The Kansas State Wildcats (3-0, #104), coming off a week of practice after Monday's home win against a solid Columbia Lions squad, welcome the South Dakota Coyotes into the Octagon; tipoff slated for 7:00pm CST in Bramlage Coliseum. Hopefully HC Bruce Weber was able to take advantage of the week of practice, work on some things on both ends of the floor, and get our guys ready for the potential of three games in five days.
Know Your Opponent
South Dakota (1-2, #267), strangely enough, hasn't played at home yet this season. They've dropped a neutral-floor game to Wright State and a true road game to Northern Illinois, and are coming off a neutral-floor win over Cal State Northridge.
The Coyotes return 6 players (2 starters) from a team that went 17-16 last season, their first winning season in four years. So far this year, the Coyotes are running below average on both offensive and defensive efficiency, and get the ball up and down the floor at a similar rate to our guys. Across the board, South Dakota is a relatively unimpressive team, being in the bottom half of most meaningful statistics.
South Dakota was picked by media to finish anywhere from 4th to 6th in the nine-team Summit League. Second-year coach Craig Smith seems to have found a decent foundation to improve on up in Vermillion, SD.
Keep a close watch on:
Senior guard combo Tre Burnette and Casey Kasperbauer are the two returning starters from last year's team. Both are the clear leaders of this 2015-16 team. Burnette is averaging 18.0ppg, 8.3rpg on the season, but is a terrible FT shooter. Kaspbauer is the highest-scoring returnee, and is averaging 16.0ppg on nearly 46% shooting from beyond the arc.
Also, keep an eye on Shy McClelland, a junior guard newcomer that is a bit of a stat sheet stuffer, averaging 7.7ppg, 4.0rpg, and 4.3apg.
Offensively, they're not a team that is going to put up a ton of points, averaging in the upper 60s. They shoot more threes than the average NCAA team, but they do make them at just over 39% clip. Once the shot goes up, though, they're not crashing the boards very hard, ranked 328 (of 351) by only grabbing 16% of their misses. We'll want to make sure we're getting out and defending the shooters by running them off the line, then don't take their poor offensive rebounding for granted by fundamentally executing a blockout and rebound.
Defensively, the Coyotes look to play a bit of a "saggy" man. They give up shots to outside shooters at nearly 42%, but then do a passable job at defending inside the arc at 45%. I would expect they might throw some change-of-pace defenses at us - maybe a 2-3 zone to protect against the drive - but most of the night should be man-to-man by both squads.
F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 210 Jr
F Dean Wade, 6-10 225 Fr
F Stephen Hurt, 6-11 265 Sr
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 200 Sr
G Kamau Stokes, 6-0 170 Fr
South Dakota Coyotes:
F Eric Robertson, 6-8 190 Sr
G DJ Davis, 6-4 --- So
G Shy McClelland, 6-0 190 Jr
G Casey Kasperbauer, 6-1 170 Sr
G Tre Burnette, 6-5 220 Sr
3 Keys To The Game
1. Defend the three
While not as big a component of their offense as for Columbia, the Coyotes will look to shoot the three. Frankly, the only way South Dakota has the horses to keep up with K-State is if they start launching and connecting from deep. We've got to get out on the perimeter, and pay attention to where Kasperbauer is, and we should be fine.
2. Quick start
If we can get out and make some shots early, get some defensive stops from the tip, and build a double-digit lead early in the game, we shouldn't see much issue from the Coyotes. Any team at this level can win, but a 12-15 point lead could be insurmountable for South Dakota on the road against this K-State team.
3. Focus and execution
Let's see the Cats come out and play with focus, work at executing better than the opponent. The talent we have, combined with being locked in for 40 minutes, will put us in a great position to walk away 4-0.
All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.