terry vandrovec

Hanson + Creighton = perfect sense

A little bonus blog for you in response to the news that Pierre (and Dakota Schoolers) forward Zach Hanson has given a verbal commitment to play men’s basketball at Creighton.

For as much as local fans figured the 6-foot-9 would either go big (he had offers from Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa State) or stay close to home (SDSU, USD, NDSU), the Bluejays are perhaps the perfect fit in terms of what he was looking for. Relatively close to home, top-10 fan support, a history of success (17 NCAA tournament berths) and the potential to play early.

Plus, Jays coach Greg McDermott is a proven coach with strong Midwest ties who runs a system that can do big things with skilled big men (i.e. Doug McDermott, an All-American last season).

Thinking he might stay in SoDak was little more than wishful thinking on the part of fans – even after SDSU made the Big Dance. Hanson’s top five were all out of state. There’s nothing wrong with his line of thinking and there’s nothing wrong with the local coaches who didn’t land him. In this case, Creighton simply had more to offer. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Sioux Falls can Purdue it

So I’m back from Albuquerque … and West Lafayette. But I’m still trying to wrap my head around the big-picture ideas that emerged from South Dakota State’s double dance.

In the meantime, I definitely learned one thing while at the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament at Purdue: Sioux Falls is capable of hosting a future regional once the new events center is built. No question. If I wasn’t sure before, I am now.

Here’s why.

The Boilermakers drew less than 3,000 fans for their game. Less than 3,000. There’s no circumstance – none – where SDSU (and maybe even USD) would play a regional game that close to home and have less than 3,000 fans attend. In fact, some Summit League tournament games sans a local attraction has drawn that. And attendance is paramount in the women’s game, the entire event is built around that.

The cities of West Lafayette and Lafayette aren’t vastly different or better than Sioux Falls in terms of amenities. However, Sioux Falls would make it a bigger deal, the talk of the town just as it has down with the Summit tournament.

Sioux Falls can also handle the organizational part. For example, the media hotel was both not very nice and not near downtown or the venue. Hospitality (in terms of food, friendliness, etc.) wasn’t as good as it is during the Summit tournament. Unlike some sites (say, Texas Tech or Xavier), the press conference setup was typical of a regular-season game (i.e. no massive practice gyms or stages were necessary). What’s more, parents and boosters were allowed into the press conferences, some of them breaking out into a clap when a piece of information was announced. That’s does not happen at events run by the Sioux Falls Sports Authority.

Keep in mind a women’s regional consists of just four teams playing three games. Again, it’s not even as large of an undertaking as the Summit tournament. (It also pales in comparison to a men’s regional, which incorporates eight teams, far more fans and powerful national media.)

As for travel? Well, three teams that traveled were able to take charter flights right into town. Others (fans, media, etc., not that there were many) had to fly into Indianapolis and drive 65 miles or fly into Chicago and drive more than two hours. Sioux Falls doesn’t have an ideal flight schedule, but it’s not all that different than West Lafayette (or Lubbock, Texas, where the SDSU women have been sent before).

Honestly, the only thing that could stand in Sioux Falls’ way is scheduling with other events (boys basketball state tournaments?) or butting so close to the Summit League tournament. But I doubt that would stand in the way. Why? Because Sioux Falls genuinely welcomes major events, backing that up with attendance, media interest and corporate sponsorship. Purdue seemed lukewarm about it, maybe the product of hosting so often over the years.

Whatever the reason, an event like this is there for the taking as soon as 2015. Think about what the city’s Summit tourney track record will look like by then? Here’s hoping the NCAA takes an honest and open look at the bid whenever it is placed.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

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49ers tight end Vernon Davis, recently named one of the top 100 players in the NFL, appeared at a Sioux Falls business on Wednesday as a surprise for employees.

Valley Football teleconference 10/26

Some news and notes from this week’s Missouri Valley Football Conference coaches call:

Western Illinois (2-5) visits Youngstown State (4-3), a squad that stayed in the playoff picture with a home win over St. Francis last week.
Penguins coach Eric Wolford is wary of the Leathernecks in light of their 50-percent rate on third-down conversions. But his team was able to get rested and build some depth in last week’s lopsided win.

Illinois State (5-3) is back in the top 25 at No. 22 after consecutive wins over ranked teams (South Dakota, Indiana State), but faces another stiff task in heading to Southern Illinois (2-5). The Salukis will miss the playoffs for the second straight season, but have proven plenty formidable in losing close contests to top-5 teams Northern Iowa and North Dakota State in the last month. They’ve also won four in a row against the Redbirds.
“All we’re talking about right now is getting better,” ISU coach Brock Spack said of the playoff possibilities.

No. 18 Indiana State (5-3) is idle Saturday and hosts NDSU next week. The Sycamores will have “evening scrimmages” this week in which the redshirt guys play with the veterans calling the plays.

In the game of the week and maybe the game of the year in the league, No. 2 Northern Iowa (6-1) travels to No. 3 NDSU (7-0) for the sixth meeting between top 10 teams in Valley history. It’s also a meeting between the top two scoring defenses in the country. Both also excel in turnover margin.
The Bison have yet to beat the Panthers since moving to the FCS level.
“You can’t get a ticket,” NDSU coach Craig Bohl said. “It is arguably the biggest game we’ve played in the Fargodome.”

Finally, SDSU (2-6) travels to Missouri State (1-7) in a homecoming game that will air on KDLT and Mediacom.
Oddly enough, both teams are receiving top-25 votes, the Jacks in the media poll and the Bears in the coaches poll.
“Maybe people don’t pay attention to record and just think good league, decent program, let’s give them some votes,” SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said. “But, surely, we should not be getting votes in any poll.”
The Bears are coming off their first win of the season, taking down Western Illinois 31-17 in Macomb. Like the Jacks, they have a young quarterback in sophomore Trevor Wooten.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Question of the Week: The Cloud

Rejoice, fellow nerds - we’re talking tech today.

If you’ve ready anything that I’ve produced in the past week, you know that the hard drive on my work laptop - my informational home for the past four years - died Saturday. I lost everything - stories, research, pictures, videos, music, templates.

The only thing that was recoverable: the raw notes from my upcoming sports psychology series. Turns out it was a really, really good thing I worked a desk shift earlier in the week - it gave me time to upload that stuff into The Cloud … just in case.

The Cloud. Oh, The Cloud. Do you know about The Cloud? In case you don’t, it’s basically an all-encompassing reference to backing up the information on your computer by saving it on a server. It’s not an entirely new idea, but I haven’t done much with it until this week. Previously, I’ve been living dangerously aside from copying family photos onto CDs in addition to storing them on a hard drive.

That’s the Question of the Week: Do you Cloud? (Can I use that as a verb?) Why or why not? Does the idea of entrusting an off-site computer (controlled by a person) bother you? Do you also use an external hard drive just in case?

It sure seems like this could be the future of information backup … unless it’s not. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Basketball notebook

Here are some South Dakota State basketball notes: 

Incoming Wisconsin transfer point guard George Marshall can’t play in a game for SDSU until the middle of next season. But he can start practicing next week once classes begin. He plans to be productive with that.
“Spent a lot of time working on my game and at the same time preparing the team for conference play coming up and the rest of the games throughout this year,” he said. “It’s definitely an important time for me.”

The addition of Marshall means that SDSU could end up getting big minutes from two transfer guards next season as Iowa Lakes All-American Deondre Parks is already signed and off to a hot start in his sophomore season.
Through 13 games, Parks is putting up 24.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals in 25.9 minutes per game. He’s shooting 53.3 percent from the field, 48.5 percent from deep and 83.3 percent from the foul line, where he’s getting 8.0 attempts per game.
Parks is viewed as a combo guard whereas Marshall is more of a true point. Both are smaller and quicker than their recent predecessors.   

SDSU coach Scott Nagy said that the postponed game at Buffalo is likely to be rescheduled for next season. The Bulls were hoping to play the Friday game on Sunday, but the Jacks weren’t certain they’d be able to get there in time due to flight issues in large chunks of the country.

As if a first career start wasn’t memorable enough, SDSU freshman forward Chynna Stevens made hers at No. 2-ranked Notre Dame on Thursday. She filled in for injured senior Hannah Strop.
The 6-footer from Clark - the second Jacks true frosh to make a start already this season - finished with seven points, five rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes.  
“It felt bigger than usual, but we still have to go into it trying to play it like a normal game,” said Stevens, who is averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds. “That was the intention.”
As for Strop, she didn’t practice last week and will be evaluated in the coming days for her availability for Thursday-Saturday home games. Coach Aaron Johnston said he wasn’t sure what label - questionable, doubtful, probable - to put on her. 

The SDSU women finish with nine non-conference, regular-season wins. That’s their third-most since joining the Summit in 2007-08 behind 2008-09 (14) and 2012-13 (11). The three regular-season wins over power-conference teams is tied for its second-best total since joining the Summit behind 2008-09 (five) and tied with 2012-13. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Fun Friday at Frost

So tonight’s got some potential, huh? South Dakota State hosts Oakland in Summit League men’s basketball. (I’ll be live blogging starting at 6:30.) The contest features:

* two teams picked to finish in the top 3 of the improving conference
* two teams that have spent in the mid-major top-25 and own wins over power-conference clubs
* two of the top 25 (according to some) point guards in all of NCAA Division I hoops in Nate Wolters and Reggie Hamilton (the reasons there will be an NBA scout on hand)
* the two-time defending league champs against an upstart that is 1-9 in the short series.

Plus, the Golden Grizzlies are coming off their fourth-worst Summit loss Wednesday, the same night the Jacks picked up their most lopsided win since joining the conference.

Some people have been asking if this is the biggest regular-season game SDSU has hosted since moving to the D-I level in 2004-05. My response to that: It might be … for now.

Think about what’s in front of the Jacks (and area basketball fans) the next few weeks besides a visit from this talented Oakland club: They’ll host the University of South Dakota for the first time in eight years; they’ll host preseason conference pick Oral Roberts (a recent winner over Xavier and Texas Tech); they’ll host rival North Dakota State (a team they haven’t beaten in forever); they’ll host an ESPNU BracketBusters game (potentially on national TV?) and they’ll host IUPUI and NBA prospect Alex Young.

Soak that up for a second. That’s good stuff, especially at a time when the Jacks are in position to prove themselves as contenders rather than just trying to pull off an upset. They’ll have to defend that title every night out.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that SDSU had a long list of things to prove this season, the first one being that it could win in Indianapolis for the first time. While the Jacks got that done in overtime, equal and larger challenges await - one after the other. That’s the beauty of the program both improving and becoming established within a league, and a rising one at that. The next game really is the biggest game.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.