Countdown to Tip-Off: South Dakota Men

Countdown to Tip-Off: South Dakota Men

2012-13 COUNTDOWN TO TIPOFF // // @summithoops





2011-12 REVIEW
Overall Record: 10-18
Summit League Record (Finish): 5-13 (t-8th)
Postseason: Not eligible (first season)

Head Coach (Season): Dave Boots (25th)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 6/6
Starters Returning/Lost: 1/4
Key Returnees:

Trevor Gruis

  • One of three team co-captains
  • Finished fifth in the Summit League in rebounding (6.7 rpg), 10th in blocked shots (0.8 bpg) and 22nd in scoring (11.3 ppg)
  • Shot 53 percent from the field
  • Totaled 633 points in first two seasons

Juevol Myles

  • One of three team co-captains
  • Sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State
  • Expected to be a significant contributor in his first season with the Coyotes

Jordan Boots

  • One of three team co-captains
  • Son of head coach Dave Boots
  • Made 98 three-pointers in three seasons as a Coyote, shooting at a 34-percent clip
  • Played in 93 career games

Position: 8th
All-League Selections: None

Analysis Excerpts:  South Dakota endured its first losing season since 1987-88 last year, but the Coyotes had a good reason to celebrate the losses just as much as the wins. Why? Because the final game of the 2011-12 season marked the end of South Dakota's four-year transition process from Division II to Division I.

"It's good to be done with transition," said head coach Dave Boots. "We weathered it. We're just trying to build a program to be competitive."

You'd think South Dakota, a longtime D-II powerhouse, could have trotted out an even better recruiting pitch during the transition years. Instead, Boots and his assistants found themselves stuck in a Catch-22. While they needed to get Division I-caliber players in order to compete, those types of players wanted to be with a program that had all of the D-I perks.

"It had a huge impact because you're not eligible to play in any of the tournaments," Boots said. "Every player wants a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. We couldn't offer that. We were involved with a number of kids that we couldn't convince to come here."

South Dakota finally gets to participate in the Summit League tournament, which means there's always a chance the Coyotes can become a part of March Madness. While the odds of that happening are remote this year, it should be a powerful motivator for this youthful group as it grows together.

"Lots of learning has to take place," Boots said. "You can't rush it, though we want to push it as much as possible."

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the "bible" of preseason preview publications, is now in its 32nd printing. To see the complete version of this story, as well as 344 other profiles of Division I schools, order the 400-page 2012-13 edition at or by calling 877-807-4857.


Athlon Sports: 8th 7th
Lindy's Sports: 8th
USA Today: 7th
Yahoo! Sports: 8th

courtesy USD Sports Information

The first thing South Dakota men's basketball fans will notice about their team's 2012-13 roster is that the Coyotes are a brand new team. Gone are four of five starters from a 10-18 squad. In their place step a former Kansas State guard in senior Juevol Myles, two junior-college transfers and three freshmen, all of whom USD fans will get to know well in the months to come.

The constant of the program remains its coaching staff headed by Dave Boots, the leader of the pack now for a quarter century. Boots has nearly 500 wins at USD and enjoyed 23 consecutive winning seasons before receiving a rude welcome by The Summit League and its constituents. A crafty veteran, Boots is making his adjustments.

"This roster has a little bit more than it did a year ago," said Boots. "Our team is deeper and more athletic and that's the direction we are trying to move in terms of recruiting. We have become a fully-eligible Division I program and it is expected that we add to our roster talent wise to be competitive.

"Our talent has improved. It is still not game ready or battle-tested because our team hasn't been through it. That is the next stage in this process."

That stage started in late August when the team crossed the Canadian border and won two games in Winnipeg. Myles averaged 24 points in the series. Boots got a jump on molding his new team.

"Canada was a great trip for us," said Boots. "We were able to have 10 practices before that and it really accelerated our process by being able to teach our system. It will put us ahead of where we normally would be if we did not have that trip."

That's a good thing considering the schedule Boots has put in place. The Coyotes begin with four games in five days, including three at a tournament in Wyoming before traveling to NCAA-qualifier Gonzaga in Washington.

It doesn't get any easier.

The non-conference slate also includes a trip to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes of the Big Ten (Dec. 4) and a New Year's Eve party at Bramlage Coliseum where the Coyotes will meet the Big 12's Kansas State Wildcats. Both competed in postseason tournaments a year ago.

An away-and-home series with a 19-win Ball State program, a home contest with an 18-win Morehead State program (Dec. 19) and a Dec. 22 trip to Green Bay (15-15) will test the Coyotes before the break.

Boots pieced this schedule together with the big picture in mind. He wants this team to be ready for Summit League play and, with all but two players set to return a year from now, he's preparing this squad for future success.

"Our team has arrived from different systems, whether it is high school or junior college, and they are going to have to adjust to our system quickly," said Boots. "Do we get off to a slow start because of it? Possibly. But the goal is that by January or February everyone is acclimated to our program and we can start being a real quality basketball team."

Summit League play crescendos into March and peaks at the conference tournament, this year held March 9-12 in Sioux Falls, where three wins earn you a ticket to the NCAA tournament. With conference newcomer Omaha ineligible for postseason play, the league's remaining eight teams are assured an invitation to Sioux Falls.

"The goal is always to be playing your best at the end of the year," said Boots. "Last year, we were best in our last month at home. This year, we will be on the road at the end of the regular season. If we can win some of those games, we will be ready for the tournament where anything can happen in a few days' time."

Let's meet the team

South Dakota's roster lists 15 names, but two – Trey Norris (North Texas) and Adam Thoseby (Utah State) – will sit a year after moving to Vermillion. That leaves an available roster of 13.

The six returners from a year ago include two of the team's three co-captains in junior center Trevor Gruis and the coach's son, senior guard Jordan Boots (Myles is the third co-captain). Junior guard Steve Tecker started 10 games a year ago. Junior center Jared Bartling (21 GP, 1 start) and sophomores Brandon Bos (22 GP, 2 starts) and Jack Foley (1 GP) also return.

The six newcomers include junior college transfers Tyler Larson (Casper College) and Karim Rowson (Western Oklahoma State) along with freshmen Casey Kasperbauer (Carroll, Iowa), Tyler Flack (Lakeville, Minn.) and Eric Robertson (Wayzata, Minn.). Tucker Volesky (Mitchell, S.D.) is a walk on.

Classify Myles as you wish.

"Trevor, Jordan and Steve have the most experience from last year," said Boots. "Brandon got some experience and Jared played in some games as well. It helped that Juevol spent his year practicing with us so he should be ready to go and he is a quality player. That looks to be our core group of returners.

"Moving on to the new guys, the three freshmen have done a nice job and all are going to play. We think they can help in significant ways. Tyler (Larson) and Karim are athletic, they have some toughness to them and they have good skills. This is the team that is going to try to improve on a year ago."

A closer look at the roster and you will notice only four players labeled either "C" or "F". Don't fret. Boots prides himself on teaching athletes how to excel at multiple positions.

"We are not very conventional when we say you are a forward, you a center, you a guard," said Boots. "We try to move our athletes all around.

"Our guards are interchangeable. Trevor is our five man but he is very comfortable playing around the perimeter. Larson can play three different positions. Steve can play the two, three or four. Tyler Flack is a versatile player who can do that as well."

The frontcourt will revolve around Gruis, Bartling, Flack and Robertson. Gruis averaged 11 points while serving as the team's leading rebounder a season ago. Flack averaged 13 points as a senior at Lakeville North High School. Robertson was a Mr. Basketball semifinalist in the state of Minnesota after averaging 20 points and nine rebounds at Wayzata High School.

"Tyler (Flack) is one of the best athletic big kids we have brought into our program," said Boots. "He is a little raw in a few areas, but he has the ability to score, block shots and rebound.

"Eric is a well-rounded player who is talented both offensively and defensively. He can contribute right away and we like his ability."

The backcourt will be headed by Myles who can play both point and off guard. Myles averaged 12 points as a freshman at Tallahassee Community College before spending his sophomore season at Kansas State where he appeared in 19 games.

"Juevol is a competitor who wants to win," said Boots. "He shoots well, has a nice pull-up jumper and can get to the basket. He has great strength. He's been a terrific leader for a player who has only been with our program for one year."

Jordan Boots has been a 34-percent three-point shooter in three seasons for the Coyotes and has made 98 treys in 93 games. He has also handed out more than 100 assists at USD. Kasperbauer, a four-time, all-state honoree for Carroll High School, averaged 24 points per game as a senior, including a 47-point performance against Winterset.

"We need Jordan to shoot it with more consistency and we need Casey to be a consistent scorer as well," said Boots. "We are not a team that is going to knock down 12-13 threes a game, but we need Jordan and Casey to provide a threat on the perimeter."

Larson and Rowson are expected to play a variety of positions. Larson scored 14 points in both games played in Canada and averaged 12 points last season at Casper College. Rowson was Western Oklahoma State's leading scorer a year ago at 18 points per game. He poured in 40 points in a contest against Seminole State.

"We are going to ask both Tyler (Larson) and Karim to play a lot for us," said Boots. "They are both good defenders and good rebounders. Once they adjust to our system – and they are well on their way – they are going to be great contributors."

Final thoughts

A new team won't change Boots' defensive philosophy. His teams typically offer matchup zones with man-to-man principles. He expects an aggressive defense that provides high energy and has placed an added emphasis on defensive rebounding.

"We haven't taken a big enough step forward in that area as of yet," said Boots. "Our new athleticism might help us from that standpoint."

Offensively, Boots would prefer to get away from the top-heavy scoring that last year's team featured when two players averaged 18 and 16 points per game while nearly everyone else averaged less than six.

"A well-balanced offense has always been a trademark of our success," said Boots. "We need to get back to that and not just with our starters, but with the players who come off the bench. That was a serious weakness a year ago. We need to have 5-7 players on a given night – if they all play well – score in double figures.

"The road we are heading down is important. We have a good core that can get it done on the court and in the classroom. It takes time to get to the top and it has to be done the right way. We will make some strides this year, get more games under our belt and continue to progress towards a bright future."