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USD Names Nebraska Assistant as Men's Basketball Head Coach

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The University of South Dakota has announced its new men’s basketball head coach. Long-time head coach Dave Boots retired suddenly before the start of the basketball season and assistant Joey James coached the Coyotes through the 2013/2014 schedule as an interim head coach. USD has hired Craig Smith as the new head coach.

Craig Smith leaves the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an assistant for the full-time top position at USD. Smith has head coaching experience at Mayville State, where he earned NAIA National Coach of the Year honors for turning the program from a one-win season to a national championship contender. Along with Nebraska, he’s also served as an assistant coach at North Dakota State and Colorado State.

Smith says he’s learned a lot from Nebraska head coach Tim Miles, who he’s worked under for 10 seasons at various universities. As he transitions to a new campus, Smith says he will build a successful program by instilling confidence and pride in his players.

“They need to understand that you make the big time where you are. I think sometimes people get caught up in, ‘Oh, I’m playing here,’ and they might act different than they would if they’re a men’s basketball player at Duke, or maybe they would act different if they were a men’s basketball player at Carolina. And the point is you should have that pride in yourself no matter what you do. I’m going to make sure they have that,” Smith says.

USD Athletic Director David Herbster says Smith’s experience made him standout among candidates. Herbster says Smith has proven his ability to turn around a program with few resources, and understands the culture of the Midwest.

“To have somebody like him who understands this area, has recruited North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado. Things are not foreign to him in this area. Having that familiarity in his mind, you’ll find a sense of comfort-bility coming in here and it’s not just going to be a total culture shock,” Herbster says.

Herbster says he’s happy with the university’s choice and is confident Smith will make the Coyotes a championship team.