I didn’t get to watch any Summit League games over the last couple of weeks because I was visiting my in-laws in Oregon, and well…the time change messed with me in a number of ways. Anyway, here are some observations that do not really mean a whole bunch this early on in the conference season.
1.North Dakota State
Did you know that AJ Jacobson had his first two consecutive games with more than 10 points over D1 opponents this season, in the Bison wins against Omaha and South Dakota State? If Jacobson can get back to where he once was, the Bison could potentially win 13 or 14 conference games. They have the maturity, depth, and coaching to last with anyone in the Summit League.
2. Fort Wayne
Scientists will be working for years trying to figure out how exactly the ‘Dons lost to Western Illinois. Sure, they could just someone who was at the game, but they will have to wait until Fort Wayne fans come out of their group coma.
3. South Dakota
The newcomers for South Dakota have been able to gel well together, which is exactly what they needed for a successful year. With their next three home games against IUPUI, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne, they may be able to pick up some wins against some of the top competition in the conference and really get some momentum going to be a top team in the league.
Over the last five games Matt Mooney has averaged – 18.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.2 spg
The Jaguars are going to have a tough week at North Dakota State and South Dakota. They have the depth to really make a run when they get to the Summit League tournament, and they have yet to deal with an actual injury. Matt O’Leary and Darell Combs are quietly one of the better forward-guard combinations in the Summit League. The two combined for 48 points against Western Illinois last week.
I don’t like Denver being good. They’ve had the 3rd easiest strength of schedule, per RPI, in the Summit League. So go them.
The Mavericks have had problems shooting the ball in a number of games this season. They are 0-4 when shooting under 40 percent from the field. They are also 1-5 when their opponents shoot better than 45 percent. That record shouldn’t be shocking, but that’s a lot of games of allowing teams to shoot high percentages.
Teams that throw zone at them are giving them problems. John Karhoff pointed out that in his day, the Mavericks were able be successful against the zone when their guards were able to penetrate and create opportunities.
It’s growing more important for Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, and KJ Robinson to attack and create these opportunities. Even though the Mavericks have more shooters this season, there is more standing around, especially off the bench, and not enough guys attacking the basket.
7. South Dakota State
Mike Daum needed to score a lay up in the final seconds to give the Jackrabbits a win over the Coyotes on New Year’s Eve. The team has minor issues, but nothing they cant figure out by the time of the Summit League tournament. They’re at the point where they are just going to give the ball to Daum and let him do whatever he wants, and hope to God some random guy can have a good night to help out. It’s worked out a few times.
The Jackrabbits are 3-0 if Andre Wallace scores more than 10, who I feel like is the perfect guard off the bench to make Omaha cry. Wallace played at Iowa Western, just putting that out there.
8. Western Illinois
It’s possible that they used their One Upset a Year card against Fort Wayne.
Mike Miklusak has been healthy for the last 8 games, and given the Leathernecks a second weapon, as he averages 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Miklusak has dealt with injury issues since he was a sophomore. He got hurt last year in a game at Omaha and then had 14 points and 11 rebounds to upset the Mavericks in Macomb. So that’s great. If Miklusak can remain healthy, maybe the Leathernecks can rise in the standings a bit and secure a spot in the Summit League tournament this season.
9. Oral Roberts
The Golden Eagles didn’t pick up a win against a D1 team until December 19th, but they beat a Little Rock by 15, team that is currently 10-5. They also went on to beat an Atlantic 10 team. Then started Summit League play with two road games, and didn’t do too bad. Even though they be having a bad year, you’re scared of them.
They may not be a super talented team, but they have some guys that could provide the ingredients for an upset if they get a little hot.