The Golden Eagles, I mean, ehhh, right?

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.

 

 

 

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South Dakota State-Oral Roberts Summit Tourney preview

South Dakota State and Oral Roberts are playing in the first round of the Summit League tournament.  No one predicted this happening.  Seriously, Oral Roberts was picked to finish third in the conference by basically everyone, even though the evidence was stacked up against them finishing 3rd.  Preseason predictions are based mostly on what teams are returning versus what they lost, and a combination of just assuming the standings should finish about the same as last season.

Amazingly, Oral Roberts lost the 2nd most off their roster from last season in the conference and South Dakota lost the most; and now they are playing in the Summit League tournament as the 7 and 8 seeds.  Western Illinois actually returned most of their team, and they finished in 9th, and now have to watch the tournament in Macomb…which sounds like the worst possible fate.

Oral Roberts got here by the loss of key players, off season injuries to their two seniors, Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley, no team chemistry, and mistake after mistake by their freshmen players.  The Golden Eagles lost to South Dakota State over last weekend and there was a point where one of the freshmen on the team was passing the ball to a teammate and the ball flew over the player’s head and into the 15th row of fans.  Scott Sutton just put his head down in disbelief and disgust for about an entire minute.  It was the same look I got when I learned that there are white chocolate Reese’s peanut butter cups on the second day of my diet.  Or the same look when my brother saw my parents giving my niece a microphone that provided her with the opportunity to listen and sing along to the same 15 seconds of that Let it Go song from “Frozen” over and over again.  Sutton even sounded depressed at the conference media day, opposite of how IPFW’s Jon Coffman sounded.

This was the first season that Scott Sutton and Oral Roberts finished below .500 in conference play since 2001, and now he gets to start the Summit League tournament against South Dakota State in Sioux Falls.  The Jackrabbits swept Oral Roberts by 12 points in Tulsa and then by 8 points in Brookings, so maybe they will only win this one by 4.  I think that is how math works.

I really do not think that any coaches in the Summit League will be leaving their jobs, but if I had to pick two guys that would most likely leave their jobs, it would have to be the two coaches of this game.  Scott Sutton is about to die of stress on the sideline, so why not try and go die on the sideline of a team at a bigger program for a few years.  Scott Nagy is going to lose the bulk of his team’s offense, and might not even be favored to finish in the top half of the Summit League next season.  Seriously; IPFW, IUPUI, Omaha, and South Dakota all look to be better on paper at this point.  Anyway, Nagy seems like a career South Dakota State guy, but would he not at least want to show some interest if the TCU, LSU, or Minnesota became open jobs?

Anyway, this game…

I would like to say that maybe Oral Roberts can come out with a revenge factor, or thinking this game could be their big moment.  This team was swept by the top three teams in the league: IPFW, South Dakota State, and Omaha…but hey at least they swept Western Illinois.  Actually, they swept IUPUI too and it was weird.  This game really seems like it comes down to maturity versus immaturity.  South Dakota State rarely makes mistakes and Oral Roberts makes mistakes every other play.

Last week when they played, Oral Roberts need 22 points out of Obi Emegano and 15 out of Brandon Conley to just keep the game somewhat close.  Jake Bittle of South Dakota State went 0-of-4 from the floor, Deondre Parks got into a little bit of foul trouble, and the Jackrabbits were able to still find other guys to step up to shoot over 50% from the floor as a team.

In their first meeting, Emegano scored 20 points and the Golden Eagles got a combined 33 points from their two freshman Javan White and Kris Martin.  The Jackrabbits will also able to shoot over 50% from the floor in that game.  That’s the thing though: you know Obi Emegano can get 20 points, but you have no idea where the rest of the scoring is coming from game after game by his teammates.  Emegano has scored in double figures in 34 straight games.  The last time he didn’t reach double figures was when Oral Roberts lost by 29 at South Dakota State last season.

It’s rare that any of his teammates can string along double digit scoring performances game to game.  Conley did it once this season where he scored in double figures two games in a row; point guard Aaron Young and freshman Javan White each also once had 2 games in a row of double figure scoring.  Jalen Bradley had 4 games earlier in the season with 10+, and then another 2 games in a row later in the season.  Freshman Kris Martin did it three separate times of 2 games in a row, and sophomore center Albert Owens had 5 different streaks of scoring double digits.  Owens actually had a decent month of February averaging 13.2 points per game, but ended with 2 points against South Dakota State.  He also only scored 5 points against the Jackrabbits back in January, and it was almost impressive how bad he played.  It looked like when your friends play a pick up game of basketball and you only have 9 guys, but you find the one random guy in the gym who just got down working out, and he come out onto the court and stands at the top of the key and decides to shoot terrible looking jump shots with the ball feeling as small as a dog toy because he just got so swole from his work out.  The point is, this team struggles with consistency…which pretty much shows when they have a 7 game losing streak and a 5 game losing streak on the season.

South Dakota State does not struggle with consistency.  They have yet to lose in the state of South Dakota this season.  They have barely ever lost when they’ve had their three seniors Jake Bittle, George Marshall, and Deondre Parks in the line up at the same time.  The only core player on the team that struggled with consistency was sophomore Reed Tellinghuisen who was up and down this season with his shooting.  He finished the last 4 of 6 games in double figures and the two games he did not score at least 10, he combined for 0-of-6 from the field against South Dakota and Western Illinois for a total of 5 free throws.  He was one of the guys to step up when he was needed last week scoring 15 points on 4-of-6 from the floor and also grabbed 6 rebounds.  The point there is if any of Bittle, Marshall, or Parks struggle; the Jackrabbits have Tellinghuisen (9.2 ppg), Mike Daum (14.8 ppg), and Ian Theisen (6.1 ppg) to step up.  If Emegano and Conley struggle, Oral Roberts is putting 50 dollars down on a random number in Roulette.

South Dakota State should come out on top in this game, and they are probably favored to win the conference tournament, which should be a slap in the face to IPFW.  I have no idea how ESPN says a team has a certain percentage to win a game, so I will just randomly say South Dakota State has a 97% chance of winning this game.  97% sounds good.


 

The Men’s basketball awards should be coming out today or tomorrow.  If I had to throw out a guess on who gets picked…

Player of the Year: Max Landis, IPFW

Newcomer of the Year:  John Konchar, but is it possible to get a three way tie with him, Mike Daum, and Tra-Deon Hollins?

Defensive Player of the Year: Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha

Sixth Man of the Year: Mike Daum, South Dakota State

Coach of the Year: Derrin Hansen, Omaha

All Summit League Team

FIRST TEAM

Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts, Sr

Max Landis, IPFW, Sr

George Marshall, South Dakota State, Sr

Devin Patterson, Omaha, Sr

Deondre Parks, South Dakota State, Sr

Jake White, Omaha, Sr

SECOND TEAM

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Garret Covington*, Western Illinois, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

*I think Covington gets on the 2nd team, but I don’t think he deserves it.

HONORABLE MENTION

Kory Brown, North Dakota State, Sr

Nate Engesser, Denver, Sr

AJ Jacobson, North Dakota State, So

Paul Miller, North Dakota State, So

Tre’Shawn Thurman, Omaha, So

NEWCOMER

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

Joe Rosga, Denver, Fr