Tellinghuisen, Jackrabbits chasing another NCAA bid
Former East Sac County all-stater helps SDSU to 11-5 start
BROOKINGS, S.D. – As play is set to begin in the Summit League, Reed Tellinghuisen and the South Dakota State men know they have a gigantic target on their backs.
Following two consecutive league titles that resulted in bids to the NCAA Tournament, the Jackrabbits (11-5 overall) close out their nonconference schedule here Saturday afternoon vs. Presentation.
Tellinghuisen, a former all-stater at East Sac County, has been a vital part of each of those trips to the Big Dance. And while there is nothing he would like more than to go out with a third straight bid, the 6-foot-7 senior knows nothing will come easy for South Dakota State.
“Obviously it’s great that we have made the tournament the past two years, but I think it keeps us focused – especially during league play – because we will always have a target on our back,” Tellinghuisen said. “Our guys have done a great job taking it practice-by-practice and getting better each and every day. I think if we keep doing this, we will be playing our best basketball when March rolls around.”
Last year, Tellinghuisen was one of two Jackrabbits to start all 35 games, finishing second on the team in scoring (11.7 per game), rebounding (4.7 per) and made 3-pointers (74). Through 15 games this season, he is averaging a career-high 12.4 points, grabbing 4.7 boards and dishing out 1.5 assists a night, all while shooting almost 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from the beyond the arc.
With this being his final season on the hardwood for SDSU, Tellinghuisen has made sure to make the most of it.
“I think I have approached it with more focus compared to my previous years,” he said. “It’s crazy how fast it has gone by and realizing I have one more chance, I want to make the most of it.”
The Jackrabbits were a No. 16 seed last year, falling to Gonzaga in the opening round. Two seasons ago, they pushed fifth-seed Maryland to the very end before suffering a 79-74 setback. South Dakota State has four appearances all-time in the NCAA Tournament and have reached the postseason each year since 2012.
Along with Tellinghuisen, junior Mike Daum is also back after a standout sophomore season. The Jackrabbits added freshman David Jenkins Jr. to the roster this season, forming a three-headed monster for head coach T.J. Otzelberger.
South Dakota State competed in the Cayman Islands Classic in November, going 2-1 with a win over Iowa. They also paid two visits to Kansas to face the nationally-ranked Jayhawks and Wichita State, along with games vs. Ole Miss, Colorado and Missouri State.
The Jackrabbits defeated the Rebels in overtime, fell by 10 to the Shockers and pushed Colorado to double-overtime before suffering a 112-103 loss.
“Our coaches did a great job with our nonconference schedule and scheduling appointments that have challenged us,” Tellinghuisen said. “I think this will really help us out come conference season time because the athleticism and size of the teams we played has been a great experience against some of the best in the country.
“We were able to win a couple games against Power 5 teams and I think this gives our team confidence that we can play with anybody.”
The trip to face off against Bill Self and Kansas was one that Tellinghuisen will never forget.
“Allen Fieldhouse is one of the best – if not the best – atmosphere in college basketball,” he said. “There were people lined up for a game hours before it started, and by the time we came out for warm-ups over an hour before tip, the entire student section was full.
“The game didn’t end like we would have wanted it to, but playing in an environment like that will definitely help us out as the season goes on.”
Tellinghuisen has scored in double figures 11 times this year, including each of his last five games. In an 85-60 win over UMKC last week, he recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, adding four assists.
Against SEC contender Ole Miss, Tellinghuisen scored a season-high 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers. He’s blocked two shots in three different games and has shot over 50 percent from the field in eight of 15 contests this year.
South Dakota State opens league play with back-to-back road dates at North Dakota State (Jan. 3) and Omaha (Jan. 6), before hosting Oral Roberts (Jan. 11) and Denver (Jan. 13). The Jackrabbits were tabbed preseason favorites, with defending regular season champion South Dakota second followed by North Dakota State, Fort Wayne and Denver.
“Teams in our league are improving every year and the Summit is becoming one of the best mid-major conferences,” said Tellinghuisen, who was placed on the preseason all-conference second-team. “We have to make sure we stay focused every game because any team can beat us on any given night.
“There’s a target on our back so I think this gives our team more motivation to approach every day with great focus and get the most out of each practice.”