8 things to know about the South Dakota Coyotes

  1. Craig Smith was rumored at one point to have been hired by Drake for the Head Coach position, but he turned it down to remain at South Dakota. Further proving that the Summit League is better than Drake.
  2. South Dakota was able to pick up Nebraska transfer Nick Fuller.  Fuller averaged 2 points and 1 rebound a game as a junior for the Huskers.  Several Nebraska and Omaha fans I’ve talked to over the last few years questioned if Fuller would have even started at Omaha, but agree that he would at least have been in their main rotation.  Fuller actually came off the bench in the Coyotes’ exhibition game against Sioux Falls.  We’ll see what 2 points and 1 rebound at Nebraska equates to in the Summit League.  My guess is: 7 points and 5 rebounds.
  3. In the Coyotes’ exhibition game, they beat D2 Sioux Falls by 9.  They also, oddly, did not play any of their freshmen…at all.
  4. Gave up the fewest points per game on defense in the Summit League last season.
  5. The Coyotes made the most free throws in the Summit League last season AND had the worst free throw percentage as a team.
  6. The Coyotes were 8th in the Summit League in three point field goals made last season AND three point field goal percentage as a team.
  7. With 8 eligible upperclassmen on scholarship, they are the oldest team in the Summit League this season.
  8. Vermillion has the smallest population for any city in the Summit League.  If you want to call it a city.
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8 things to know about the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

  1. Oral Roberts is returning 43% of their scoring.  That is tied for the lowest in the Summit League with Omaha.
  2. Fired head coach Scott Sutton.  Scott Sutton’s nephew Spencer Sutton is on this year’s roster.  Well, this is awkward.
  3. Will have a deep and threatening front court with Albert Owens (Summit League Honorable Mention in 2016-2017, Emmanuel Nzekwesi (Freshman of the Year), and Javan White (redshirted sophomore year in 2016-2017)  all returning to the team.
  4. Newcomer James Conley played at Hutchinson Community College, where his team won the National Championship his sophomore season.
  5. They are the easiest program to forget that plays in the Summit League.
  6. The Golden Eagles are the only Summit League team with a new head coach this season.  They hired Paul Mills, who was an assistant at Baylor for 14 years.  He had kind of a weird quote in his introduction referring to the his basketball team that I’m still trying to figure out: “…Men are going to see this good product and we are going to praise our father who is in heaven.”  Are Oral Roberts Men’s Basketball games No Girls Allowed events?
  7. Their opening game is their Homecoming, apparently.
  8. Albert Owens made the second most field goals in the Summit League last year behind South Dakota State’s Mike Daum.  That’s kind of fun, kind of boring, but whatever.  It’s safe to assume that “Kind of fun, kind of boring, but whatever” is the slogan for Tulsa, Oklahoma.

8 things to know about the Omaha Mavericks

  1. The Mavericks are only returning 43% of their scoring from last season.  That is tied with Oral Roberts for the lowest in the Summit League.  They should have the most to replace after Tre’Shawn Thurman transferring to Nevada, Marcus Tyus playing professional basketball in Europe, and Tra-Deon Hollins playing in the NBA G League.
  2. The Mavericks are one of two teams in the Summit League to feature a game on ESPN2 this season.
  3. For three weeks in a row, they will play a conference game at home on a Saturday night at 7pm.  January 6th versus South Dakota State, January 13th versus Fort Wayne, and January 20th versus South Dakota.  Creighton men’s basketball is away on all of those dates.  Just so you know.
  4. Mitch Hahn, who will be a starter this season, led Summit League bench players in three point field goals made last season.
  5. Their student section is nicknamed “The Bullpen” which really makes no sense for sports other than baseball and softball.
  6. Derrin Hansen is the longest tenured coach in the Summit League.
  7. They are ranked 1st in the Summit League in Most Bitter About Not Playing In-State D-1 Teams.
  8. THEY GET TO WITNESS MORE CURLING THAN YOU THIS SEASON

8 things to know about the North Dakota State Bison

  1. They’re the school in North Dakota that you hate less.
  2. The Bison led the Summit League in attendance last season.  Yeah, cool, great for them.  Must be nice not having much sports competition in your city or state for attendance.  Fort Wayne (5th in attendance), Omaha (6th) and Denver (7th) are pretty jealous, and definitely not bitter.
  3. With their starting point guard from last season transferring, Paul Miller started at the point guard position for the Bison in their exhibition game against Concordia.
  4. The Bison have been ranked in the top 3 in preseason rankings.  Pretty spectacular for a team that graduated two key contributors and had 5 players transfer.
  5. AJ Jacobson, who is a good player, has basically been the exact same player for his entire career.  He hasn’t really gotten better, and he really hasn’t gotten worse.  He’s just that player that is good at what he does.  Sadly, Jacobson did not play in their exhibition game as he is still recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.
  6. Heading into the conference tournament, the Bison will play 5 of their last 7 games on the road.
  7. The Bison have the most boring and effective offense in the Summit League.  They also take care of the ball as they led the conference last season with the fewest turnovers.
  8. They have an incoming junior college transfer named Nnamdi Van Dulm.  I recommend his nick name be Nna…Nnam…Not Gonna Work Here Anymore.

8 things to know about the Fort Wayne Mastodons

  1. The Mastodons had the 30th highest average attendance attendance increase from 2016 to 2017 (it was because they had a home game with Indiana and had 11,076 at that game).
  2. John Konchar led the conference in three point field goal shooting last season.  He shot 59.6 percent! The team also led the conference in most threes made, but were 5th in three point field goal percentage.
  3. John Konchar was listed as a sleeper for the NBA Draft.  For the sake of my brain, will someone please draft John Konchar?
  4. The ‘Dons play 4 games this season against non D-1 opponents.  4 freaking games!
  5. Since they are not in a Dakota, they have been ranked 4th or 5th in preseason Summit League rankings.
  6. It is likely that they have slipped in the rankings because they lost Mo Evans and have a “huge void to fill at point guard.”  If this is the case, they were actually scariest when John Konchar played at the point guard position, and fellow starter Bryson Scott is completely capable of handling the duties of point guard.
  7. The Commissioner of The Horizon League currently has any email with “Fort Wayne” in the subject or body to be automatically sent to their spam box.
  8. Their fans are probably going to see Tra-Deon Hollins in more NBA G League games than Omaha fans will.

8 things to know about the Denver Pioneers

  1. The Pioneers have consistently been ranked 4th or 5th in preseason rankings for the Summit League.
  2. The Pioneers are returning 79% of their scoring from last season, and that is the most returning scoring in the Summit League.
  3. Even though the Pioneers are returning a bulk of their roster, they lost starting forward CJ Bobbitt after he transferred to New Mexico State.  The loss of Bobbitt will create a lack of depth in the front court for the Pioneers, and will be the question mark of their team…so center Daniel Amigo might be covered in bubble wrap on days off.  The Pioneers did lead the Summit League in rebounding last season, but Bobbitt was their leading rebounder.
  4. At some point this season, their fans will complain about how they do not belong in the Summit League.  However, they are going to complain about any conference they end up in.
  5. The toughest stretch of their schedule will be in January when they play four straight road games in January at South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Omaha, and Oral Roberts.
  6. Their fans gets really annoyed if another school claims to be their rival.
  7. Denver has a big time rivalry with Western Illinois.
  8. Their fan zone is in the middle of a transition to be nicknamed “The Jerk Store”

Surprise! The Mavericks and Jays are playing!

It’s here.  It’s finally happening.  The Jays and the Mavericks will play basketball on the same court, at the same time, and in a bizarre twist they’ll even be playing against each other.

In a charity game for Hurricane Relief, and a little bit for the Mavericks’ ego, the Jays will finally face off against the Mavericks in an exhibition game.  This is actually the Mavericks’ first exhibition game since transitioning to division one.  Unless you count all of 2011-2012 season an exhibition season.

100% of the net profits are going to hurricane relief across the country.  Is the beer stand with $9 cans of PBR going to be open?  There is a lot of profit in a $9 can of PBR.  That’s a lot of money going to hurricane relief.  Ugh, I can’t wait to get a $9 Schlitz on my lips.

I’m not going to get into the Jays too much because I don’t need a gang of Creighton fans tweeting at me about how I’m a garbage of a human being for not thinking the Jays are not going to be that great of a basketball team this season.

HOT TAKE: I don’t think Creighton will be that great this season.

They’ll still be better than Nebraska and UNO.  So good for them, I guess.  Actually, Nebraska’s roster looks pretty underrated…I think I say that every year so who cares.

Like, the Bluejays will be okay.  They received a preseason ranking of 4th in the Big East, which is more impressive than receiving a preseason ranking of 6th in the Summit League, but this Creighton team feels more like a 5th or a 6th place finish in the Big East.  Without a big time run in the Big East Tournament, the Bluejays are a NIT team.

Sure, Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas are great.  Toby Hegner and Ronnie Harrell Jr have their moments.  Martin Krampelj has some potential.

I also think Martin Krampelj should have a nickname of “Crampy Jay” but that’s just my opinion.

Still, doesn’t seem like the Bluejays have enough weapons to not be an inconsistent team this year.  It’s easy to look at a team with two stars like Thomas and Foster and say “hey, those are two good basketball players and they belong on a NCAA Tournament team.”  Two guys don’t always get you to the NCAA tournament.

This is all from a UNO fan who recognizes that the Mavericks are filled with new and even newer guys trying to fill the voids left from guys with big time roles.

The Mavericks lost their Big 3 in Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, and Tre’Shawn Thurman and will be counting on a committee to fill their most consistent scorer, best defender, and best rebounder.  Now their Big 3 is Mitch Hahn, Zach Jackson, and there is an application open for the third member.

As Mav fans, we’ve never really gotten that game that didn’t officially matter to see what the new guys on the team have to offer.  What a perfect opportunity to see what they can do against the team we’ve always wanted to play, and in our hometown.  It will be great to start the careers of freshmen Zach Thornhill and Matt Pile in a confusing setting wondering why two Division 1 teams in the same city don’t ever play each other in a regular season game.

Thornhill and Pile both come from Kansas, and there has been some chatter of both players being future All Conference players.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Pile shot 71 percent from the floor as a junior, and Thornhill has some abilities that make him sound like he could be the next John Konchar.

We’ll also be introduced to senior guard Renard Suggs. He sat out last season after transferring from Washington State, so it’s possible you forgot about him.  It’s possible with his three point shooting ability, that Suggs will be replacing some of the production lost by Tyus.  He’ll be competing for minutes with Daniel Norl, who I think is one of the most underrated guards in the Summit League.  I say that with a high level of bias.

And of course, the Mavericks are returning Zach Jackson as a starter, and might as well have been a starter Mitch Hahn.  I’ll throw out a guess that Creighton will base their defense on slowing down Hahn or forcing him into dumb shots.  Luckily for the Mavericks, no shot of Hahn’s is a dumb shot.

This is an exhibition game, and I’m sure the UNO players will take it far more seriously of a game than the Creighton players will.  That doesn’t mean Creighton won’t protect home court, as they definitely don’t want to lose to a Summit League team in the CenturyLink Center.  There still won’t be a huge amount of defense played, which is kind of a dream scenario for each team.

So here is a prediction:

The game will start out pretty close with Thomas and Foster getting to the rim whenever they want on offense, and Hahn and a mystery man on UNO getting off shots as they please.

Creighton will get a 10 point cushion in the first half, and UNO will stage a comeback and take a brief lead as the Bluejays go to their bench.

The game will be kind of close for a bit, but the Creighton players will take it pretty seriously in the last 5 minutes as Thomas and Foster run away with the game.

Also, at some point, Hahn will shoot a 3 from the First National Bank logo.

It should be fun though.  And we can take comfort in knowing that every Omaha World Herald story on the Mavericks for the rest of the season will come packaged with a stock photo from this game.