The Denver Pioneers were a missed free throw away from playing North Dakota State in the Summit League Championship, and Joe Scott was also maybe that close to not being let go by the Pioneers.
The Joe Scott firing was a little shocking, but it kind of makes sense. With Denver Lacrosse, Hockey, and Soccer all being very extremely competitive programs; it makes sense that the expectations for the private university would be higher on the men’s basketball team. It’s sort of like how I had incredibly low expectations for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because it was directed by the guy who made 300 and written by the guy that wrote all three Blade films…I guess it’s the same… I know a few people that have migrated to Denver, and I’ve asked them if they ever go to Pioneer basketball games and usually the reason they don’t go is because the Pioneers were pretty boring to watch.
Rodney Billups, who you will always refer to as “Chauncey Billups’ brother” is offering a more up-tempo style of basketball in comparison to the Princeton offense that Joe Scott ran. One has to wonder how long it will take for this to turn out to be successful for the Pioneers.
Billups has a great young core of players who appear like they could work out well for an up-tempo style of play. By the way, it will be okay for Mav fans to accuse the Pioneers for being trendy in picking an up-tempo style. It’s fine. Freshman guard Joe Rosga finished the season averaging 12.7 points per game; freshman forward CJ Bobbitt finished with 8.4 points per game; and freshman guard Thomas Neff finished 6.0 points per game. All three freshmen shot above 43% from the field.
The Princeton offense is all about taking the best shot available, so their players usually shoot high percentages. The best shot isn’t always the most important thing in an up-tempo style of play, so soon the Pioneers as a whole may actually not lead the conference in field goal percentage for once.
The Pioneers are going to have a couple roster changes for Billups to move forward with this new brand of basketball. They are losing two guys, Nate Engesser and Marcus Byrd, who averaged double digit scoring, but we’ve routinely seen this to not be a problem for Denver. Both players were efficient scorers, and seemed to find themselves open quite a bit while playing in the Baxter Arena… I thought Byrd was one of the more underrated players in the Summit in 2016, he averaged 16.7 points over the last 8 games of the season. He was probably the biggest reason the Pioneers did not finish 8th in the conference.
Denver will also lose their point guard, Bryant Rucker. It is weird to call someone a point guard when they average 1.5 assists per game, but the Princeton offense is not an offense for point guards to rack up assists. No one seems to know what is going on with the sophomore center Daniel Amigo who only played in 13 games this season for Denver, but he showed some promise in his freshman season. It’s okay, the Pioneers have 6’6″ sophomore center Christian Mackey to haunt our dreams. I swear that kid was allowed 15 fouls in the first round of the Summit League tournament.
The Pioneers have two high school seniors that have signed letters of intent: a 6’0″ and 145lb point guard from Arvada, Colorado…and a 6’6″ wing player from the state of Texas. These players could change their minds and go elsewhere with Denver going a new route in coaching, but as of right now the Pioneers only have room for one more player to sign for next season.
Their roster is filled with wing players, so one would think they would love a junior college post player or point guard; or a 5th year transfer at either position. Denver is not really known for landing transfers, but maybe the new style will call for it.
Drake’s Kale Abrahamson is leaving the Bulldogs and will be eligible immediately. Abrahamson is originally from Des Moines, so it is not like he would be transferring back home. He started his college career at Northwestern, so he clearly likes academics…Denver just seems like the perfect place for the 6’8″ player that could help Chauncey’s brother jump start his culture change in year one. He shot a pretty low percentage from the field (39.1) in his one year at Drake, but Drake basketball seems like a cluster of poor choices right now. I say this like it’s a mean thing, but I am all about the Summit League going all in on trying to steal Drake away from the Missouri Valley. Just think about it…
It is hard for most coaches to see a high level of success in year one, especially when changing everything; but the Pioneers have the pieces to move forward. They are most likely not going to end up winning the regular season, but by could have things figured out as a team by the time they start the conference tournament, again. They will probably finish the regular season standings in 2016-2017 somewhere between 4th and 8th in the Summit League. Now if only they would actually play someone in their non-conference schedule.
It is going to be a very exciting year in the Summit League for men’s basketball. Several teams are returning a good portion of their rosters, and while many think the league will be easily won by South Dakota State; they will be in a much tighter race for a championship than most people think. Every team has a goal of winning the Summit League, but what is their case as to why they are number one? After all, 9 walk in and only one comes out… I’m just messing with you.
Hi, we are the Pioneers, and we know that some people are picking us to finish last in The Summit League this upcoming season. But we saw a statistic from kenpom recently that our coach, Joe Scott, has coached teams over the last ten years that have had the 2nd highest 2 point field goal percentage in division one. That is because we run the Princeton offense, we are all about using the entire shot clock to find the absolute best shot possible, it is based on unselfishness and not on stars.
We ranked 298th in division one in points per game as a team, but we were 20th in the country in field goal percentage which was 1st in the Summit League. We were 3rd in the Summit League in 2013-2014 in field goal percentage behind North Dakota State and Fort Wayne, who were both pretty good that year. We were also 3rd in the Summit in three point field goal percentage over the last two years, and we recruit to our style, so expect that to continue.
We know we are a young team this year with 8 freshmen and 4 sophomores, but it is not like we are going to just play the underclassmen for 40 minute a game. We have an unselfish trio of seniors to run our offense with Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, and Bryant Rucker. Engesser shot 51% from the field last season, he and South Dakota State’s Jake Bittle are the only 2 guards in the Summit League to shoot over 50% on the year, and they have the two best shooting percentages of any players returning to the Summit League this year.
With the exception of three games in the Summit League last season (we are still pretty baffled by our losses to IPFW), we play every game very close, so your players better be ready to hit some clutch shots in the closing minutes. We know we had a record of 12-18 last season, but we are a tough home team going 9-7 at home and we even beat this upcoming year’s favorite, South Dakota State, in Denver. So take that!
So we return the least amount of division one experience in the Summit League, but at least we have arguably one of the top three point guards in the league with Mo Evans. Our offense will probably run through him, and he will hopefully be either on the 2nd team All Conference team or at least Honorable Mention at the end of the year. Team that up with Joe Reed and we have a good inside-outside game that can be pretty difficult to defend. With so many new faces on our roster, it could be difficult to set a consistent line up at first and get everyone on board with our team defense, but at least we will be a mystery team for our opponents to defend.
One thing that we would like to point out is that we were last in The Summit League in free throw percentage last year, which can matter sometimes apparently. Our three players that shot the most free throw attempts: Steve Forbes (75%), Joe Edwards (63%), and Isaiah McCray (49%) are all gone. We still have Evans and Max Landis who both shot over 80% from the free throw line, two of the best returning players in the league in free throw percentage. We recruited a junior college player named DeAngelo Stewart who shot 82% from the free throw line in his sophomore season at North West Tech. Let’s just say we do not plan on losing to Dartmouth by 1 because we went 18-30 from the line or losing to Georgia Tech by 9 because we went 14-28 from the line. Oh, we know we cannot go 100% from the free throw line, but damn it we lost 4 games last season where missed the exact number of free throws that we lost the game by. That stings a little.
Stewart also played at Alabama State his freshman season, where his team went to the CIT, and we are totes expecting Stewart to be a major contributor on this team. Some magazine also tabbed him as the preseason newcomer of the year in The Summit League. We added another junior college player who has division one experience in 6’11” and 270lbs Andrew Poulter who started his career at Arkansas-Little Rock. Does anyone in the league have anyone that can defend 6’11” and 270? Do not answer that. Aside from these additions, we have two transfers from Purdue and Bradley that will have to sit the year out, but hopefully they should help our team out in practice.
Remember how many dicks picked us to finish dead last in The Summit League last year, and we ended up winning 6 conference games? Do you remember that? Were you there for that? Sorry if we are a little rambunctious right now, but seriously do you freaking remember that? We have one of the better young coaches in probably all of the Mid Majors, and he can go into any recruits home and his parents will remember who he is just by his name alone. Scott Sutton goes into someone’s home and his parents are automatically concerned if he has his drinking problem under control because they hear the name Sutton, and that is what they associate with. With new facilities, a new coach, a new type of recruit, our program is a reboot film and it is being led by the best young director out there, James Gardener. We had one of the largest attendance increases by per game average in the country last season, so you know things are getting good.
Again sorry if we seem rude, but y’all can suck it. Combine our coach with Indianapolis, the 14th largest city in the United States and we are actually a fun place to live. It’s not like we’re a bunch of yokels that base their diet off of a 5.99 steak combo meal at the local grocery store chain. No, this is IndianGoshDamnApolis!
We lost 5 players to transfer, but it is cool because we have already forgotten their names. We get to put 4 new players onto our team that transferred from bigger conference schools, so basically we traded in a vespa for a regular motorcycle. Like, we actually have a threatening post game now that we get to add to a 6-10 team, so we are thinking those wins are going up. Oh, and we still have the widely disrespected Marcellus Barksdale, maybe the best wing defender in the league. Who are the two biggest offensive threats at the wing position in the Summit League? Obi Emegano and Garret Covington? That is cute. Barksdale held Emegano to 30% shooting in three games and Covington to 36% shooting in two games last season, so that is nothing to us.
North Dakota State
We basically win everything as it is, so why would you expect anything to be different this year? We lost Lawrence Alexander, but we return everything else for the most part. Our players actually have the most returning division one starts in the entire Summit League. On top of all the players returning, we got to take our team on a summer trip to the Bahamas for exhibition games, where we learned even more about each other. We have the best defense in the league, and while we are young, we have an incredibly mature and well disciplined roster. Anyway you want to cut it, we are the San Antonio Spurs of the Summit League. We have the best fans in the Summit League, because of the cold weather and there not being much to do in Fargo or the state of North Dakota, there is not much else to do.
Can you think of a team with a better core of post players than us? Chris Kading, AJ Jacobson, and Dexter Werner: the three players combine for the complete package in the post. If you think Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman can run the floor and dunk, you should see our newest recruit post player Deng Geu, he’s 6’8″ and has about a 40 inch vertical. There is about 4 blocks a game right there with Kading, Werner, and Geu. Oh, and our perimeter players are incredible defenders, so that stupid Jackassrabbits and their great core of guards do not scare us at all. We held that team to 31% shooting in the Summit League championship last year. What a bunch of turds.
We know you are supposed to get better the more and more you go through transition, but we admit that last year we did not appear better by our amount of wins and losses. Looks can be deceiving though… After picking up our best win ever as a basketball program, we stumbled mightily with losses against teams we should have beat like UMKC and Chicago State. Consider the injuries though to some of our best players: Jake White, Devin Patterson, and Marcus Tyus battled through injuries. You get all of those guys healthy on the court and we have a pretty deadly team. Throw in some added motivation with a brand new arena and an opportunity to play in the Summit League Tournament, and we have an under the radar team. Our attendance has been rising each and every season since the transition, and we expect that to continue as we move into the Baxter Arena so hopefully we can gain more and more of a home court advantage as time goes on.
We ended the 2014-2015 season on a three game winning steak, all those games were on the road. We were actually even maybe 2 or 3 plays away from ending the season on a 6 game winning streak. We still have yet to beat North Dakota State, but we came closer than we ever have before. This was all with only having 4 players returning last year. This year we have 9 players returning and 61% of our scoring, which is the 4th best in the league behind Western Illinois, South Dakota State, and North Dakota State. We were able to take our players to Italy and learn about each other, we got in 10 extra practices, 4 exhibition games, and we know that this will pay off this season We score a lot too.
College Sports Madness put senior guards Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson on the Preseason All Summit League 2nd team, SDSU had George Marshall and Deondre Parks on the first team, so if you think about it; we have the second best back court in the league. That is probably how it works, right? Sophomore Tre’Shawn Thurman has the highest points per game average for any returning post player in the league, unless you count NDSU’s AJ Jacobson as a post player, that is up to you. Thurman also has the 2nd highest rebounds per game average for returning players, actually he is tied with fellow Maverick Jake White. So we could have the second best back court in the league, as well as one of the top post combinations in the league.
“OBI EMEGANO:PLAYER OF THE YEAR! SCOTT SUTTON:14 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS! FIRST IN THE LEAGUE IN ATTENDANCE! GOLDEN EAGLES RULE!”
*flips off the crowd with both hands*
We had a winning record last year and most people were thinking we would finish in 7th or 8th in the conference. Fun thing: we were able to pick up a win against every single Summit League team last year, other than ourselves, that would be ridiculous. Craig Smith is from the Tim Miles coaching tree, so you should expect him to increase his win totals this season, based on nothing. We may have lost a ton of our scoring and whatever, but we still have Casey Kasperbauer: the three point king of the conference. We also will have Tyler Flack back who sat out 2014-2015 due to injury, and a gang of role players that know how to play as a team. No one was expecting Tyler Larson to be one of the best players in the league last season, so who knows who will step up this year.
Yes again we lost a lot of our team, but we found two great recruits in Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech. Hagedorn picked to come here over Omaha and North Dakota State, and Jech picked us over North Dakota State, Montana State, Louisiana-Lafayette, and others. You want to talk about a place where there is nothing to do? Talk about Vermillion, South Dakota. All our players can do is work out and get better at basketball. Also, somehow Hagedorn continues to get taller and is now listed at 6’10”. Did any teams in the Summit League pick up any big men better than what we picked up (on paper)? Probably not.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
We are the favorite to win this league this season, everyone’s favorite. We return the most scoring in the Summit League, after Western Illinois, but ours has proven to be competent. Slam! We have an inexperienced post, but if we cannot get the ball into them we can just do whatever we want with Deondre Parks, George Marshall, and Jake Bittle. Even after those three we have Reed Tellinghuisen who can score on the outside and is also capable of getting to the basket. We keep being told about how our freshman Adam Dykman was incredibly overlooked by everyone as well.
We lost to North Dakota State by 1 in the Summit League championship, and our returning core is clearly upset about it. It is not a question of why will South Dakota State win the Summit League, but rather; who has any chance of beating South Dakota State?
We do not have much to say. Garret Covington will score a bunch of points though, probably even be 1st Team All Summit. We had a lot of injuries last season.
Basketball, meh, mainly the NBA has entered into an era of looking at teams by asking the question: Who has the best Big 3? Having a Big 3 certainly is key, but really I think it’s just as important to follow up with who has better role players to back up Big 3? Could the 2008 Boston Celtics have won an NBA championship without their young starters Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and older bench players of PJ Brown, Sam Cassell, and James Posey? But while we are on the subject, that I brought up, let’s take a look at who could have the best Big 3 in the Summit League in the 2015-2016 season.
Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Deondre Parks
There is little doubt that the Jackrabbits will have the best guard trio in the league. Each averaged double figures in scoring, and all three can defend the perimeter. Each averaged double figure scoring, and Bittle has the highest field goal percentage of any returning player to the Summit league at 53.4 %. The Jackrabbits also have 3 of the top 5 returning players in 3 point field goals made, Marshall made 64 threes in 2014-2015 and he did not even play the entire season. The big question mark is; with Cody Larson graduating, who is going to rebound and defend in the post for them?
Reed Tellinghuisen, 6-6 SO: If you look at the Jackrabbits fan forum, someone posted pictures of Tellinghuisen lifting weights, which is not weird at all. He does appear as if he has added some weight onto his frame, which is great as he will be used more at the 4 position in his second year as a Jackrabbit. The Summit League has Tellinghuisen, AJ Jacobson, and Tre’Shawn Thurman all in the same class at the forward position. How excited are you for 2017-2018?
Connor Devine/Ian Theisen: These two split time and basically taking turns of who was backing up All Conference player Cody Larson. These two combined for for almost 5 points and 4 rebounds per game. With a young front court, these two will be counted on more in the 2015-2016 season to step up.
Skyler Flatten, 6-6 SO: Flatten was actually getting a decent amount of minutes, but then something happened. George Marshall happened.
Keaton Moffitt, 6-5 SR: Keaton Moffitt also happened. The transfer, from Division 2 Sioux Falls, made quite the impact on his team with his leadership and hustle, routinely making big plays when it was needed most.
Devin Patterson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Marcus Tyus, (Jake White)
The Mavericks could have a Big 4 if Jake White is healthy, with as many injuries as he had in his junior season, it is going to be like getting an entirely new player in the line up. It seemed as if the entire team faced injuries issues last season, so if the Mavs can stay healthy, they can be a very dangerous team in the Summit League with their senior back court of Patterson and Tyus to go along with their rising sophomore star Tre’Shawn Thurman.
Random stat: The Mavericks have the most experienced roster with the average eligible player being 2/3 of the way through their sophomore season, but they have the smallest roster with an average height of 6’4″. If Zach Jackson, Ben Kositizke, and Zach Pirog all redshirt, the roster gets even smaller, but more experienced. It is still up for debate if this is one of the meaningless things I have ever posted here.
Tra-Deon Hollins, 6-2 JR: Averaged 17 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 5.3 apg his freshman season of junior college, he appears to be a little bit of everything, and can really help the Mavericks improve their perimeter defense.
Daniel Meyer, 6-9 SO: Only averaged four and a half minutes a game in 2014-2015, but he is likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Mike Rostampour and the departure of fellow redshirt freshman Rylan Murry. Meyer appeared to play with a lot of activity on the team’s trip to Italy.
Randy Reed, 6-6 SR: I’d like to see Reed’s shot chart, I cannot think of many jump shots Reed made, or took. He really can slash and get to the basket though. When Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season, Reed really did a decent job of bringing energy off the bench. There were many instances in the Mavericks’ home game against Oral Roberts that he made a play to keep Omaha in the game. I would think with not a ton of post players around the Summit League that Reed will be used as a backup 4.
Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, AJ Jacobson
After losing the Summit League player of the year, Lawrence Alexander, the Bison will look to replace that offense in their back court. AJ Jacobson said in a Q&A that the Bison are all about a team effort, and know that there is a next one up to take Alexander’s place. It will probably actually be two up with Kory Brown and Carlin Dupree to take the load on offense over. Seriously, this team is starting to become the HYDRA of the Summit League.
While this team is still relatively young, they seem to have completely bought into Dave Richman’s schemes. A Big 3 probably does not really matter to the Bison, they appear to be ready for anything. Looking at their roster, they probably have the most complete roster in the Summit League. It is also probably worth nothing; that while the Bison are a young team, their roster has the most division one starts on the active roster for 2015-2016 with 197 starts. Kory Brown is after all a 4 year starter…assuming he is going to start this season.
Chris Kading, 6-8 SR: Kading averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2014-2015. He is not much of a threat on offense, but he does rarely make mistakes. Actually the Bison rarely make mistakes as a team. Kading led the Summit League in blocks per game.
Paul Miller, 6’4 SO: Miller averaged 6.7 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game, while making 37 threes in his freshman campaign, which is all impressive considering he was sharing the back court with the likes of Lawrence Alexander, Kory Brown, and Carlin Dupree. He also had 10 games in which he scored in double figures.
Dexter Werner, 6-6 JR: Had a massive jump from his sophomore to his junior season going from 2.8 points per game to 8.4 points per game. He also only averaged under 20 minutes per game in 2014-2015. With Werner coming off the bench, he and Jacobson allow the Bison to be extremely tough at the 4 position for 40 minutes. It also allows Jacobson to move over to the 3 and play more outside, which is not a bad thing for them. Werner was second on the team in blocks per game, and is tied with Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading shot blocker returning to the league.
Marcellus Barksdale, Darrell Combs, Nick Osborne
A bunch of new faces for IUPUI, which is not a terrible thing. Marcellus Barksdale is the team’s returning leading scorer, but he can easily fall to the team’s 2nd or 3rd best scorer on the team. Eastern Michigan transfer Darrell Combs is ready to go and has shown he can get buckets. I cannot wait for the “combing the court” puns from terrible ESPN3 commentators. Loyola-Illinois transfer Nick Osborne is expected to make a big impact on this team as well, and will more than likely serve as the team’s primary post presence, as he and other Loyola-Illinois transfer Matt O’Leary are the only upperclassmen post players on the team. Osborne was known for getting into lots of foul trouble when he was a post player for Loyola. The Jaguars are going to look entirely different this season.
Seriously, how many 6’5″ guards do the Jaguars need?
Aaron Brennan, 6-6 SO: Averaged 6.4 points per game in 2014-15 and started in 24 games, but could be moved to the bench with the additions of Osborne and O’Leary. Not a bad thing for your team to have a guy on your bench with 24 career starts as a freshman.
DJ McCall, 6-5 SO: Averaged a shade under 5 points per game and had 15 starts on the year. Could also see an increase of minutes with the graduations of Elijah Ray and Khufu Najee.
The further I get into this, I realize that the entire team is a group of role players.
Tre Burnette, Tyler Flack, Casey Kasperbauer
I admit that throwing Flack’s name into the mix is a risk. Due to an injury, he has yet to play under Craig Smith, but Craig is probably going to like using a 6’7″ guy who shot 45% on threes in his sophomore season. Combine that with Casey Kasperbauer ranking 95th in the nation last season in threes made, and South Dakota will rely on the three ball a lot this season, again. The trio can really make up for the losses of Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos from last season.
Tre Burnette is the Summit League’s leading returning rebounder from 2014-2015, and Kasperbauer has the most three point field goals made of any returning player to the League, he also has the 3rd highest three point field goal percentage of any returning player.
Trey Norris, 6-0 Sr: Came off the bench in his junior year after being a starter in his sophomore season, but will compete for the starting point guard position with incoming JuCo player, Shy McClelland. Norris had a drop off in production from his sophomore season under coach Smith, but he can still be a capable part of the offense for the Coyotes.
Eric Robertson, 6-8 Sr: He made the game winning shot over the Mavericks in Omaha, right? I just remember the beard, and being incredibly angry. I do not completely blame him for the Mavericks’ loss, it is just the final image I have in my mind of that game. Perhaps an increased role in his senior season with the departure of James Hunter, but Craig Smith did a decent job recruiting two 6’9″ freshman (Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech) that he may be intrigued to get to the top of the rotation immediately.
Mo Evans, Max Landis, Joe Reed
I continuously forget about the existence of Max Landis, but he is on the team, I swear it, and he was 4th on the team in scoring last season. The ‘Dons lost a lot of their post game, and they do not appear to have much replacing what they lost, so the team could rely a lot on Mo Evans to be a star. Landis will be there to shoot the three, and Joe Reed will need to be counted on even more to be a stretch 4 than he has before. Seriously, this is the first time we have seen the ‘Dons without a serious threat of a stretch 4. Yep, first time in 5 years? Reed did shoot 36% from behind the line last year, but did not take many as he only made ten on the year. The team will be counting on two junior college transfers to fill the void of what they lost from last season, and will need them to adjust and contribute quickly.
Side note: The ‘Dons will have transfers from Louisiana Tech, Purdue, and Bradley all eligible to play in 2016-2017.
Andrew Poulter, 6-11 JR: Played in seven games his redshirt freshman year at Arkansas-Little Rock before transferring to Western Texas for his sophomore season, where he averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds per game.
DeAngelo Stewart, 6-6 JR: Played his freshman season at Alabama State before transferring to Northwest Tech in Kansas for his sophomore season. Averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg, and shot 47% from the field in his sophomore season. A few people have already tabbed Stewart as the Newcomer of the Year in the Summit League.
Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer
It is hard to determine who the Leathernecks’ third best player is behind Covington and Fuller. Sandifer was the third leading scorer on the team with 7.4 points per game, and he also led the Summit League in assists with 4.3 per game. He even had a great opening weekend in the Summit with 22 points and 4 assists against IPFW and 20 points and 6 assists against Omaha, but then he was basically never heard from again only scoring in double figures one more time through the season.
Western Illinois actually has a lot of experience on their team, but how much faith can you put in a team that has gone 1-27 on the road in the last two seasons. The last time they won a road game was January 30th, 2014 against IPFW.
Mike Miklusak, 6-6 JR: Played in 15 games because of a season ending injury He had 21 points and 7 rebounds against Omaha. I am putting my head down right now.
Jamie Batish, 6-4, SR: A bit of an inconsistent guard, but gives the Leathernecks an option on offense after averaging 6.4 points per game in his first season with the team. He had 15 points in a win against Omaha. Seriously, I am going to punch myself in the face right now.
Tate Stensgaard, 6-8 SR: Played in 20 games before facing a season ending injury. Has shot over 56% on his career as a Leatherneck.
Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, Bryant Rucker
Honestly it is pretty difficult to analyze a team’s Big 3 when they run the Princeton offense. Excuse me, I have to take a break, I just had a random memory of Barry Collier being a terrible basketball coach.
Okay, I am back… With their offense you need guys that take high percentage shots. These three seniors-to-be had a combined shooting percentage of nearly 50% from the field and 42% on threes. Marcus Byrd has the highest three point field goal percentage for any player returning to the Summit League. The Summit League has been more difficult for Joe Scott and the Pioneers than it was for them against the Sun Belt and WAC, which hopefully is not all that surprising. The Pioneers have gotten worse each of the last three seasons going from 22 wins to 16 wins to 12 wins, can they go for 10 this year? With their high shooting percentage, the Pioneers can always be in a game, but with the Summit League having so many good shooters, teams have been able to take over games down the stretch. It is pretty difficult to beat at home as they are 32-13 at home over the last 3 years, and last year they lost 7 games at home by a combined total of 39 points…one of those games was a 16 point loss to IPFW as an outlier.
Daniel Amigo, 6-10 SO: 5.7 ppg, 46 FG%
Jake Pemberton, 6-3 SO: Likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Brett Olson and Cam Griffin.
Obi Emegano, Brandon Conley, Scott Sutton
With Korey Billbury and Bobby Word departing from the team, I really cannot come up with who is going to make up a Big 3 for the Golden Eagles. On paper, it looks kind of rough for Oral Roberts and coach Sutton, but Sutton is probably one of the top coaches in the Summit League and entering his 17th season as the head coach of the Golden Eagles, so they cannot really be counted out, especially if they arguably the best player in the conference. You want to talk about new faces? Oral Roberts is going to be like trying to figure out who is joining the cast of another Expendables film.
Seriously have no idea what will be happening with this team. Perhaps this is what happens to a team when they change conferences so often…naw what I mean Denver? Brandon Conley is probably the only for sure thing on the team, everyone else seems to be the mystery man with his trigger on the finger. The Golden Eagles can probably get above .500 in the conference with Emegano and Sutton though.
With players coming and going, roles need to be filled on teams, and some players just respond quicker than others. North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson clearly had a big year as a redshirt freshman, which was a huge help to the Bison as they lost three key seniors from their 2014 championship team. IUPUI’s Marcellus Barksdale went from averaging 0.3 points per game as a freshman in 2012-13 to averaging 8.6 points per game in his sophomore season, and now is considered an All Conference candidate by many. South Dakota State’s Keaton Moffitt transferred from a division 2 program to be a top guy off the bench for the Jackrabbits. Omaha’s Mike Rostampour made an immediate impact with Omaha in his junior season after transferring from division 2.
With the Bison and Jackrabbits as the two favorites to repeat as the two top teams in the Summit League, the league seems to look like it will be in a pretty tight battle for who is 3rd to 8th (or 9th) in the conference standings at the end of the year. So who are some of the potential wild cards in the Summit League that can set their team apart in 2015-2016?
EVERYONE ON THE ROSTER NOT NAMED MARCUS BYRD, NATE ENGESSER, OR BRYANT RUCKER
Here is a statistic that may jump out at you. Denver returns the second fewest amount of division one starts on their roster in the Summit League, behind IPFW. They are a young team, though so was North Dakota State last season, with 6 freshman and 4 sophomores on the roster, so I am incredibly curious who can make up for the losses of Cam Griffin, Brett Olson, and Jalen Love.
The team virtually has no post game, but it is not really something that is incredibly needed in the Princeton offense. Barry Collier ran the Princeton offense really well without a competent big man at Nebraska. That was a really bad joke. Could sophomore Daniel Amigo make a big jump if he is healthy? He started in all 15 of the games he played in during his freshman year averaging 5.7 points per game, and had three double digit scoring performance, but they were all in blow outs.
JOHN KONCHAR – 6’4″, rFR
Could Konchar be a big time player as a freshman. He redshirted in his first season with the ‘Dons, I assume because of the 4 upperclassmen guards that were on the roster last season. Konchar averaged 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game in his senior season in high school in Chicago. Holy crap! He did see action in IPFW’s preseason game last season, but he only had 3 points in 15 minutes, but hey it was a preseason game.
RACHINE TALLA – 6’9″, SO
Talla is seriously the biggest question mark for IPFW. He redshirted at USC Upstate his freshman season, and then only played in 2 games in junior college because Mississippi is the worst place on earth. So how much of an impact can a guy be who has basically not played a competitive game of basketball in 3 years.
JORDAN PICKETT – 6’0″, SO
Pickett transferred to IUPUI after only playing in five games at Loyola before suffering a season ending injury in 2013-2014. The Jaguars do not have much of a back court, they have a lot of 6’5″ guards, but can the bigger players deal with all of the smaller shooting guards the Summit League has to offer. Pickett is likely to have a big role for the Jaguars in 2015-2016. In the Jaguars’ red-white scrimmage last season, which was basically IUPUI vs their players who were forced to redshirt due to transferring, Pickett was able to score 11 points against…the Jaguars.
NICK OSBORNE- 6’8″, JR
One of three transfers from Loyola on the roster. Osborne is expected to make an immediate impact with the Jaguars, as they have not had much talent in the post in a few years. Osborne averaged 5.4 ppg and 4 rpg, and shot 50% from the field in his sophomore season at Loyola. He did average 3 fouls per game, so curious to see how much time he will spend on the bench due to foul trouble in the Summit League.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
They lost Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund, and TrayVonn Wright a year ago, and they ended up repeating as Summit League Champions with a 1st year coach. I think they will be fine…
One could ask; who is going to be make up for the 19 points per game that they lost in Lawrence Alexander? Can Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, Paul Miller, and junior college transfer sophomore Malik Clements make up that 19 points a game in the back court? Yes, they probably can.
JAKE WHITE- 6’8″, SR
Last year we were teased with White. With 10 rebounds in his first half as a Maverick, we were thinking our front court would be unstoppable with him and Mike Rostampour. Then a few minutes into the second half, White hurt his knee, and then for almost a month we kept being told: not this game, but next game probably… If you look around the post players at the Summit League, White is capable of being the best post player in the League, but he has to stay healthy. When White transferred, Derrin Hansen stated that White would be the best post player in the Summit.
DANIEL MEYER – 6’9″, SO
Meyer only played 4.5 minutes per game in his freshman season with the Mavericks, but with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry (i cried a tear) no longer on the roster, Meyer should expect more playing time in his sophomore season, I mean, right? It sounded as if he did really well in Italy, but it did not sound like the teams the Mavs played against had many players taller than 6’5″…but I did not look at official rosters, just shady looking websites that did not look fully updated. When Meyer did play last season, I was never terrified that he was going to ruin everything. He seemed to move pretty well without the ball, set good screens, and had a nice touch. He even looked like he could be as good as a passer out of the post as John Karhoff, but we will have to wait and see.
ALBERT OWENS- 6’9″ SO
With the graduation of Denell Henderson, Owens will competing for the starting center position with junior college transfer Tre Vance. Owens did average 3.8 ppg and 2.4 rpg, but he never really received any significant playing time in any of the Golden Eagles’ big games. Yet, if you look around at some of the conference predictions, Owens is expected to be a big key factor to ORU’s success. You know, assuming they have some success this season.
JALEN BRADLEY- 6’0″ JR
Bradley is familiar with the Summit League, as he originally played for the Mavericks, but he only played in a total of 26 minutes against the Summit League due to injuries in 2013-2014. Bradley went on to junior college for his sophomore season, where he averaged 17 points per game. Everyone knew Bradley could shoot at Omaha, I remember watching him shoot from half court in warm ups and making it regularly, but we did question if he could defend or play the point guard position. While he was at Omaha, they were deep with guards with: CJ Carter, Marcus Tyus, Alex Phillips, Caleb Steffensmeier, Devin Patterson, and Justin Simmons. The Mavericks could have used him in his sophomore season as that energy guy off the bench, and that would likely still be his role, but ORU fans are expecting him (and 6’3″ Div 2/Fresno State transfer Aaron Anderson) to fill a void left in Korey Billbury and Bobby Word. That is a lot to ask.
TREY NORRIS – 6’0″ SR
Norris started in all 28 games he played in for the Coyotes in his sophomore season, but then was sent to the bench in his junior season as Craig Smith took over at South Dakota. Can he be counted on to be the starter again and help lead the Coyotes to another winning record?
TYLER FLACK – 6’7″ JR
Sat out 2014-2015 with an injury. He started 19 out of 29 games his freshman season and 27 out of 30 games in his sophomore season. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg, he also shot 55% from the floor. Is he going to be the same after a serious injury, and will Smith have big plans for Flack?
Here is a glaring stat for South Dakota. I was looking at the South Dakota State fan forum, wishing I had it in me to do some trolling, and the Jackrabbits are pretty stoked that they return so much of their scoring. The Jackrabbits return 74% of their scoring, which is second in the conference behind Western Illinois who returns 89% of their scoring, but that is Western Illinois… Anyway, South Dakota lost the most scoring in the Summit losing 54% of their scoring. So they are going to need Flack and Norris to return to 2013-2014 form.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
CONNOR DEVINE/IAN THEISEN
Did I mention that South Dakota State is returning 74% of their scoring? I think I just did that. Most of that is the loss of Cody Larson. The Jackrabbits arguably have the best guard trio in the Summit League with George Marshall, Deondre Parks, and Jake Bittle, but they are left with little in the post after the loss of Larson, and they are young in the post. Devine and Theisen shared the time behind Cody Larson in the post last season, can they and freshman Nebraska natives Michael Daum and Adam Dykman make up for that loss in Larson?
When you only when 8 games, you lose 13 of your last 14 games, one of your wins is a 2 point win at home against Devin Patterson-less Omaha team, and 15 of your 20 losses are by 10 points or more, there is not much confidence riding in your team going into the next season. So basically everyone on your roster not named Garrett Covington is a wild card.
The Leathernecks did have some injury issues in 2014-2015, and they have the 2nd most returning division one starts on their roster in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, and as previously mentioned, they do return 89% of their scoring.