IU women hoping for fast start at South Dakota State

Curt Miller understands his Hoosiers are the underdogs.

But that’s a role Indiana is embracing ahead of today’s 3 p.m. tip-off at South Dakota State in the WNIT round-of-eight.

As I mentioned in today’s paper, the Hoosiers need a good start. They don’t want to be playing catch-up against a Jackrabbits team that averages more than six 3-pointers per game, that gets to the free-throw line 24 times per game and has one of the best homecourt advantages of the teams still standing in the WNIT.

“We’re going up to a place where no one has been able to beat them in over a year,” Miller said. “They truly have one of the premier home-court advantages in the country. We’re going up there with an underdog mentality in an underdog role. The big thing that we’ll all look back it is, did we have a confident first 10 minutes. Games can’t be won in the first 10 minutes, but we can’t put ourselves in a hole against this type of team. Our start and adjusting to how the game is called and the crowd noise is gonna be a huge key to the game.”

South Dakota State is the Summit League regular season champion and may have found its way to the NCAA Tournament had it not suffered an upset loss to rival South Dakota in the conference tournament. The Jacks are no pushovers, as their pair of wins over Big Ten teams attest.

They beat eventual Big Ten co-champion Penn State in December and sent Minnesota into the off-season with a win over the Gophers in Thursday’s third-round action.

SDSU does it with a balanced and deep roster that features nine players who average more than 13 minutes per game.

“Their offense is so balanced, so you can’t just take away one thing,” Miller said. “They do a really good job of putting individual players in position to be successful. They do a good job of scouting and figuring out if you’re gonna do this well, or do that well. That’s the chess match. I think they’re a terrific screening team. They get good movement on the offensive end. They’re versatile and post up their guards as much as any team we will have played. Our guards have to be able to guard in the low post. Three out of their four post players can make 3s and will attempt 3s, so they can really hurt you.

“They’re really good at getting to the foul line 20 times a game and they’re making 18, or 19 foul shots a game. Right off the bat, if they can get to the line it’s such a big part of their offense. That and their versatility to play different ways. They’re hard to zone because they have so many 3-point shooters on the floor at the same time. Defensively, they’re fundamental and primarily a man-to-man team that does a great job of tying to disrupt you. They’re really, really well-coached on both ends of the floor.”

I’ll check in again in a couple hours when I get to the arena. You can follow along with live coverage all day on the Scoop and on Twitter.