My trivial Summit League rankings – Dec 4

1. South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits have beaten two big conference teams, so it would be difficult to put them any lower than first right now.  They did play a horrendous game on Saturday against Missouri State.  Mike Daum was 3-of-14 from the floor, and it was one of the worst team performances I’ve ever seen out of the Jackrabbits.  At one point, I was wondering if the entire team was hungover.

2. South Dakota

The Coyotes really are a complete team.  They can play big, they can play small, they can defend, they can shoot.  Tyler Hagedorn has played extremely well to start the season averaging 13.5 points and 5 rebounds.  He’s outplayed Nebraska transfer Nick Fuller, which should show Nebraska fans how good they are at recruiting.  I’m being mean to Fuller, and I don’t like it.  I’ve always liked Fuller, he’s a smart player and does have some moves.  40 minutes of Hagedorn and Fuller won’t be fun for Summit League teams.  Hagedorn did have an embarrassing missed dunk against Duke, but oh well.

If I were a Coyote fan, I would just be worried how the team plays on offense when their point guard Triston Simpson goes to the bench.

3. North Dakota State

The Bison are 3-4, but their strength of schedule in RPI is ranked 42, at this point.  AJ Jacobson has been playing through injuries, but sophomore Tyson Ward and freshman Cameron Hunter have stepped up to make up the ground – which is just kind of North Dakota State’s thing.

The Bison really don’t have a point guard on the team, so they have been playing with Paul Miller at the point guard spot.  This could turn out really swell, or it could be a bad thing.  Miller may not be as comfortable in that spot as the Bison need him to be.  He is shooting 37% from the field, which is down from last season when he shot 45% from the floor.

4. Fort Wayne

The ‘Dons are beating the teams they’re supposed to beat, and keeping close against teams that are considered toss up games.  They arguably have the best back court in the league as Bryson Scott is efficiently scoring 23 points per game and John Konchar is still proving that he’s the best all around player in the Summit League.

Their front court, though.  I mean, they’re their.  Actually, maybe that’s why John Konchar averages 10 rebounds per game.

5. Denver

The Pioneers schedule hasn’t been overly difficult in comparison to other Summit League teams, but they did earn an impressive win over Wyoming.

Not much has changed in the Pioneers from last season.  They’ll play just a little bit smaller than last year, but not by much.  Their non-conference season has mostly been a Look At What Daniel Amigo Can Do theme.  Daniel Amigo has had 4 double-doubles in 8 games so far.

6. Western Illinois

Sure, the Leathernecks are 5-2, but they’ve played two non-D1 opponents, and they’ve only left the state of Illinois once so far.  They did shoot 60% against former Summit League team IUPUI, so that’s kind of cool.

While this team has had a few players really step up their games, it is hard to really gauge how good (or bad) this team is at this point.  The Leathernecks have a serious lack of depth with 5 players averaging more than 28 minutes per game.  Billy Wright played senior Dalan Ancrum every single minute of their double overtime loss to Miami (Oh), and he even played Ancrum in every single minute of a 70-45 loss to Iowa State.

Freshman Kobe Webster is fun to watch and can handle the basketball tremendously.

There, I said something nice about the Leathernecks.  I think this is the first time in 3 years.

7. Omaha

The non-conference season for the Mavericks could be summed up with one of these: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Mavericks have played in incredibly difficult schedule mostly on the road while trying to mold together so many new faces, as well as deal with injuries to Mitch Hahn and Renard Suggs, who has yet to play a game this season.

With no players receiving any preseason awards, Zach Jackson is putting together a case to make an All Conference team in the post season, and Lamar Wofford-Humphrey could be a candidate for Newcomer of the Year.  Is there a Most Improved Player Award?  I’m not sure and I’m not ambitious enough to look it up, but if there is one, KJ Robinson could be handed that award.

8. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles earned their first win of the season over a division one opponent on Saturday when they defeated 2-6 Arkansas-Little Rock on the road in double overtime.  The Golden Eagles have faced injuries and inconsistent play from newcomers while trying to figure out their newly assembled roster.

They have started playing with a bigger lineup with a starting front line of 6’9″ Albert Owens, 6’10” Javan White, and 6’8″ Emmanuel Nzekwesi.  In the win over Arkansas-Little Rock, White had 18 points and 20 rebounds.

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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.

Summit League predictions: Jan 25-28

4-4 each of the last two weeks.  The Summit League isn’t easy this year with the teams being so close.

January 25

IUPUI (3-4) @ Fort Wayne (3-4)

The Jaguars won both games over Fort Wayne last season by a total of 5 points.  The Mastodons are looking to turn their luck around after three straight losses in the last couple of weeks.  Whoever wins this game gets to go to 4-4 and the other will be 3-5.

I don’t feel good about this and do not have a huge amount of confidence for Fort Wayne in this game, but here I am thinking home teams have a heavier advantage on weeknights…which hasn’t been totally consistent this season.

Reasons to like Fort Wayne:

  • They’re the home team.
  • They probably want it more after getting swept last season?
  • John Konchar, Mo Evans, and Bryson Scott are all really freaking good.

Reasons to not like Fort Wayne

  • IUPUI has one of the best defensive three point field goal percentages in the league, and have allowed the least amount of three point field goals in conference play.
  • Fort Wayne really doesn’t do a great job at getting to the free throw line, and they really need to force the Jaguars into foul trouble.
  • The Jaguars’ post players Matt O’Leary, Aaron Brennan, and Evan Hall all have decent mid to long rang games on offense, and Fort Wayne’s Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor are not the greatest at getting out and defending.
  • I love John Konchar, but I am not a fan of his current hair choice.  Who at Fort Wayne do we demand release of the stat splits based on the design of his hair?

I just want it known that out of all the Wednesday night games this week, I feel the least amount of confidence in this one.

Western Illinois (3-4) @ South Dakota (4-3)

The weakest offensive team in the Summit League playing at the strongest defensive team in the Summit League.  Should be fun.

Oral Roberts (3-4) @ North Dakota State (6-1) on ESPN3

The Bison are 3-0 at home and the Golden Eagles are 0-3 on the road.

I had been entering this yesterday, so now We know I can see the future, sort of:

Off topic:  North Dakota is the only team to beat the Bison in Fargo this season.  The Fighting…something are also second in the Big Sky so far.  It is possible they could win the Big Sky and the Bison could win the Summit.  Let’s open the floor for debate that if both make the NCAA Tournament, then the Summit should invite North Dakota to the league so we never have to face this possible catastrophe ever again.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Denver (4-3)

Hold on, I’m sick to my stomach.  Who would have thought, before the season, that Mike Daum versus Daniel Amigo would have been one of the most anticipated match ups between centers?  Even their back ups Ian Theisen versus Christian Mackey seems a bit fun.

It’s actually an interesting match up overall.  Two teams with 1st year head coaches, both trying out new offenses, both not the most consistent teams on defense, and both have a couple of the best sophomores in the league.  Both teams probably thinking next year with be their year.

In such an evenly matched game, how can you not want to favor the home team with an altitude advantage and just a wee bit more depth?

January 28

Fort Wayne (3-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-4) on ESPN3

While Fort Wayne has been under performing on the road, their post players Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor match up well to defend the Golden Eagles’ best player Albert Owens.

Oral Roberts has one of the worst perimeter defenses in the conference, which is music to the ears of the three point shooters of Fort Wayne.

Denver (4-3) @ South Dakota (4-3) on ESPN3

This might be the saddest Game of the Week the Summit League has had this year.

With Tyler Flack out, the Coyotes really do not have anyone to defend Daniel Amigo.  The Coyotes will be able to defend and disrupt the offense of Denver, but Amigo will still get touches on offense and shouldn’t be exerting too much of his energy on the defensive end.  Joe Rosga and Thomas Neff probably love the idea that South Dakota keeps teams out behind the three point line, since they both shoot higher than 43 percent in that area.

IUPUI (3-4) @ Western Illinois (3-4) on ESPN3

The Jaguars swept Western Illinois in two low scoring games last season.  Even though the Leathernecks have been playing poorly lately, the Jaguars no longer have the Garret Covington stopper we knew as Marcellus Barksdale.

In no way do I actually have confidence that Western Illinois will actually win this game, but they’re Western Illinois and they do weird things and have weird out of body experiences sometimes.  Saturday can be one of those days if Covington doesn’t have anyone to really bother him all day.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Omaha (4-4) on ESPN3

The Mavericks will have an entire week of rest coming into this game, and South Dakota State will be on their second road game of the week after playing in Denver.

After that, you’re probably wondering why the Jackrabbits are in bold.  Omaha has a history of starting off games very slowly after having some rest.  After eight days of rest in December, they found themselves down 23-45 in Vermillion.  With more than a week of rest last year heading into the Summit League tournament, the Mavericks found themselves down by 15 at halftime against Denver.  On a week’s rest last season, they found themselves down by 13 at halftime in Fort Wayne, but were eventually able to force the game to overtime.

The Mavericks cannot have a slow start against the Jackrabbits.  They need to start off hot like they did in Brookings.  They cannot find themselves playing from behind to the Jackrabbits, who always have a good amount of fans at games in Omaha.

After being up big in Brookings, the Jackrabbits found daylight and almost came back to win that game.

Reed Tellinghuisen, who has been struggling this season, has shot 14-of-19 in his two career games in Omaha.  The Jackrabbits haven’t been that far off from any win this season, and if Tellinghuisen can get going and make the difference then the Jackrabbits could be going back to Brookings feeling like they may not be the team left out of the Summit League tournament.

Well, I want to cry.

 

 

The Mastodons shouldn’t bury themselves

Let me start out by admitting how wrong I was on the IPFW Mastodons this season.  I thought they would finish 5th to 7th in the Summit League standings and they finished in 1st.  So go them.

From what I saw and read about John Konchar, I thought he was going to be a great player for IPFW, but I didn’t think he was going to get close to averaging a double-double as a freshman.  I also did not think that Max Landis would be deadly enough to get on the All Summit League 1st or 2nd teams, let alone become the conference Player of the Year.  The ‘Dons really tricked me.  They tricked everyone after losing Mo Evans for the second half of the year.  Though, maybe with Evans they would have had the depth to get through the Summit League tournament.  Also maybe with Evans, Landis and Konchar and some others would not have scored as many points as they did and looked as good as they did.  Either way, they found a way to win 12 Summit League games with what they had.

Anyway, the ‘Dons are going to have Mo Evans back next season, so people think they are going to automatically be great again.  Players being forced off a team due to academics and then eventually coming back does not always pan out…especially when the team is needing that guy to be in a leaderships role.  Like dude, we already figured out a way to win without you, do we know you?  You’re not Han Solo here to save the rebellion after already backing out… Is that an applicable reference?  I am not big into Star Wars.

IPFW is going to lose three players that averaged more than 10 points per game.  Landis was one of the best three point shooters in the nation: he made the 2nd most threes in all of division one, and he was in the top 30 for three point field goal percentage.  Losing someone like that is hard to just make up quickly.  Senior guard Michael Calder averaged 10 points per game, and probably did not receive enough credit for taking over for some of the scoring lost in the absence of Mo Evans.  Calder averaged 4.7 points per game in his junior season, after the loss of Evans he was able to averaged 14.4 points per game in 2016.  He also had three separate 20 point scoring performances in league play.  Joe Reed also averaged 10.5 points and nearly 5 rebounds.  Reed wasn’t the most flashy player, nor did he make shot after shot after shot, but he seemed to always hit a big shot when it was needed most.  He really seemed like one of the more consistent players in the Summit League over the last few years.  You knew what you were going to get with Reed, he was the C-3PO of the team.  Seriously, I think Star Wars is dumb.

Losing three key guys from a regular season champion can be hard to make up, and the ‘Dons have some likely candidates to leave the team as well.  The team will have Xzavier Taylor, a 6’9″ post player who transferred from Bradley, to help make up for the loss of Joe Reed.  Taylor will be a junior, and was not known for being a jump shooter at Bradley, like Reed was.  The ‘Dons loved their small ball style in 2015-2016, and with Taylor they might not be able to play that way in 2016-2017.  Them loving their small ball style is from reading or listening to anything Jon Coffman says, the man is an open book, he is probably comparable to some Star Wars character that talks a lot that no one likes, but damn it, he gets the job done.  The ‘Dons will also get Bryson Scott, 6’1″ transfer from Purdue, who should also help reload this roster a bit.  Scott was also not known for being a three point specialist at Purdue…so the look of this team is going to be different.  Like, maybe they will look like Omaha this season and be more of a team that tries to get to the free throw line more than being dependent on hitting threes.  It’s hard to tell how good of a player Scott could be for IPFW, but I know I would be banging a drum and screaming “WE’RE GOING TO BE SOLID, WE GOT A DUDE FROM PURDUE” if Scott ended up with the Mavericks.  I need to buy a drum. How much is a drum?

Losing Landis is huge, as well as losing Reed and Calder, but the team still has Evans and Konchar and with the addition of two transfers; the team will have talent.  This is redundant to anything I said here, just like the Force Awakens.  Another player that came out of his shell after Mo Evans was no longer playing was junior DeAngelo Stewart – who averaged 12 points per game in the last 14 games of the season.  The ‘Dons can still finish in the top of the league in 2016-2017, but will they again not have the depth to play in a tournament format at the end of the season?

The ‘Dons have one more roster spot that they can fill, and possible one or two guys that can still transfer out.  There are also plenty of guys originally from the state of Indiana that are transferring away from their teams right now.

Chandler White is a 6’2″ guard that would be a sophomore in 2016-2017 who is transferring from Toledo, and he is originally from Fort Wayne.  He was hardly used at Toledo, only playing in 8 games, but maybe the IPFW coaching staff could really work with him in a redshirt year.  This is just one guy that announced his transfer this week, there are plenty of guys from bigger universities that are still announcing their transfers.  The ‘Dons will also have a 6’10 freshman from the state of Michigan to add to their roster that had offers from Detroit, Marist, and Kennesaw State.  There will also be an addition of a point guard, who is also from the state of Michigan, that held an offer from IUPUI.

Like most teams, the ‘Dons are going to have a slightly new look to their team, I think they’re actually going to have one of the most experienced teams in the Summit League next season…as most teams will be filled with juniors and sophomore, the ‘Dons will have the most seniors with 4 on their roster.  That is if no 2016-2017 seniors transfers out, or if anyone gets a 5th year transfer.