Life after Nate Wolters has not been easy for South Dakota. This was completely expected. The Jackrabbits had only been a Division I program for 5 years when Wolters jointed the team, barely a Division I recruit himself. By the end of his college career, Wolters was headed to the NBA, and the Jackrabbits were an NCAA tournament team. Players like Wolters don’t come around often, and he might prove to be irreplaceable.
While last season’s Jackrabbits were an upset threat against almost anyone anywhere, this season’s team is just another run of the mill mediocre low-major basketball team. SDSU has two Division I wins and six losses. They lost to Montana by 8 at home and beat Lehigh, the 211th best team in the country according to Ken Pomeroy’s algorithms, at home. They just aren’t that good.
Thanks to Wolters, last season the Jackrabbits were an offensive juggernaut with the 32nd best offense in the country. Without one of the most dynamic offensive players in the country, their offense now ranks 192nd in the country. They have significantly sped up their pace of play, perhaps trying to overcome poor shooting with more shot attempts. Unfortunately it has only led to more missed shots. SDSU is getting to the free-throw line fairly regularly, and they are excellent at making free-throws, but that is the only part of their offense that could be considered functional.
The Jackrabbit defense has been consistently horrible. Not even a future NBA player can overcome four other undersized and unathletic teammates on the court with him. On paper, it appears that the Jackrabbits are an excellent defensive rebounding team, ranking 16th in the country. However, the sample size of six Division I games is small, and they have struggled to keep teams that want offensive rebounds from getting them.
Even though the Jackrabbits aren’t very good, they do have a few intriguing players. Jordan Dykstra, a 6’8” senior was something of a sidekick to Wolters, and he leads his team in scoring and rebounding. Despite his size, he eagerly bombs away from long distance, where he makes nearly 40% of his shots. Cody Larson, formerly of the Florida Gators, gives the Jackrabbits their first legitimate post-player in recent seasons, and is a solid rebounder if not much else. Anders Broman, the all time leading high school scorer in Minnesota history, is averaging 6.5 points per game
Despite being a decent team when Wolters was around, the Gophers consistently easily beat the Jackrabbits. Without Wolters around, it should be more of the same.