and we’re focused on our common goal as a team. I feel like us veterans coming back for our second year under coach Lee, we all know it’s less teaching and more adding on to what we already know,” USD Junior guard Stanley Umude said.
“I really just like the intensity that we’ve been showing even in the fall workouts and I don’t think we’ve dropped off any from fall workouts to practice. I really like the intensity and we’ve got a lot of guys and a little more depth this year, so practice has been a little more competitive and we’re just showing up every day and getting after it,” USD Senior guard Triston Simpson said.
The Coyotes return nine players from last season including their leading scorer Stanley Umude. Umude averaged over 14 points per game last season which has led to him being named the Summit League preseason player of the year.
“He’s way better right now, than he was last year, because he’s had a spring and a summer and a fall of competing, going hard, going hard in drills, competing every day and he’s a much better player. I think it all comes from the fact that he has learned how important it is to go hard and compete,” USD Head Coach Todd Lee said.
“The most change this year for me is becoming a leader and being more vocal out there every day and getting people going by being responsible for not just myself but my teammates as well,” Umude said.
The Coyotes also return Tyler Hagedorn who missed all of last season with an injury. Hagedorn averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds per game two seasons ago and should add even more experience to this team.
“For me personally, I think the redshirt year was great. It really slowed things down for me and made me be able to get stronger and older and more mature. I think this year will be a really good year for me and us as a squad,” USD redshirt Senior forward Tyler Hagedorn said.
USD enters the season with five seniors and two juniors which allows the veteran players to help lead the program.
“We go into practice and our veterans are leading the programs and they are teaching every body in the program. We are more refining things now, as opposed to teaching and that’s very important, because great teams are led by the players,” Lee said.
The Coyotes return a lot of experience and talent which led to USD being ranked second in the Summit League preseason coaches’ poll and has the team thinking about winning the Summit League.
“If we don’t go to the NCAA tournament, it’ll be a disappointing season. We’ve got 5 of our top 6 back and then you add Hags, and then we add some depth, we had some redshirts. We feel good about where we are. But it’s going to be a wide open race I think. Anybody can get beat on any given night. But I believe, our guys, I know our guys’ goal is to win the Summit League regular season, and then the Summit League Tournament, and if we don’t it’s a disappointing year,” Lee said.
“We have a lot of talent on this team and it’s big to have Tyler Hagedorn back, but we also return four starters so the experience is there. We’ve got some older guys who have been through the whole division one, college basketball season and this will be our fourth time and I really think we have the experience and we’ve got the talent and that’s definitely our number one goal for the season,” Simpson said.
The Coyotes open the year with an exhibition in Vermillion against Concordia-St. Paul. The first game of the season will be at the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii against the Pacific Tigers.