Rivalry revisited

For these basketball fans, they will never forget where they were on January 12, 2012.

Jackrabbits Tony Fiegen (34), Táevaunn Prince, and Chad White battle for a rebound with Coyote Ricardo Andreotti (14) under the USD basket in the first half of the January 12 game. It was the first men’s basketball game between the long-time rivals since 2004. SDSU defended its home court 86-56.

With great clarity, they will recount being one in the sellout crowd of 6,216 at Frost Arena for a history-making men’s basketball game between South Dakota State and South Dakota.

The last time a sellout occurred at Frost Arena was January 9, 2004, when 6,053 showed up to see SDSU defeat Indiana in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

In athletic terms, it was an 86-56 romp for the Jackrabbits in the 204th meeting between the state’s two largest schools. However, on this particular night, it wasn’t your ordinary clash. You see, this was the first meeting between the two rivals since 2004, and by all accounts, it was a long time in coming.

“The atmosphere is great,” says Bob Hull, who drove down from Sisseton. “To see all the enthusiasm, the crowd noise—it’s just a great event. It’s good for the state and super for basketball.”

Packed, screaming fans

SDSU, firmly established in NCAA Division I, improved to 14-5 overall and 6-1 in the Summit League. Meanwhile, for the Coyotes, in their final year of transition as a Division I program, fell to 6-10 overall and 1-6 in the league.

No matter the records or the fact that USD isn’t eligible for the Summit League Tournament until next year, Mike Sullivan foresees a major boost for the already highly successful tournament in Sioux Falls.

“Being an ex-basketball coach this is what I get into,” beams the executive director of the Sioux Falls Sports Authority, which puts on the league tournament that automatically sends the winner to the NCAA tournament field.

“There is nothing more exciting than a packed house, screaming, and hollering. Since they are in the same conference now,we’re really hoping for something like this in the Summit League Tournament.”

It was an eye-opening affair for students from both schools. For the vast majority, they were most likely in elementary or middle school when the big game last occurred.

Jordan Dykstra looks for an open teammate.

SDSU senior Tim Ajbect, for one, will carry fond memories of his first Jacks/Coyotes contest.

“People are so excited to have this instate rivalry going again,” he says, shouting out his thoughts from a rambunctious student section during halftime. “We’ve been waiting for a long time. The game isn’t disappointing either, especially since we’re winning.”

Rivalry continues on

Anthony Sutton, SDSU Students’ Association vice president, was one of the crazies standing outside an hour before the game. “I froze, but it was well worth it. I was front and center in the student section. It was so much fun—alive and electric.”

The rivalry will pick up where it left off, he says, but with no extra curricular activities like frozen coyotes and jackrabbits on the scene like the old days.

“There will obviously be a lot of banter back and forth. For me, though, coming from Flandreau, a good number of kids I graduated with went to USD, so it’s fun to go back and forth with them, like why SDSU is better than USD and vice versa.”

Yes, frozen critters are a thing of the past, but the passion of the good ol’ Yellow

and Blue spirit continues to run deep, relates Mark York, president of the SDSU Students’ Association.

“All I heard all week was a lot of very confident Jackrabbit fans. There was so much excitement . . . they wanted us to stomp the Coyotes!”

Kyle Johnson

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