South Dakota men's basketball has scoring questions for new season but will lean on defense

Coyotes return three starters but lost 40 points per game from last season's starting lineup

From left, North Dakota State's Dezmond McKinney lays the ball up as South Dakota's Mason Archambault defends during the Summit League men's basketball tournament semifinals Monday, March 8 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. (Dave Eggen / Inertia)
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VERMILLION — The University of South Dakota men’s basketball team enters the 2021-22 season with some questions to be answered.

It has a lot of experience but it’s a young team because it has no players in their final year of eligibility, in the words of coach Todd Lee.

It will not have its top two leading scorers this season after Stanley Umude took advantage of the graduate transfer rule to head to No. 16-ranked Arkansas and standout point guard A.J. Plitzuweit will miss this season while rehabbing from a knee injury suffered in February. Those two players led the Coyotes in scoring for all but three of its 27 games last season, which finished as a 14-11 campaign.

Lee said no other team in the country will be without 40 combined points per game by missing two players, so the task of filling that void will be tough but one that will be done as a team.

“(We) need to step up from a leadership and scoring standpoint. When you watch them play, you’re going to see that they're much better, every one of them,” Lee said during a basketball media day last month.


The Coyotes led the Summit League last season in defensive field goal percentage and Lee said USD will need that type of defense and rebounding this season in order to compete again. USD was picked to finish No. 4 in the Summit League in the preseason poll.

“We will have to be the best rebounding team in the league, the best defensive team in the league and the toughest team in the league. And we have tough kids and a big team,” Lee said.

The Coyotes have three starters returning, led by guard Xavier Fuller as the team’s leading returning scorer of the players that intend to participate this season. He started 22 games and averaged nearly nine points per game. Forward Tasos Kamateros had 8.4 points per game last season and guard Kruz Perrott-Hunt averaged seven points per game a season ago.

One newcomer that will make the biggest impact, Lee said, is sophomore guard Erik Oliver, who is the former Wyoming high school player of the year and was a junior college All-American at Laramie County Community College in Wyoming where he averaged nearly 21 points a game.

The Coyotes open the season with a Nov. 11 matinee against Air Force at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls and visit Drake on Nov. 14 before a Nov. 19 home opener against Southern.

Other notable non-conference games include a Nov. 27 contest at Nebraska and visiting San Jose State and new Spartans head coach Tim Miles on Nov. 30. The Coyotes open the Summit League schedule on Dec. 20 hosting Oral Roberts.

“I told the team, it doesn’t matter what class you’re in but the guys who have been in the program, you’re our leaders,” Lee said. “They’re going to have to step up.”

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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