Coach Nagy says team is ready second time aroundAlmost 24 years ago, South Dakota State boys’ basketball coach Scott Nagy sat on the sideline and watched the Michigan Wolverines defeat Illinois 83-81 in the 1989 NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
Almost 24 years ago, South Dakota State boys’ basketball coach Scott Nagy sat on the sideline and watched the Michigan Wolverines defeat Illinois 83-81 in the 1989 NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament.
Nagy, then a graduate assistant for the Fighting Illini, watched his squad fall to the Wolverines and the tournament’s most outstanding player and future NBA star Glen Rice.
Fast forward to 2013, and Nagy, now the head coach of the South Dakota State University men’s basketball team, has the chance for redemption. The Jackrabbits play Michigan at 6:15 p.m. Central time today in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The game is being televised on CBS.
“It’s hard to explain what it was like, we had a great basketball team then and it was a lot of excitement,” Nagy said in an interview with The Daily Republic Wednesday afternoon from Auburn Hills, Mich., the site of tonight’s game. “It’s more of my wife who this game is more personal for. She is a graduate of Illinois and she hates Michigan. I don’t have that type of feeling, but I know my wife does.”
While this Michigan team is not a No. 1 seed and doesn’t have Rice like the 1989 squad did, the 2013 edition of the Wolverines boasts a trio of players whose fathers played in the NBA.
Tim Hardaway Jr., son of former NBA guard Tim Hardaway, Glen Robinson III, son of former NBA forward Glenn Robinson, and Jon Horford, son of former NBA center Tito Horford and brother of current Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford, all log court time for the Wolverines.
Horford has played in 26 games and averages 2.9 points per game, while Hardaway Jr. and Robinson III rank second and fourth on the team in scoring, respectively.
Michigan’s leading scorer is the newly crowned Big Ten Player of the year, Trey Burke. The sophomore guard is averaging 19.3 points per game heading into today’s matchup.
“They are really good offensively,” Nagy said. “They are probably the best offensive team we have played all year. I am not worried as much about our offense as I am more worried about stopping their offense.”
Nagy added that his 13th-seeded squad must be good in transition and have a great night of shooting to upset the fourth-seeded Wolverines.
SDSU will rely on Nate Wolters, Jordan Dykstra, Tony Fiegen and Chad White to put the great abundance of its points on the board. Wolters averaged 22.7 points per game this season en route to being named the Summit League player of the year.
The guard was named first-team all-Summit League for the third straight season and is the school’s career leader in points scored with 2,353.
Dykstra is the team’s second leading scorer this season with an average of 12.5 points per game. The junior eclipsed the 1,000-point mark this season and was voted second-team all-Summit League.
Fiegen and White average 10.1 and 10 points per game, respectively.
“I think they will pay a lot of attention to Nate,” Nagy said. “If we shoot the ball great, we will give ourselves a chance to win.”
The tournament is not an unfamiliar place for the Jacks as it is the second consecutive year the team has qualified.
As a 14 seed last season, South Dakota State made its first appearance in the NCAA Division I basketball tournament. SDSU fell to No. 3 seed Baylor in the opening round of the tournament 68-60.
The Jacks led by 10 points with just less than 13 minutes to go in the first half, but the Bears came back and maintained a 36-28 lead at halftime. SDSU battled back to within three points early in the second half but could not get over the hump and missed out on its chance at an upset.
“Last year was overwhelming and emotional,” Nagy said. “I think it was very overwhelming for me and the players. This year we know what we are coming to, so it’s not nearly as overwhelming.