Some observations from the Mavericks’ Midnight Madness

Twice this week I was up past midnight watching sports.  Tuesday night for the World Series, and last night for the Oregon Ducks-Arizona State game.  Today could be rough, but I am still on a Baxter Arena high, so there is that.  Here are some random observations from last night’s Midnight Madness event.

  • Mikaela Shaw informed us that the student section for basketball games will be right behind the visitor’s bench.  I love that, great move.
  • Are the curtains going to be down for most of the sections during basketball games?  Like, I get it.  But what if a visiting team’s fans wants to come in and buy out one of those sections?  We wont turn them down, right?
  • The taco cannon shot a taco right next to me.  I was 2 seats away from a free taco.  I have also realized that I will probably never recognize the person holding and shooting the cannon as a person.  I just see a taco cannon and I do not recognize a person, I just see a taco cannon that is floating around on it’s own shooting out bliss wrapped in tortillas.
  • I saw Rylan Murry walking around and I really wanted to scream “Skinny Love!” into his direction and then run away like I’m a 4th grade girl.
  • The women’s scrimmage was nice.  None of the women had their numbers on the back of their jersey, so every time a new player touched the ball I would have to ask who the heck that was, since there are so many new players.
  • In the Summit League teleconference, Brittany Lange talked about how impressed she was in newcomers Ellie Brecht and Amber Vidal, and they do look very impressive.  Vidal’s point guard skills are fantastic.  Really excited to see her run the team’s offense.  Like, I want to create her as a player in NBA 2k16 and have her run my team.
  • All the women’s team appears to show a lot potential.  The hype in their recruits might be real.  This team could be stacked next year too if they keep everyone together and add in their transfers in 2016-2017.  Incredibly curious how the minutes get divided up though.
  • I am glad that Rodney Rogan is not a professional referee.
  • I was sitting on the side where the men’s team was warming up, so I was watching them warm up instead of the women.
    • The freshman that I have heard the least about, Zach Jackson, looks like he could be a really good player.  I do not think that he missed a shot in warm ups, or even in the team’s scrimmage.  Seriously look up any photo of him though, he might be incapable of smiling.  Looks like he has some pretty good ball handling too, but let’s get a real game under our belts and see whats up.
    • Can we give Zach Pirog the nick name of “The Mile High”?  I watched Zach Pirog take the ball coast to coast and get a dunk, so my life is complete.
    • I was actually really impressed with Ben Kositzke.  I know it is all based on an open scrimmage and warm ups, but he was showing some good stuff:  hitting some jumpers, keeping guys out of the low block, putting on a couple post moves.  Also, I am a Millard South guy, so to be impressed with a Millard West guy should mean something.
    • Speaking of Millard South, Kyler Erickson had a crossover that changed my life.  By the way, when I was in high school I badly wanted to make fake letter jackets that said Millard East.  I would wear it all over town and convince people there was a Millard East High School that was just atrocious and undersized in basketball and football.
    • Daniel Meyer looks like he has bulked up, like he just goes to the rocky mountains and lifts boulders and pushes cars up mountains just for the thrill.  All in blue jeans too.  I also watched him take the ball coast to coast.  Scrimmages, man.
    • Jake White just looks overall healthier, a healthy Jake White could really be a an All Conference player.
    • Marcus Tyus got to play, his knee looks fine.  Boo ya!
    • Tra-Deon Hollins is going to bring great defense, sweet dunks, and another great passer to his team…not a bad thing to have at all.
    • Randy Reed was hitting the three on command in warm ups, and handling the ball in the scrimmage really nice.  Granted, it’s not like Devin Patterson and Hollins were trying to poke the ball away from him constantly, but I can be optimistic about things.  Randy Reed can fly too, he might be a super hero.
  • The shooting competition was pretty fun, but for some reason the basket on the side where the visiting team’s bench is lost every single time.  Jake White couldn’t miss on the other end, but then couldn’t make it on that end.  I am convinced that side is cursed.  The Mavs are going to lose the first half of every game.  By the way, I have been a Celtics fan my whole life.  Even through the Rick Pitino era, so I sometimes scare easily with basketball.
  • The student that shot for free tuition made the lay up and free throw pretty easily, but the three pointer was rough.  Josh White shagged the ball for him for a little bit.  Josh White might be the best passer in Maverick history.  I call for Josh White shagging the ball for every shooting challenge this season.
  • Tre’Shawn Thurman did not have a great dunk competition.  It made me sad.  Tra-Deon Hollins won it (see previous tweets).  By the way, Omaha Central has 4 players from their 2013 state championship team in division one.
Quite possibly the greatest photo ever.
Quite possibly the greatest photo ever.  Photo by Mark Kuhlmann

Two weeks until college basketball.  Two of the longest weeks of the year.  It will be like when you drive from Denver to Omaha and it all goes pretty quickly until you get to Grand Island and time slows down because it hates you.

My precarious Summit League preseason rankings

This intro is copied from yesterday’s post…

Sometimes I find preseason predictions pointless, other than starting a conversation about the upcoming season or letting people know what could potentially be the biggest games of the year, there is not really much of a point to it.

I mainly find them useless because of the methodology in ranking teams.  Many seem to just copy and past the standings of last year, and then make a small edit if a team had a high amount of turnover from last season’s roster.  But I came up with a plan to do this for the Summit League.  I was reading some preseason predictions for the Big 10 football season which was done by a bunch of ESPN writers.  Some made good points but they all had to come up with a record for each team, and the math did not always make sense.  One clown had Ohio State going 12-0 with a 8-0 Big Ten record and Michigan State going 11-1, and also with a 8-0 Big Ten record.  Seriously, how drunk and lazy and/or bad at math was that guy?  Or some guys would have two teams going 8-0 in conference, a couple going 0-8, and everyone else going 5-3.  The math didn’t add up and they were telling you that these teams would win these amount of games because they are Skeletor and they said so.

So I came up with a plan.  I would go through the Summit League conference schedule and assign wins and losses over the course of a number of weeks.  At first it was just: South Dakota State is a better team than Denver, so win goes to the Jackrabbits.  Then later, I would look at the difficulty of each team’s conference schedule.  Obviously, everyone plays each other twice, but there are some things that stick out; like how Denver is the only team with the highway to the danger zone in playing at North Dakota State and South Dakota State in back to back games.  Or how South Dakota and Oral Roberts are the only two Summit League teams without three straight games on the road in conference play.  Then things like Omaha playing on the road against someone on a Thursday, as road games on Thursdays appear to be difficult for most teams.  Actually road games are pretty difficult for anyone.  Then I would go through the schedule again and consider some teams’ strengths versus their opponents weaknesses.  Like how teams better be good at three point shooting against South Dakota as they forced teams to take the most threes with their defense…and other things.

But I assigned wins and losses to each game, and did it several times considering different factors.  Then I plain and simple would add up each team’s wins and losses to see who had the most after going through it about 15 times.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it better than just saying South Dakota State will go 15-1 in conference because of Jesus?  Probably.

Really, after going through all of this; I really do not see much separation between many of the teams.  South Dakota State seems like a clear cut favorite.  Then North Dakota State seems like they are 2nd best, but they really should not be as comfortable as one would think.  Then Oral Roberts-Omaha-IPFW-IUPUI-South Dakota appear to be in a fight for spots 3 to 7 with Denver and Western Illinois sitting at 8 and 9; but Denver is a difficult place to play; and Western Illinois, while not great last year, they do return basically everything.

So much of the 3 to 9 in the Summit League appears to come down to:

  • Who can stay healthy?
  • Who can win on the road?
  • Who can pick up a win against South Dakota State and North Dakota State?

South Dakota State

Range of wins: 13 to 15

This team’s back court is extremely good, and the Jackrabbits could score 30 points a game on just three pointers alone.  The obvious question mark for the team is who is going to rebound and play center?  Scott Nagy has admitted to not knowing what to do there.  I think one of the most underrated part of Cody Larson’s game was his passing ability.  A big man that can pass is so huge for your team.  He could draw in the double team and kick it out to the open man, or pass it to a driving player, and it was just a huge weapon for the Jackrabbits.

Their three game road stretch of at North Dakota State, Oral Roberts, and South Dakota is an extremely tough road stretch for them, but they will be fine in the end.  They start their conference schedule at home with Denver and Western Illinois… must be rough.


North Dakota State

Range of wins:  10 to 13

At first I just thought to myself: oh they have everyone back, and they have enough players to make up for the loss of Lawrence Alexander, so they should just own this conference.  Then I thought: replacing Lawrence Alexander might be one of the most difficult things to ever overcome.  So much of their offense was based on what Alexander could do, and he only had two games last season where he did not score in double figures.  No player in Bison history won more games at North Dakota State than Lawrence Alexander.  Teams generally have a significant drop off when they lose one of their best players in program history, but somehow I still really like them to finish 2nd in the conference.

Dave Richman has this team completely confident though and they are buying into his system, and their team motto is: just get better and better every day…which they do a good job of doing.  One thing that is scary to think about in addition to losing one of the program’s best players in history: is the fact that they went 12-4 in the Summit League last season, but they did not exactly blow anyone out.  Only three of their wins were by more than 10 points, and one of those was a revenge game against South Dakota where Alexander had 31 points on 11-14 shooting.  So who is for sure going to score the ball down the stretch when they find themselves in close games this season?  I am not saying that they cannot find anyone, but it is something to definitely consider.

The Bison probably have the best post game cores in the league with AJ Jacobson, Dexter Werner, and Chris Kading; but Kading is coming off some summer surgeries.   They can go small, they can go big with those three; the three of them each bring something different to their front court to give them several different options.  The Bison also appear to be extremely excited about freshman Deng Geu, but they have also stated that they may redshirt him.

They lucked out with the greatest 3 game road stretch ever.  They are at IPFW on a Thursday and then at Western Illinois on a Saturday, they then have a 8 day break before playing on the road at IUPUI.


Omaha

Range of wins: 7 to 11

I already talked about the Mavs

I realize I look like a total homer placing them this high.


Oral Roberts

Range of wins: 7 to 10

At first, I thought no way on this team.  They have lost too many players in the last few seasons, the newcomers do not look all that great, and they might even be one of the least deep teams in the Summit League, which is almost an accomplishment.  Then I remembered that is the exact same thing that I thought about North Dakota State last season.  Obi Emegano is going to have to have to be the same type of player that Lawrence Alexander was for North Dakota State last season, which is something that he appears to be capable of.

No one seems to be taking the losses of Korey Billbury, Denell Henderson, and Bobby Word very seriously though.  Billbury was potentially a 1st Summit Team player, and he is being replaced by unproven guys.  The whole team is completely changed.  Their two top returning guys (Emegano and Brandon Conley) had shoulder surgery over the summer as well, and did not play in their summer trip.  There is a lot to point at and say that this why they wont be a top 3 team in the conference, but for some reason, I always consider them a top 4 team in this conference.  I just think Scott Sutton is that good of a coach and that Obi Emegano is that good of a player.  Sutton has finished in the top 3 in the Summit League in every season that they were in the Summit League since 2003-2004.

I would not be shocked if this team finished 2nd in the conference, and I would not be totally surprised if they finished 8th in the conference.  There is just no telling what is going to happen.  Jalen Bradley appears to be in the perfect situation playing alongside Emegano.  Freshman Javan White, while he looks like you could snap his arm like a twig, seems like he can really help the Golden Eagles in the low post in a league with not much depth in post players this season.

The start of the conference season does not look like a big help to them.  Three teams they can beat, but on the road against IPFW, then back home for South Dakota, then back on the road against Denver, then back home for North Dakota State.  They make up for it late in the season when they have three straight home games against IUPUI, Western Illinois, and Denver.


IUPUI

Range of wins:  6 to 10

This team was picked last in the preseason rankings before the start of last season.  Everyone thought it was one of the worst rosters they had ever seen, but they were able to pick up 6 wins with that roster.  What were they bad at last year?  3 point shooting…fine add Darell Combs, a transfer that made 32 threes in his sophomore year at Eastern Michigan.  Rebounding…fine add two 6’8″ transfers from Loyola.  Too many turnovers…fine, everyone that turned the ball over the most left the team, except for Marcellus Barksdale who handled the ball the most for the team.  Guard dominated league?  Fine, put Marcellus Barksdale on Obi Emegano or Garret Covington on any given night.  Hell, they don’t even see him as their best perimeter defender.

The roster has improved, the coaches have a year of being together under their belt, and the program is improving more and more every day.  They did hold an open scrimmage this week, but had 3 newcomers sitting out with some nagging injuries.  One of the players that sat out was Jordan Pickett who transferred from Loyola where he had a history of injury problems, and it sounds like the Jaguars were expecting him to be one of the team’s primary ball handlers.  That could become an issue.

They might be one the most boring team to ever watch, but you cannot ignore their improvement and upside.  They also had Marcellus Barksdale playing four different positions last season in just about every single game, and he will not have to take on as much of a load this season with the additions to this team.


South Dakota

Range of wins:  5 to 8

I admit that I really like Craig Smith, and I think the loss of him as an assistant coach was a big factor as to why the Huskers had a drop off last season.  Some of these preseason rankings appear to just rating the Coyotes around 5th primarily on the fact that Craig Smith is their coach…and I am totally cool with that.  This team lost the most scoring in the Summit League, their team has been plagued with injuries in the preseason, oh and the staff currently has no idea who is going to score the ball for them.  Spots 3-9 in the Summit League could be incredibly close, injuries could ruin any team, as well as pretty much starting 3 weeks later than everyone else as far as full team practices go.

Another thing that is kind of weird is that Trey Norris is probably their starting point guard, who started is sophomore year, but Smith thought it was a much better decision to send him to the bench in his junior year.  So does Smith even believe in his point guard?  Also Tyler Flack is returning from a back injury.  You back isn’t important in basketball, is it?  I was on the Craig Smith can coach this team to 3rd or 4th bandwagon, but there seems to be something new every week that continues to point to the fact that this is going to be a long year for the Coyotes.

This team though is going to force teams to take 3s on them.  They forced their opponents to take the most amount of threes last season, and held them to the lowest three point field goal percentage in the Summit League…so you kind of need to be able to hit the three against them.


IPFW

Range of wins:  5 to 7

I have seen this team ranked any from 4th to 6th in preseason rankings.  The Summit League ranked them as the 4th best team.  I don’t see it.  They return the 2nd least amount of scoring the Summit League, and they return the least amount of division one starts on their team.  The losses of Steve Forbes, Joe Edwards, and Isaiah McCray seem too big.  It seems like they are asking their newcomers to do too much and are placing too high of expectations on them.  They think Brent Calhoun is going to have a breakout year because he lost a bunch of weight and is really healthy, but let’s wait a few games to see how much of an asset that can be.  They are putting a lot of emphasis on redshirt freshman John Konchar to be an undersized 4 man and play small ball this season.

I am just not sold on this team yet.  This team was the worst free throw shooting team in the Summit League, but I think they really are going to improve there, which could help them with some of the rule changes, but teams should be adjusted to the rule changes come conference play.  I do think this team does have probably the best order of games in the conference as well.  Oral Roberts at home on a Wednesday, South Dakota at home on a Wednesday, North Dakota State at home on a Thursday, South Dakota State at home on a Thursday; and on top of that they never have three games in a row in which they should not be completely unfavored.  Have to give credit to the fact that they have one of the top back courts in the league with Mo Evans and Max Landis, but who knows how valuable that can be in a back court dominated league…says the guy that bases part of Omaha’s potential success on the Mavericks having one of the top back courts in the league.

The team did underachieve last season, but Joe Reed admitted that last year’s team was just completely focused on the Summit League tournament, and did not look at their season on a game-by-game basis.  He said they are more focused on taking it one game at a time this season.  I will be surprised if this team ends up in the top half of the Summit League, but they could do it with lucky breaks with injuries to other teams and whatnot.  It is a young team, and a team of mostly newcomers.  I will say if they can keep this roster together, add their two transfers sitting out this season, and a 6’10” freshman that recently committed, that the Mastodons will be a very good team against the Summit League in 2016-2017.


Denver

Range of wins:  2 to 7

There are many question marks for this team.  I am really curious how a 30 second shot clock affects a team in the Princeton offense, probably not a ton, but it has to affect it in some way shape or form.  Denver does have 3 seniors to run that offense, but they do have 13 underclassmen on their team that have to learn that offense and be prepared to hit shots with the shot clock winding down.  Denver can pick up a few wins at home with their elevation advantage,  style of play, and Joe Scott’s coaching abilities, but do you really feel fully confident in 9 freshman and 4 sophomores on the road in conference play?  They also have 3 seasons in a row of declining in wins, so it is not like there is a bunch of momentum heading into this season.  Not to mention, they were picked 2nd in preseason polls last season.  I have seen them ranked as low as 9th in the Summit and as high as 6th.

This team should have a pretty decent non-conference season though with no power teams on their schedule, and Wyoming is the hardest team on their non-conference schedule, who lost everyone.   The start to the conference schedule is not very kind to the Pioneers.  They start off with with two weekend games on the road against North Dakota State and South Dakota State, and then they have Oral Roberts at home…so they are starting off with the three teams that are known for being the toughest in the Summit League.  After the Golden Eagles, they have IPFW at home who swept them last season by 16 point margins in each game; and then they are back on the road for games against Western Illinois and IUPUI.  It is possible that they start the conference season at 0-6.  Talk about momentum!


Western Illinois

Range of wins: 2 to 5

No one is taking Western Illinois very seriously, and it completely makes sense.  They ended 2014-2015 on a nine game losing streak and they were 0-8 in Summit League road games.  Western Illinois is not an easy place for other teams to pick up wins though.  They were 3-5 at home, and they lost both of their home games to North Dakota State and South Dakota State by 2.

It also seems like everyone on this team was injured at some point, and they return the most scoring in the Summit League at 89% of their offense.  They are also very excited about their two freshmen 6’11” Brandon Gilbeck and 5’11” DeAngelo Brewster.  Gilbeck and Brewster do not need to carry the load for this team with Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer still on this team, but they need to just be role players; so it is not like they have any pressure on them.  It is completely easy to write off the Leathernecks and pencil them in as the worst team in the Summit League, but they could seriously surprise a couple teams this year and pick up a shocking win or two.  The toughest part of the season for them is going to be when they 6 out of 8 games on the road in the conference.

But the serious questions were all no for the Leathernecks last year.  Can they stay healthy?  No.  Can they win on the road?  No.  Can they beat South Dakota State or North Dakota State?  No.

Can the Mavericks improve on 5 Summit League wins?

Sometimes I find preseason predictions pointless, other than starting a conversation about the upcoming season or letting people know what could potentially be the biggest games of the year, there is not really much of a point to it.

I mainly find them useless because of the methodology in ranking teams.  Many seem to just copy and past the standings of last year, and then make a small edit if a team had a high amount of turnover from last season’s roster.  But I came up with a plan to do this for the Summit League.  I was reading some preseason predictions for the Big 10 football season which was done by a bunch of ESPN writers.  Some made good points but they all had to come up with a record for each team, and the math did not always make sense.  One clown had Ohio State going 12-0 with a 8-0 Big Ten record and Michigan State going 11-1, and also with a 8-0 Big Ten record.  Seriously, how drunk and lazy and/or bad at math was that guy?  Or some guys would have two teams going 8-0 in conference, a couple going 0-8, and everyone else going 5-3.  The math didn’t add up and they were telling you that these teams would win these amount of games because they are Skeletor and they said so.

So I came up with a plan.  I would go through the Summit League conference schedule and assign wins and losses over the course of a number of weeks.  At first it was just: South Dakota State is a better team than Denver, so win goes to the Jackrabbits.  Then later, I would look at the difficulty of each team’s conference schedule.  Obviously, everyone plays each other twice, but there are some things that stick out; like how Denver is the only team with the highway to the danger zone in playing at North Dakota State and South Dakota State in back to back games.  Or how South Dakota and Oral Roberts are the only two Summit League teams without three straight games on the road in conference play.  Then things like Omaha playing on the road against someone on a Thursday, as road games on Thursdays appear to be difficult for most teams.  Actually road games are pretty difficult for anyone.  Then I would go through the schedule again and consider some teams’ strengths versus their opponents weaknesses.  Like how teams better be good at three point shooting against South Dakota as they forced teams to take the most threes with their defense…and other things.

But I assigned wins and losses to each game, and did it several times considering different factors.  Then I plain and simple would add up each team’s wins and losses to see who had the most after going through it about 15 times.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it better than just saying South Dakota State will go 15-1 in conference because of Jesus?  Probably.

Really, after going through all of this; I really do not see much separation between many of the teams.  South Dakota State seems like a clear cut favorite.  Then North Dakota State seems like they are 2nd best, but they really should not be as comfortable as one would think.  Then Oral Roberts-Omaha-IPFW-IUPUI-South Dakota appear to be in a fight for spots 3 to 7 with Denver and Western Illinois sitting at 8 and 9; but Denver is a difficult place to play; and Western Illinois, while not great last year, they do return basically everything.

So much of the 3 to 9 in the Summit League appears to come down to:

  • Who can stay healthy?
  • Who can win on the road?
  • Who can pick up a win against South Dakota State and North Dakota State?

But for the sake of length, I am going to just post about Omaha to get started and why they should win more games than their 5-11 record last season.  Then I will come out with the rest of the Summit League later.


Omaha

Range of wins:  7 to 11 wins

Boldest Predictions:  Will pick up win against North Dakota State at home, will sweep South Dakota

Clearly, I am biased in how well I think the Mavs could do this season.  The Mavericks finished 5-11, but they had 4 conference losses decided by one or two possessions.  I know it does not work this way, but the Mavericks could have finished 8-8 or 9-7 in the Summit League had just a couple more things gone their way.  There is also more to play for with the Mavericks this season, and they should have a slightly stronger home court advantage with their new arena being right on campus. The attendance for the Mavericks has risen each season since transition, and people in town are starting to take them more serious.  2012-2013 was probably the most fun season to watch, but Omahans did not seem to even notice.  UNO Men’s Basketball was that new television show that had some good looking commercials that got you interested; but it was pitted in the same time slot as Breaking Bad in it’s prime and Sunday Night Football.   Justin Simmons had some of the most exciting dunks you could possibly witness; but Doug McDermott was in the middle of one of the greatest careers in Creighton and NCAA history; and Tim Miles was bringing a personality to the Huskers.  Omahans were in the mode of thinking they’d like to go to a Mavs game, but never fully pulled the trigger.  A few years later:  Creighton is down and Nebraska is too young for locals to know what is happening.  UNO has a brand new arena, in a fun part of town, some local guys on the roster that can make some noise, and six seniors to help start the new era of the program.

The Mavericks also have a pretty good way to start conference play with Western Illinois and IUPUI at home.  2013-2014 started @ Western Illinois, @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State; and 2012-2013 was @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State, and then a month conference break before they had South Dakota and Kansas City at home before going back on the road against very good IPFW and Oakland teams.  Last year the Mavs started on the road @ South Dakota and Western Illinois, and then came back home for North Dakota State and South Dakota State, before going back on the road against Oral Roberts.  The Mavs are finally not being welcomed to the Summit League with the middle finger jammed in front of their face, so hopefully they can start league play with some momentum.  The most difficult part of the conference schedule is going to be three straight road games at Denver, and the Mavericks yet to have a good game in the state of Colorado; then at Oral Roberts which is one of the toughest places to play in the Summit League; and then at South Dakota State who is the preseason favorite in the league and swept the Mavs last season by margins of 19 and 22 points.

As far as what is returning to the Mavericks: they lost Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter, but they are returning 61% of their scoring; which is the 4th highest in the league.  Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson as a returning back court is arguably one of the top 3 back courts in the league.  Jake White is hopefully healthy enough to give significant minutes when the conference season turns around, he is tied with his fellow teammate Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading returning rebounder in the league.  Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood should hopefully finally have roles edged out to really help this team improve.  Lack of depth was an issue for this team last season, but newcomers Zach Pirog, JT Gibson, and Tra-Deon Hollins sound as if they can really help the Mavericks improve on some of the weaknesses the Mavs had in 2014-2015, and add some needed depth to this team.  This team can go big, it can go small, it has adaptable lineups that can go up against anyone in the Summit.

From what I could tell, the preseason predictions biggest concerns with the Mavericks are that they cannot make up for the loss of Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.  Okay, everyone loses someone in college athletics, but should we really be concerned about losing two guys that were not recruited to ever play in a Summit League conference tournament?  So really, why are people so hard on them for losing Rostampour and Carter, but no one is hard on IPFW for losing Steve Forbes and Joe Edwards; or South Dakota for losing Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos; or Oral Roberts for losing half of their team?  Please don’t take this as a Rostampour and Carter Were Not Unimportant thought… The Mavs would not be the same without them.  The point is, it does not seem like the Mavericks are asking as much out of their newcomers and returning players as much as other teams.  They are asking Jake White to be healthy enough to score 2-4 more points and grab a couple more rebounds, which I realize is easier said than done; Tre’Shawn Thurman to continue to improve; Tyus and Patterson to be more consistent; and Reed and Smallwood work more on their roles that they established toward the end of last season.  Other than North Dakota State and South Dakota State, everyone else appears to be asking guys to come in and be stars or huge impacts right away.  One thing that does scare me about Omaha finishing in the top half of the conference is the injury to Marcus Tyus.  He’s coming off ACL surgery that he injured in February.  Being ready in full form throughout November, December, and January just seems like a lot to look for at this point.

Who is going to start for the Mavs?

Hip hip hooray, it’s the annual: Who the Heck is Going to be in the Starting Line Up this Season post

I was listening to the Summit League media day, it sounded as if Derrin Hansen was not 125% sure of who to start on his team, and it is kind of fun to sit around and speculate stuff for people so here we go.  If millions of people can sit at their computers dressed like a 7 foot tall puppy and speculate as to why Mark Hamill is not on the new Star Wars poster, then I can sit on the internet decked out in UNO Mavs gear and speculate who is going to start for the Mavericks and who will be the first guys off the bench.

One can safely assume that Devin Patterson and Tre’Shawn Thurman will be back in the starting line up.  One could also assume that Marcus Tyus will be in the starting five as well, but he ended the season early on a knee injury in 2014-2015.  It has been put out there that Tyus is doing fine in his recovery, and I am sure he is, but remember when Jake White got hurt in his junior season and we kept being told that he would be back next game because he was doing fine?  I am sure that Tyus will be in the starting line up, but maybe not at first.  We will see how his knees is actually doing in a few weeks.

So that leaves two spots open for starters to replace Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.

Is it safe to assume that Jake White will fill in Rostampour’s spot?  White started in 3 games in his junior season as a Maverick.  He averaged 6.3 points per game in those three starts, and 8.3 rebounds.  He is probably the obvious choice over sophomore Daniel Meyer and freshman Zach Pirog.

What becomes a more difficult choice for Hansen and staff will be filling in the void left by CJ Carter, one of the top scorers in school history.  The leading candidates at this point appear to be Tim Smallwood, Tra-Deon Hollins, Randy Reed, or JT Gibson.

I was kind of hard on Smallwood and Reed last season.  It’s not that I thought they were bad players, I just felt that UNO was not entirely sure how to use them for most of the season and did not have well defined roles for either of them for a majority of the year.  I was unsure about them as most of you would be if there was a new movie coming out featuring Adam Sandler and Nicholas Cage.  Over a ten game stretch, Smallwood had 3 DNPs, and was 0-10 from three point land.  I felt that Reed’s junior year was up and down.  One game he was getting 20 minutes, then the next game he was getting 2 minutes, and then a week from then he was getting a DNP.  It just seemed like it was difficult for either of them to get any rhythm going.  I would love a world where Smallwood is hitting three 3s a game and Reed is getting a monstrous dunk every other play.  That world might actually have Luke Skywalker on a Star Wars poster.

Then Marcus Tyus went down with an injury and missed the last 6 games of the season, and these two guys became the twist at the end of an independent film.  Smallwood was put into the starting line up, and I thought to my self: oh great, the guy who hasn’t had it in 2015 is getting the starting spot.  When Smallwood started getting more minutes, I realized how good of a defender he was.  He was not racking up a bunch of steals or blocks, but he was disrupting opposing players shots and passes, and he was a big reason why the Mavericks ended the season on a 3 game winning streak.  I grew super proud of his work on the defensive end in those last 6 games.  His 5-of-7 from downtown at IUPUI was a big factor for what helped the Mavericks hold on for a overtime win.  A statistic that surprised me when I saw the final results was that UNO finished 8th in the Summit League in 3 point field goal percentage last season.  Whether Smallwood is going to start or be one of the first guys off the bench, he has to help improve the team’s 3 point shooting.  If he can get his 26% 3 point shooting up to the 33% range, he can be a huge impact on his team.  The Mavs are 3-1 when Smallwood hits two threes or more…

Going into 2015, Smallwood has scored in 7 straight appearances.
Going into 2015, Smallwood has scored in 7 straight appearances.  How does Paul Miller tie his shoes?  Photo by Mark Kuhlmann

Due to life, my wife was not able to get to many games last season.  She was able to attend Oral Roberts at the Ralston Arena.  When Randy Reed came onto the court, my wife asked me who this guy was.  I read off his resume to her, and we watched on.  Reed was the high energy guy off the bench that the Mavericks needed that game.  He had clutch defensive plays to keep the game close, blocked some shots, altered even more shots, and really disrupted the Oral Roberts’ rhythm.  Every time the Mavs were on defense and Randy Reed was on the court, the Mavs fans were completely locked in.  We all wanted to see Reed take his game to the next level that night.  Like, who cares if they have Obi Emegano?  We’ve got Randy Reed on defense!  You have to like Reed coming off the bench though, since he can really guard the 4 and the 3.  With the much of the Summit League going to small ball, teams will really have a difficult time going up against Tre’Shawn Thurman and Randy Reed at the 4 for 40 minutes if they really want to play small ball against the Mavericks.  If they want to play big, the Mavs can go with Reed at the 3 and either Meyer, Pirog, Thurman, or White at the 4 and 5.

Reed can be one of the most excited Mavs to watch.
Reed can be one of the most excited Mavs to watch.  Photo by Mark Kuhlmann

Then there is Tra-Deon Hollins.  Get excited for this kid.  He adds a lot to this team, and he brings a lot to the areas that the Mavericks were missing last season.  He can defend, he can pass, he can score, he can rebound, and he can hit threes.  I would not be shocked if he got into foul trouble (along with other guards) early on in the season with the rule changes in college basketball, but hopefully everyone can adjust to everything fairly quickly.  If Hollins does not start and he is used as the high energy bench guy, he should definitely be on the court in crunch time in most situations.  It seems to take junior college players a little while to really define their role on a team, unless they are going to a 0-30 team that had no scoring before and they averaged 25 a game in junior college, then they probably know they will be taking a large quantity of shots.  Hollins knows what the Mavericks were missing last year though, so hopefully it does not take him long to find his niche.

The Mavericks and some local media sound to be pretty excited about J.T. Gibson as part of future for the Mavs.  Gibson was the player of the year for the state of Minnesota last year, and there are several Minnesotans that think bigger schools made a mistake by not recruiting Gibson.  Sounds like this other guy named Tre’Shawn that we know.  I have doubt that Gibson will start right off the bat for the Mavericks, but maybe he will as the season goes on and he establishes himself.  He would really have to impress coaches and set himself apart from teammates as there are so many upperclassmen guards on the team.  Apparently, Gibson is completely capable of playing the both guard positions.

Either way, the Mavericks should at least know who their top 8 guys are at this point.  They probably even have a good idea what their best line ups are, which is not something every team in the Summit League has figured out yet.

 

 

I had some time, so I came up with a Summit League Super Team

The Summit League preseason team came out last week, and it was pretty fair.  It is actually really difficult to come up with a 1st and 2nd Team list of picks, especially in a guard heavy league and you are a fan that wants to see the first team be a traditional line up with 2 post players, a wing player, and 2 guards.

I was listening to the recordings from the Summit League Media Day yesterday and was happy that Scott Nagy basically called preseason teams pointless.  Last year no one predicted that his players Deondre Parks and George Marshall would be all league picks, and it is basically because no one knows how the newcomers are going to do at this point.  Or if someone like Tyler Larson is going to see a huge improvement in play.

IUPUI’s transfers Nick Osborne and Darell Combs could be better than AJ Jacobson and Garett Covington for all we know.  Or IPFWs redshirt freshman John Konchar could be a better player than Jake Bittle.  We have to wait and find out.  Preseason picks are basically made to make us even more excited for the college basketball season.

So I wanted to do something (that I thought) that would be fun and create a Summit League Super Team…  This was nothing more than merely fun and to verify my lunacy…maybe to show how much time I have on my hands with my wife busy studying and working toward her PhD.

Imagine there is a tournament with the best players from each conference each year at the end of every season.  There can be a power conference tournament and a mid-major tournament if you are really scared about this, but it is make believe, so get over it.  So, each conference has to put together a 12 man roster of their best players from the conference, and you can have three players that can be reserves in case any of the 12 get injured.  They can be in any year of eligibility, but they must have been eligible in the 2015-2016 season in this case.  One wrinkle in the roster is that you have to have at least one player from each team on the 15 man roster.

So let’s pick someone from each team.


Denver – Nate Engesser – 6’3″ Sr

  • 2nd best field goal percentage (51.4%), free throw percentage (82.9%) of any player returning to the Summit
  • 4th highest amount of 3 point field goal percentage (42.9%) of any player returning

IPFW – Mo Evans – 6’0″ Jr

  • Ranks 3rd in Assists Per Game (3.3) of returning players

IUPUI – Marcellus Barksdale – 6’5″ Sr

  • Tied for 2nd highest steals per game average (1.7) of any player returning to the Summit League
  • Played 4 different positions for the Jaguars in 2014-2015
  • Ranks 4th in free throws attempted per game for any returning player

NDSU – AJ Jacobson – 6’6″ So

  • 4th highest free throw percentage (82%) for any player returning
  • 18 games of scoring in double figures

Omaha – Devin Patterson – 5’11” Sr

  • One magazine voted him as preseason defensive player of the year
  • Summit League leader in steals per game for last 2 years
  • 2nd highest Assists Per Game (3.9) of any returning player
  • Ranks 3rd in free throws attempted per game for any returning player

ORU – Obi Emegano – 6’3″ Sr

  • Voted Preseason Player of the Year
  • Most points per game (18.3) of any returning player to the Summit League
  • Tied for 2nd highest steals per game average (1.7) of any player returning to the Summit League
  • Scored in double figures in 28 games in 2014-2015

USD – Tre Burnette – 6’5″ Sr

  • Leading rebounder (5.9/game) for returning Summit League players
  • Had 4 double doubles in 2014-2015
  • Averaged 12.3 points per game in the month of February 

SDSU – Deondre Parks – 6’1″ Sr

  • 3rd highest points per game average (14.1) for any returning Summit League player
  • 2nd most 3 point field goals made (69) of any returning player to the Summit League
  • Scored in double figures in 27 games in 2014-2015

WIU – Garret Govington – 6’5″ Jr

  • 2nd highest points per game average (15.5) for any returning player 
  • 4th highest amount of three point field goals made (63) for any returning player to the Summit League
  • 3rd highest free throw percentage (82.8%) for any returning player
  • 2nd most free throws attempted per game for any returning player

Okay…okay…the first thing I think when I look at this finished roster is that the team is small.  We are going to need some height on this roster to compete against the other conferences.  We cannot reasonably take this team to a tournament like this with Barksdale, Burnette, and Jacobson as our post game.  How about we throw in candidates to fill out the roster.

Denver – Marcus Byrd

IPFW – Joe Reed, DeAngelo Stewart

IUPUI – Mason Archie, Darell Combs, Nick Osborne

NDSU – Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, Chris Kading, Dexter Werner

Omaha – Tre’Shawn Thurman, Marcus Tyus, Jake White

USD – Casey Kasperbauer, Trey Norris

SDSU – Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Reed Tellinghuisen

WIU – JC Fuller, Jabari Sandifer


So we have to pick six out of these twenty guys, which is not easy.  How about we address the post player void first and pick three post players from the list.  Am I too bias to throw in Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman right off the bat?  Are Byrd or Kading better players than either of them?  The jury is out on Byrd since he plays in such a slow paced offense.  Kading apparently had 3 surgeries since the basketball season ended.  Osborne has yet to play a game in the Summit, and we are just going off of the He Played Alright in a Slightly Bigger Conference So He Has to be Pretty Good With a Year Off and Now Into a Smaller Conference card.

I like Reed though, he’s going to go from being the ‘Dons 5th option to being their 2nd or 3rd option.  He can step back and hit the three, even though he is not going to do it a lot.  He also played very well when Steve Forbes was hurt for a few games.  Okay, we are adding Reed and Thurman for sure.  So White or Kading…I know Kading did not score a bunch of points in 2014-2015, but he did not need to.  He led the Summit League in blocks per game season, and this team needs rim protection.  With Thurman and Burnette on the team, the team will have to the two leading returning rebounders in the Summit League, so we are somewhat covered there.  I think I got to take Kading on this one.  But crap, what about Dexter Werner?  He was probably actually the most important member of the Bison last season not named Alexander or Jacobson.  You look at Werner and you think he is just going to get rebounds and put backs, but that is not true.  He gets the ball at the top of the lane and drives it to the basket when he wants.  He also has some pretty spectacular spin moves that put a number of Summit League guards to shame.  I know he is undersized, but I think we have to go Werner, especially considering the injuries to Kading and White.

So we have Werner, Thurman, and Reed on the roster.  We are up to twelve.


G Marcellus Barksdale – 6’5″ Sr

G Tre Burnette – 6’5″ Sr

G Garrett Covington – 6’5″ Jr

G Obi Emegano – 6’3″ Sr

G Nate Engesser – 6’3″ Sr

G Mo Evans – 6’0″ Jr

F AJ Jacobson – 6’6″ So

G Devin Patterson – 5’11” Sr

G Deondre Parks – 6’1″ Sr

F Joe Reed – 6’8″ Sr

F Tre’Shawn Thurman – 6’7″ So

F Dexter Werner – 6’6″ Jr


This team has two very good point guards in Devin Patterson and Mo Evans, but they both can be a little fast.  We might need a guy to say “SLOW DOWN!!!”  The guy for that is Jake Bittle.  It is not like Bittle is slow, but if you ever watch a Jackrabbits game, Bittle is the man to run the half court offense.  He holds the ball at the top of the key and then Parks and Marshall work to get open.  He is the quarterback and they are the wide receivers.

I feel like we are one post player away.  I know I had Kading and White as the leading candidates before, but I want to go with IUPUI’s Nick Osborne on this one.  He is a transfer, sure, but there are high expectations around him for the Jags.  Maybe not as much as Cody Larson had when he transferred to South Dakota State from Florida, but there are high expectations for him.  I am not sure if he is going to be a great player in the Summit League, or better than White or Kading, but damn it I want to take the gamble here.

So this team has some rebounding and rim protection, ball handling and passing, three point shooting, and perimeter defense.  I think we might have to go with George Marshall here.  He is probably not the most important player on his team, but he is highly needed on what should be the best team in the Summit League in 2015-2016.

I don’t know how this team would do in a tournament like this, because I already wasted enough time make this, so it is not like I’m going to go waste even more by making an Super WAC Team.  It is probably not even the top 15 guys in the conference, but it would be an extremely competitive team.

supert


 

Here is a change of pace and the All Summit Get Ready for Terrible Puns and Poor Jokes Team

Thomas Neff – Denver

ex:  Thomas has had Eneff

Paul, Dylan, and Trey Miller – North Dakota State

ex: It’s Miller Time.

Expect this to get incredibly annoying.

Dan Jech – South Dakota

ex:  Dan with the ReJechtion!

Tyler Flack – South Dakota

ex:  Tyler takes no Flack!

Deondre Parks – South Dakota State

ex:  Deondre Parks himself on the bench.

 

Just some haphazard notes listening to the Summit League Media Day

 

  • Joe Scott knows his team is young and the Pioneers are a work in progress, but he is preaching maturity to his team.
  • Jon Coffman is pretty damn excited about college basketball and his team.
    • Redshirt Freshman John Konchar has apparently put on a ton of muscle, and the ‘Dons are really excited about him and are more prepared to go small ball this year in the Summit
    • Brent Calhoun is expected to make a big jump for the ‘Dons, he has lost a bunch of weight and is in the best shape of his life.
    • I have realized that after an entire season that I have been spelling “Mastodons” incorrectly.
  • Jason Gardner is excited about this program, and thinks his staff will be more comfortable working together this year.  He has gained a large amount of respect for the Summit League.
    • In his opinion, Mason Archie is his team’s best defender and wants to defend the other team’s best player.
    • Marcellus Barksdale had to play four different positions in just about every single game for the Jaguars, he will not have to do that this year and expects Barksdale to benefit from not having to playing too many different roles.
    • Barksdale and Archie have both graduated already, and set a great example for the team.
    • His 4 transfers are really going to help this team.
    • The new arena has really helped the Jaguars in recruiting.
  • Dave Richman acknowledges that his team has 11 of his 15 guys as freshman and sophomores, but they are a deeper and more talented team than last year.
    • Chris Kading had 3 surgeries in the off season, will probably miss the first couple games of the regular season.
    • Lawrence Alexander carried the Bison on his back, he was the winningst most player in Bison history, it is not going to be easy to replace him.  They will have to replace him by committee.
    • The Bison ended up 12-4 in the league, but many of their games were won by just a possession.
  • Derrin Hansen (and Brittany Lange) is excited about the new arena, it has been a huge asset to the program, and they know it will help them catch up to the rest of the league in the next few years.  Not to mention it is extremely huge for the community.
    • Hansen is expecting more productivity from Tim Smallwood, Hansen is unclear if Smallwood will start or come off the bench yet.  Smallwood has a much better feel for the game right now.  He was a huge help when Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season.
    • Devin Patterson has become better in his leadership role.
    • Marcus Tyus is coming off his knee injury very well.
    • Jake White was only healthy for 2 or 3 games last year, he can have a big year if he is healthy.
    • Randy Reed is going to have a big role this year.
    • The players UNO has brought in bring in a winning culture, with all of them playing in their state championship games.  Zach Jackson’s team won the state championship.
    • Hansen thinks his new guys can be immediate impacts for his program, but it sounds like minutes may be an issue at this point.
  • Scott Sutton says he is excited and optimistic, but he also sounds like he wants to skip the morning and get straight to lunch.  He likes his new players, he knows there will be growing pains, but it is a tough group of guys that should be ready by the conference schedule.  Their non-conference schedule should really help prepare the Golden Eagles for the Summit League.
    • Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley have both been injured throughout the summer and had shoulder surgeries, but are doing very well at this point.  The staff is doing the best that they can to protect them.
    • Sutton thinks the rule changes in college basketball are going to benefit a guy like Emegano the most.  He already led the league last year in free throws attempted per game and he should get even more attempts at the line this season.  Sutton also likes how his team plays with a 30 second shot clock.
    • Sutton really really likes Jalen Bradley, and will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup.  Bradley got to play a lot on the team’s summer trip, where the team got to play with a 24 second shot clock.
    • Sutton could have a year where he is starting a couple freshmen.  AJ Owens is their post player, but not as consistent as they would like him to be.  Owens could have the biggest jump this year in the league.
  • Craig Smith sounds like he came to party. He thinks it is going to be a heck of a year for the Summit League, and his team will be a work in progress.  He is glad that his team set a foundation and a culture last year.  They lost a lot of scoring, so they have to figure out a way to score the ball.
    • Smith really does not know who is going to help take on the scoring yet, but Tre Burnette really caught on toward the end of the season.  Casey Kasperbauer is one of the best three point shooters he has ever coached.
    • The Coyotes have had a lot of injuries.  They have 17 players on the roster, but ended a practice with only 10 players recently.  It has been hard to get going and figure out lineups and who plays well together.
    • Dan Jech can score in a lot of different ways and is a great rebounder.  Smith sounds really excited about Jech.
    • Tyler Hagedorn has a great feel for the game and can do a lot of different things.
    • Tyler Borchers has been a great surprise for the Coyotes, he doesn’t look pretty with everything that he does, but he does great things.
  • Scott Nagy says his team has taken their time getting ready because of the great experience that they have at the guard position.  He thinks the Jackrabbits have a lot of depth, which is going to be needed in college basketball with the rule changes.
    • He points out that preseason awards mean nothing.  No one expected Deondre Parks and George Marshall to be all league picks last year.  Some transfers from IUPUI or on other teams could be big time players, and no one knows anything about them yet.
    • Jake Bittle and George Marshall both have nagging injuries, nothing that would keep them out, but they will be hurting after games.
    • Nagy thinks his team is smaller than he would like it to be.  They could even go very small with no true post player in some games.
    • Adam Dykman works extremely hard, and down the road will be a tremendous 4 man in the future.
    • The biggest question mark for the Jackrabbits is: how will they replace Cody Larson?  They are looking at 3 guys to replace him…Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, and Mike Daum.  He has no idea who will be their starting center at this point.
    • Nagy just seems displeased by rule changes, doesn’t see the need for them, but they have to play with them.  He doesn’t think the rule changes will affect how they play though.
  • Billy Wright feels his program is headed in the right direction.  His team has set a philosophy in how they want to recruit and compete.
    • Western Illinois returns 85% of their scoring.
    • His freshman are working hard to compete for starting spots and playing time.
    • Garret Covington has really worked hard to improve his rebounding
    • JC Fuller is one of the most underrated players in the league.
    • De’Angelo Brewster and Brandon Gilbeck will have big breakout years as freshmen.
    • The Summit League is close in talent, you are an injury or two away from going from the top to the bottom, or a recruit away from going from the bottom to the middle of the pack.

2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 10, Wyoming Cowboys

Okay, I am skipping the Mavs home game against Simpson College.  It’s just…you know…

Wyoming

2014-2015 final record:  25-10

2014-2015 home record: 15-2

2014-2015 Post Season:  Lost to Northern Iowa in NCAA tournament in “2nd Round”…I still think it’s the first round, but whatever.

Final 2014-2015 RPI:  72

Random Stat:  Wyoming record vs Northern Colorado/Denver/Air Force/Nevada – 4-1.  UNO record vs Northern Colorado/Denver/Air Force/Nevada – 3-2

Let me start out by saying…I like the Mavs in this game.  I like them a lot, even despite the fact that the Mavs are 0-5 when playing a division one opponent in the Mountain time zone since the transition.  Their only win since transition was against Johnson & Wales in 2012.  The Mavs are going to have 5 chances this season to get a win in the hour behind region (Colorado, Northern Colorado, Montana State, Wyoming, Denver).  I think Grand Canyon University might be in the Mountain Time Zone this time of year as well, I am not sure.  Bite me Arizona.


By the way, I learned something about myself here.  I somehow naturally always first type “Cowboys” as “Coyboys”.  It’s not a slam if you see that around here, just my natural incompetence.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about what the Cowboys lost.

Ricky Grabau, a 6’2″ guard that averaged 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, he shot 37% from three point range, made 61 threes in his senior season, and he was a 94% free throw shooter that got to the free throw line three times a game last year.

Derek Cooke, a 6’9″ forward that was an 8 and 6 guy and shot 72% from the field, and he also averaged a block and a steal per game in his senior season for the Cowboys.

Charles Hankerson, a 6’4″ wing player that averaged 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in his last season at Wyoming.  He also made 42 threes last season.

Matt Sellers, a 6’10 post player that only got 10 minutes per game, and he missed the last 18 games of the season.  He gave the Cowboys length though when he was available, and he had a 16 point and 8 rebound performance against Florida A&M while going 8 of 9 from the floor that game.

Oh, and then there is this other guy named Larry Nance, Jr.  6’9″ and 230 pounds, and he was a first round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers.  Nance averaged 16 and 7 his senior season, and also dished out 2.5 assists per game.  He also shot 51% from the floor and 78% from the free throw line.

Mitch Kupchak is excited about Larry Nance as anyone.
Mitch Kupchak is excited about Larry Nance as anyone.

I know losing some quality players, and only having one senior does not necessarily mean that the Cowboys are going to be terrible by any means.  But losing the main pieces of your roster is never a great thing.  What were your thoughts when That 70s Show lost Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher?  Or when Scrubs lost every damn member of the cast as regular characters?  You immediately wrote off the show, right?  I am apparently one of the few people that stopped with 2 and a half Men when Charlie Sheen left the show, not that I was an avid watcher while he was on the show though.

It is very hard on mid-majors when they lose a NBA guy.  It is a lot to lose, and a lot to make up.  I know Creighton was no longer a mid-major when they lost Doug McDermott, but they essentially had a mid-major roster when they lost him; and they had a significant drop off.  The Bluejays struggled finding an identity after they lost Kyle Korver and lost to Nebraska in the NIT while Korver was draining 3s with the Sixers.  Wyoming is going to have 8 new players to mix into their lineup.  Even when Creighton lost Anthony Tolliver and Nate Funk, the team had a huge drop off in a weak year for the Missouri Valley.  The team was mixing Dane Watts with a couple junior college players and like 6 freshman.  Things were okay, but not great.


So if they lost some great talent, what do they have coming back?

Josh Adams is a 6’2″ senior guard that is the only returning Cowboy that averaged in double figures.  He averaged 12.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 spg, and shot 44% from the field last season.  His season high was 27 points against ranked Boise State.  He has averaged 6 points per game and 36% from the field in five career games against Summit League opponents (Denver & South Dakota).  A player like this could really prepare new guards like Tra-Deon Hollins and JT Gibson for the Summit League.

A guy with a fun name to say: Jason McManamen is a 6’5″ junior that played in about 17 minutes per game last season and averaged 3.7 in each contest while shooting 40% from the field.  Probably his best all around game last season was when he had 5 points and 7 rebounds in a win over Montana State.

The last returning Cowboy to get significant minutes in 2014-2015 was Alan Herndon, a 6’9″ post player who is going to be a sophomore.  He averaged 3 points per game and 2.2 rebounds per game in his freshman season.  He was able to help the Cowboys pick up a win against some team called the Denver Pioneers in his freshman season with a 9 point and 6 rebound performance, perhaps helping out my stance that you need a decent offensive post game to beat the Pioneers, along with quick defensive guards.  We’ll get to that another day, probably.

Aside from these returning players, the Cowboys were able to pick up 2 three star freshman (per Rivals) who could be immediate impacts for Wyoming.  Their recruiting class is highlighted by Austin Conway from Aurora, Colorado.  He was rated a three star recruit and also held an offer from Indiana.  He appears to have some great handles.

Considering the Mavericks have a good chunk of their roster returning, and the Cowboys are not returning much; I really like the Mavs chances here.  I have questioned if the Mavericks can keep up their high pace on the road in the Rocky Mountain region, especially with a roster that hasn’t been extremely deep when they’ve played there.  Wyoming is actually at a higher elevation than Denver.  It is something that visiting teams need to be prepared for.  Can the UNO Biomechanics building prepare the Mavs for this?  Can they donate that?  I feel like I have seen elevation masks in there, or they were all playing Batman in there.  I’m sure it’s most likely science related stuff though, that program is crazy good.

Who has the best core of post players in the Summit League?

So the Summit League is stacked with guards and wing players this season.  College Sports Madness recently came out with a All Summit League 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th team and 16 of the 20 players were guards, 17 if you count South Dakota State’s Reed Tellinghuisen as a guard.  The Summit League came out with their preseason 1st and 2nd teams yesterday, and 8 or the 10 players were guards.  The teams they selected are fair for the most part, though I do not agree with leaving Tre’Shawn Thurman off the list, but I get that I am biased.

Anyway, there are so many guards on this list, and that is because the Summit League is going to be a very guard heavy league this year.  So could one come up with a conclusion that who ever has the best post game is going to set themselves apart from the rest of the conference?  So who has the best post players in the conference?

For the sake of argument, I am going to reduce each team’s list to their top 4 post players, because realistically teams hardly ever use more than 4 post players in the Summit League.  Hell some players do not use more than two post players.


North Dakota State

Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, AJ Jacobson, and one of the other 3 players that will mix in.

I have kind of had North Dakota State as my team to win the conference this year, but I am growing more and more uncomfortable with that recently the more I am looking things up.  Not that I think they are in trouble or anything.  Anyway, it is pretty hard to argue that they do not have the best core of post players in the Summit League.  I know someone might look at Chris Kading and say he’s only a 5 points and 4 rebounds guy, but he takes smart shots, he led the Summit League in blocks per game, and he would routinely hold the other team’s best post player to a bad game.

Dexter Werner was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Summit League last year, and he completely deserved it.  He was a big time force that brought immediate energy to the Bison post game off of the bench, and he shot 51% from the field.  He was playing undersized most of the time, but he was still able to get 1 block per game, which is tied with the 2nd most for returning players to the league.

Dexter Werner was selected to the 2nd Team for the All Summit Preseason Predictions.
Dexter Werner was selected to the 2nd Team for the All Summit Preseason Predictions.

Then the Bison have AJ Jacobson, and while there is no official Summit League Freshman of the Year Award, I am pretty sure it would have been him last season.  He appears to be a popular choice for 1st Team All Summit this upcoming year, after coming off averaging 11.6 points per game and 4.2 rebounds, and many people think he is going to take a large load of the shots that Lawrence Alexander was taking.  He is probably more of a traditional 3, but he did quite well for the Bison at the 4 position, and the Bison can bring in Werner off the bench and slide Jacobson over to the 3, making for a big lineup.

It is kind of unclear who the 4th post player will be at this point for the Bison.  They had Nebraska-native, Spencer Eliason redshirting last season, and they are bringing in two 6’8″ freshmen that they appear to be pretty excited about.  With Kading and Werner, you kind of expect one of the two true freshman to redshirt though, right?


South Dakota

Eric Robertson, Tyler Flack, Tyler Hagedorn, Dan Jech

I admit that is pretty difficult to go on from here, so how about South Dakota?  The Coyotes might actually have the most talented post players, but there are some questions to it.  Can Tyler Flack bounce back from sitting out all of 2014-2015 with an injury, and does Craig Smith even like him?  Flack was averaging 8.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg, and shooting 55% from the field as a sophomore in 21 minutes on a pretty bad South Dakota team.

Flack is back.
Flack is back.

Can Eric Robertson survive as a starter if Smith doesn’t feel comfortable with starting a true freshman?  Then there is two freshman, Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech.  Jech gives the Coyotes a post player and Hagedorn gives the team a stretch four.  The Coyotes were able to survive last season with 6’3″ Tyler Larson and 6’5″ Tre Burnette as their primary options in the post last season, so what is going to happen when Smith adds some height to their post game.  Oh yeah, and there is also Tre Burnette, who had the highest rebounding average of any player returning to the Summit League.


Omaha

Jake White, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Daniel Meyer, Zach Pirog (or Randy Reed)

It is kind of a bold move picking the Mavericks that high here.  Consider this though, no player 6’7″ or taller that is returning to the league averaged more points per game than Tre’Shawn Thurman last season.  Jake White is healthy apparently, while I cannot 100% verify this, but I am pretty sure he had limited minutes in his junior season due to injuries.  Even with as many injuries that he had in his junior season, he was probably the fastest post player in the league.  So you have to assume he will go from 20 minutes per game to 25-30, his field goal percentage should rise above 40% while he’s healthy, he can probably be a 10 and 8 guy.  10 and 8 should get you Honorable Mention in the Summit.

Could Jake White be the most underrated post player in the league?
Could Jake White be the most underrated post player in the league?

Daniel Meyer should be getting a minutes increase as well.  Statistically, he had about the same statistics that Dexter Werner had in his freshman season at North Dakota State, and he should receive an increased role (maybe even a Werner like role) with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry no longer on the team.  One game last year, I was sitting near Matt Hagerbaumer, you seriously need to take the opportunity to sit next to Hagerbaumer if you ever get that chance.  He’s constantly yelling support to younger players, and he was so excited about Thurman and Meyer as freshman.  He at one point said that they needed Meyer to be a banger down low and be the dirty work guy.  Basically, the Mavs need him to be Matt Hagerbaumer 2.0, and he is capable of being that.  Meyer apparently played very well on the team’s trip to Italy as well.

I am still unsure if Zach Pirog will redshirt.  Hansen kind of has a history of redshirting big players, and the team already has White, Thurman, and Meyer; but maybe Pirog is even better than advertised?  He should add immediate rim protection to the team, which would be extremely helpful, but how many minutes would be able to get this season?  Not to mention, there will probably be a lot teams playing 6’5″ guys at the 4 position for a decent chunk of minutes this season, so wouldn’t you want to play Randy Reed more at the 4 position this season; leaving a lot of the minutes at the 5 to White, Meyer, and even Thurman.  Just seems like minutes wise it would be a good idea to redshirt Pirog, but he is someone that can immediately help this team.


South Dakota State

Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, Michael Daum, Adam Dykman

There is a big gaping hole to make up in the loss of Cody Larson for the Jackrabbits, and it is unclear who will fill that role.  The Jackrabbits also grew comfortable playing Reed Tellinguisen at the 4 last season, as the team’s 5th best offensive player, they really couldn’t keep him off the floor, even if he was playing undersized at times.

You look at Devine and Theisen and you think two guys that don’t even combine for 5 points per game, but really they were playing behind Cody Larson and sharing that role of backup post player.  Then you realize that they both shot over 50 percent from the field, and they both had stretches over the season where they were making big plays.  It’s also not like Scott Nagy cannot develop guys at all.  Devine as a 40% free throw shooter might get left off the court down the stretch of the few close conference games the Jackrabbits will have.

The Jackrabbits also had Nebraska-native Michael Daum redshirting last season, who seemed like a pretty attractive recruit coming out of high school, so who knows how much he developed under the Jackrabbits staff.  The basketball fan in me says “oh wow this guy averaged 25 and 13 as a senior in high school,” but the Nebraskan in me says “I have never even heard of Kimball, how could anyone be good at basketball from there.”  The Mavericks offered him a scholarship though, he also held offers from South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and others, so non-Nebraskans see something in him.

Then there is even another Nebraska-native on the team, 6’7″ Adam Dykman.  I am pretty nervous about Dykman, I constantly saw his name in the paper for big games, and I know a few guys hugely into Nebraska high school basketball that were upset that UNO or Nebraska did not give an offer to this kid.  I am afraid he’s psycho angry about that.

With such a strong group of starting guards, I don’t think it’s going to come down to the post players for the Jackrabbits.  The show Scrubs had a great core of cast with JD, Turk, Kelso, Elliot, and Dr. Cox, would the show have been successful if they threw in a bunch of episodes centered around Ted and made a three episode story arch about Ted?  Many people would have turned away.  I actually would have watched the crap out of that.  So how many times are you going to hear a ESPN3 commentator say: The Jackrabbits are having a great night with Marshall, Bittle, Parks, and Tellinghuisen knocking down all these outside shots and beating their defenders to the rim; but I really think they need to get the ball into Devine to work his magic on Dexter Werner?  Probably never.


IUPUI

Nick Osborne, Matt O’Leary, Evan Hall, and Noah Thomas

Nick Osborne and Matt O’Leary were decent players at Loyola and will now have increased roles with the Jaguars.  Evan Hall and Noah Thomas are both true freshman, so the hard part for the Jags is throwing in an entirely new core of post players into their lineup.  Hall is a 6’7″ freshman that was rated as a 3 star recruit and had offers from Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, and Lipscomb out of high school.  Hall is a 6’9 and 235 post from the state of Indiana that averaged a double-double in his senior season.  The Jaguars also survived last year on having guards playing as post players, so it’s not like they cannot win without a post game at all.  Essentially, the team decided that they didn’t like the cast of the last season of the Power Rangers and went with entirely new ranger squad, and they feel pretty comfortable about how the new cast will go.  How many other places are you going to find a Power Rangers reference talking about sports?  Actually, I don’t think this my first time on here.


IPFW

Joe Reed, Brent Calhoun, Andrew Poulter, Racine Talla

You’ve got to feel confident in a 6’8″ guy like Joe Reed that has shot about 55% for his career.  Like Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman getting more shots because of departures, you’ve got to think that Reed’s shot attempts will go up with the loss of Steve Forbes.  Reed is another guy with potential to be a 10 and 8 guy.  His other three front court teammates are kind of question marks.

I’ve seen people bragging up Andrew Poulter, and I do not get it.  He was a 7 and 5 guy as a sophomore at a junior college, and he also shot 47% from the field.  I watched a video of him in high school working on some 1 on 1 moves, he was looking like an All American but he’s 6’11” and 275 going up 1 on 1 against some 6’5″ 175 pound guy.  Granted, it is high school and I doubt there were too many guys near his size to work out with, but still, I don’t see how his 1 on 1 skills will ever come into play from the Summit.  Then there is sophomore Racine Talla who is 6’9″ but hasn’t played a game of basketball in 3 years.  It just seems like a gamble to take them seriously at this point.  Maybe Jon Coffman realizes how to use them appropriately though, we will clearly have to wait and see.  And many people have them picked as the 4th best team in the conference, so maybe I am just a moron.  95% chance that I am a moron.


Oral Roberts

Brandon Conley, Tre Vance, AJ Owens, and Darian Harris

Did you know this team led the Summit League in blocks per game last season?  They essentially did not need production offensively from their post players as they had Obi Emegano, Kory Billbury, and Bobby Word to take on a bulk of the scoring, so they really just needed their post players to play defense and make great outlet passes.  I don’t think people are realizing how important Denell Henderson was to this team.  None of these players are huge scoring threats, and a lot of people are high on Owens even though he basically only got minutes when the Golden Eagles were getting killed last season.  He shot 40% from the field, and he was basically playing against other teams’ 3rd string most of the time.  Darian Harris also seems like he should be a shooting guard, but the ORU had to use him at the 4 position several times last season due to lack of a post.

I am nervous for Scott Sutton this season, but not in a way that I think he’s going to get fired or anything.  I really do not think he has a great roster this season, but it is Sutton and Obi Emegano.  I love hearing rumors every off season about schools looking at Sutton as a head coaching hire, but we may not get that this April and May.  If Sutton can come in top three of the league this season, I really think he deserves coach of the year, but I don’t think he’ll get it.


Denver

Marcus Byrd, Daniel Amigo, Christian Mackey, and 1 of 2 freshman.

I am scared for Denver this season.  A few have selected them to finish in last this season, CBS Sports rated them as the 3rd best team in the Summit League but it was pointless.  It is really hard to look at Denver and say they have the best players in anything, not because of a lack of talent, but because of the offense that Joe Scott runs.  Marcus Byrd averaged 8.5 points per game as a junior, 8.5 at Denver is like averaging 13 any place else.  Byrd can also step out and take the three, he actually has the highest three point field goal percentage of any player returning to the Summit League this season, and he makes nearly 2 threes a game.

Daniel Amigo was also giving the Pioneers pretty good minutes as a freshman, but his season ended early due to injury.  The Pioneers also have a 6’7″ freshman named Abiola Akintola from Australia, who was not widely recruited, but he averaged 17.8 ppg and 6 rebounds per game in the U18 Australian Junior Championships, whatever the heck that is.  I know there are a lot of question marks for international players, and it could be difficult to figure out if he is even the right fit for Denver, but it could be something amazing watching him develop.


Western Illinois

Tate Stensgaard, Jalen Chapman, Mike Miklusak, and the mystery man

All are average guys that on any other team in the Summit League would be role players, and really they are just role players for Western Illinois, but they give a lot of minutes to the Leathernecks when they are available.  They many lost the last 13 of 14 games of the season because they had no Stensgaard or Chapman for that time, but still, could they have made the difference.  The team has 4 freshman post players that will mix in.  I wonder how they will work out.

 

 

 

2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 9, Grand Canyon Lopes

Grand Canyon

2014-2015 record:  17-15

2014-2015 WAC record: 8-6 (tied for 2nd in the WAC with UMKC)

2014-2015 non-conference home record:  8-6

2014-2015 final RPI ranking: 279

Best wins in 2014-2015:

Random Stat:  Both UNO and Grand Canyon lost at Chicago State and at UMKC.

2014-2015 post season:  75-70 loss to Northern Arizona in the CIT

Grand Canyon University…  Last season, on the first night of college basketball, I was reading through ESPN’s bottom line for all the basketball scores to my wife.  I tell her that Kentucky beat Grand Canyon by 40.  My wife, who knows more about college sports than most people immediately says “who the (expletive) is Grand Canyon, is that even a real school?”  About a month later we learned that one of her best friends from high school was enrolled in grad school at GCU.

At first glance, I am kind of scared of GCU as an opponent.  I am partially scared because they are in the middle of transition, and I feel like they could have added incentive for this game to beat a team that just finished transition; to show that they are ready for the next step.  I am also worried because they have Thunder Dan as their head coach, and they have Thunder Dan’s kid as one of their main players.  It’s just you know…Thunder Freakin’ Dan.  I really hope the Mavs are getting a return game with Grand Canyon in Omaha next season.  I know a handful of Suns fans that would go to a game just to see Thunder Dan, which I think is weird to go to a sporting event just to watch a coach, but whatever, I would pay money to go watch Phil Jackson take a nap at a Knicks game.  With possibly Thunder Dan and Brian Fish as coaches to see at Baxter Arena in 2016-2017, the Mavs could have a pretty fun home non-conference schedule next season, but I am not ready to look at 2016-2017 yet.  I am not ESPN wanting to discuss the 2019 NFL draft already with a half stock.

Grand Canyon has Thunder Dan signed until 2019.
Grand Canyon has Thunder Dan signed until 2019.

The Lopes have had a winning record since transitioning to Division 1, and they have been invited to the CIT two years in a row.  Looking up their schedule over the last 2 years, I immediately get angry and scream out “HOW THE HELL WERE THEY ABLE TO PLAY A CONFERENCE SCHEDULE IN THEIR FIRST YEAR, I THOUGHT THAT WASN’T ALLOWED!!!!”  It’s Thunder Dan, isn’t it?

The schedules that they have come out with each season have not been all that difficult since transitioning.  They are playing the WAC to load up their conference schedule, oh the WAC.  Their non-conference wins last season were against: Montana State (323), Florida A&M (350),  Illinois-Chicago (297), Bethune-Cookman (344), New Mexico (175), Abiline-Christian (326), and UC-Riverside (239).  So while they finished with a 17-15 record in 2014-2015, it does feel a little inflated, especially considering that all of those wins were at home.  It is not like the Mavs had a string of much more impressive wins last season, but I am just saying that GCU’s 17-15 record does not sound as impressive as it looks when you look at it as far as just win totals and a post season trip.

Seriously, how are they getting all of these games at home?  Is it because everyone wants to go to Phoenix in November and December?  The Lopes non-conference home schedule before Omaha gets there this season is: Portland State, Black Hills State, Alcorn State, Hampton, Central Michigan, and Southern.  Did they just look up an old Creighton non-conference schedule and copy and paste it?


Key losses:

Royce Woolridge- 6’3″:  10.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 46 fg%, 74 ft%, 32 3ptFG%

Daniel Alexander – 6’9″:  9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 44fg%, 89 ft%

Jerome Garrison- 6’3″: 7.8 ppg, 3,3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 48fg%


Key returners:

DeWayne Russell- 5’11”, SR:  14.2 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 41 fg%, 76 ft%, 14-32 3ptFG

Joshua Braun- 6’4″, SO:  11.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 46 fg%, 78 ft%, 38 3ptFG%

Ryan Majerle- 6’3″, SR:  7.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 44 fg%, 82 ft%, 38 3ptFG%

De’Andre Davis – 6’1″, SO:  5.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 52 fg%


 

Aside from returning these four guys, the Lopes will get to add a couple graduate transfers to their team.  A 6’6″ forward from Saint Louis, Grandy Glaze, who sat out last season due to an injury.  Glaze averaged 3.8 ppg and 4.5 rpg for the Billikens while shooting 48% from the field.  There is also Grant White from Jacksonville state who is a 6’1″ guard that played in 13 games as a junior and averaged 3.6 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 apg for a team that went 12-19 and 5-11 in the Ohio Valley.  The Lopes will also have a 6’8″ graduate transfer from Coastal Carolina named Uros Ljeskovic who did not receive much playing time in his junior season at Coastal Carolina.  How in the hell is a transitioning school getting so many graduate transfers?  Does this have anything with them being a public university listed on the NASDAQ?  Actually they are a private school, but they a public…seriously this makes you want to shut down.  I claim unfair advantage.  It sounds like they figured out the cheat code to play as Goro against Mortal Kombat right now, that’s not fair, you have to play as Kano like the rest of us.  Damn it, I hate Kano.

The Lopes also have a transfer from Memphis named Dominic Magee, a 6’4 guard who was rated a 4 star athlete out of high school.  He picked transferring to GCU over LSU, and had offers to UCLA and Arizona out of high school.  He redshirted last year at Memphis and transferred at the semester, so I am unclear if he will be playing for the Lopes in the first semester of 2015-2016, or if he will have to wait until January.  This just sounds pretty scary.

Really, I do not think that the Lopes have much competent size on their team, so I really hope the Mavs can get Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman going in this one, and the Lopes were already one of the worst rebounding teams in Division 1 last season.  With the guards they have coming back, the graduate transfers coming in, and this Magee looking like he could be the greatest thing that the WAC has ever seen; it appears that this team is actually pretty stacked in the back court.  As much as I am sure the Lopes will have an added incentive to beat the team that just finished transition as a measuring stick for themselves, I seriously hope the Mavs will have added incentive to not lose to a team that is still in the transition stage they just got out of.

It does not really look as if this team has been too terribly tested in the last two years.  They did have receive spankings at the hands of Kentucky and Indiana last year, but I think those are games that transitioning teams go into their second year and just write off the second they read them on the schedule.  I don’t even want to look back at the scores of some of the Mavs games in year two of transition.  One thing that does make me feel slightly better about looking at the Lopes is the fact that they were swept by Chicago State last season.  Talk about the least interesting conference match up that God could ever come up with.  They did sweep Seattle though, damn it this is confusing.

 

Each Summit League team’s case as to why they are number one

It is going to be a very exciting year in the Summit League for men’s basketball.  Several teams are returning a good portion of their rosters, and while many think the league will be easily won by South Dakota State; they will be in a much tighter race for a championship than most people think.  Every team has a goal of winning the Summit League, but what is their case as to why they are number one?  After all, 9 walk in and only one comes out… I’m just messing with you.

March To The Summit League


 

Denver

Hi, we are the Pioneers, and we know that some people are picking us to finish last in The Summit League this upcoming season.  But we saw a statistic from kenpom recently that our coach, Joe Scott, has coached teams over the last ten years that have had the 2nd highest 2 point field goal percentage in division one.  That is because we run the Princeton offense, we are all about using the entire shot clock to find the absolute best shot possible, it is based on unselfishness and not on stars.

We ranked 298th in division one in points per game as a team, but we were 20th in the country in field goal percentage which was 1st in the Summit League.  We were 3rd in the Summit League in 2013-2014 in field goal percentage behind North Dakota State and Fort Wayne, who were both pretty good that year.  We were also 3rd in the Summit in three point field goal percentage over the last two years, and we recruit to our style, so expect that to continue.

We know we are a young team this year with 8 freshmen and 4 sophomores, but it is not like we are going to just play the underclassmen for 40 minute a game.  We have an unselfish trio of seniors to run our offense with Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, and Bryant Rucker.  Engesser shot 51% from the field last season, he and South Dakota State’s Jake Bittle are the only 2 guards in the Summit League to shoot over 50% on the year, and they have the two best shooting percentages of any players returning to the Summit League this year.

With the exception of three games in the Summit League last season (we are still pretty baffled by our losses to IPFW), we play every game very close, so your players better be ready to hit some clutch shots in the closing minutes.  We know we had a record of 12-18 last season, but we are a tough home team going 9-7 at home and we even beat this upcoming year’s favorite, South Dakota State, in Denver.  So take that!

Engesser is the only returning player for Denver that averaged more than 10 points per game.
Engesser is the only returning player for Denver that averaged more than 10 points per game.

Fort Wayne

So we return the least amount of division one experience in the Summit League, but at least we have arguably one of the top three point guards in the league with Mo Evans.  Our offense will probably run through him, and he will hopefully be either on the 2nd team All Conference team or at least Honorable Mention at the end of the year.  Team that up with Joe Reed and we have a good inside-outside game that can be pretty difficult to defend.  With so many new faces on our roster, it could be difficult to set a consistent line up at first and get everyone on board with our team defense, but at least we will be a mystery team for our opponents to defend.

One thing that we would like to point out is that we were last in The Summit League in free throw percentage last year, which can matter sometimes apparently.  Our three players that shot the most free throw attempts: Steve Forbes (75%), Joe Edwards (63%), and Isaiah McCray (49%) are all gone.  We still have Evans and Max Landis who both shot over 80% from the free throw line, two of the best returning players in the league in free throw percentage.  We recruited a junior college player named DeAngelo Stewart who shot 82% from the free throw line in his sophomore season at North West Tech.  Let’s just say we do not plan on losing to Dartmouth by 1 because we went 18-30 from the line or losing to Georgia Tech by 9 because we went 14-28 from the line.  Oh, we know we cannot go 100% from the free throw line, but damn it we lost 4 games last season where missed the exact number of free throws that we lost the game by.  That stings a little.

Stewart also played at Alabama State his freshman season, where his team went to the CIT, and we are totes expecting Stewart to be a major contributor on this team.  Some magazine also tabbed him as the preseason newcomer of the year in The Summit League.  We added another junior college player who has division one experience in 6’11” and 270lbs Andrew Poulter who started his career at Arkansas-Little Rock.  Does anyone in the league have anyone that can defend 6’11” and 270?  Do not answer that.  Aside from these additions, we have two transfers from Purdue and Bradley that will have to sit the year out, but hopefully they should help our team out in practice.

Wait, what does Stewart's jersey say? The Mastadons will need big things from their newest addition this season.
Wait, what does Stewart’s jersey say? The Mastadons will need big things from their newest addition this season.

IUPUI

Remember how many dicks picked us to finish dead last in The Summit League last year, and we ended up winning 6 conference games?  Do you remember that?  Were you there for that?  Sorry if we are a little rambunctious right now, but seriously do you freaking remember that?  We have one of the better young coaches in probably all of the Mid Majors, and he can go into any recruits home and his parents will remember who he is just by his name alone.  Scott Sutton goes into someone’s home and his parents are automatically concerned if he has his drinking problem under control because they hear the name Sutton, and that is what they associate with.  With new facilities, a new coach, a new type of recruit, our program is a reboot film and it is being led by the best young director out there, James Gardener.  We had one of the largest attendance increases by per game average in the country last season, so you know things are getting good.

Again sorry if we seem rude, but y’all can suck it.  Combine our coach with Indianapolis, the 14th largest city in the United States and we are actually a fun place to live.  It’s not like we’re a bunch of yokels that base their diet off of a 5.99 steak combo meal at the local grocery store chain.  No, this is IndianGoshDamnApolis!

We lost 5 players to transfer, but it is cool because we have already forgotten their names.  We get to put 4 new players onto our team that transferred from bigger conference schools, so basically we traded in a vespa for a regular motorcycle.  Like, we actually have a threatening post game now that we get to add to a 6-10 team, so we are thinking those wins are going up.  Oh, and we still have the widely disrespected Marcellus Barksdale, maybe the best wing defender in the league. Who are the two biggest offensive threats at the wing position in the Summit League? Obi Emegano and Garret Covington?  That is cute.  Barksdale held Emegano to 30% shooting in three games and Covington to 36% shooting in two games last season, so that is nothing to us.

What can the Jaguars do with an actual post game this year?
What can the Jaguars do with an actual post game this year?

North Dakota State

We basically win everything as it is, so why would you expect anything to be different this year?  We lost Lawrence Alexander, but we return everything else for the most part.  Our players actually have the most returning division one starts in the entire Summit League.  On top of all the players returning, we got to take our team on a summer trip to the Bahamas for exhibition games, where we learned even more about each other.  We have the best defense in the league, and while we are young, we have an incredibly mature and well disciplined roster.  Anyway you want to cut it, we are the San Antonio Spurs of the Summit League.  We have the best fans in the Summit League, because of the cold weather and there not being much to do in Fargo or the state of North Dakota, there is not much else to do.

Can you think of a team with a better core of post players than us?  Chris Kading, AJ Jacobson, and Dexter Werner: the three players combine for the complete package in the post.  If you think Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman can run the floor and dunk, you should see our newest recruit post player Deng Geu, he’s 6’8″ and has about a 40 inch vertical.  There is about 4 blocks a game right there with Kading, Werner, and Geu.  Oh, and our perimeter players are incredible defenders, so that stupid Jackassrabbits and their great core of guards do not scare us at all.  We held that team to 31% shooting in the Summit League championship last year.  What a bunch of turds.

The Bison lost by 10 to Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.
The Bison lost by 10 to Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.

Omaha

We know you are supposed to get better the more and more you go through transition, but we admit that last year we did not appear better by our amount of wins and losses.  Looks can be deceiving though… After picking up our best win ever as a basketball program, we stumbled mightily with losses against teams we should have beat like UMKC and Chicago State.  Consider the injuries though to some of our best players: Jake White, Devin Patterson, and Marcus Tyus battled through injuries.  You get all of those guys healthy on the court and we have a pretty deadly team.  Throw in some added motivation with a brand new arena and an opportunity to play in the Summit League Tournament, and we have an under the radar team.  Our attendance has been rising each and every season since the transition, and we expect that to continue as we move into the Baxter Arena so hopefully we can gain more and more of a home court advantage as time goes on.

We ended the 2014-2015 season on a three game winning steak, all those games were on the road.  We were actually even maybe 2 or 3 plays away from ending the season on a 6 game winning streak.  We still have yet to beat North Dakota State, but we came closer than we ever have before.  This was all with only having 4 players returning last year.  This year we have 9 players returning and 61% of our scoring, which is the 4th best in the league behind Western Illinois, South Dakota State, and North Dakota State.  We were able to take our players to Italy and learn about each other, we got in 10 extra practices, 4 exhibition games, and we know that this will pay off this season  We score a lot too.

College Sports Madness put senior guards Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson on the Preseason All Summit League 2nd team, SDSU had George Marshall and Deondre Parks on the first team, so if you think about it; we have the second best back court in the league.  That is probably how it works, right?  Sophomore Tre’Shawn Thurman has the highest points per game average for any returning post player in the league, unless you count NDSU’s AJ Jacobson as a post player, that is up to you.  Thurman also has the 2nd highest rebounds per game average for returning players, actually he is tied with fellow Maverick Jake White.  So we could have the second best back court in the league, as well as one of the top post combinations in the league.

The transition is over!
The transition is over!

Oral Roberts

“OBI EMEGANO:PLAYER OF THE YEAR!  SCOTT SUTTON:14 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS!  FIRST IN THE LEAGUE IN ATTENDANCE!  GOLDEN EAGLES RULE!”

*drops microphone*

*flips off the crowd with both hands*

If there is ever a Summit League All Century team, Emegano will probably be on it.
If there is ever a Summit League All Century team, Emegano will probably be on it.

SOUTH DAKOTA

We had a winning record last year and most people were thinking we would finish in 7th or 8th in the conference. Fun thing: we were able to pick up a win against every single Summit League team last year, other than ourselves, that would be ridiculous. Craig Smith is from the Tim Miles coaching tree, so you should expect him to increase his win totals this season, based on nothing.  We may have lost a ton of our scoring and whatever, but we still have Casey Kasperbauer: the three point king of the conference.  We also will have Tyler Flack back who sat out 2014-2015 due to injury, and a gang of role players that know how to play as a team.  No one was expecting Tyler Larson to be one of the best players in the league last season, so who knows who will step up this year.

Yes again we lost a lot of our team, but we found two great recruits in Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech.  Hagedorn picked to come here over Omaha and North Dakota State, and Jech picked us over North Dakota State, Montana State, Louisiana-Lafayette, and others.  You want to talk about a place where there is nothing to do?  Talk about Vermillion, South Dakota.  All our players can do is work out and get better at basketball.  Also, somehow Hagedorn continues to get taller and is now listed at 6’10”.  Did any teams in the Summit League pick up any big men better than what we picked up (on paper)?  Probably not.

Fear Red! Or something like that.
Fear Red! Or something like that.

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

We are the favorite to win this league this season, everyone’s favorite.  We return the most scoring in the Summit League, after Western Illinois, but ours has proven to be competent.  Slam!  We have an inexperienced post, but if we cannot get the ball into them we can just do whatever we want with Deondre Parks, George Marshall, and Jake Bittle.  Even after those three we have Reed Tellinghuisen who can score on the outside and is also capable of getting to the basket.  We keep being told about how our freshman Adam Dykman was incredibly overlooked by everyone as well.

We lost to North Dakota State by 1 in the Summit League championship, and our returning core is clearly upset about it.  It is not a question of why will South Dakota State win the Summit League, but rather; who has any chance of beating South Dakota State?

Seriously, come at us, bro.
Seriously, come at us, bro.

Western Illinois

We do not have much to say.  Garret Covington will score a bunch of points though, probably even be 1st Team All Summit.  We had a lot of injuries last season.

If it were possible, Covington might be demanding a trade.
If it were possible, Covington might be demanding a trade.