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.