The coaches were not kidding when they said that The Summit League is a conference on the rise. Every team has an identity, and every team thinks they have a legitimate chance at winning The Summit League. Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin and being 5-1 at the moment has definitely been the biggest surprise so far. The season is still young, but we are done with the first calendar month.
I was going to come up with something looking at who the 1st and 2nd All Summit League teams were up to the end of November, but then I realized there is still a ton of basketball to be played out, so what is the point? Instead, why not look at who and what have been some of the biggest surprises so far around the Summit?
Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin is clearly what sticks out the most. J.C. Fuller’s scoring going up is not that big of a surprise as he was getting better and better as the season went on for the Leathernecks last season, but shooting 72% from threes so far is big surprise. He is not going to finish the year at 72% but he should continue to give the Leathernecks a second option after Garret Covington.
Obi Emegano being a scoring machine is not a surprise, but he has already made 21 threes on the year after making 29 all of last season.
We knew North Dakota State had to find someone to make up for the loss of scoring from Lawrence Alexander, but Paul Miller averaging 19.6 points per game, after scoring 6.7 per game last season, has been quite the jump through 5 games.
Jake White being healthy for the Mavericks has been like getting an entirely new player. He is 5th in the Summit League in scoring right now at 16.3 points per game through 6 games, while only averaging 21.5 minutes per game.
Marcellus Barksdale did not get a double digit scoring performance until his 7th game. He does not have a history of being a prolific scorer, but you would think the senior leader would be scoring a little more.
Tre’Shawn Thurman and Reed Tellinghuisen have caught up to AJ Jacobson. It is not a huge surprise really. Thurman was expected to get an increased role for the Mavericks as they lost Mike Rostampour, was Jacobson supposed to get more shots from the departure of Lawrence Alexander and the addition of a couple more post players? Tellinghuisen is still not expected to be the main option for the Jackrabbits, but he is an efficient scorer that has added on some muscle. The class of 2018 is a big time class for the Summit League, and there are still some junior college players and transfers that could be huge additions to the class.
John Konchar is what IPFW had been advertising. Jon Coffman stated that Konchar would have been worth 5 more wins for the ‘Dons had he not redshirted last season. He is averaging 11.6 points and 8.1 points per game so far. Watch an IPFW game too, he looks like the most mature player the team has. Coffman was also pretty big on the improvement of Brent Calhoun, but he is only averaging 1.8 points per game and shooting 31% from the field.
Nate Engesser is not starting for Denver. He is leading the Pioneers in scoring with 16.2 points per game, but he has yet to start a game, and he is only playing 22.5 minutes per game. Also Denver, who was thought to be the worst team in the league by many is 5-1 so far. Many had it between Denver and Western Illinois as the two worst teams in the league, and they are both 5-1.
There are 4 freshmen averaging more than 10 points per game so far: Konchar (IPFW), Mike Daum (South Dakota State), Dan Jech (South Dakota), and Joe Rosga (Denver).
Tra-Deon Hollins currently leads all Summit League players in assists and steals. He leads the nation in steals as of right now. He reminds of what it was like to play with Eddie Jones in NBA Live 99…on rookie mode.
I was pretty down on AJ Owens of Oral Roberts before the start of the season, but he is proving me wrong with 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and he even leads the conference in blocks so far. My bad.
If you look up the scores on ESPN before any games are played, and you see South Dakota, ESPN lists Eric Robertson has their must see player. Every time.