The South Dakota School of Mines men's basketball team opens its season Friday in Laredo, Texas as the Hardrockers will face Texas A&M Kingsville and Texas A&M International in a pair of games this weekend. Eric Glenn's squad brings back its top five scorers from last season and eight of its top 10 players in minutes played.
The South Dakota School of Mines men's basketball team may not have huge expectations within the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference -- the Hardrockers were picked to finish 10th in the preseason poll -- but optimism abounds within the program.
"We've got two returning all-conference players in Mitch and Logan, which is really exciting. Quite honestly, I think Allec would have been right there if he wouldn't have got hurt. He was playing as good as anybody, if not better than everybody, at the point guard spot last year."
In addition to freshman of the year Mitchell Sueker and Logan Elers, the Hardrockers also return senior point guard Allec Williams, who was putting together a fine season after transferring from Metro State last year before his junior campaign was cut short by injury.
"He has really added a dynamic piece to us. A guy who can create off the bounce, he's not extremely big but he can elevate and finish at the rim, he knows how to finish, and so he's a great addition for us and he was definitely a big difference maker for us when we were getting to play well last year."
Glenn says the returning experience would be a plus regardless … but in a conference where nine of the 20 all-conference selections have graduated, not to mention a good chunk of the honorable mention honorees, the Hardrockers' continuity will hopefully pay dividends early in the season.
"It's wide open because there was so much turnover in the league, we lost a lot of good seniors out of the league last year so there's a lot of new faces, we're one of the few, there's about three of us that have a lot of returning pieces, but everybody else is definitely going to reload and bring in some good players so it's going to be interesting."
With all of the returning talent, Glenn anticipates his freshmen class, which is talented, to spend more time learning from the bench and getting beat up by upperclassmen in practice than they will getting big minutes in actual games.
"They'll be there, eventually, but now we're at a point where we've got good experience and that experience is winning over."
And as any coach will tell you, that's a good problem to have, especially in one of the toughest basketball conferences in the country in Division II. The Hardrockers will play their home opener on November 29th against Presentation College.