The Jackrabbits are going to have that new basketball team smell in 2017

With a new coach, five players graduating, two players transferring out, and a new coach; it is definitely going to be difficult for people to just pencil in the Jackrabbits as the best team in the Summit League again in 2017.

Iowa State Assistant, TJ Otzelberger, who I may refer to Taco John Ostrich Burger at some point, will be taking over as the head coach of the Jackrabbits.  I’m sorry about making fun of someone’s name, I was forced to watch an episode of One Tree Hill last night, so I’m just in a mood.  Former Coach Scott Nagy left the program for Wright State, which seems like an odd move to most outsiders.

Seriously, the basketball writing in One Tree Hill is awful.  For starters, two brothers for some reason get super excited to go see a Charlotte Bobcats game.  Later on at one point, the team captain walks into the coaches office and the coach tells him he’s going to run the triangle offense this season just for him.  I love that some writer in LA just turned on a 2002 Lakers game and heard the words “triangle offense” and just rolled with it because they didn’t know what else to do.  Then the whole team gets in a fight right as being introduced to the crowd, which just turned into a dog pile fight for literally no reason.  The captain started a fight with his brother, then all the players just reacted to fighting each other with absolutely no build up to fighting each other.  Then in the post game the coach lets the captain remain captain and makes his brother co-captain so they “can figure it out together.”  What a terrible show.  One Tree Hill just makes me worry about…everything on this planet.

Wait, what happend?  I blacked out.

Otzelberger had two separate stints at Iowa State, recently one under Fred Hoiberg and a few more years under Greg McDermott.  He spent a few years at Washington under Lorenzo Romar, who is an idiot, and he has been a part of recruiting some top nationally ranked classes at Iowa State and Washington.  That’s great.  Recruiting classes are everything, especially when you get a bunch of overrated chubs that don’t do a bunch and you cannot even reach the top 25 with that class during the regular season.  I’m mostly referring to Washington’s teams…and no one can talk me out of Craig Brackins being incredibly over hyped at Iowa State.  I believe I saw that at one time in high school he was rated over Blake Griffin.  That worked out.  Don’t take this as me bashing Otzelberger being an overrated recruiter or something, it takes an entire coaching staff to recruit and actually develop their players and team…not just one assistant; and I have no idea how much of a role he had in actually recruiting those players…but if it’s going to be bragged up on the internet by South Dakota State on how great of a recruiter and developer of post players coach that Otzelberger is, we should discuss how worthless of a college basketball player Shawn Kemp Jr was in the process.

Otzelberger’s scheme does not sound all that much different than Nagy’s, he wants the team to get out and run at a fast pace, which is similar to just about what everyone in the conference seems to be moving to.  He basically wants the Jackrabbits to be Omaha, but with defense.  I will say, it appears Otzelberger is incredibly excited for this opportunity with South Dakota State and he sees big things for his new basketball program.

There is a problem with the Jackrabbits as of right now in time.  They currently only have 8 scholarship players returning, and have one junior conference guard committed for next season.  Two of those eight returners redshirted last season.  It’s tough to count out South Dakota State already since North Dakota State almost had the exact same situation in 2014-2015 and they ended up winning the Summit League tournament.

Unless the Jackrabbits get a graduate transfer with one of their remaining scholarships, the team will have no seniors on their roster…which is usually not good, but the Summit League is not going to be filled with seniors in 2017.  Otzelberger may not be going for those transfers as he stated he wanted to go for 4 year players he can develop, but coaches say a lot of things, and coaches have a tendency of going after transfers to load their new teams with some needed experience in their first year when there is a lot of turnover from the year before.  Do you not remember Dana Altman’s CBI run at Oregon in his first season?

The Jackrabbits will return Summit League First Teamer and 6th Man of the Year, Mike Daum, who is a great player.  He is going to go from almost always being the 3rd or 4th option on the court to always being the first option.  Some player do not adjust to that very well, especially as sophomores, and Daum seems like a pretty well mature guy; but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on at how well he adjusts to this.  Denver, Omaha, IUPUI, and South Dakota have quicker forwards that can get out and bother Daum a little; so maybe Jackrabbit fans wont see Daum take a quick jump his sophomore season, as much as they expect.

Another core player returning to the Jackrabbits will be Reed Tellinghuisen, who I really thought took a step back his sophomore season.  His freshman season he appeared to be up there with AJ Jacobson and Tre’Shawn Thurman as one of the top three freshmen in the Summit.  He put on some muscle going into his sophomore season but dropped in field goal percentage from 45% to 40%, dropped in three point field goal percentage from 41% to 37% and dropped in free throw percentage from 66% to 61%.  He was still 7-of-9 from three in Omaha, though.

In most situations this season Tellinghuisen was playing at the 4 with the Jackrabbits, and it was maybe a mistake on the part of the Jackrabbits staff, even if they did have limited options on where to play Tellinghuisen.  I sit with a perfect few of the baseline in Baxter Arena, and Tellinghuisen looked great on offense; but  you could literally see the fear on Tellinghuisen’s face when Tre’Shawn Thurman got the ball on the baseline and Tellinghuisen had to play defense in the post.  He had nothing he could do to Thurman other than just foul him.  Tellinghuisen played best when he was on the court at the same time with Mike Daum and center Ian Theisen in the front court.

That front court has the potential of being the best front court in the Summit League next season.  Theisen has a little bit of Cody Larson with his post game, but needs a little jump shot to really be an all conference player.  Since Otzelberger is apparently such a great developer of post players, perhaps he can make Theisen into an incredibly scary post player for the Jackrabbits.  Or he might just look sweet since the Jackrabbits don’t have many other post players (as of yet) and he will get 35 minutes a game.  Who knows, it’s a crazy world and it’s the Jackrabbits league…we’re just living in it.  The team will be adding Nebraska-native Adam Dykman to the front court, who redshirted his freshman season…and I know a number of people that watch a lot of Nebraska high school basketball that really felt the bigger schools really made a mistake by not recruiting Dykman.

The Jackrabbits went into the 2016 season with having what was expected to be the top back court in the Summit League, and let’s just be happy that the Tra-Deon Hollins & Devin Patterson back court challenged them for that top spot.  The Jackrabbits back court will be relatively unproven going into 2017.  Tevin King will be the only returning player in the back court, and he saw limited action really since he was playing behind three seniors in his freshman season…which sounds great from a development standpoint.  King only shot 4-of-14 on threes in his freshman season, which would worry me as a Jackrabbit fan, and he only shot 59% from the free throw line.

The team recently added 6’1″ guard Andre Wallace from Iowa Western, who could really be a great player in the Summit League for the next two seasons.  He was a 40% three point shooter for the Reivers and had 4 games of scoring 20 or more points in his sophomore season.  He wasn’t known for being a great defender at Iowa Western, which could suck for the Jackrabbits in a guard dominated league.  The Jacks will also have Cole Gentry, a point guard out of Chicago, who redshirted his freshman season.  The redshirt freshmen in the Summit League have been exceptional the last few years: AJ Jacobson, Mike Daum, John Konchar just to name a few…so who knows if Gentry can be a great player right away or not.

With what is going to be an entirely new look for the Jackrabbits, to their roster and their coaching staff, there are going to be a large amount of questions for South Dakota State at the start of the season.  Usually those teams with a lot questions get rated low in preseason rankings, but it’s South Dakota State so they will probably get tabbed as the preseason favorite just because.

 

 

 

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I cant put together my thoughts when talking about Western Illinois

The Leathernecks beat Wisconsin to open up the season, and I am pretty sure it is the most forgettable big time win by a Summit League team of all time.  It is almost immediately discredited with: well, Wisconsin wasn’t together at that point…or something along those lines.  There were people that believed in Western Illinois after that, and hopefully those people that did use that belief to discuss how good the Summit League was as a whole for the season.  They probably more so had an attitude of: Well Western Illinois sucks, so who cares.

Western Illinois finished the season as 9th in the Summit League, which meant they had to sit out the Summit League tournament.  At least they got to really bulk up Creighton’s non-conference schedule.  It was not pretty after the Wisconsin win for the Leathernecks.  The team picked up some lopsided wins against the likes of some division 2 schools in addition to Illinois-Chicago and Eastern Illinois before going on an 11 game losing streak.  Then they hurt my brain when they broke their losing streak at home against the Mavericks.  The Leathernecks did expose a large weakness of that Mavs that Omaha was not a great defensive team in the post.  Once a team can get the ball past the quick hands of Tra-Deon Hollins and Devin Patterson, Omaha may not have the bodies to deal with guys down low.  Denver saw this and they just kept throwing the ball into Christian Mackey and CJ Bobbitt to just ruin the Mavericks.  Ehhh.

Much of the season for the Leathernecks was about as hard to watch as when your brother brings home some train wreck of a girl to meet your parents; and you hold a large amount of embarrassment that you know your brother.

The Leathernecks are going to be losing JC Fuller’s 12.7 points per game, which is probably a good thing as he thought he could have the green light to shoot like Steph Curry, but Curry actually makes the crazy shots he takes.  Western Illinois only played Fuller for 8 minutes when they beat the Mavericks and instead gave most of the back court minutes to freshman De’Angelo Bruster, who might be the new fastest player in the Summit League.  His speed created so many opportunities for other players in that game against the Mavericks, he may have actually won that game for the Leathernecks even though he scored 0 points.  Bruster only scored 2 points per game, but the Leathernecks were 2-0 in games he played more than 20 minutes, so hell, they might as well at least make an attempt to give him more minutes in 2017…but Billy Wright seems like the least creative coach in the League; so who knows.

Garret Covington will be the Summit League’s top returning scorer, and that is fun, I guess.  Covington has been known as being one of the league’s most threatening scorers over during the first three years of collegiate careers, but watch a Western Illinois game.  No one else knows how to get open, the coaching staff doesn’t have a great list of plays to really get players open, and Covington never really scores when the game is on the line and he can push the Leathernecks over their opponent.  Granted, they don’t have too many moments when the game is close for Covington can do that, but the point still remains…probably, I think, I may have gone in and out of points there.

The idea here is, who else on the team can actually score consistently?  Jabari Sandifer would go 8-of-12 from the floor one game and then go 2-of-13 the next game, and most of shots were Aw Crap, When Did the Shot Clock Change to 30 Seconds shots.  We like to ask these hypothetical questions of: Would Tre’Shawn Thurman put up the same numbers at a Creighton or a Nebraska?  The simple answer is no because he would be on a different team with a different depth and a different offense than what he is currently on, but it does not mean he is a worse player.

Anyway, if you took Garret Covington and threw him on any other team in the Summit League would he still be known as one of the most prolific scorers in the league?  Covington took 13 shots a game in 2016 and attempted almost 7 free throws a game to guide him to 18 points per game.  You put him on South Dakota State, pretend you’re trading him for Reed Tellinghuisen… Covington isn’t such a dominant of a scorer that he would have taken shot attempts from their three seniors and Mike Daum…Covington would score less than 10 points a game with the Jackrabbits.  Put him on Omaha’s roster, he’d score more than 10 points a game because of the offense, but he would have been the 3rd or 4th option on offense in most situations, and the Mavericks would have been freaking sweet…I think my general point here is that Covington should not have been a Summit League 2nd Team player.  Didn’t Lawrence Alexander finish as North Dakota State’s winningest player with over 100 wins?  It’s kind of a weird thing to say since basketball is a team sport, but Covington has only been a part of 27 wins in his three years at Western Illinois.

You know what, I hate talking about Western Illinois this long.  They at best will finish with 5 conference wins next season.  I am still salty at their men’s soccer team; they flopped so much against Omaha that I thought maybe Manu Ginobli, Vlade Divac, and Derek Fisher took up coaching college soccer.


My wife is out of town for a conference and I heavily debated of traveling (alone) to Tulsa to see the Mavericks take on Oral Roberts; or to Macomb to see UNO Softball play Western Illinois, but I unfortunately decided to be responsible and to save money.  Damn it, I brought up Western Illinois again.  UNO softball at Western Illinois is actually on the radio this weekend…sayyyyy whaaaaat?  88.3 FM is apparently a station?

I was worried about the softball team for UNO this season because of the depth of the pitching, but they are staying alive so far thanks to the bats.  Not saying the pitching has been awful between Laura Roecker and Abbie Clanton, but there are not a ton of options if the two of them are having a bad game or were to get hurt.  Nine players hitting above .250 right now…Nine!  That’s how many times Ferris Bueller unofficially missed class his senior year.  Three players are in the top 10 in the Summit League in batting average.  Oh and this team just beat Iowa State in Ames!  The Mavs are also 159 in RPI right now which is 2nd in the Summit behind North Dakota State.

With just one conference loss, the Mavs are currently 2nd in the conference standings behind 6-0 North Dakota State.  The Mavericks will end the regular season at North Dakota State and also still play 3rd place team South Dakota at home next weekend, so there is still a lot on the line for the Mavs as the two top seeds get byes in the conference tournament in Fargo.


Oh and per twitter, Caroline Hogue has left the women’s basketball team.  Someone may need to let Jon Green cry on their shoulder for a while.

 

 

The Coyotes are going to have a new pack in 2017

So the Coyotes finished 2016 as the 8 seed in the Summit League tournament after being preseason picked as the 5th team in the Summit.

At the beginning of the year, I said, no, this team is not in the top half of the conference.  They lost 54% of their scoring going into the 2016 season, which was the most in the conference.  Now, actually heading into the 2017 season, the Coyotes will lose almost 70% of their scoring…but they cannot get worse than 8th, right?  I mean, right?  Similar to Tim Miles at Nebraska, Craig Smith was supposed to improve this team year after year.

The Coyotes had three transfers sitting out this season who could immediately help the Coyotes try and improve next season and stay away from the 9th spot in 2017.  6’3″ Junior guard Carlton Hurst will join the Coyotes from Colorado State.  Hurst averaged 4.2 points per game and shot 44% from the field in his freshman season, but his production dropped his sophomore year to 1.8 points per game.  That CSU team his sophomore season won a program record 27 games and made the NIT.

Trey Dickerson is a 6’0″ point guard who transferred from Iowa after being upset that he was the 3rd string point guard for the Hawkeyes…and also probably because Fran McCaffrey messed up Dickerson’s income taxes.  Seriously, McCaffrey looks more like the team accountant than the head coach.  Apparently, Dickerson has the potential to be the fastest guard in the Summit League next season… He only played in 15 games for the Hawkeyes and averaged 2.7 points and 1.2 assists over those 15 appearances.  Not super impressive numbers, but yeah, I would be throwing a parade if the Mavericks had a transfer from Iowa being thrown into their lineup.  It would be the world’s worst parade.  It would be more like a random guy walking down Center Street screaming incoherent babblings.

Lastly, the Coyotes will be adding Air Force transfer, Matt Mooney, who will be a 6’3″ sophomore.  Mooney averaged 7 points in a Princeton offense his freshman season at Air Force; he shot 45% from the floor and 39% on threes.  He had 8 games of scoring in double figures for Air Force.  Mooney cited that bullying was one of the reasons for wanting to transfer away from Air Force.

Each player has potential to be at least Honorable Mention in the Summit League in 2017 and/or 2018 and help the Coyotes reload their roster quickly.  Granted, they finished 8th in 2016, so maybe rebuild is a better word here than reload.

Aside from just bringing in transfer players, the Coyotes will also be adding Lincoln native, Triston Simpson – who held offers from South Dakota State, North Dakota State, and also the Mavericks.  Simpson averaged 16.2 points and 6.2 assists per game in his senior year for Lincoln North Star.  I feel like I hardly heard Simpson’s name throughout the high school basketball season, but maybe that is just because he is from Lincoln?  The Lincoln Journal Star named him to the 1st Team Super State team.  South Dakota also signed two wing players: 6’4″ guard Tyler Peterson from the state of Minnesota who also had an offer from North Dakota; and 6’5″ Brandon Armstrong, from the state of Texas, who also held offers from New Hampshire and Texas-Arlington.

South Dakota may be losing 70% of their scoring, but they still have some interesting pieces coming back.  Forward Tyler Flack finally came back after sitting out for nearly a year and a half with a back injury.  Flack ended up averaging 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17 games this season.  He had a bit of a coming back party in Omaha when he had 14 points and 6 rebounds against the Mavericks at the end of January.  After that game Flack looked like an All Conference player averaging 12.9 points and 6.4 points per game.  If Flack can come back and be healthy all season, the Coyotes can actually make a pretty big jump from 8th place next season.  The Yotes also have their two big freshmen Dan Jech and Tyler Hagedorn coming back for next season, who both had flashes of potential in 2016, but they both kind of fell out of the lineup when conference play started and Flack was back in the lineup as a key player to the team.  A player that probably surprised us all was sophomore Dejon Davis.  His freshman season he averaged 2 points a game, but jumped to 9.2 points per game in his sophomore season…his minutes did increase by almost 20 minutes per game as the Coyotes did not have much depth at the wing…so it wouldn’t be shocking to see his production drop off in 2017 after adding the transfers and incoming freshmen.

Craig Smith and his staff still have 2 scholarship spots to fill, and Smith is likely to still go after some transfers from bigger schools as that is how he has tried to jump start a heartbeat into his program so far.  It would seem pretty typical of Smith to go after Nebraska transfer Johnny Trueblood, as Smith used be an assistant for the Huskers and he clearly likes to recruit out of the state of Nebraska.  Jerk.

I’m going to throw out another potential name that makes me want to punch a stack of bricks.  Marvin Clark, Jr… Smith has also made attempts at going after players from the Kansas City metro area, and Clark is originally from Kansas City.  Clark played two seasons at Michigan State where he saw his minutes drop to 10 minutes per game in his sophomore season, but he was working himself back into the rotation near the end of the season due to some injuries on the team.  He would be a 6’7″ 225lb junior (and could add more weight sitting out for a year) in 2018 and could really make the Coyotes a favorite in the Summit League that season, and he would immediately replace Flack after he graduates.

They may not be from bigger schools, but Milwaukee had a few players leave their team this last month after the coach had been fired; and both Austin Arians and Cody Wichmann had offers from South Dakota out of high school.  Arians would be eligible to play immediately, and at 6’6″ he could really help improve the wing position of the Yotes; he averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a junior…he also made 2.5 threes per game; but Arians visited Wake Forest last week so he may be a little too classy for South Dakota.  Wichmann will also graduate and be eligible immediately; he is a 6’5″ smaller power forward type similar to Casey Harriman (Creighton alum).  Wichmann averaged almost 5 points and 2 rebounds per game in 2016, he shot 47% from the field and 48% on threes in his junior season…He might not be the huge impact to the team that Clark or Arians would be, but he would still help the Coyotes look better than 8th in 2016.

So 2017 may depend on how quickly the Coyotes can get the new faces acclimated to their program, but they can quickly make a jump and hopefully not trend down.  They will be one of the youngest teams in the Summit, which is never great, but they will have players that have been around the block before.  This was also a team that had a decent amount of injuries in 2016, and even a couple of mid season departures, so who knows what can happen if they can actually be healthy in 2017.

 

The Golden Eagles, I mean, ehhh, right?

Probably the most stressful year of Scott Sutton’s coaching career is over, but next could be equally as stressful…but probably not…I don’t know…

The Golden Eagles are only graduating Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley, so they have a lot returning for next season, which is good…I guess.  Hey Nebraska faithful fans, remember in 2008 you thought the next year’s team was going to be really sweet because they were only losing one player…but that one player was Aleks Maric?  Ouch.  Okay, that team actually made the NIT, but still, some Nebraska fans were thinking they would win the Big 12.  Those were the days.  The NIT is a pretty big deal for Nebraska fans, I’m sure it will be too for the Mavericks when it happens, but it is sad that is the measuring stick for a successful season for the Huskers in basketball.  Believe me, I love Nebraska basketball, but it’s like you’re trying to make something out of watching a terrible television show and hoping it develops into something episode after episode, but it never does develop into a great show.  Just okay enough to have Cialis commercials every episode.  I’m clearly talking about the second season of The Walking Dead.  14 of the 16 episodes in the second season was really just a spin off of General Hospital, but in Georgia, with zombies.

So the Golden Eagles only lose Emegano and Conley, but one of those players is Obi Emegano… Emegano averaged 23 points and 5 rebounds a game this season.  Conley averaged 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, he also had 3 double-doubles on the season.  Both of these players had injuries over the summer and appeared to be playing through a number of stingers throughout the regular season for Oral Roberts.

I think the most common phrase said by Golden Eagles fans during the 2015-2016 season had to be: “Oh, what kind of shot was that?!”  Oral Roberts had the worst shot selection in the league this season, and their team probably had the overall lowest basketball IQ.  I don’t think there is an official way to score Basketball IQ, I’d look into it, but, ah, screw it, there is no way.  I think you just watch a basketball team with a 7 year old and if they complain about the horrible passing and horrible shots taken by a team, you just know the team has a terrible collective basketball IQ.  It’s not exact science.  I say this, but the Golden Eagles were 3rd in the conference in field goal percentage.  They did average the 3rd most turnovers in the league behind Denver and Western Illinois…so there is that.

The Golden Eagles did finish in 7th in the Summit League with a 7-9 record, and they did that with one of the youngest teams in the league.  They also were never really killed in any of those 9 losses.  They lost by an average of 7 points per game, and even for a while many of us thought that they were going to upset South Dakota State in the first round of the conference tournament.  So with 60% of their scoring coming back for next season, you would think that they should be set up to be a quality team; but the problem is that they are losing Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley…

Sophomore center Albert Owens was showing consistency and promise in February and March when he averaged almost 13 points and 5 rebounds a game over the last month and a half.  The problem with Owens is that he is 6’9″ and 260 pounds and wanted to live on taking 16 foot jump shots.  If you’re an athletic 6’9″ and 260 pounds you should probably be going down low and punishing someone like Mike Daum, not scoring 2 points and grabbing 0 rebounds against the Jackrabbits.  Owens will be the team’s top returning scorer at 10.2 points per game.

After that our boy, Jalen Bradley, finished the season at 8.5 points per game.  Bradley had some good quality games throughout the year, but then would follow it up with 3 games of low scoring and low shooting percentages.  That is exactly how it is down the rest of the lineup for ORU.  Freshman Kris Martin had 17 points against South Dakota State, but then averaged 4 points over the next 5 games shooting 24% from the field.  The other 6’5″ freshman who torched the Mavericks with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting, DaQuan Jeffries, had several bad games throughout the year.  But as stated before, what freshmen are not inconsistent?

The freshmen (and the sophomores) for Oral Roberts have a lot of potential to be great players in the Summit League.  The inconsistencies of the Golden Eagles’ upperclassmen for next season of Jalen Bradley (8.5 ppg, 42 fg%), Aaron Young (5.5 ppg), and Aaron Anderson (4.2 ppg) might be how Scott Sutton’s team will finish in the bottom half of the Summit League again in 2017.  2018 though, the Golden Eagles could be a top 3 team in the league.  I say this as someone, who at one point, was super pumped for 2016-2017 as Jalen Bradley’s senior year with the Mavericks.  We were going to have a team centered around Tre’Shawn Thurman in the post and Jalen Bradley and Rylan Murry on the outside knocking down a combined 7 threes a game.  It was going to be like Magic the Gathering.  I’m not sure if that applies, I’m not sure how Magic the Gathering works, I think one of the rules though is that you cannot have a girlfriend.  I always thought Bradley would be a good player with the Mavericks and score about 10+ points a game by his senior year, but I never thought he’d be the guy the Mavericks would have to rely on to put the whole team on his back and win a conference championship with.

The Golden Eagles could still have someone transfer out at this point, but as of now they have one more scholarship available.  There are a number of kids from the areas they like to recruit from in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas that are leaving their schools that they could grab as a transfer to sit out and build up for the 2017-2018 season.

One guy that comes to mind – Jacob Hammond…  Hey, why not?  He left Nebraska in hopes of playing closer to home, but I am sure playing time is a factor for him.  Hammond is originally from Comanche, Oklahoma…which sounds terrible, which is in southern Oklahoma.  He could transfer to some Northern Texas school and be closer than Tulsa, but Oral Roberts has to be an option.  Can you imagine that front court for Oral Roberts in 2017-2018?  Albert Owens at 6’9″ and 260 lbs, a high flying athletic Javan White at 6’9″, and Hammond at 6’10″… Everyone in the Summit League would have issues scoring on them in the post.

The youth and the inconsistencies, combined with the improvements of the Summit League as a whole, is what makes Oral Roberts difficult to figure out.  If these freshmen (next year’s sophomores) take on the lost scoring of Obi Emegano next season, and the team makes less turnovers, they could make up that 8 points per game in their 9 losses and be one of the top teams in the Summit League in 2017…and if they don’t they could finish last.  Like, 9th place is a possibility for this team next season.

 

 

 

The Bison should roam the Summit again in 2017

So did you think the North Dakota State Bison men’s basketball team overachieved or underachieved in 2015-2016?  They finished 5th in the Summit League (after being picked 2nd by most people), but they had a fair amount of injuries (maybe even most in the Summit), and they were able to make it to the Summit League championship again.

The Bison are only graduating Kory Brown (10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg) and Chris Kading (3.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg), so they will be returning 4 starters to their lineup.  On top of that they will be returning their top bench player, Dexter Werner, so on paper so far it sounds as if they can be at least good enough to return to the top half of the Summit League.

With three shooting guards committed, the Bison have one scholarship still open; and they are not a basketball program that really seeks out a lot of transfers from bigger schools or junior colleges.  After losing Lawrence Alexander, the team really prided themselves on replacing his 19 points per game with the guys they already had on their team.  Next Guy Up: I believe was their slogan.  Paul Miller boosted himself from 6.7 points per game his freshman season to 15.3 points per game into his second season.  Brown increased his scoring by 2 points, AJ Jacobson by 1 point, and the team did add sophomore Malik Clements (okay, I lied he came from a junior college) who averaged 6.3 points per game…so they were able to make up the scoring lost by Alexander.

The team can replace the 13.6 points per game that they are losing easier than they can make up the 19 points per game they lost from the year before.  It’s not really about just replacing x amount of points…you cannot just replace Val Kilmer (an average Batman) with George Clooney (terrible Batman) and expect to make a good movie.  Not that Batman Forever was great, but it wasn’t Kilmer’s fault.  Point is, I think, Brown and Kading did more than just score points.  They brought smart play when they needed it.  Losing smart players who bring defense and make big shots right when you need them can be a big loss for a team.  But…next guy up, I suppose.  When the Bison were at Omaha without Paul Miller, and AJ Jacobson was in foul trouble; Chris Kading and Kory Brown took the moment to just do more than scoring.

Chris Kading’s defense was really bothering Tre’Shawn Thurman for a stretch in that game.  Kading ended that game with 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks; but also every shot he made were instrumental to mounting a comeback for the Bison.  In the second half of the game, Jacobson was brought back in, as was Jake White for Omaha, and Jacobson couldn’t guard White or Thurman.  He couldn’t defend anyone driving to the basket, which is what helped Omaha from letting the Bison get the comeback win.  For a Bison fan, it was probably as sad as I was watching Batman & Robin.

It sounds as if the Bison are going to attempt to replace Kading’s production with their redshirt freshman Deng Geu.  Geu (it’s pronounced GOO) is 6’8″ with a lot of hop.  He said that the Bison wanted to add an outside shot to his game, so they are hoping to making him a shot blocking-jump shooting center who can get 2nd chance opportunities on the offensive end, so they want him to be Kading.  That’s what is odd, or special, or whatever, about Dave Richman, is that he is going to try and do the exact same thing offensively every single game.  Just run this stupid weave offense with the exact same pieces of the puzzle game after game.  Okay, it’s a successful plan obviously, but I would think it would get figured out after a few runs through the Summit League.

I thought the Bison were the anomaly of the Summit League this year.  Lots of injuries in the off season and regular season.  They are a pretty undersized basketball team, and also pretty slow for an undersized basketball team.  Malik Clements was listed at 6’3″ and 210 pounds, but he looked more like an unhealthy 230 pounds.  Players left the team at semester.  Carlin Dupree leaves the team in January over a dispute in playing time, and then comes back a month later just suddenly accepting that Khy Kabellis is better for the team as a starter. They had just a completely unwatchable game against IUPUI in the first round of the Summit League tournament, the way they played, anyone else in the Summit could have beaten them that day.  Paul Miller, the team’s leading scorer, was suspended for breaking team rules and could not play in their 2nd round game of the Summit League tournament.  Carlin Dupree, the same guy who was pissy about playing time two months ago, got the start to replace Miller against IPFW and scored 22 and 6 rebounds and hits timely shot after timely shot to lead the Bison over the top team in the Summit.  Dupree really bothered Max Landis in that game as well, if Paul Miller would have played more minutes in that game over Dupree, the ‘Dons may have actually won that game.  They then lost by 8 to South Dakota State, who maybe should not have been in the championship game the way they played against Denver and Oral Roberts, but damn it the Jackrabbits did it and played a really good game against Maryland in the NCAA tournament.  After this, the Bison didn’t get a trip the CIT, and I assume turned down a trip to the Vegas Mistaketeen.

All of this is why the Bison will probably be picked in the top 3 in the preseason rankings for the Summit.  These weird series of events, and the fact that they will be led next season by Dexter Werner and AJ Jacobson, who are the two most consistent players in the Summit League…though like stated, everything that the Bison do is based on doing the same thing over and over.  I’m sure if you played Texas Hold em with Dave Richman, he would be the guy that only bets to get in a hand if he has a pocket pair.