Game Preview: South Dakota State

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by: John Chase

South Dakota State comes in with a 9-4 record, 2-0 in conference. They lost to the University of North Dakota 89-70 on the road in their last outing. SDST played UND 5 days earlier and won 92-54. Not sure the last time I’ve heard of a team playing two games against a team in less than a week. Not sure I’ve seen a team win by 40 then lose by 20 to the same team a week later either. Not sure what to think of that…

The Jackrabbits of SDST are a high scoring bunch. Their season average is 77 points, but they have 4 games of 92 or more points, including a 97 point game in OT. The Jackrabbits held their opposition to 60 points or less in two of those games. This is a team capable on both ends of the court and average nearly 38 rebounds a game. Second chance points are huge and SDST averages a bit under 12 offensive boards per game. The Huskies need to be more consistent in allowing 10 or less offensive boards. Many 3-point shots come after grabbing an offensive board and against a high scoring team like SDST that is a very real and very dangerous possibility. 6 players have over 10 3-point makes on the year and Griffan Callahan leads the team with 38 makes on 73 attempts.

One of the most dangerous aspects of the SDST team is their ability to get to the line. The Jackrabbits average nearly 24 free throw attempts per game and make around 16 per game. UW will need to play tough defense by sealing the lanes to prevent the type of penetration that often leads to free throws. With the Dawgs possibly rolling out the four guard line-up this could be a lot easier as our guards are much more mobile than some of our big men. Desmond Simmons and Darnell Gant move pretty well, but Martin Breunig and Shawn Kemp are not very quick on defense at times.

Nate Wolters leads the team in scoring with 20.2 points per game, while also adding 5 rebounds and nearly 6 assists. Wolters is also picking up almost 2 steals per game and a bit over 2 turnovers per game. He is also a preseason pick for the Summit Player of the Year. Wolters is a 6-4 190lb guard who is extremely dangerous and I fully expect Terrence Ross or C.J. Wilcox to take on this duty after controlling UCSB’s star pretty well in the second half. Wolters is an prolific scorer who had a career high of 36 and already a 32 point game on the year. Containing and controlling Wolters is a huge key to winning this game.

Griffan Callahan is another tough body who is averaging over 11 points per game as well as a team high 6.2 boards per game. His 39% 3-point shooting is also a team high and he looks to be a very dangerous player as well. Callahan has three 20+ point games this season, but is on a streak of five games of 11 or less. His season high of 25 included 7 of 11 from deep. Callahan is a streaking shooter who is definitely looking to break out of a resent slump. Callahan clocks in at 6-4 200lb, meaning C.J. Wilcox, or even Tony Wroten, will likely draw this assignment as he is a superb shot blocker on the perimeter and knows how to read a 3-point specialist like himself.

Brayden Carlson rounds out their starting guards and also stands at 6-4 and 186lb. Unlike Wolters and Callahan, Carlson is not a high scoring guard, averaging only 6 points and 3 boards per game. Carlson also dishes out 3 assists and 2 turnovers per game. He has a season high of 11 points, but is on a streak of two straight 3 point outings.

Chad White comes off the bench as a 6-6 198lb guard and is third in scoring at 9 points per game, grabbing around 4 boards as well.

Jordan Dykstra and Tony Fiegen start in the frontcourt for the Jackrabbits. They stand at 6-8 222lb and 6-7 215lb respectively and combine for 15 points and 8 boards. The tallest player on the roster stands at 6-9, which is great for UW who will be without 7-0 Aziz N’Diaye until conference play. The Jackrabbit offense starts with the backcourt and is filled out by the frontcourt, similar to how UW itself operates.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:

South Dakota:

G – Brayden Carlson 6-4 186lb
G – Nate Wolters 6-4 190lb
G – Griffan Callahan 6-4 200lb
F – Tony Fiegen 6-7 215lb
F – Jordan Dykstra 6-8 222lb

Washington:

G – Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
G – C.J. Wilcox 6-5 190lb
G – Tony Wroten 6-5 205lb
F – Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
F – Darnell Gant 6-8 225lb

Keys to the Game:

  • Free Throws – Wolters is a fantastic free throw shooter and went 7-7 in his last game. He gets to the line and usually makes about 3/4 of them. The Huskies can be a great free throw shooting team depending on who gets to the line. I give Wroten a ton of credit for working hard to the rack to get foul shots, but he needs to convert them at a higher rate. Wilcox and Ross need to take a page out of our point guards’ books and get to the line. Drive hard, create space with a cross over, fake pass, something…It’s easy enough to pump fake a shot and then jump into contact. UW could have pulled away from UCSB in the final minutes, but four straight free throws misses by UW made it a 3 point game rather than a 7 point game.
  • Rebounding – The biggest difference between SDST’s two games against UND was the rebounding. In the win the Jackrabbits pulled down 42 boards, in the loss only 27. Limiting the 3-point shooting starts by preventing second chance opportunities. UW did a fairly solid job last game without N’Diaye on the court, getting three players with 7 or more boards, but they allowed 14 offensive boards and 40 total boards. The Huskies need to do a bit better screen their guys and boxing out to grab the defensive boards.
  • Ball Movement – While it’s pretty impressive that we scored 87 points with only 8 assists, I don’t like how much our players are having to create on their own. This comes down to Romar and staff not drawing up solid plays. The movement and press options have improved, but are still a work in progress. Our players also need to understand how to give their shooters more opportunities. I love that Wroten is taking 20 shots and scoring 27 points, but when our two best shooters have less shots combined than Wroten, that is a bit strange and unacceptable. Drive and dish is a fantastic way to get some open looks on the perimeter as it collapses the defense.

Final Score Prediction: UW-88 SDST-75

I think this is a good match-up for the Huskies. The Jackrabbits play an uptempo game with similarly sized players. I think our line-up is more well rounded and we have a bit better post players in Gant and Simmons. Our guard play should be superior as well, but the Jackrabbits are not exactly scrubs themselves. Controlling Wolters will be a big priority and in turn the Dawgs need to keep on eye on sharpshooters like Callahan. If the Huskies can come out quick and put some pressure on SDST, they will be doing themselves a huge favor. I’d like to see some aggressiveness from Ross and Wilcox to compliment Wroten and Gaddy. If all four can show they are legitimate threats in the paint, our outside shots will open up and we could have ourselves quite a show.

Go Dawgs!