- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) - New South Dakota coach Craig Smith says he’s looking forward to taking the program to the top of the Summit League, and soon.

“We expect to get in the NCAA tournament next year,” Smith said after his introduction at a news conference Monday.

Smith, a Stephen, Minn., native and North Dakota alum, has been a longtime assistant for Nebraska coach Tim Miles. Smith coached with Miles at Mayville State, North Dakota State and Colorado State. He also has served as an assistant at Northern State in South Dakota and Minot State in North Dakota.

Smith said it was hard to leave Miles at Nebraska because of all he had done, but he’s pleased with the level of players at South Dakota and plans to help them become better decision makers.

“I love skill development,” he said.

Smith was the head coach at Mayville State in North Dakota from 2004-07. He won NAIA coach of the year honors in 2007 after leading the Comets to the NAIA Division II national championship game.

Smith replaces Dave Boots, who retired last September after 25 years. Boots was the most successful coach in program history, with a 503-235 record.

The Coyotes went 12-18 this season under interim coach Joey James.

Smith said his players at South Dakota will be academically strong and socially responsible.

“Nobody is going to give you that degree,” he said. “You’re going to earn your degree.”

South Dakota women’s team earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament this year after capturing the Summit League title, but lost 81-62 to Stanford in the opening round.

School President Jim Abbott called Smith’s hiring another example of momentum building at the university.

“I want to win,” Abbott said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Trey Norris, a sophomore point guard from Dallas, said he looks forward to the challenge.

“Him coming from the NCAA tournament gives our team a lot of excitement,” Norris said. “It’s a new era - new expectations in the classroom and on the court. He’s going to expect a lot more from us.”

Nebraska’s season ended Friday with a 74-60 loss to Baylor in the team’s opening game in the NCAA tournament.

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