Tag:South Dakota State
Posted on: December 20, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 5:11 pm

Midseason Mid-Major Mojo: Wolters becoming a star

By Matt Norlander

It's the post we've -- OK, mainly just me -- been waiting for. I'd love to start by proclaiming I have Nate Wolters' phone number and you don't, so let's do that. We may text later. It's cool. I'll be creating many variations of the graphic above, by the way, once South Dakota State gets more photos into the AP and Getty Images picture bins.

And before I get to my conversation with Wolters from Tuesday afternoon, I have to mention that he's very much aware of the Twitter meme that's become my adoration for his play. When people are tweeting at me whenever Wolters cracks the 20-point barrier, it's clearly something I have to attach myself to for the remainder of this season. I eagerly accept the affiliation.

Wolters also knows about Goodman preventing me from including him on our Top 100 College Basketball Players list. Good kid and a quiet one, too. Doesn't want too much attention, but if he keeps up his play, more and more's coming.

Moving on, South Dakota State is now 10-4, fresh off that complete beat-down of Washington, in Washington's house, Sunday afternoon. Wolters went for 34 poitns and seven assists and no turnovers. It was a result that Huskies forward C.J. Wilcox said "shocked" him and his team.

"I think they came out with no energy and we jumped on them early," Wolters said. "Out on the floor, I think they were a little stunned by the start that we had."

It was the win necessary to justify not only what SDSU has done this year, but also critical after losing 89-70 to 5-6 North Dakota last Thursday. It was a terrible loss, unlike the other three the Jackrabbits have taken on this year (Nebraska, Minnesota and Georgia all being Big Six variety, of course). Wolters has been hobbled (though you wouldn't know it) but a bum left ankle, which he tweaked during the Dec. 10 game against North Dakota -- a 92-54 South Dakota State win.

It was ironically followed five days later by a loss to the Fighting Sioux. 

“That North Dakota loss was real bad,” Wolters said.

No matter, the Washington win washed away the bad L, and Wolters is the big reason SDSU is in the running to win the Summit, competing alongside Oakland and Oral Roberts.

Wolters is 6-4, 195 pounds, but was a late-grower in high school. He came to South Dakota State rail thin; he's put on 20 pounds since arriving on campus 27 months ago. Wolters is currently in the top 10 percent nationally in a slew of categories, most notably minutes played, offensive rating, assist rate and turnover percentage. 

His background: you guessed it -- not highly recruited. In fact, South Dakota State didn't catch on until just before his senior season, and a few other late-comers didn't offer him scholarships until his high school playing career was over. Wolters debated SDSU or D-II Augustana, located in Sioux Falls. He very much considered passing up Division-I basketball.

Fortunately for the Jackrabbits and my credibility, he didn't. Now he's one of the most vital players to his team in the nation, akin to Jared Sullinger's value to Ohio State or Thomas Robinson's importance to Kansas. Wolters won't go there, though.

“Our good shooters make it easier on me, so we drive and kick a lot for 3s," he said, transitioning the conversation to what the team needs to work on. “We’re not great defensively now, but we’re definitely better than last year. Our personality is we want to score, play good offense and become more of a defensive-minded team."

You get that kind of spin from media-savvy players at big schools who are used to questions nonstop from October through March. Wolters is high-major in his ability to go full-on boring with a quote. And that's a compliment.

My colleague Jeff Borzello has debated with me this season about the Summit League's best player. He's said it's Oakland's Reggie Hamilton. I recently relented, choosing to go to the dark side and agree with Borzello. The next day Wolters responded with his Washington performance. I won't ever betray that trust again.

As for Hamilton, he and Wolters are actually acquaintances. They never met prior to college, but have connected after games and messaged each other over the past two years. In fact, Wolters told me he reached out and made that first move on Facebook, clicking the friend request button. 

Those two will vie for the Player of the Year award in the Summit. We don't have to wait long to see Part One of their head-to-head: Oakland plays at South Dakota State Dec. 30.

Posted on: December 18, 2011 9:30 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 9:35 pm

Night Court: Nate Wolters did Washington

By Gary Parrish

Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday's slate of college basketball games …

Game of the night:
Seton Hall hasn't played a tough schedule. But 9-1 is still 9-1, and 9-1 is the Pirates' record after an 80-77 overtime win over Mercer that featured Herb Pope scoring 24 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Pope has recorded a double-double in eight of 10 games this season. He's averaging 22.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.

Win to brag about:
I had to referee an email-fight between my colleagues Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander this preseason because Norlander suggested Nate Wolters might be one of the top 50 players in America and Goodman suggested Norlander might be one of the top 50 idiots in America. Back and forth they went. For hours. And it nowlooks like Norlander could get the last laugh because Wolters is having a heckuva year, and he got 34 points, seven assists and zero turnovers in South Dakota State's 92-73 victory at Washington. In other words, in a game featuring former heralded recruits like Abdul Gaddy, Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, Wolters was the best player on the court. Good for him. Good for Norlander.

Loss to hide from:
Turns out, that fight against Cincinnati cost Xavier more than just negative publicity. The suspensions that were a result of last weekend's brawl meant the Musketeers had to play Oral Roberts without three starters -- Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells -- and that didn't go too well. ORU won 64-42 at the Cintas Center. So now Xavier is 8-1.

Player who deserves improper benefits:
Nate. MF'ing. Wolters. The junior guard was 10-of-20 from the field and 13-of-16 from the free throw line in that win at Washington. He's now scored at least 32 points three different times this season.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: E.J. Singler took 11 shots and missed nine of them in Oregon's 67-54 loss to Virginia. He's 6-of-22 from the field in Oregon's last two losses -- to BYU and Virginia.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 1.41: That's how many points per possession South Dakota State scored against Washington. It's the most anybody has scored per possession against a high-major team this season.
  • 20: That's how many years it had been since Missouri started a season 11-0 before a 94-56 win over William & Mary pushed the Tigers to 11-0 this season.
  • 39: That's how many consecutive home games against non-league opponents Connecticut had won before it played Holy Cross. Which means the streak moved to 40 after Andre Drummond scored 24 points in the Huskies' 77-40 victory over the Crusaders.

Three other notable results

  1. John Shurna hit nine 3-pointers and finished with 32 points in Northwestern's 87-72 win over Eastern Illinois. The Wildcats are 10-1.
  2. Rhode Island's 68-65 loss to Yale was the Rams' second loss to an Ivy League school this season. The other was to Brown. Rhode Island is 1-10.
  3. Iowa State was pushed but avoided a bad home upset. The Cyclones beat Central Michigan 59-52 thanks to 14 points and eight rebounds from Royce White. Iowa State is 8-3.


  • Florida State's 77-61 win over Loyola Marymount pushed the Seminoles to 7-0 at home this season. They've won nine straight home games dating back to last season.
  • Nate Wolters and John Shurna weren't the only players to go for 30 on Sunday. Missouri's Michael Dixon got 30 against William & Mary.
  • The Top 25 (and one) has already been updated. Vanderbilt and Alabama dropped out. Creighton and San Diego State moved in.
On tap: There are no games scheduled between ranked opponents, but Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Baylor, Michigan State, Florida, Marquette, Illinois, Indiana and Creighton are all in action.

Graphic via Norlander, obviously
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com