MADISON, SD — Raise the bar, raise the standard.
That’s the path the Dakota State University women’s basketball team has followed since head coach David Moe took over the program five years ago.
“We talk a lot about greatness in our program,” Moe said a day after his team won its second straight postseason North Star Athletic Association Conference tournament. “Greatness isn’t arrogance or arrogance. It’s a mentality of controlling what you can control in every moment to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
This mentality has helped Dakota State steadily move toward success over the past five years. Moe was hired in June 2017 after years as an assistant coach at Mayville State in North Dakota.
DSU in his first two years under Moe won 16 games combined. The third year improved with 17 wins, but now his program is taking off noticeably.
Sunday night, when the Trojans defeated Bellevue University 83-69 in Watertown to claim the NSAA postseason conference championship, the victory reached No. 26 of the season and the 10th straight for the NSAA. State of Dakota. It was a remarkable two-year run for the Trojans and Moe, winning 53 of 64 games during that span, including 27 of 28 conference games.
“I came here five years ago and we had a really fun run,” Moe said. “The first two years were horrible, really difficult. But we kept our nose to the grindstone and kept working, and it’s really fun to have successes now.
He uses a family mindset and has a roster packed with South Dakota talent, including homegrown starters Courtney Menning (Corsica) and Jessi Giles (Madison), both of whom are guards, and forward Elsie Aslesen ( Howard).
“I think about 85% of our roster comes from within two hours of Madison,” Moe said.
So how did Moe build this team so quickly to be among the best in the NAIA? What sets it apart from other South Dakota women’s college basketball teams?
“When I talk about the other schools in South Dakota, I tell the kids these are great schools,” Moe said. “…But we are a very tight-knit group. We are a family, and with a family, it’s not always all sunshine and rainbows. With the siblings, they will push you, push your buttons and challenge you and sometimes drive you crazy. Our teammates do that. »
TROJANS REPEAT AS NSAA WBK POST-SEASON TOURNAMENT CHAMPION! (24) DSU wins the opening round bid for the NAIA National Tournament on March 11-12 with an 83-69 victory over Bellevue (Neb.) in the rematch of last year’s title match! pic.twitter.com/yHmqjqYx1G
— Dakota State Athletics (@DSUAthletics) February 27, 2022
Moe said local recruiting will always be a top priority, with diversification across the region being an added bonus. But success breeds success, he acknowledges, and winning more than 50 games in two seasons can certainly help attract additional talent.
“I wouldn’t say our program is better than any other program in South Dakota,” he added. “All I’m going to say is we know who we are, we play a fun brand of basketball and if they want to be a part of something better than themselves and something special like our family, then this is the place they should be.
Next up for the Trojans, averaging 84.1 points per game, is the NAIA National Tournament. And they have a lot of momentum in March. Last year, the Trojans qualified for the quarter-finals of the year-end tournament.
Giles leads the team with 17.3 points per game, while Aslesen is at 10 points per game and Menning is averaging 7.6 points. Savannah Walsdorf (13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds) of Wisconsin and Lexi Robson (8.3 points and 4.1 assists) of North Dakota are the other regular starters.
“Wherever we’re going, it’s tournament time,” Moe said. “Whoever we face, we feel good, because we know who we are. When it comes to playoff basketball, I believe it’s the teams that truly understand who they are and can play their game that will be successful.
The NAIA National Tournament field is set later this week.