The Leathernecks beat Wisconsin to open up the season, and I am pretty sure it is the most forgettable big time win by a Summit League team of all time. It is almost immediately discredited with: well, Wisconsin wasn’t together at that point…or something along those lines. There were people that believed in Western Illinois after that, and hopefully those people that did use that belief to discuss how good the Summit League was as a whole for the season. They probably more so had an attitude of: Well Western Illinois sucks, so who cares.
Western Illinois finished the season as 9th in the Summit League, which meant they had to sit out the Summit League tournament. At least they got to really bulk up Creighton’s non-conference schedule. It was not pretty after the Wisconsin win for the Leathernecks. The team picked up some lopsided wins against the likes of some division 2 schools in addition to Illinois-Chicago and Eastern Illinois before going on an 11 game losing streak. Then they hurt my brain when they broke their losing streak at home against the Mavericks. The Leathernecks did expose a large weakness of that Mavs that Omaha was not a great defensive team in the post. Once a team can get the ball past the quick hands of Tra-Deon Hollins and Devin Patterson, Omaha may not have the bodies to deal with guys down low. Denver saw this and they just kept throwing the ball into Christian Mackey and CJ Bobbitt to just ruin the Mavericks. Ehhh.
Much of the season for the Leathernecks was about as hard to watch as when your brother brings home some train wreck of a girl to meet your parents; and you hold a large amount of embarrassment that you know your brother.
The Leathernecks are going to be losing JC Fuller’s 12.7 points per game, which is probably a good thing as he thought he could have the green light to shoot like Steph Curry, but Curry actually makes the crazy shots he takes. Western Illinois only played Fuller for 8 minutes when they beat the Mavericks and instead gave most of the back court minutes to freshman De’Angelo Bruster, who might be the new fastest player in the Summit League. His speed created so many opportunities for other players in that game against the Mavericks, he may have actually won that game for the Leathernecks even though he scored 0 points. Bruster only scored 2 points per game, but the Leathernecks were 2-0 in games he played more than 20 minutes, so hell, they might as well at least make an attempt to give him more minutes in 2017…but Billy Wright seems like the least creative coach in the League; so who knows.
Garret Covington will be the Summit League’s top returning scorer, and that is fun, I guess. Covington has been known as being one of the league’s most threatening scorers over during the first three years of collegiate careers, but watch a Western Illinois game. No one else knows how to get open, the coaching staff doesn’t have a great list of plays to really get players open, and Covington never really scores when the game is on the line and he can push the Leathernecks over their opponent. Granted, they don’t have too many moments when the game is close for Covington can do that, but the point still remains…probably, I think, I may have gone in and out of points there.
The idea here is, who else on the team can actually score consistently? Jabari Sandifer would go 8-of-12 from the floor one game and then go 2-of-13 the next game, and most of shots were Aw Crap, When Did the Shot Clock Change to 30 Seconds shots. We like to ask these hypothetical questions of: Would Tre’Shawn Thurman put up the same numbers at a Creighton or a Nebraska? The simple answer is no because he would be on a different team with a different depth and a different offense than what he is currently on, but it does not mean he is a worse player.
Anyway, if you took Garret Covington and threw him on any other team in the Summit League would he still be known as one of the most prolific scorers in the league? Covington took 13 shots a game in 2016 and attempted almost 7 free throws a game to guide him to 18 points per game. You put him on South Dakota State, pretend you’re trading him for Reed Tellinghuisen… Covington isn’t such a dominant of a scorer that he would have taken shot attempts from their three seniors and Mike Daum…Covington would score less than 10 points a game with the Jackrabbits. Put him on Omaha’s roster, he’d score more than 10 points a game because of the offense, but he would have been the 3rd or 4th option on offense in most situations, and the Mavericks would have been freaking sweet…I think my general point here is that Covington should not have been a Summit League 2nd Team player. Didn’t Lawrence Alexander finish as North Dakota State’s winningest player with over 100 wins? It’s kind of a weird thing to say since basketball is a team sport, but Covington has only been a part of 27 wins in his three years at Western Illinois.
You know what, I hate talking about Western Illinois this long. They at best will finish with 5 conference wins next season. I am still salty at their men’s soccer team; they flopped so much against Omaha that I thought maybe Manu Ginobli, Vlade Divac, and Derek Fisher took up coaching college soccer.
My wife is out of town for a conference and I heavily debated of traveling (alone) to Tulsa to see the Mavericks take on Oral Roberts; or to Macomb to see UNO Softball play Western Illinois, but I unfortunately decided to be responsible and to save money. Damn it, I brought up Western Illinois again. UNO softball at Western Illinois is actually on the radio this weekend…sayyyyy whaaaaat? 88.3 FM is apparently a station?
I was worried about the softball team for UNO this season because of the depth of the pitching, but they are staying alive so far thanks to the bats. Not saying the pitching has been awful between Laura Roecker and Abbie Clanton, but there are not a ton of options if the two of them are having a bad game or were to get hurt. Nine players hitting above .250 right now…Nine! That’s how many times Ferris Bueller unofficially missed class his senior year. Three players are in the top 10 in the Summit League in batting average. Oh and this team just beat Iowa State in Ames! The Mavs are also 159 in RPI right now which is 2nd in the Summit behind North Dakota State.
With just one conference loss, the Mavs are currently 2nd in the conference standings behind 6-0 North Dakota State. The Mavericks will end the regular season at North Dakota State and also still play 3rd place team South Dakota at home next weekend, so there is still a lot on the line for the Mavs as the two top seeds get byes in the conference tournament in Fargo.
Oh and per twitter, Caroline Hogue has left the women’s basketball team. Someone may need to let Jon Green cry on their shoulder for a while.