Coyote men have sixth straight 20-win
season to cap off first year of Division I The University of South Dakota men's basketball team capped off its 2008-09 season with an impressive 116-79 win over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in the consolation championship of the Spring Thaw tournament in Grand Forks, ND on March 8. USD finished 20-9, making it the sixth straight season the Coyotes have reached the 20-win mark. It was a year of change for USD, marked by making the transition to Division I status. The Coyotes played a tough road schedule that took them all across the country, including trips to New York, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington. USD started out the season with back-to-back road games against Division I foes. The Coyotes opened on Nov. 14 at defending Ivy League champion Cornell and battled tough before falling 79-69. Cornell recently clinched the Ivy League championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. Two nights later, the Coyotes lost, 77-46 at Cincinnati of the rugged Big East Conference. The Bearcats are 18-13 in 2008-09. USD split two games at the Tip-Off Classic in Mankato, MN on Nov. 21-22. The Coyotes made their home debut on Nov. 25 with a 78-66 win over Graceland College. The Coyotes hit the road again for two games at the West Texas A&M Classic on Nov. 28-29. USD opened with a 66-50 win over Panhandle State but suffered a heartbreaking last-second loss to West Texas A&M, 77-76 a night later. USD capped off the road trip with a game at No. 7 Notre Dame on Dec. 2. The Fighting Irish, who also play in the rugged Big East Conference, topped the Coyotes 102-76. The Coyotes returned home for a five-game homestand on Dec. 6 and opened with a dominating performance against Chadron State. USD recorded a 93-61 win over the Eagles, and that was the start of a 15-game winning streak for USD. Included in that winning streak was a thrilling 73-69 home win over Southwest Minnesota State on Dec. 22 ¬– the champions of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference – and back-to-back wins over former NCC rival North Dakota on Jan. 24 and 31. Also included was a huge road win over New Orleans on Dec. 28, which marked USD's first win over a Division I foe since beginning the transition to Division I status. The last Coyote win over a Division I program came previously in 1988-89 over U.S. International. The 15-game winning streak included 12 wins at home, and started on Dec. 6 and continued through Feb. 2. The winning streak ended at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Feb. 7 as the Coyotes fell, 73-68. USD lost at Seattle on Feb. 14 but rebounded with a big 107-73 home win over SIUE on Feb. 21. The Coyotes then suffered a pair of tough two-point losses back-to-back against Seattle and North Dakota but ended the season on a winning note with the victory over SIUE, which clinched a 20-win season for the Coyotes. A LOOK AHEAD: USD loses four seniors from this year's team, all of whom were key contributors. The Coyotes will lose Dylan Grimsley (14.0 points per game), Jesse Becker (13.2), Mitch Begeman (6.0) and Rane Mergen (4.2). Grimsley and Becker were starters for USD, while Begeman and Mergen were key components off the bench. USD will return Tyler Cain, who is at 921 career points and 755 career rebounds and also is USD's all-time leader in blocked shots. Cain started all 29 games a year ago. Two other starters will return, including Louie Krogman (12.2 points per game) and Steve Smith, who averaged 8.1 points per game and started all 29 games despite battling through an injury all season. Roman Gentry will also return after averaging 12.2 points per game in 18 games in 2008-09. Gentry averaged 24.7 minutes off the bench. Two other players – John Kreklow and Ben Kreklow – made contributions off the bench for USD. USD also redshirted two promising freshmen – forward Mike Lafrenz and guard Jordan Boots – and signed a talented five-player recruiting class during the early signing period in November. The signees included Mitchell Bouie of Chicago, IL Conrad Krutwig of Algonquin, IL, Dustin Tetzlaff of Watertown, Jake Thomas of Racine, WI and Cliff Warner of Altoona, IA. MILESTONES: Junior forward Tyler Cain (Rochester, MN) became the 25th Coyote player to reach 500 rebounds when he pulled down 14 in the Coyotes' win over Panhandle State on Nov. 28. Cain is now sixth at 755 rebounds. Cain also became the Coyotes' career blocked shots leader in the win over Cornell on Nov. 15. Cain is the all-time leader in blocks at 266. Senior forward Dylan Grimsley (Sioux City, IA) became the 38th Coyote player to reach 1,000 points when he scored 10 points in a 93-61 win over Chadron State on Dec. 6. In addition, Grimsley also reached 500 rebounds for his career during the Coyotes' game at SIU-Edwardsville on Feb. 7. He is just the 18th Coyote player to record both 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career. Grimsley finished his USD career 15th at 1,317 points and 21st at 533 rebounds. CLIMBING THE RECORD CHARTS: Blocked shots list: Steve Smith (Sioux Falls) is climbing up the all-time career blocked shot charts for USD. He is currently fifth at 102 blocks, and is 18 away from fourth on the all-time list. Career three-pointers, assists: Senior Jesse Becker (Plymouth, MN) finished fifth on the USD career 3-point shooting list. Becker has 228 three-pointers for his career and trails fourth place by 36. Becker also finished with 373 career assists, putting him ninth all-time. Becker also finished 12th all-time in career scoring after eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau in March 2008. Career steals list: Cain is at 136 career steals, putting him ninth on the all-time list. Cain is just five steals away from eighth-place Dan Olson. Career three-pointers: Senior Mitch Begeman (Sioux Falls) finished ninth all-time in three-pointers made with 155. USD MEN'S HOOPS HISTORY: USD's all-time record is 1,158-944. Last year, USD went 22-7 and eclipsed the 20-win barrier for the 14th time under Coach Dave Boots. The Coyotes reached the NCAA Division II tournament for a fifth straight year in 2007-08.
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