A few weeks away from the start of the conference season for The Summit League, are you starting to get pumped? Nothing like some meaningless rankings and broad observations to help get you there.
1. Fort Wayne
The Mastodons beat Indiana. Don’t you remember?
They actually average more steals than Omaha. That might break you.
Don’t let the Iowa State poor showing get you down. The Mavericks were worn down in that game after putting all of their focus on the Hawkeyes over the weekend. You could see how Tre’Shawn Thurman was warn down in that game, he had no lift in his legs what so ever. The whole team seemed deflated from the opening tip. I was hoping Derrin Hansen would have used half time as a kindergarten style group nap.
Also, don’t let Nebraska or Creighton smack talking fans take anything away from Omaha beating Iowa because “it’s a down year for Iowa.” These are the same people that were in agreement that thought before the start of the season that Iowa would be in the NIT because “Fran McCaffrey is just that good of a coach.” I guess it’s also a down century for Nebraska, so Incarnate Word should just forget their win over Nebraska a few years ago ever happened.
Looking up and down the Summit League, it is hard to find a team that is more set up for success this season AND in the future. Even though the Mavericks still have some things they need to work on, they have an actual chance to win the Summit League this season. In addition to that, sophomores Zach Pirog, Mitch Hahn, and Zach Jackson are showing that they could be a dangerous front court combination over the next few years. Freshmen JT Gibson and KJ Robinson are also showing flashes of improvement and could combine with that front court in 2018 to be the best starting lineup in the Summit League in 2017-2018. Yes, I realize that some teams could get some junior college players or some transfers from bigger schools to contend with them, but as of right now, we have a Pirog, Hahn, Jackson, Gibson, Robinson lineup to look forward to.
3. North Dakota State
The Bison have the second highest RPI and Kenpom rating as of right now, but remember when the Bison were just unstoppable at home? Then the Mavericks broke that trend last season? The Bison lost to the Fighting Si..Hawks by 18 in Fargo last night. Dexter Werner had 30 points and 13 rebounds in the game, but no one else for the Bison really showed up. The Bison back court of Paul Miller and Khy Kabellis combined for 1-of-18 from the floor.
It may actually shock you that the Bison currently have the worst three point shooting percentage in the Summit League.
4. South Dakota
Can we just call them Mini-Nebraska? They are good at defense, poor at three point shooting, and struggle to score ball at times. They also appear to have a ton of depth on the team, but really there is just not much difference from the starters to the bench players…but the starters are not exactly 1st Team All Conference players.
The Jaguars have had a pretty tough schedule, with only two home games so far, and they still have to play on the road against Southern Utah and Northwestern. While you were not paying attention, because Omaha was playing in Iowa City, the Jaguars were able to pick up a win at Ball State. Then they almost pulled off another Summit League versus Big 10 upset by playing Illinois close.
6. South Dakota State
Not sure if you’ve watched a South Dakota State game, but it’s not really looking all that pretty. The team has no flow whenever Mike Daum heads to the bench. There is no true point guard to really set up a pick-and-roll situation. It really is a team of guys that have not played much basketball together and are still working to figure it out. They can turn this around by late February, but the process of getting there may not be pretty.
They were able to beat UMKC over the weekend, but the Kangaroos were playing without their best player, Martez Harrison.
3-5 on the year so far, and the Pioneers have been competitive in almost every loss. This team is still transitioning their offensive culture from Watch Out For The 10 Screens Every Play to They Shot That With 20 Seconds On the Shot Clock, but they may have a chance of having it figured out by the end of the year.
Joe Rosga is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists a game. It may be a difficult decision if you have to pick who the best sophomore is in the Summit League between Rosga, Mike Daum, and John Konchar.
8. Oral Roberts
The Golden Eagles have still yet to beat a division one team. Oral Roberts has the toughest strength of schedule in the Summit League, and they almost put a serious scare into Michigan State…which is why they are getting the edge on Western Illinois for not having the worst ranking in the Summit.
The Golden Eagles still do not have much of a bench, and their roster is filled with youth and inconsistency. One has to wonder if the tough schedule will help them fight through and prepare them for the Summit League, or just wear them down to the point they cannot compete for 40 minutes each conference game.
9. Western Illinois
Work has been super hectic for me lately while we have been transitioning to a new software, the alternator in my car died last week, and when I had Roto Rooter come out to my place to snake my drain, and the guy poked a hole in a pipe so when I ran the dishwasher a bunch of water leaked into my basement. We had to cut through drywall to replace the drain and all the of the furniture that was in that room is currently sitting in a hall way.
Sorry, I just thought you might want to hear about some problems I have had recently while we are on the subject of shit shows.