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OPINION: USD player prefers 'one and done' at NCAA

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By Alexis Yackley

I believe in one exercising his or her constitutional rights. Each morning I walk by the immortal words of the First Amendment on my way into law school, and each day at school I am reminded about how important those rights are. For these reasons, I would like to exercise my own First Amendment rights in response to Seth Tupper's recent "SDSU loses but ultimately wins" column.

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I have to admit that, like Mr. Tupper, I too have a bias, which I will readily admit. I was a part of the University of South Dakota women's basketball program for four years, played and started for three of those years. I earned my bachelor's degree from USD, and I am currently pursuing a J.D. and master's degree from USD. However, unlike Mr. Tupper, I can compartmentalize my personal feelings and appreciate both schools for the accomplishments they have achieved, and the recognition that they have brought to the state of South Dakota.

It is a fact that SDSU, as a whole, has had more success in the transition to the Division I level. This success, in large part, has been from the women's basketball team, who were the five-time defending Summit League champions. Mr. Tupper is quick to point out this fact, and is equally quick to downplay the reason SDSU did not enjoy a six-peat, which was its crushing loss to USD, where at certain points in the second half USD entertained a 23-point lead.

I appreciate the renewed rivalry between the two schools; however, I do not understand why journalists like Mr. Tupper feel the need to pit these two schools against each other in every USD/SDSU article, and cannot instead give credit where credit is due. Instead of writing demeaning and disrespectful articles about USD, Tupper and others need to celebrate and appreciate that the state of South Dakota has sent a team to the NCAA tournament for the past six years. Simply as a basketball fan, I am proud of this fact.

Furthermore, Tupper tries to form a comparison between a WNIT tournament bid and an NCAA tournament bid, but the two have no comparison. Having personally played in both tournaments (I was member of the NCAA Elite 8 team while at Iowa State during the 2008-2009 season and I was a member of the WNIT team at USD in the 2011-2012 season), I can guarantee that the NCAA tournament is superior in every way, even if it is a "one and done" situation. I urge Tupper to do some research and ask any college coach in the nation whether he or she would choose a WNIT bid, even if it meant more games, over an NCAA bid. I guarantee that none of them would choose the former (and if they did, they should be fired immediately).

Further, ask any athletes what they are writing down on those pre-season team goal sheets that every coach hands out. I guarantee that none of them are writing down, "make the WNIT." All of them are writing, "win the conference tournament ... make the NCAA tournament," and if they aren't, then those athletes, along with the coach who chose the WNIT, do not belong in Division I college athletics.

I would like to close by responding to a direct quote from Mr. Tupper's article. He writes, " ... but I will argue that this season, the WNIT was a much better fit for SDSU." Huh. I would like to know how A.J., Paluch, Waytashek, Strop, Boever and Heiser feel about this, because I know that even though USD lost to Stanford, an eventual Final Four qualifier, the sweet taste of victory, and an NCAA tournament berth, will still be with Williams, Hemiller, Seekamp, Harrington, Loeffler and Contreras long after people forget about SDSU's run in "that consolation tournament."

USD will always be the 2013-2014 Summit League Tournament Champions and NCAA Tournament qualifiers, and nothing can take that away from them.

-- Alexis Yackley, of Vermillion, attended the University of South Dakota from 2009 to 2013, and redshirted in the 2009 season, and played basketball in the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

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