Some things to think about with basketball teams around the Summit League

College basketball is back in two weeks, so I’ll be coming out with some of my own Summit League preaseason rankings and obviously biased team previews over the next couple weeks.

How about we start you off with a little something to think about around the Summit League.

DENVER

The Pioneers had a disaster of a season in 2018-2019. Rodney Billups’ staff  had picked up two graduate transfers, Ronnie Harrell from Creighton and Tory Stewart-Miller from Colorado, to go along with a veteran team, and the preseason expectations were high. Some even thought the Pioneers were going to be able to compete with Mike Daum and South Dakota State for a conference championship.

Unfortunately, the team had injuries up and down the roster, and Pioneers season seemed to get worse and worse as time went on. There were only 3 players on the roster who played in every game for the Pioneers last season.

The injuries allowed for more playing time and development for freshmen David Nzekwesi and Jace Townsend, who are expected to be young leaders in 2019-2020.

As the least experienced team in the Summit League, most are expecting the Pioneers to miss the conference tournament again this season. In combination with being the youngest team in the conference, the coaching staff will also have 3 assistant coaches in their first year in their roles.

One thing helping the Pioneers is that they are one of three teams in the conference to never have 3 consecutive conference road games this season. Also, with only 6 returning players, it could be difficult to scout Denver.

NORTH DAKOTA

Did you know the Fighting Hawks had the best defensive three point field goal percentage in the Summit League last season, but the worst overall defensive field goal percentage?

Another weird stat: they were 3-0 playing at home on Saturdays, and 0-4 playing on the road on Saturdays in the Summit League.

North Dakota will be returning 68% of their scoring, and that’s the 4th most in the conference. One of their best players last season, Marlon Stewart, was slowed down with injuries last season, but is apparently the healthiest he has been in a while.

It’s hard to get a feel for North Dakota with a brand new coaching staff.

Head Coach Paul Sather appears to be quite excited about redshirt freshman De’Sean Allen-Eikens, and thinks he’s a future star in the league.

NORTH DAKOTA STATE

The Bison were picked as the preseason favorite in the Summit League, with good reason.

They won the conference tournament last season, and they only lost Deng Geu who transferred to North Texas, so they do lose some height and energy off the bench. Dave Richman has a steady track record of finding replacements, so it’s not really something to worry about.

It’s hard not to like the Bison. One thing to think about is that Cameron Hunter was playing with an injury last season. Hunter averaged 9 points a game as a freshman and saw a drop in production his sophomore year, and he’s just going to be another weapon for the Bison if he comes back at 100%.

OMAHA

Everyone in Omaha is talking about the losses of Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson, and yeah it’s a lot to lose.

Something no one in Omaha seems to be discussing is the losses of 6’9″ Brett Barney, 6’8″ Logan Strom, and 6’11” Evan Tricker. With just 4 upperclassmen on the roster, the Mavericks will be younger, but they’re also going to lack some serious size, even with Matt Pile on the roster.

We’re going to discuss Omaha more at a later time. I think that’s obvious.

One thing to consider…The Mavericks and the Creighton Bluejays never have a home game on the same day this season. With some energy and attention brought on with a successful 2018-2019 season, the Mavericks home games could start seeing some larger crowds.

Also, did you know that last season was the first season the Mavericks have had a winning road record since joining division one?

ORAL ROBERTS

The Golden Eagles started the conference season in 2019 with three straight wins, and they eventually faced injury situations with Emmanuel Nzekwesi and struggled with consistency.

Though, they are the biggest team in the conference, the Golden Eagles struggle with taking care of the basketball. They had the most turnovers in the Summit League last season, and teams were able to outrun them.

The Golden Eagles were picked 3rd in the preseason poll, but they are intimidating on paper.

In addition to returning 83% of their scoring from last season, the Golden Eagles are adding experience to their roster. Paul Mills’ staff added two graduate transfers and will also have point guard R.J. Fuqua coming back to the roster, who redshirted his sophomore season.

Paul Mills has also stated that Nzekwesi is 100% healthy, and had the best summer that he has ever seen in all of his years of coaching.

If Oral Roberts can cut down on the turnovers and Nzekwesi is healthy, the Golden Eagles can beat anyone in the league.  Maybe even any team in the state of Nebraska.

Purdue Fort Wayne

I initially wasn’t feeling impressed with the Mastodons. John Konchar was one of the best players ever to play in the Summit League, and I’d argue that he was a better overall player than Mike Daum. Making up that loss seems like it’s too much.

I don’t think they’ll be better than the likes of North Dakota State or South Dakota, but they’ll be competitive, and they will frustrate anyone in the league.

The ‘Dons will be adding Brian Patrick, a 6’5″ transfer from Kansas State, who didn’t see the floor much for the Wildcats, but he does have experience in 4 NCAA Tournament games. In addition to losing Konchar, the ‘Dons also lost guard Matt Weir to transfer, and I thought Fort Wayne would be light at the point guard sport. Jon Coffman landed junior college transfer point guard DeMieere Black, who was made the Honorable Mention List on JUCOrecruiting.com’s Top 100 recruits list. The website also listed him at 6’3″ and Fort Wayne’s website lists him at 6’0″, so maybe just no one knows what they’re talking about.  Fellow incoming junior college transfer Jalin Wimberly also made the list. Wimberly scored 15 points on 73% from the field as a freshman. Yikes!

Fort Wayne might be the most sneaky good team in the conference, but maybe the Summit League will sabotage the Mastodons’ last Summit League season?

The Mastodons have never been particularly deep, at least since I started paying attention to them after Omaha joined the Summit League, and last year the Mastodons had 9 players play in all 33 games on the season. Can they be that lucky with health again?

That may sound like a threat of some kind after mentioning the Summit League might be out to sabotage their season, but it’s not. Welp, this is awkward.

South Dakota

With 5 seniors and 2 juniors, the Coyotes will be the most experienced team in the Summit League.

The roster has 11,455 division one minutes played on the active roster. That’s over 1000 more minutes over the North Dakota State with the second most.

According to Jeff Goodman, Nebraska transfer Brady Heiman was granted a waiver to be immediately eligible to play this season for South Dakota. It is unclear if Heiman will still use his redshirt, but the 11,455 minutes does not include Heiman.

The Coyotes are another team we’re going to discuss more later.

South Dakota State

Who gave the Jackrabbits first place votes in the preseason poll? Seriously, who? Two people apparently did this.

I’d love to meet the two maniacs who went camping on the hottest day of the year, saw who could chug a bottle of Fireball the fastest, then had a candy corn eating contest, bumped each other in the head, and then rolled down a hill into a bee’s nest…then apparently came to and said: “Yeah, South Dakota State is definitely better than North Dakota State, South Dakota, and Oral Roberts.”

The Preseason Summit League Notes in the press release for the preseason rankings said something nice about all the teams in the conference except the Jackrabbits. They couldn’t even think of a positive note about this team, but two people thought they’d be the best team in the conference.

The Jackrabbits lost the Dauminator, their top 4 scorers, and their head coach.

Western Illinois

Riding the confidence of upsetting South Dakota State, and almost beating North Dakota State in the Summit League Tournament, this Leatherneck team could be the most talented and well rounded team Billy Wright has had at Western Illinois. I understand that isn’t saying much, but it’s true.

 

 

 

 

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Fort Wayne’s departure leaves the Summit League in a tough spot

As expected, Fort Wayne is leaving the Summit League for the Horizon League.

Good for the ‘Dons. The move is much better for them, they’re going to be within driving distance to more than half of the schools in the conference (I’m just assuming that, I’m too bitter and I’m hiding my anger to look it up).

I’m going to miss the Fort Wayne fans banter online, they were the best at it out of the Summit League schools, but that might be because they were too far from any other conference foe to travel for actual events so they just took their rage out online.

As fun as the UNO and IPFW basketball match ups were, I literally cannot remember seeing anyone in the Ralston Arena or the Baxter Arena in a Mastodon shirt. I’ve seen every other Summit League opponent represented by fans in Omaha, but never Fort Wayne.

It was obvious Fort Wayne wanted to leave the Summit for the Horizon League, they were pretty public about it, but I personally thought it might be a while as I assumed the Horizon League would be apprehensive about going to 11 members.  But hey, maybe they’re going to add a 12th member.

Okay, yeah, good for them. Now here we are as Summit League fans thinking we’d be back to 10 schools in the conference, with the future addition of UMKC, but nope we’re going to be at 9 schools again.  Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.

Aside from that, the conference will only have 5 schools with baseball programs, which will drop the school from having an automatic bid for the NCAA baseball tournament. I’m currently blaming geography, but the Summit League will have to work quickly to find another baseball program.  They will have a grace period of 2 years to find another program before losing the automatic bid.

So who are we going to add? This is where I’m about to just list off some schools as potential suitors and why they might be a good or a stupid idea for the Summit League.


Augustana

There has been documented interest of Augustana moving up to division one and joining the Summit League, though other Summit League schools aren’t super cool with adding another Dakota to the conference.

The Vikings have everything the Summit League wants. They don’t have men’s soccer, but maybe they pull an Omaha and drop football (and wrestling) for men’s soccer. The athletics program is consistently competitive in all their sports, they even won the Division 2 Men’s Basketball Championship in 2016. There would be obvious growing pains in the transition phase, and they would have to compete with two in state division one programs in recruiting, so perhaps they wouldn’t have that same consistency in the Summit League as they do in division two. They might actually steal recruits away from the Jackrabbits…okay, I’m starting to talk myself into Augustana.

Denver has apparently threatened to leave the conference if Augustana joined the Summit League, but Denver is always going to threaten to leave the conference, so who cares anymore?

Personally, I think the prospect of a school in the same city as the conference basketball tournaments and the league headquarters coming into the conference is just annoying. If Augustana is going to join the conference, move the conference tournament around a bit. Throw the conference tournament in Omaha, Kansas City, or Denver. I get how much money comes rolling into Sioux Falls, but it’s seriously not fair for any non-South Dakota school fan base to be away from a Tuesday night conference championship year after year.


Chicago State

Like UMKC, Chicago State is being punched in the mouth with travel costs in the WAC. The athletic program does have baseball, they’d create a travel partner for Western Illinois. The Cougars don’t have men’s soccer, and on top of that, Chicago State is just bad at athletics. The school recently even looked into moving down to division 2.

Here is Chicago State’s team records over the last 5 years…

Baseball: 60-205-1

Men’s basketball: 24-135

Women’s basketball: 11-136 (7 Summit League programs had more than 11 wins in 2018-2019)

Women’s soccer: 3-87-2 (6 Summit League programs had more than 3 wins in 2018-2019)

Volleyball: 29-122

Chicago State moving to the Summit League would help Chicago State, and other than just bringing baseball to 6 teams Chicago State wouldn’t help the Summit League.

A division 2 school reclassifying and joining the Summit League might have quicker success than Chicago State in the conference.


Drake

Drake would be cool for a number of reasons.  It’s a manageable driving distance from Omaha, the South Dakota schools, and Kansas City. They’d raise the competitive bar in a few different sports. The Bulldogs don’t have baseball program because baseball in the state of Iowa can be summed up with a sad face emoji. So Drake won’t be happening anytime soon.


Minnesota State- Mankato

When I was a student at UNO, students used to constantly ask what it would be like if UNO became division one. I find myself wondering if Mankato students ask the same division one questions about their own school.

The con here is that Mankato is also known as the Mavericks, and I would throw a lot of money into a pot every year trying to get Durgano and Stomper to box as half time entertainment at a basketball game.

A Minnesota school in the Summit League could hurt recruiting in the Summit League. With no mid-major program in the state, Minnesota has been a great recruiting zone for the Dakotas and Omaha.


Northern Colorado

One of few schools that could benefit the athletic program and the Summit League.

Northern Colorado would create a travel partner for Denver. The Bears baseball and swimming & diving programs currently compete as affiliate members in the WAC, they could go full Summit with these programs.

Other than Denver, the Bears would have to fly to every program in the Summit League, but they already have to do that now in the Big Sky.


SIU Edwardsville

SIUE in the past has been in talks of leaving the Ohio Valley Conference. Geographically, the Horizon would make more sense than the Summit League for the Cougars. The OVC already makes more sense, but hey whatever, the athletic program apparently talked to the WAC a while back, and that conferences makes the least amount of sense.

Edwardsville would create a travel partner for Western Illinois. They are also less than 4 hours away from Kansas City.

Additionally, SIUE isn’t Chicago State.


Saint Louis

This is the least likely scenario, but the Billikins playing in the Atlantic 10 makes no actual sense to me. The Missouri Valley, The Ohio Valley, and the Horizon League would be more likely destinations for Saint Louis, but why can’t the Summit League dream?

We’ve already got a travel partner for them with UMKC. Actually, Macomb is closer to St. Louis than Kansas City is, but who cares?

I already have to go to movie theaters in Omaha and sit through advertisements by St. Louis trying to attract Omaha high school students to their university. The least they could do is write a letter to the Omaha World Herald why you won’t join the Summit League. I’m not asking for a lot here.

I know Tom Douple and the Summit League is quiet about their conversations with potential schools joining the Summit League, but if they’re not trying to attract Saint Louis, I’d seriously like to know why. The only thing I could think of is that it would upset South Dakota State fans as their program wouldn’t be the top dog in men’s basketball.


LET’S GET NUTS

You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts.

We want to get everyone happy? We want to get everyone travel partners? Let’s get after this thing.

Tom Douple gets Northern Colorado, St. Louis, and Drake in a room. Like a nice room, a nice catered event, everyone likes free food. I’m thinking little smokies. We pitch all three, we get the Summit League up to 12 programs. We’ve got more home games for these schools and less flights for just about everyone.

Denver has a travel partner. Western Illinois has a travel partner. SIU Edwardsville has a travel partner. Oral Roberts becomes the school that’s just kind of in a weird place, but they seem fine with it. Some weasel faced writer from Ohio isn’t condescending when he hears about a Summit-Horizon League challenge.

We can move this conference basketball tournament around between Sioux Falls, Fargo, Omaha, Denver, Tulsa, St. Louis. It’s fun, we’re all happy except for Denver since there is no pleasing them. There is also some Jackrabbit fan that’s all pissy cause all they care about is themselves.

It’s an insane idea, but you got to dream, right?

Yes, I understand the percentage of this plan working is less than the winning percentage of any given Chicago State team winning percentage.

The Summit League and UMKC: A match made in convenience

A few weeks ago, the UMKC Kangaroos made it official they are coming back to the Summit League.  Came back like a Kangaroo with his tail between his legs and stuffed into his pouch.  Dang, that was a good one!

Congratulations Summit League fans, we fixed a conference problem of having a weird number of schools by going from 9 schools to 10 schools in the conference.  We did it. We made a move that we just kind of expected was going to happen at some point.

The Kangaroos’ return to the Summit League fixed a few annoyances of the Summit League. There is now an even number of schools, so we can go back to having travel partners. Denver has an airport to fly to. Oral Roberts now has a school that is only a 4 hour drive away from Tulsa. Omaha fans have an actually fun city they can drive to. Maybe all 10 schools will be able to play in the conference tournament and someone won’t have to sit out at home…the conference tournament group pictures of a few Denver Pioneer cheerleaders mixed in with all the Summit League mascots minus the weird Denver thingy were all awkward.

The move probably helps UMKC more than anything. They don’t have to compete in the geographically challenged Western Athletic Conference (is that what WAC stands for – I don’t care enough to look it up and double check and I’ve always just assumed that is what it stood for).  This is the second school with a geography problem the Summit League has been able to save in the last few years.  Look us up Chicago State and Texas Rio Grande Valley, maybe the addition of Dixie State will be enough to help your sad situations in the WAC, but we all know what you want.

I imagine this move would only help UMKC with their recruiting, which may in turn hurt the likes of Omaha’s recruiting.  I’m sure the conversations between coaching staffs and local recruits and their parents have gone something like this…


Recruit’s Dad: So the closest conference opponent for me to come watch my kids’ games is where?

UMKC Coach: Dawg, it’s in Edinburg, Texas.

Recruit’s Dad: Where the (expletive) is that?

UMKC Coach: Hold on, let me go out to my car and grab a map.

UMKC coach exits the home to retrieve a map out of his car…Recruit’s Dad locks the home’s front door and turns all the lights off.

Recruit’s Dad (to their child): Okay, so that was dumb. Let’s call up Omaha.


There is an alternate universe out there where UMKC stayed in the Summit League and received commitments from Zach Jackson, Matt Pile, and KJ Robinson. I’m in Alcoholics Anonymous in that universe.

Does UMKC coming back help strengthen the profile of the Summit League?  No, no it doesn’t.

The Kangaroos just finished up a rebranding and they got a new coaching staff for the men’s basketball program – which appears to be a fairly competent staff.  The Kangaroos basketball team has the potential to at least help the Summit League be more competitive in a few years.

Another advantage for Summit League teams is that bringing UMKC back into the league means one more guaranteed home game for programs.  Sorry to the elementary school kids who were looking forward to Kids Day for a 1pm game on a Wednesday against a D-3 opponent from Westchesteronville, Iowa. Let this be the first of many lessons that life can often be a disappointment.

UMKC’s return could be rated anywhere from decent to good (on the poor to great scale). It’s a move we all expected to happen some day. It helps the league, it helps UMKC, but now we have to wait for the next expected domino to fall for when Fort Wayne bolts for geography.

Are the Mavericks finally turning a page here?

Fact: The Mavericks are still writing their story for their most successful basketball season since transitioning to division 1.

Thought: Does this program have the momentum to keep this going to the future?

The 2017-2018 Omaha men’s basketball season was filled with several thoughts of wondering what could have been had things just gone better for them. Injuries plagued that team from top to bottom. There were only a couple games where the team had their entire roster healthy to play. Several games were lost of bad plays down the stretch, and the team saying: we’re one or two plays away from a winning record. The team was also trying to mesh together a hoard of new faces and get everyone on the same page.

The 2018-2019 season has been the complete opposite. The Mavericks are actually several Mitch Hahn baskets and double digit comebacks away from having a pretty average season.

After Hahn’s game winner against South Dakota State, I checked the Jackrabbits’ fan forum page to see their thoughts on the game.  As I’ve done this in the past after Mavericks-Jackrabbits games, it’s typically filled with just some fans whining about Gary Sharp’s sarcasm. Something else really caught my eye this time.

Someone begged the question: Have the Mavericks finally turned the page and are moving away from mediocrity?

The question being asked by a Jackrabbit fan sets it up for me to think that the South Dakota State fans think they’re the Texas of the Summit League, or the Gonzaga of low major basketball.  They’re not, though, South Dakota State is the South Dakota State of the Summit League.

Perhaps, we should rephrase this question into a tone that doesn’t offend me. Have the Mavericks moved into position to consistently be in contention for a Summit League regular season championship?

Regardless of how this season has gone down, 19 wins and a 2nd place seeding in the Summit League Tournament has proven to be the most successful season in the division one era for the Mavericks, but how is the future?

The Mavericks are only going to be graduating two players, but those players are Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson, two of the best players this program has ever had.

The Summit League will be graduating two of the best players the conference has ever had, so the field is already open in 2019-2020.  Actually, I think North Dakota State and South Dakota are going to be the toughest teams to beat next year, but this is for another day.

Omaha will presumably bring back a Big 3 of Matt Pile, JT Gibson, and KJ Robinson. None of them have shown that clutch killer instinct of the likes of Hahn or Jackson, but they certainly have that potential. This Big 3 is going be one of the most talented in the Summit League next season.

You never know, though. Pile could get a bizarre toe injury and his feet won’t be able to support his pro wrestler body, or Gibson or Robinson could transfer to Nevada just for kicks.

No one can ever replace Hahn or Jackson, but we’ll find out what Logan Strom can do. We’ve been teased with the potential of Zach Thornhill.  Ayo Akinwole has proven to be a weapon when given the opportunity. Wanjang Tut is a quality defensive post player, and there have been glimpses of offensive potential.  Incoming freshman Lamel Robinson’s game seems similar to Devin Patterson’s.

A successful season like this can lead to Omaha being an attractive transfer destination for former Nebraska kids to come back to. Let’s just say hypothetically that Tim Miles gets fired from Nebraska, Omaha could definitely be a possibility for someone like Brady Heiman. Omaha can absolutely be a place for any of the former Nebraska kids in the Mountain West looking for more playing time.

Perhaps, this is all a conversation for another day. The Mavericks have North Dakota to worry about to continue building on this season for a hopeful present and future.

 

 

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Hey, I’m going to talk about last night’s Jackrabbits-Mavericks game

I haven’t been able to get to many UNO games this season, and I didn’t even get to go last night but that was the best Omaha men’s basketball game I’ve ever watched.

In December, I had a detached retina that required surgery to fix that problem.  I’ve been messing with that, and haven’t gotten out much because of it.  I’m watching my parents’ house and their dogs as they are out of town, so I watched the game from the comfort of my parents’ kitchen as their dogs shuffled between begging for food and going outside and playing in the snow.

Baxter Arena hosted its largest crowd for a men’s basketball game with 4,228 in attendance.  It could have been 4,230 had I forced my parents’ dogs to fend for themselves for an evening and convinced a friend of mine to go.  My bad.

From home I could see the intensity in the arena, I mean, it was pretty intense from the kitchen I was watching from. It was almost like the game was played out from a screenplay.

After missing chip shots and officials appearing to protect and favor the famous Mike Daum, the Mavericks found themselves down 13 at halftime.

There was so much on the line in this game. It’s the Summit League’s top two teams playing for the top spot, a guaranteed spot in the NIT, and both teams would appreciate a top 2 seed in the Summit League tournament so they can have that Sunday night off from basketball – assuming they take care of business against their first round opponents.

According to Mitch Hahn in his post game interview, the Mavericks met at half time and discussed what they needed to do better to win that game.  No one sat there thinking the Jackrabbits got them.

My friend and I have agreed that if the Mavericks lock up the 1 or the 2 seed in the conference tournament, we’re heading to Sioux Falls.  We’re sports lovers and we’d go Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday if the Mavericks were playing but we’re adults and have jobs*.  I admit, when David Jenkins hit a three to open up the second half and push the lead to 16, I seriously debated of texting my friend that we should just prepare to go to Bockfest at the German American Society on March 9th, instead.

Eventually, Mike Daum went to the bench and I thought to myself that this was the Mavericks’ chance to make a push to cut into the lead and make this a game.  If it wasn’t going to happen then, it probably wouldn’t happen at all.  With Daum on the bench, they cut into the lead. All of a sudden, I had faith.

Even with Daum back on the court, the team the Summit League sees as perfect started messing up.  Turnovers and missed shots over a 4 minute stretch allowed the Mavericks to spark the comeback.

That’s the great thing about this year’s team.  They take care of the ball and they have so many weapons on offense that if their opponents can’t take care of the ball, the Mavericks can take advantage.  It’s not like a few years ago when the Mavericks as a team would have 8 assists on 20 turnovers, it’s the opposite of that now.  They’re not spending a large portion of the game just shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and bad shot selection over 8 minute stretches.

Once the Mavericks evened things up, the teams traded blows.  Daum would hit a three, and then Hahn would answer. KJ Robinson would hit a big three, and David Jenkins was there to rip our throats out.

While Jenkins was lighting up the Mavericks, Omaha did the unthinkable and actually slowed down Daum.  Daum was still creating space for Jenkins just by his presence on the court, but Daum was actually struggling in the game for a stretch.

For literally the first time of me ever watching Mike Daum play basketball, I thought he was actually intimidated.  He appeared to be completely confused by Matt Pile.  Excuse me, I want to retype that.  Daum appeared to be completely confused by Matt ‘effin Pile.  Daum looked like he couldn’t believe the sophomore wasn’t backing down from him.

In four years of witnessing Mike Daum, I have never thought he took a bad shot.  In the second half, he was going right after Pile and for the first time I ever I actually said “what are you thinking, Daum?”

On the other end, I literally had a debate with myself asking if Mike Daum was bad at defense. Like, I really just couldn’t tell. Pile and Hahn weren’t afraid to get after him, and when guards penetrated Daum just kind of let them do their thing. It is worth considering, though, that the Jackrabbits really don’t have much of a bench so they seriously cannot afford Daum to get in foul trouble and go to the bench.  I mean, look what sparked when Daum spent less than two minutes on the bench.

Don’t worry about Daum, he went 9-23 from the field and was the 3rd best player in last night’s game, but he’s still going to be voted Player of the Week.

The ending to this classic was about as perfect as they come.  The Nebraska-native, who is probably the best player the Summit League has ever seen knocks down two free throws to force the Maverick fans to say to themselves “son of a…”

But 5.7 seconds is too much time for Mitch Hahn.  The fellow Nebraska-native takes the ball the length of the floor and drills the baseline jump shot to seal the deal, and to create an even more intense final two weeks of the regular season for the Mavericks and Jackrabbits.

Third place Fort Wayne, who has won 5 consecutive games, comes to Omaha on Saturday for what should be another intense game.  I’m not the smartest person alive, but I just kind of assume Fort Wayne wants a top 2 seed in the tournament.  South Dakota State is at North Dakota State, the fourth place team in the Summit.  The Jackrabbits are historically kind of bad in Fargo, but they won there last year.

Even with this being the best basketball game to be played at Baxter Arena to this point, the Mavericks can’t stop now. It appears Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson understand this, and as they say: there is still a lot of basketball to be played.

*When are we going to stage a protest to have the Summit League tournament moved from Sioux Falls? The conference might get a third South Dakota school, and the rest of us have to suffer for it. If it’s going to remain in Sioux Falls can we at least set it up to where the conference championship isn’t on a Tuesday night?  If Denver made the conference championship, they would have less than 50 fans at the game on a Tuesday night.

 

 

Don’t think I’ll be doing a blog this year

There has been a lot of thought into this, but I don’t think I’ll be blogging this year.  You’ll all be fine.

Last year I wasn’t really into this, and I think it showed with this blog pretty much just turning into weekly Summit League rankings.

I went through a stressful divorce last year, and just really want to just focus my energy into other activities for the time being.

I still love Mav sports and discussing them with others, but I just don’t have the energy to do anything here right now.  I may return in the future. Thanks for reading and following.

You can follow my regular Twitter/Instagram accounts: @andrewintho

Summit League predictions: Feb 14-17

Happy Valentine’s Day, or Happy Not Caring What Today Is Day, whichever you want to call it.  We’re in the second half of the Summit League schedule, and nearing toward Summit League tournament positioning, so things are going to get pretty interesting as teams are looking for a little revenge over the teams that beat them.

February 14

Western Illinois @ Fort Wayne

I got it right when Western Illinois won at Fort Wayne in January, and that is pretty big because when picking Western Illinois to win, I am right 5% of the time.

Western Illinois hasn’t won during the week of Valentine’s Day since 2013.

John Konchar really struggled against the Leathernecks last month, but he has been improving as the conference season has been going on.  Perhaps, the length of Brandon Gilbeck bothered him, but Konchar will be able to figure it out at home against the Leathernecks.

South Dakota @ Oral Roberts

With an overtime win against North Dakota State and a 10 point loss against South Dakota State, the Golden Eagles appear to be bouncing back from their struggles.

The Coyotes are 4-1 on the road this season in the Summit League, and they’re a roster filled with competitive defensive players.  Competitive defensive players that are all currently in “playoff mode” trying to earn that top spot in the Summit League tournament and an automatic NIT bid.

Omaha @ Denver

Denver will be seeking revenge after their double-overtime loss in Baxter Arena.  It was a game that anyone could have won, but the Mavericks just happened to escape with the win.  A game that showed their post players being just plain afraid of Matt Pile.

Also, how freaking great was that play at the end of regulation to get Daniel Norl that three point shot?  That play almost never works out, but the Mavericks executed it perfectly.  Really makes you feel like maybe they would have won the Summit League Tournament last season if they had a timeout near the end of the game to set up a play.

Either way, here we are now.  We’re in the revenge part of the season.  Daniel Amigo is back in the starting lineup for the Pioneers, and you could see how he felt frustrated with the referees and especially Matt Pile in Omaha.  Now, both players will be in the starting lineup, and Amigo will be looking to go right at the freshman.  If the Pioneers get off to a hot start at home, it should be difficult for the Mavericks to play catch up.


February 17

Western Illinois @ South Dakota State

I’m getting super good at making home made burritos.  I’ll use some bison, or some ground turkey with taco seasoning…then I’ll spread some avocado on the wrap, a little ranch, corn, almond cheese, and sometimes I’ll throw in some red or yellow peppers.  I’ll try and get some brown rice and black beans involved, when I can.  It’s pretty incredible.

Fort Wayne @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Who even knows what’s going on with these two teams?  North Dakota State squandered a big lead the last time these two teams played, and I thought that was Fort Wayne’s specialty.

This is the last home game for North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson and Paul Miller, and even though Paul Miller may not even play, we’re taking the home team in a situation like this.

Omaha @ South Dakota on ESPN3

With their defense, and mixture of personnel issues, the Coyotes should be able to pick up an easy win against the Mavericks.

It’s nice that Mitch Hahn came back with 21 points against Fort Wayne, but there are too many IFs for the Mavericks to pick up an upset in Vermillion.  They can win if Mitch Hahn plays like vintage Mitch Hahn.  They can win if Renard Suggs and/or Ayo Akinwole give some meaningful minutes off the bench.  They can win if KJ Robinson can score efficiently.  They can win if Matt Pile comes plays like he did in the first half of the season.