Summit League Championship preview

We’re all so juiced right now, right?!

All season I have been hoping to see Omaha rise up to what they are capable of being and blow someone out.  It was part of my desire to not wanting to be stressed out for two hours of watching sports.

The best part about last night night is that the Mavericks were able to defend the passing lanes and create havoc just as they did last season.  The entire team was playing with a huge amount of energy, and there is really no reason why they wont bring the energy tonight.  Even with the team only shooting 24 percent on threes, the Mavericks were able to play their brand of basketball and showcase an incredible performance.

It’s unfortunate that the Mavericks have to play in the championship game which is pretty much on the road, but this is still one of the greatest opportunities Omaha has ever had.

Yes, most of the arena will be wearing blue, but there will be some black and crimson.  This is the Mavericks moment, though.  The players and coaches have said they love playing in the big away games, and taking the home crowd out of it with big plays.  Since the Mavericks beat the Jackrabbits in Brookings this season, the only game the Jackrabbits have lost to in the state of South Dakota was to South Dakota in Vermillion.

We’ve been talking about the mind game for the Mavericks, but tonight they’re going up against a team that also has something in their own heads.  The Jackrabbits have under performed this season, and even though they were able to pick up a win against the Mavericks in Omaha, they let Omaha shoot all over them in Brookings.  Both teams almost gave up big leads to escape with wins on the road in the regular season against each other.  Neither team is just going to lay down and let the other one take this win.

Mike Daum is clearly going to demand an incredible amount of attention from the Mavericks.  He is like their Super Shredder.  Watching him play basketball at times is like watching the opening scene in X Men 2 when Nightcrawler dominates the Secret Service into submission.  Hopefully, like that scene, the Mavericks can stop Daum before he does anything catastrophic.

A big factor in the game is if Tre’Shawn Thurman can stay out of foul trouble and challenge Daum enough to throw him off of his game.  If Thurman get into foul trouble, Zach Pirog, Daniel Meyer, and Mitch Hahn will need to be ready.  Meyer is not the type of player that can really defend Daum, but Pirog can.  In Omaha, Pirog’s length really bothered Daum on possessions; and the Mavericks were +11 with him on the court.  Derrin Hansen doesn’t give Pirog a lot of minutes, but if things with Daum get a little dicey he may want to take a chance on Pirog.

It’s easy to look at this as OH MY GOD, NOT MIKE DAUM, but there are other guys that Omaha needs to worry about.  With all the attention on Daum, backup center Ian Theisen is able to find wide open looks against the Mavericks and knock down big shots.  He had 15 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting in Brookings against the Mavs.  Theisen did suffer an injury after the Jackrabbits trip to Omaha and missed 6 games and has struggled to find a role in the last three games for the Jackrabbits.  Omaha is healthier and has some more depth than South Dakota State, but that doesn’t mean the guys who can step up wont step up.

Michael Orris is also a good point guard that can really control the offense for the Jackrabbits, so hopefully the Mavericks can continue this great team defense to disrupt what he can do.  Reed Tellinghuisen is another guy that the Mavericks cannot underestimate.  Tellinghuisen has struggled this season, and has even gone 1-of-10 on threes against the Mavericks this season.  He shot lights out against Omaha as a freshman and sophomore, and the Jackrabbits appear to be more successful when Tellinghuisen gets hot so forcing him to a struggle bus is key.

How about who the Jackrabbits need to go up against?

The Jackrabbits have struggled defensively for much of the season, just like the Mavericks, but they have shown signs that they are capable of being a quality defensive team. With Ian Theisen and other senior AJ Hess both slowed down with injuries, who is going to defend Mitch Hahn who is playing incredible basketball right now and seems more focused than any other play we have ever seen?  He could literally hit a shot from anywhere on the court.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit a trailer 3 from the half court line.  Hahn had a three in the first half where he was about 5 feet behind the three point line and he just looked at the IUPUI defender, who was giving him the space, like: Seriously, do you not know who I am?

The Mavericks got their huge emotional game out of the way on Sunday night when they topped the team that scared them the most, and the Jackrabbits got their huge emotional game out of the way last night against their in-state rival.  The Mavericks are playing with a high level of confidence, and they’re playing smart basketball right now.  They have to continue that if they want the biggest win in program history.

When the Mavericks entered the Summit League, South Dakota State was the program they were striving to be, and now they have the chance to show that they have come a long way to be where they want to be.

My trivial Summit League rankings: Feb 14th

We’re getting closer to the end of the season, and we still have no idea what the Summit League bracket will look like.  Might as well just do something like this, I guess.

1. South Dakota

Somehow, the team of mostly newcomers is the best defensive team and the most efficient offensive team in the Summit League.  Their roster also only has one senior on the team.

The Coyotes are also more dimensional than they appear.  Unlike most the other teams in the conference, they can survive stretches without their stars on the court.  Bench players are starting to come around and find their roles, and the entire team is filled with confidence at the right time of the season.

This team reminds me of old NBA and NCAA video games, actually NBA games may still have this, I wouldn’t know because I don’t play a lot of video games… but, where you can just hit a button and put in your best defensive 5, your three point shooting 5, you big lineup, your small lineup, and whatever.

I think it was generally agreed upon that the most difficult stretch of the conference season for the Coyotes was going to be their three game home stretch at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne and they would really prove themselves if they could get through that tough stretch.  They went 2-1 on that stretch.  We were taking the Coyotes seriously before, now it’s time to take them even more seriously.

2. North Dakota State

Right there with the Coyotes, just not quite as consistent as South Dakota, but still more consistent than the rest of the Summit League.

3. Fort Wayne

Top 3 team in the Summit League in offensive efficiency, bottom 3 in defense.

If the ‘Dons are in the first round against Denver or Omaha, they probably have the greatest chance to make it to the 2nd round.  Getting to the Summit League championship game though, seems like a challenge…but it’s going to be a challenge for everyone.

4. Denver

You take the young players of an efficient system from the old Pioneers and combine it with the fast run-and-gun type of offense like Fort Wayne, and it turns out to be pretty solid.

Like South Dakota, their roster only has one senior.  Denver’s lone senior has played 5 minutes this entire season.

I think I figured out the two teams that will be at the top of the 2017-2018 preseason rankings.

5. Omaha

I have never left or turned off a UNO basketball game before the end of regulation.  I came close and debated it when the Mavs played IUPUI in the Baxter Arena.

The Jaguars embarrassed the Mavericks, and IUPUI wasn’t doing anything special except for not being completely dysfunctional as they have been for a majority of the season.

The mindset of this team is questionable right now.  They have confidence with the base that you need to win the conference tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, so it’s not like it’s a big deal if they don’t win all the conference games.  It’s going to be difficult to win three games in three days if your team is averaging 15 turnovers, and 12 of those turnovers are completely unforced.

6. IUPUI

It’s February and transfers Ron Patterson and Kellon Thomas seem to be finally gelling in a back court with Darell Combs

Without a doubt, the Jaguars appear to be the biggest I Wonder Which Team of Theirs Will Actually Show Up Tonight team.

7. South Dakota State

Through injuries, lack of talent, and a transfer, the Jackrabbits have a serious depth problem.  A struggling Reed Tellinghuisen was finally able to break out of a slump on Saturday with 28 points on 8-of-13 threes but while playing 38 minutes against a tough South Dakota defense, Tellinghuisen became noticeably tired and couldn’t hit clutch shots.

If Tellinghuisen can be consistently good, and Ian Theisen and AJ Hess can come back healthy and ready to go, the Jackrabbits can be a tough out in Sioux Falls…but could that be asking for a lot?

8. Western Illinois

Out of all the teams that should make the Summit League tournament, you would be the absolute most shocked if it was Western Illinois who got on a hot streak and won the tournament, right?  I think we all understand that it’s not impossible, but in the last 6 games the Leathernecks have not even reached 70 points in a game.  They’re going to need some offense to surprise anyone in the Summit League tournament, especially North Dakota State or South Dakota.

9. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles are not out of it yet, but they are currently sitting in 9th and their remaining games are: @ Omaha, @ South Dakota, and versus North Dakota State.

IUPUI’s remaining schedule: @ South Dakota State, @ Denver, vs. Fort Wayne, vs. South Dakota

South Dakota State’s remaining schedule: vs. IUPUI, @ Fort Wayne, vs. Denver

Western Illinois’ remaining schedule: @ North Dakota State, vs. South Dakota, vs. Fort Wayne.

After putting that out there, I actually don’t feel great for IUPUI.  Don’t feel great for anyone, actually.  Not even super confident about Omaha.

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 Jackrabbits are going to have that new basketball team smell in 2017

With a new coach, five players graduating, two players transferring out, and a new coach; it is definitely going to be difficult for people to just pencil in the Jackrabbits as the best team in the Summit League again in 2017.

Iowa State Assistant, TJ Otzelberger, who I may refer to Taco John Ostrich Burger at some point, will be taking over as the head coach of the Jackrabbits.  I’m sorry about making fun of someone’s name, I was forced to watch an episode of One Tree Hill last night, so I’m just in a mood.  Former Coach Scott Nagy left the program for Wright State, which seems like an odd move to most outsiders.

Seriously, the basketball writing in One Tree Hill is awful.  For starters, two brothers for some reason get super excited to go see a Charlotte Bobcats game.  Later on at one point, the team captain walks into the coaches office and the coach tells him he’s going to run the triangle offense this season just for him.  I love that some writer in LA just turned on a 2002 Lakers game and heard the words “triangle offense” and just rolled with it because they didn’t know what else to do.  Then the whole team gets in a fight right as being introduced to the crowd, which just turned into a dog pile fight for literally no reason.  The captain started a fight with his brother, then all the players just reacted to fighting each other with absolutely no build up to fighting each other.  Then in the post game the coach lets the captain remain captain and makes his brother co-captain so they “can figure it out together.”  What a terrible show.  One Tree Hill just makes me worry about…everything on this planet.

Wait, what happend?  I blacked out.

Otzelberger had two separate stints at Iowa State, recently one under Fred Hoiberg and a few more years under Greg McDermott.  He spent a few years at Washington under Lorenzo Romar, who is an idiot, and he has been a part of recruiting some top nationally ranked classes at Iowa State and Washington.  That’s great.  Recruiting classes are everything, especially when you get a bunch of overrated chubs that don’t do a bunch and you cannot even reach the top 25 with that class during the regular season.  I’m mostly referring to Washington’s teams…and no one can talk me out of Craig Brackins being incredibly over hyped at Iowa State.  I believe I saw that at one time in high school he was rated over Blake Griffin.  That worked out.  Don’t take this as me bashing Otzelberger being an overrated recruiter or something, it takes an entire coaching staff to recruit and actually develop their players and team…not just one assistant; and I have no idea how much of a role he had in actually recruiting those players…but if it’s going to be bragged up on the internet by South Dakota State on how great of a recruiter and developer of post players coach that Otzelberger is, we should discuss how worthless of a college basketball player Shawn Kemp Jr was in the process.

Otzelberger’s scheme does not sound all that much different than Nagy’s, he wants the team to get out and run at a fast pace, which is similar to just about what everyone in the conference seems to be moving to.  He basically wants the Jackrabbits to be Omaha, but with defense.  I will say, it appears Otzelberger is incredibly excited for this opportunity with South Dakota State and he sees big things for his new basketball program.

There is a problem with the Jackrabbits as of right now in time.  They currently only have 8 scholarship players returning, and have one junior conference guard committed for next season.  Two of those eight returners redshirted last season.  It’s tough to count out South Dakota State already since North Dakota State almost had the exact same situation in 2014-2015 and they ended up winning the Summit League tournament.

Unless the Jackrabbits get a graduate transfer with one of their remaining scholarships, the team will have no seniors on their roster…which is usually not good, but the Summit League is not going to be filled with seniors in 2017.  Otzelberger may not be going for those transfers as he stated he wanted to go for 4 year players he can develop, but coaches say a lot of things, and coaches have a tendency of going after transfers to load their new teams with some needed experience in their first year when there is a lot of turnover from the year before.  Do you not remember Dana Altman’s CBI run at Oregon in his first season?

The Jackrabbits will return Summit League First Teamer and 6th Man of the Year, Mike Daum, who is a great player.  He is going to go from almost always being the 3rd or 4th option on the court to always being the first option.  Some player do not adjust to that very well, especially as sophomores, and Daum seems like a pretty well mature guy; but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on at how well he adjusts to this.  Denver, Omaha, IUPUI, and South Dakota have quicker forwards that can get out and bother Daum a little; so maybe Jackrabbit fans wont see Daum take a quick jump his sophomore season, as much as they expect.

Another core player returning to the Jackrabbits will be Reed Tellinghuisen, who I really thought took a step back his sophomore season.  His freshman season he appeared to be up there with AJ Jacobson and Tre’Shawn Thurman as one of the top three freshmen in the Summit.  He put on some muscle going into his sophomore season but dropped in field goal percentage from 45% to 40%, dropped in three point field goal percentage from 41% to 37% and dropped in free throw percentage from 66% to 61%.  He was still 7-of-9 from three in Omaha, though.

In most situations this season Tellinghuisen was playing at the 4 with the Jackrabbits, and it was maybe a mistake on the part of the Jackrabbits staff, even if they did have limited options on where to play Tellinghuisen.  I sit with a perfect few of the baseline in Baxter Arena, and Tellinghuisen looked great on offense; but  you could literally see the fear on Tellinghuisen’s face when Tre’Shawn Thurman got the ball on the baseline and Tellinghuisen had to play defense in the post.  He had nothing he could do to Thurman other than just foul him.  Tellinghuisen played best when he was on the court at the same time with Mike Daum and center Ian Theisen in the front court.

That front court has the potential of being the best front court in the Summit League next season.  Theisen has a little bit of Cody Larson with his post game, but needs a little jump shot to really be an all conference player.  Since Otzelberger is apparently such a great developer of post players, perhaps he can make Theisen into an incredibly scary post player for the Jackrabbits.  Or he might just look sweet since the Jackrabbits don’t have many other post players (as of yet) and he will get 35 minutes a game.  Who knows, it’s a crazy world and it’s the Jackrabbits league…we’re just living in it.  The team will be adding Nebraska-native Adam Dykman to the front court, who redshirted his freshman season…and I know a number of people that watch a lot of Nebraska high school basketball that really felt the bigger schools really made a mistake by not recruiting Dykman.

The Jackrabbits went into the 2016 season with having what was expected to be the top back court in the Summit League, and let’s just be happy that the Tra-Deon Hollins & Devin Patterson back court challenged them for that top spot.  The Jackrabbits back court will be relatively unproven going into 2017.  Tevin King will be the only returning player in the back court, and he saw limited action really since he was playing behind three seniors in his freshman season…which sounds great from a development standpoint.  King only shot 4-of-14 on threes in his freshman season, which would worry me as a Jackrabbit fan, and he only shot 59% from the free throw line.

The team recently added 6’1″ guard Andre Wallace from Iowa Western, who could really be a great player in the Summit League for the next two seasons.  He was a 40% three point shooter for the Reivers and had 4 games of scoring 20 or more points in his sophomore season.  He wasn’t known for being a great defender at Iowa Western, which could suck for the Jackrabbits in a guard dominated league.  The Jacks will also have Cole Gentry, a point guard out of Chicago, who redshirted his freshman season.  The redshirt freshmen in the Summit League have been exceptional the last few years: AJ Jacobson, Mike Daum, John Konchar just to name a few…so who knows if Gentry can be a great player right away or not.

With what is going to be an entirely new look for the Jackrabbits, to their roster and their coaching staff, there are going to be a large amount of questions for South Dakota State at the start of the season.  Usually those teams with a lot questions get rated low in preseason rankings, but it’s South Dakota State so they will probably get tabbed as the preseason favorite just because.

 

 

 

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

 

Omaha Mavs and SDSU Jacks reading materials

I know there is a chunk of UNO students that will be making their way to the South Dakota town known for holding Daktronics, and having a pretty decent Applebee’s; and that is pretty great but I wanted to throw some reading material out there…even though I am sure no students ever actually ready this.


Here are a few things you should know if you are just a casual fan and you do not follow much into this, or if you are just trying to impress some dude or…whatever.

These are supposed to be points that make you feel good…kind of like you are watching a Andy Dwyer greatest hits compilation…or like the happiness you will receive after your buddy introduces you to Kung Fury…a half hour film based on a police officer who became a Kung Fu master after being bitten by a cobra and being struck by lightning at the same time.

Kung-Fury-Poster-01
Everything you will ever need in a film is in this poster.
  • Ideally, I guess, a teams goal is to at least split their road games; and Omaha is already 4-0 on the road this season in league play…so they could lose the rest of their road games and still have split on the road.
  • 2 of the 4 road wins were against teams Omaha had never beaten since transitioning to division one: North Dakota State and Oral Roberts
  • The road win against Denver was the first time the Mavericks had beaten the Pioneers in Denver.  The Mavericks beat Denver by 14, which is the 2nd highest margin Denver has been defeated by at home this season.
  • Omaha currently has the 2nd leading scorer in the Summit League, Devin Patterson…and the 2nd best rebounder, Tre’Shawn Thurman…and the assist leader, Tra-Deon Hollins…and 2nd leading shot blocker, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and the nation’s leader in steals, Tra-Deon Hollins…Devin Patterson is also 2nd in the conference in steals…Hollins is also second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio
  • In league play, Omaha leads the Summit League in points per game, actually they are tied with Fort Wayne…they commit the least amount of fouls…they have the most steals in the conference…the Mavericks lead the conference in free throws attempted and are 2nd behind Denver in free throw percentage…they also lead the conference in field goal percentage…the Mavericks are also 2nd in the league so far in defensive three point field goal percentage, which is great because they gave up the most three point field goals in the conference last season

The Mavericks have been tested on the road so far this season and had some close wins, and close losses, against good teams.  This game could be the biggest test that Omaha has faced so far…ever since joining the Summit League.  Matt Zimmer, of Argus Leader, said that Omaha may in first, but they are the team with more to prove here.  He is absolutely correct.

Yes, the Mavericks were able to beat North Dakota State at home this season with the Bison on a 31 game home winning streak, but they came up close against the Bison in each of their two meetings last season, losing by 3 and 7.  The Mavs beat Oral Roberts, who is known historically for being one of the best teams in the Summit League, but the Golden Eagles are in a down year…even with the conference’s leading scorer.  This is South Dakota State, who has built themselves up to be the team to beat in the Summit over the last few years.  One of the teams the Mavericks have been trying to build themselves up to be ever since transition, and the Mavericks have lost a few recruiting battles to the Jacks since the transition.  Mike Daum and Reed Tellinghuisen both had offers from the Mavericks, and I believe Skyler Flatten and Ian Theisen both had “interest” from Omaha.

I am not sure if it is time for either of these teams to look ahead into the seedings of the Summit League tournament, but first place in the conference standings is on the line here.  There is still a lot to play out, but South Dakota should finish somewhere between 6th and 8th in the final standings in the conference; and neither Omaha or South Dakota State want to be matched up against the Coyotes in the first round of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls.

The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Brookings in 2014, the same weekend North Dakota State beat the Jackrabbits in Brookings, and I am pretty sure that is the last time South Dakota State lost at home.  Since that game the Mavericks have lost to the Jackrabbits three straight times by an average of 19 points per game.  Since that weekend, the Jackrabbits have won all of their conference home games by an average of 19 points, and the closest a team as come was Denver by 9 in February of 2014.  There were actually some narrow margins of victory of North Dakota State in their home winning streak.

The Jackrabbits are 16-5 this season, but they have been beat up with injuries.  Wisconsin transfer, Preseason Summit League First Teamer, and 2014-2015 2nd Team All Summit League player, George Marshall, missed 6 games this season and the Jackrabbits with 4-2 in his absence.  Preseason Summit League First Teamer and 2014-2015 Summit League Honorable Mention player, Jake Bittle, missed 8 games and the Jackrabbits went 4-4 without him on the court.  Bittle also missed 9 games in his sophomore season and the Jackrabbits went 4-5 without him in the lineup.  Other than these guys being out, 6’6″ sophomore, Skyler Flatten, has been out all year so far, but is expected to come back at some point.  Flatten averaged 3.2 points per game in his freshman season, but he saw his minutes go down once George Marshall became eligible.

The Jackrabbits have only played 7 games (not including non-division one opponents) with their big three of Bittle, Marshall, and Parks all playing together in the same game.  Their only loss with all three of them was on the road to UMKC.  Their big three are known for being good three point shooters, and the Jackrabbits do have guys around them that can knock down threes, but the Jackrabbits are currently 6th in the Summit League in three point field goal percentage at 35.7% overall.  When Bittle, Marshall, and Parks are all in the lineup the Jackrabbits shoot around 40% from three, which would be 2nd in the conference.  Omaha is 1-2 this season when their opponent shoots above 40% from three.

Omaha may be the worst three point shooting team in the league, but Hollins has improved as the year has gone along, going 6-of-11 in the last four games…at one point he was shooting 15% on threes.  The Mavericks, however, play more so to penetrate and get to the basket and force the other team to foul.  They are currently 10th in division one in free throw attempts per game, and on top of that are 24th in free throw percentage.  On the reverse of that, South Dakota State commit the most fouls in the league.

George Marshall was back in time to start off conference play, but Bittle just back last week and the Jackrabbits went 2-0 on the road, at Oral Roberts and South Dakota, with him back in the lineup.  This was combined with head coach, Scott Nagy, calling out his team for not having any toughness; so there was probably some added motivation by the team to pick up 2 road wins to show their coach wrong.

The Mavericks biggest deficiency last season was defending three point shooting, and mostly just being able to guard wing players.  The team fixed this by signing Tra-Deon Hollins.  Seriously, if there was a All Summit League Tough as Nails Team, Hollins would be first team.  No other team has one defender on their roster that intimidates their guards and wing players nearly as much…on top of that his back court teammate, Patterson, is 2nd in the league in steals.

Going into the season, the Jackrabbits were mostly worried about who they were going to play at the center position.  Freshman Mike Daum has filled the role quite nicely averaging 13.4 points and 6 rebounds per game in 19 minutes per game…he has had 20 or more minutes in the last 6 games.  Has he had to face a post player combo like Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman yet?  Probably not.

I know that Omaha has more to prove in this game, but this game has to be more important to South Dakota State.  Their coach recently called them out for faking toughness, and their team was one shot away from the NCAA tournament a season ago.  No team in the league will lose as much as the Jackrabbits going into next season.  Their seniors combine for 48 points per game, and there could always be someone who transfers out.  Omaha will lose Patterson (and White, Reed, Smallwood, and Erickson), but they will get Marcus Tyus back to play alongside Tra-Deon Hollins in the back court next season…and they get to add Mitchell Hahn after sitting out from transferring.

If the Jackrabbits win this game, there could potentially be a 4 way tie for first…but if they lose they could potentially be 4th or 5th in the standings in the conference…

 

 

 

Summit League Predictions: Jan 20-23

I went 4-3 last week…technically 5-2…I did say South Dakota State would win on the status of Jake Bittle playing…he did not play…neither did Mo Evans for IPFW…I would have picked South Dakota State had I known Mo Evans was not going to play…hell we’ll call it like I did originally…I lost that game…now you can proceed onto breaking my thumbs.

January 20

Western Illinois @ South Dakota

Western Illinois has not won a conference road game since January 2014 when they beat IUPUI.  IUPUI was 6-26 overall that season.  Does Western Illinois really look like they have a squad that can end this conference road losing streak in Vermillon?  Actually, maybe…they lost on the road to Omaha by 2 and to South Dakota State by 4.  Simple math would tell you that Western Illinois will lose this game by 6 or 8, but math is hard…

Maybe this is a battle for the 8th seed in the Summit League tournament?  Western Illinois was in a Battle For 8th game last week and was down 18 at half time to Denver in Macomb.  But hey, Western Illinois is 1-0 when they don’t have any votes in the Mid Major Top 25 poll.

January 21

North Dakota State @ IPFW

Something that slipped by everyone is that junior point guard Carlin Dupree left the Bison last week after a dispute in playing time.  Dupree was averaging 4 minutes less per game in his junior season than he was last year in his sophomore season and was moved to come off the bench recently.  David Richman said that Dupree was totally fine with this, but clearly Dupree pulled a fast one on Richman.  The Bison are 2-0 without Dupree with wins over both South Dakota schools.  He was a quality defender, but was not known for his shooting ability, shooting less than 40% from the field over the last year and a half and around 20% on threes.  The Bison will now be counting on true freshman Khy Kabellis to run the team.  Losing Dupree really cuts down on NDSU’s depth and Kabellis will have to play over 30 minutes per game due to this.  Kabellis has shot 28% from the field in games out of the great state of North Dakota…it’s fine, I forgot my lunch and just wanted to lose my appetite by saying “great state of North Dakota.”

South Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

Weird stat:  The only games that Oral Roberts has ever lost at home with Obi Emegano in the line up were to both South Dakota schools.

Other than Obi Emegano, the Golden Eagles appear to be outmatched at every single position.  Emegano is going to need a monster performance for Oral Roberts to have a shot at beating the Jackrabbits…but maybe we see a case where Jake Bittle finally gets back into the line up and he has a bad flow getting back into things and it leads to a number of other problems.  We’ll see.

The Jackrabbits are 0-2 on the road so far in the Summit League, and Scott Nagy has called out his team for not having any toughness on the road.  They know they are going to a tough place to play, and they have something to prove to themselves in this game.

Omaha @ Denver

A contrast in styles: Omaha wants to run the ball and take quick shots and Denver wants to move as slow as the DMV to work for the absolute best shot possible.  Which I am convinced that the DMV is doing the same thing: just sitting back there googling the best ways possible to ruin your day.  Omaha was 0-5 since transitioning to division one playing in the Mountain Time Zone against a D-1 team…this season they are 2-2 (or 3-2 if you count Phoenix in the Mountain Time zone), so the Mavs may not have the issues of adapting to the altitude as they have already played in it a few times this season.

Denver may have a problem making as many passes as they are used to against an Omaha team that loves to play the passing lanes, and Tra-Deon Hollins having jedi mind tricks to get teams to pass in his general direction for him to take the ball.

Two road teams pick up wins on a Thursday?  I think last year, the road team only won about 33% of the conference games played Monday to Thursday.  I could be making that up, but I know it was not a great percentage and North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Oral Roberts had most of the weeknight road wins.

January 23

North Dakota State @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Okay.  Alright.  Um.  What?  All common sense says to take North Dakota State in this game.  They have been one of the two best teams in the Summit for the past 3 seasons and Western Illinois has been one of the two worst teams in the Summit the last 3 seasons.  Don’t look at any stats or anything here, just look at the narrative.  I feel that last sentence made me sound like your Tea Party uncle that keeps telling you to read between the lines when analyzing the Obama administration.

North Dakota State plays on the road this week against IPFW and Western Illinois, currently the best team and the worst team in the Summit.  North Dakota State versus IPFW is going to be a greatly contested game, and the Bison may not have enough pieces on their roster to play a competitive fast paced IPFW team on the road AND a Western Illinois team in Macomb.   North Dakota State also only beat Western Illinois by 2 last year in Macomb.

I’m sure that North Dakota State will win by 35 now that I have thrown this out there.

South Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN3

Normally I would like to take the home team in a instate rivalry like this, but I think I would just be saying that to trick Creighton into scheduling UNO.  South Dakota is a tough team to figure out.  They lose at home, they play tough on the road, and they are a group of people that decided to at least temporarily reside in Vermillion, South Dakota.  Every time I say a game is a great match up for Tre Burnette, he ends up having a bad game.  He will have to go against either 6’9″ Ian Theisen, 6’9″ Mike Daum, or 6’6″ Reed Tellinghuisen (who has been struggling lately).  Perhaps if Burnette is not doing well the Coyotes can go with their 2 big true freshman against Daum and Theisen… who have gone missing in league play.

Did you know that South Dakota picks up the most fouls in the Summit League?  So they are going to send the Jackrabbits to the line, who shoot 72% on free throws.  South Dakota is also 2nd to last in the Summit in rebounds, in front of Denver, but Denver is an outlier in all statistical categories; so it’s just best to not count Denver most of the time.  Consider Denver to be the middle child of the league.

IUPUI @ IPFW

The Acronym Bowl!  The road team won each game in this series last season.  I should like IUPUI’s chances with no other game this week, and IPFW has North Dakota State at home on Thursday.  After watching Max Landis hit every possible shot with a hand in his face in Omaha, IUPUI’s scrappy defense does not appear to become a factor in this game.  Seriously, my basketball passport profile ranked Landis’ performance against UNO on Saturday as the best college basketball performance that I have witnessed in person.  Konchar’s performance that game ranked number 2, and Hollins’ ranked number 3… it’s also not like I’ve only ever gone to 3 college basketball games in my life.  Okay, I admit, Landis and Konchar have rattled my brain.  Brent Calhoun scoring 6 points in overtime with left handed hook shots over a surprised Jake White has also been making my stomach hurt.  Calhoun hadn’t had a game of scoring in double figures all season and he already has 3 double digit scoring performances in Summit League play.  How did Jon Coffman trick us like this?  He’s using cheat codes or a game genie, I swear.

Omaha @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

At first, I thought Oral Roberts is too good at home.  Then I remember hearing Tra-Deon Hollins say that one of his favorite things to do is to go on the road and give the home team a scare and take away a game, and Omaha’s performances on the road should support this.  Oral Roberts also averages more turnovers than any other team in conference play so far…which is great because Omaha forces more turnovers than any other team.

These two teams also get to the line more than any other team in the league.  This could be a problem for Omaha as Oral Roberts appears to be a (slightly) deeper team in terms of having more capable dudes to go if fouls become an issue.  Also Jalen Bradley’s cross over to his left into a baseline mid-range jumper should give you a mini stroke.

I won’t be able to watch this game live, unless the random bar I saddle up at has a way to stream ESPN3.  Sunday is my birthday, and my wife forces me to celebrate my birthday…so I’m going to have to watch the replay on my actual birthday.  By the way, UNO beat Denver last season on my birthday.

This is the toughest stretch of Omaha’s conference schedule of @ Denver, @ Oral Roberts, @ South Dakota State.  They need to win at least one of these games…or all of them…that sounds better.

 

My trivial Summit League Rankings – Jan 5

Why not do some “power rankings” for the Summit League?  It’s a top 10 conference right now, and it probably still will not get enough respect from the tournament committee to get two teams into the big dance.  If you’re really impressed by Joe Lunardi’s fake bracket in July, then you might actually love something like this…but please, don’t even talk to me.  Power rankings are kind of like a movie that has a pretty good story going up until the end and you find out it was all really just a dream and you realize the story sucked all along and Blake Lively has a really short range even if she was great in “The Town”…but here we go.

1. South Dakota State

  • A 9 point win and a 4 point win over who many think to be the two worst teams in the Summit was not the best way to start off conference play for numero uno, but they still came out 2-0.
  • The Jackrabbits look different without Jake Bittle.  He may not be their flashiest player, but he is by far their smartest player that runs their offense and makes a low amount of decisions.  His injury was only listed as 2-3 weeks, but they may not be favored in a road game against IUPUI without Bittle.
  • The big question mark for the Jacks was: who were they going to play at the center position?  Redshirt frosh, and Nebraska native, Mike Daum has been the answer for SDSU and has been averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds per game in 17 minutes a contest.  Sophomore Ian Theisen has been putting up nearly 7 points and 4 rebounds per game, and both players can knock down threes.

2. North Dakota State

  • The Bison put up a 10-4 record in non-conference play even while battling with injuries to two of their top players: Chris Kading and Kory Brown.
  • NDSU recently moved Carlin Dupree to the bench and he scored 16 in 28 minutes.
  • Head Coach David Richman acknowledges that they are a young team, but they still have a target on their backs and everyone in the conference is going to give them their best.  Don’t worry about Globo Gym, they’ll be fine.
  • Curious who was going to make up the scoring for the loss of Lawrence Alexander?  Did you think it would be sophomore Paul Miller?  Miller is scoring 16.6 points per game and he is making 2.7 threes per game at 43%.

3. Omaha

  • Clearly it looks like I have issues putting them here, but you shouldn’t be surprised.  The Mavericks have won 4 games in a row and that is the longest streak they have had over division one teams.
  • In the year of the foul, they get to the line more than anyone else in the Summit League.  The Mavericks have shot 52 more free throws than South Dakota State, who has the second most free throw attempts on the season.  If you’re not a deep team, especially at the wing, you could really run into foul trouble on the Mavs.  They are also second in free throw percentage in the Summit League behind Denver.
  • Tra-Deon Hollins is still leading the country in steals.  Back courts have had issues getting the by Hollins and Devin Patterson.

4. IPFW

  • They are 12-4, but I challenge you to find a meaningful win.  Oral Roberts is their best win.
  • Head Coach Jon Coffman wanted to play more small ball this season and shoot more threes to match the rest of the Summit League, and they currently have the second highest three point shooting percentage in the league behind Western Illinois.  They are even second in scoring behind Omaha.
  • Mo Evans could be the most difficult player in the Summit League to defend, after Obi Emegano, Evans is tied for second in the conference in scoring (17.3) and he is third in assists (5.1).
  • The Dons were really excited about redshirt freshman John Konchar, who Coffman said would have been worth 5 wins last season.  Konchar is averaging 11.2 points and a league leading 7.7 rebounds per game.  He’s also 5th in field goal percentage in the Summit League.  He has been playing mostly the 4 position, so he will soon have to go up against AJ Jacobson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and Tre Burnette.
  • Max Landis has made more threes than any other player in the League with 3.3 threes per game.

5. South Dakota

  • The Coyotes lost at home to IUPUI, but then beat Oral Roberts on the road.  They had similar situations like this last year.  Losing at home to Omaha, beating Omaha on the road.  Losing to Oral Roberts at home, beating Oral Roberts on the road.  Losing to Denver at home, beating Denver on the road.  They are a hard team to predict for.  This season they have beat Minnesota, lost to CSU Bakersfield, seriously, a hard team to figure out.
  • Last year, their defense forced teams to take the more threes than any other team in the Summit League and they have done the same thing so far this season.  So teams have to be able to knock down threes against the Coyotes.  **Looks at UNO’s three point field goal percentage…hits head on table**

6. Oral Roberts

  • Oral Roberts had a very difficult non-conference schedule, but they now have lost 6 games in a row…5 of those 6 games were on the road.
  • The Golden Eagles have the best player in the league with Obi Emegano, but after that they are an incredibly young and inexperienced team.  They are going to have a few “Seriously!” losses.
  • ORU lost to South Dakota at home without Obi Emegano, who was out with concussion symptoms.

7. IUPUI

  • Another team with an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule, the Jaguars are currently 5-12, but they did manage to beat South Dakota on the road.  They are a gritty team and head the Coyotes to 2 of 15 on threes in that game.
  • The Jaguars are playing with a large portion of their team as newcomers, so they could have some “Seriously” wins.

8. Western Illinois

  • They gave up a 16 point lead to Omaha and only lost by 4 to (a Jake Bittle-less) South Dakota State.
  • The Leathernecks are a deep team in the sense that they have a ton of players on the roster, but there is a significant talent drop off after their top 4 players.  They were an injury filled team last season, and there have been a few little injuries so far this season…but they have had the same starting lineup in every game.
  • They are an inconsistent team, in the sense that everyone on their team is incredibly inconsistent.
  • The Leathernecks do have the best three point field goal percentage in the league, but they played an incredibly weak non-conference schedule.  Yes, yes, we all know they beat Wisconsin…cool.

9. Denver

  • Starting the conference season against North Dakota State and South Dakota State was not fun for them…and now they have Oral Roberts coming to Denver.  Denver has been a good home team the last 3 seasons, but can Oral Roberts really drop 7 in a row?  Yes, it is possible.
  • The Pioneers also played a weak non-conference schedule facing no power conference teams, but they may have done this to get their basically new roster some much needed experience.

Seriously, Blake Lively was only really given 15 minutes of actual screen time in the “The Town.”

 

Just some haphazard notes listening to the Summit League Media Day

 

  • Joe Scott knows his team is young and the Pioneers are a work in progress, but he is preaching maturity to his team.
  • Jon Coffman is pretty damn excited about college basketball and his team.
    • Redshirt Freshman John Konchar has apparently put on a ton of muscle, and the ‘Dons are really excited about him and are more prepared to go small ball this year in the Summit
    • Brent Calhoun is expected to make a big jump for the ‘Dons, he has lost a bunch of weight and is in the best shape of his life.
    • I have realized that after an entire season that I have been spelling “Mastodons” incorrectly.
  • Jason Gardner is excited about this program, and thinks his staff will be more comfortable working together this year.  He has gained a large amount of respect for the Summit League.
    • In his opinion, Mason Archie is his team’s best defender and wants to defend the other team’s best player.
    • Marcellus Barksdale had to play four different positions in just about every single game for the Jaguars, he will not have to do that this year and expects Barksdale to benefit from not having to playing too many different roles.
    • Barksdale and Archie have both graduated already, and set a great example for the team.
    • His 4 transfers are really going to help this team.
    • The new arena has really helped the Jaguars in recruiting.
  • Dave Richman acknowledges that his team has 11 of his 15 guys as freshman and sophomores, but they are a deeper and more talented team than last year.
    • Chris Kading had 3 surgeries in the off season, will probably miss the first couple games of the regular season.
    • Lawrence Alexander carried the Bison on his back, he was the winningst most player in Bison history, it is not going to be easy to replace him.  They will have to replace him by committee.
    • The Bison ended up 12-4 in the league, but many of their games were won by just a possession.
  • Derrin Hansen (and Brittany Lange) is excited about the new arena, it has been a huge asset to the program, and they know it will help them catch up to the rest of the league in the next few years.  Not to mention it is extremely huge for the community.
    • Hansen is expecting more productivity from Tim Smallwood, Hansen is unclear if Smallwood will start or come off the bench yet.  Smallwood has a much better feel for the game right now.  He was a huge help when Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season.
    • Devin Patterson has become better in his leadership role.
    • Marcus Tyus is coming off his knee injury very well.
    • Jake White was only healthy for 2 or 3 games last year, he can have a big year if he is healthy.
    • Randy Reed is going to have a big role this year.
    • The players UNO has brought in bring in a winning culture, with all of them playing in their state championship games.  Zach Jackson’s team won the state championship.
    • Hansen thinks his new guys can be immediate impacts for his program, but it sounds like minutes may be an issue at this point.
  • Scott Sutton says he is excited and optimistic, but he also sounds like he wants to skip the morning and get straight to lunch.  He likes his new players, he knows there will be growing pains, but it is a tough group of guys that should be ready by the conference schedule.  Their non-conference schedule should really help prepare the Golden Eagles for the Summit League.
    • Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley have both been injured throughout the summer and had shoulder surgeries, but are doing very well at this point.  The staff is doing the best that they can to protect them.
    • Sutton thinks the rule changes in college basketball are going to benefit a guy like Emegano the most.  He already led the league last year in free throws attempted per game and he should get even more attempts at the line this season.  Sutton also likes how his team plays with a 30 second shot clock.
    • Sutton really really likes Jalen Bradley, and will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup.  Bradley got to play a lot on the team’s summer trip, where the team got to play with a 24 second shot clock.
    • Sutton could have a year where he is starting a couple freshmen.  AJ Owens is their post player, but not as consistent as they would like him to be.  Owens could have the biggest jump this year in the league.
  • Craig Smith sounds like he came to party. He thinks it is going to be a heck of a year for the Summit League, and his team will be a work in progress.  He is glad that his team set a foundation and a culture last year.  They lost a lot of scoring, so they have to figure out a way to score the ball.
    • Smith really does not know who is going to help take on the scoring yet, but Tre Burnette really caught on toward the end of the season.  Casey Kasperbauer is one of the best three point shooters he has ever coached.
    • The Coyotes have had a lot of injuries.  They have 17 players on the roster, but ended a practice with only 10 players recently.  It has been hard to get going and figure out lineups and who plays well together.
    • Dan Jech can score in a lot of different ways and is a great rebounder.  Smith sounds really excited about Jech.
    • Tyler Hagedorn has a great feel for the game and can do a lot of different things.
    • Tyler Borchers has been a great surprise for the Coyotes, he doesn’t look pretty with everything that he does, but he does great things.
  • Scott Nagy says his team has taken their time getting ready because of the great experience that they have at the guard position.  He thinks the Jackrabbits have a lot of depth, which is going to be needed in college basketball with the rule changes.
    • He points out that preseason awards mean nothing.  No one expected Deondre Parks and George Marshall to be all league picks last year.  Some transfers from IUPUI or on other teams could be big time players, and no one knows anything about them yet.
    • Jake Bittle and George Marshall both have nagging injuries, nothing that would keep them out, but they will be hurting after games.
    • Nagy thinks his team is smaller than he would like it to be.  They could even go very small with no true post player in some games.
    • Adam Dykman works extremely hard, and down the road will be a tremendous 4 man in the future.
    • The biggest question mark for the Jackrabbits is: how will they replace Cody Larson?  They are looking at 3 guys to replace him…Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, and Mike Daum.  He has no idea who will be their starting center at this point.
    • Nagy just seems displeased by rule changes, doesn’t see the need for them, but they have to play with them.  He doesn’t think the rule changes will affect how they play though.
  • Billy Wright feels his program is headed in the right direction.  His team has set a philosophy in how they want to recruit and compete.
    • Western Illinois returns 85% of their scoring.
    • His freshman are working hard to compete for starting spots and playing time.
    • Garret Covington has really worked hard to improve his rebounding
    • JC Fuller is one of the most underrated players in the league.
    • De’Angelo Brewster and Brandon Gilbeck will have big breakout years as freshmen.
    • The Summit League is close in talent, you are an injury or two away from going from the top to the bottom, or a recruit away from going from the bottom to the middle of the pack.

Who has the best core of post players in the Summit League?

So the Summit League is stacked with guards and wing players this season.  College Sports Madness recently came out with a All Summit League 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th team and 16 of the 20 players were guards, 17 if you count South Dakota State’s Reed Tellinghuisen as a guard.  The Summit League came out with their preseason 1st and 2nd teams yesterday, and 8 or the 10 players were guards.  The teams they selected are fair for the most part, though I do not agree with leaving Tre’Shawn Thurman off the list, but I get that I am biased.

Anyway, there are so many guards on this list, and that is because the Summit League is going to be a very guard heavy league this year.  So could one come up with a conclusion that who ever has the best post game is going to set themselves apart from the rest of the conference?  So who has the best post players in the conference?

For the sake of argument, I am going to reduce each team’s list to their top 4 post players, because realistically teams hardly ever use more than 4 post players in the Summit League.  Hell some players do not use more than two post players.


North Dakota State

Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, AJ Jacobson, and one of the other 3 players that will mix in.

I have kind of had North Dakota State as my team to win the conference this year, but I am growing more and more uncomfortable with that recently the more I am looking things up.  Not that I think they are in trouble or anything.  Anyway, it is pretty hard to argue that they do not have the best core of post players in the Summit League.  I know someone might look at Chris Kading and say he’s only a 5 points and 4 rebounds guy, but he takes smart shots, he led the Summit League in blocks per game, and he would routinely hold the other team’s best post player to a bad game.

Dexter Werner was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Summit League last year, and he completely deserved it.  He was a big time force that brought immediate energy to the Bison post game off of the bench, and he shot 51% from the field.  He was playing undersized most of the time, but he was still able to get 1 block per game, which is tied with the 2nd most for returning players to the league.

Dexter Werner was selected to the 2nd Team for the All Summit Preseason Predictions.
Dexter Werner was selected to the 2nd Team for the All Summit Preseason Predictions.

Then the Bison have AJ Jacobson, and while there is no official Summit League Freshman of the Year Award, I am pretty sure it would have been him last season.  He appears to be a popular choice for 1st Team All Summit this upcoming year, after coming off averaging 11.6 points per game and 4.2 rebounds, and many people think he is going to take a large load of the shots that Lawrence Alexander was taking.  He is probably more of a traditional 3, but he did quite well for the Bison at the 4 position, and the Bison can bring in Werner off the bench and slide Jacobson over to the 3, making for a big lineup.

It is kind of unclear who the 4th post player will be at this point for the Bison.  They had Nebraska-native, Spencer Eliason redshirting last season, and they are bringing in two 6’8″ freshmen that they appear to be pretty excited about.  With Kading and Werner, you kind of expect one of the two true freshman to redshirt though, right?


South Dakota

Eric Robertson, Tyler Flack, Tyler Hagedorn, Dan Jech

I admit that is pretty difficult to go on from here, so how about South Dakota?  The Coyotes might actually have the most talented post players, but there are some questions to it.  Can Tyler Flack bounce back from sitting out all of 2014-2015 with an injury, and does Craig Smith even like him?  Flack was averaging 8.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg, and shooting 55% from the field as a sophomore in 21 minutes on a pretty bad South Dakota team.

Flack is back.
Flack is back.

Can Eric Robertson survive as a starter if Smith doesn’t feel comfortable with starting a true freshman?  Then there is two freshman, Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech.  Jech gives the Coyotes a post player and Hagedorn gives the team a stretch four.  The Coyotes were able to survive last season with 6’3″ Tyler Larson and 6’5″ Tre Burnette as their primary options in the post last season, so what is going to happen when Smith adds some height to their post game.  Oh yeah, and there is also Tre Burnette, who had the highest rebounding average of any player returning to the Summit League.


Omaha

Jake White, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Daniel Meyer, Zach Pirog (or Randy Reed)

It is kind of a bold move picking the Mavericks that high here.  Consider this though, no player 6’7″ or taller that is returning to the league averaged more points per game than Tre’Shawn Thurman last season.  Jake White is healthy apparently, while I cannot 100% verify this, but I am pretty sure he had limited minutes in his junior season due to injuries.  Even with as many injuries that he had in his junior season, he was probably the fastest post player in the league.  So you have to assume he will go from 20 minutes per game to 25-30, his field goal percentage should rise above 40% while he’s healthy, he can probably be a 10 and 8 guy.  10 and 8 should get you Honorable Mention in the Summit.

Could Jake White be the most underrated post player in the league?
Could Jake White be the most underrated post player in the league?

Daniel Meyer should be getting a minutes increase as well.  Statistically, he had about the same statistics that Dexter Werner had in his freshman season at North Dakota State, and he should receive an increased role (maybe even a Werner like role) with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry no longer on the team.  One game last year, I was sitting near Matt Hagerbaumer, you seriously need to take the opportunity to sit next to Hagerbaumer if you ever get that chance.  He’s constantly yelling support to younger players, and he was so excited about Thurman and Meyer as freshman.  He at one point said that they needed Meyer to be a banger down low and be the dirty work guy.  Basically, the Mavs need him to be Matt Hagerbaumer 2.0, and he is capable of being that.  Meyer apparently played very well on the team’s trip to Italy as well.

I am still unsure if Zach Pirog will redshirt.  Hansen kind of has a history of redshirting big players, and the team already has White, Thurman, and Meyer; but maybe Pirog is even better than advertised?  He should add immediate rim protection to the team, which would be extremely helpful, but how many minutes would be able to get this season?  Not to mention, there will probably be a lot teams playing 6’5″ guys at the 4 position for a decent chunk of minutes this season, so wouldn’t you want to play Randy Reed more at the 4 position this season; leaving a lot of the minutes at the 5 to White, Meyer, and even Thurman.  Just seems like minutes wise it would be a good idea to redshirt Pirog, but he is someone that can immediately help this team.


South Dakota State

Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, Michael Daum, Adam Dykman

There is a big gaping hole to make up in the loss of Cody Larson for the Jackrabbits, and it is unclear who will fill that role.  The Jackrabbits also grew comfortable playing Reed Tellinguisen at the 4 last season, as the team’s 5th best offensive player, they really couldn’t keep him off the floor, even if he was playing undersized at times.

You look at Devine and Theisen and you think two guys that don’t even combine for 5 points per game, but really they were playing behind Cody Larson and sharing that role of backup post player.  Then you realize that they both shot over 50 percent from the field, and they both had stretches over the season where they were making big plays.  It’s also not like Scott Nagy cannot develop guys at all.  Devine as a 40% free throw shooter might get left off the court down the stretch of the few close conference games the Jackrabbits will have.

The Jackrabbits also had Nebraska-native Michael Daum redshirting last season, who seemed like a pretty attractive recruit coming out of high school, so who knows how much he developed under the Jackrabbits staff.  The basketball fan in me says “oh wow this guy averaged 25 and 13 as a senior in high school,” but the Nebraskan in me says “I have never even heard of Kimball, how could anyone be good at basketball from there.”  The Mavericks offered him a scholarship though, he also held offers from South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and others, so non-Nebraskans see something in him.

Then there is even another Nebraska-native on the team, 6’7″ Adam Dykman.  I am pretty nervous about Dykman, I constantly saw his name in the paper for big games, and I know a few guys hugely into Nebraska high school basketball that were upset that UNO or Nebraska did not give an offer to this kid.  I am afraid he’s psycho angry about that.

With such a strong group of starting guards, I don’t think it’s going to come down to the post players for the Jackrabbits.  The show Scrubs had a great core of cast with JD, Turk, Kelso, Elliot, and Dr. Cox, would the show have been successful if they threw in a bunch of episodes centered around Ted and made a three episode story arch about Ted?  Many people would have turned away.  I actually would have watched the crap out of that.  So how many times are you going to hear a ESPN3 commentator say: The Jackrabbits are having a great night with Marshall, Bittle, Parks, and Tellinghuisen knocking down all these outside shots and beating their defenders to the rim; but I really think they need to get the ball into Devine to work his magic on Dexter Werner?  Probably never.


IUPUI

Nick Osborne, Matt O’Leary, Evan Hall, and Noah Thomas

Nick Osborne and Matt O’Leary were decent players at Loyola and will now have increased roles with the Jaguars.  Evan Hall and Noah Thomas are both true freshman, so the hard part for the Jags is throwing in an entirely new core of post players into their lineup.  Hall is a 6’7″ freshman that was rated as a 3 star recruit and had offers from Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, and Lipscomb out of high school.  Hall is a 6’9 and 235 post from the state of Indiana that averaged a double-double in his senior season.  The Jaguars also survived last year on having guards playing as post players, so it’s not like they cannot win without a post game at all.  Essentially, the team decided that they didn’t like the cast of the last season of the Power Rangers and went with entirely new ranger squad, and they feel pretty comfortable about how the new cast will go.  How many other places are you going to find a Power Rangers reference talking about sports?  Actually, I don’t think this my first time on here.


IPFW

Joe Reed, Brent Calhoun, Andrew Poulter, Racine Talla

You’ve got to feel confident in a 6’8″ guy like Joe Reed that has shot about 55% for his career.  Like Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman getting more shots because of departures, you’ve got to think that Reed’s shot attempts will go up with the loss of Steve Forbes.  Reed is another guy with potential to be a 10 and 8 guy.  His other three front court teammates are kind of question marks.

I’ve seen people bragging up Andrew Poulter, and I do not get it.  He was a 7 and 5 guy as a sophomore at a junior college, and he also shot 47% from the field.  I watched a video of him in high school working on some 1 on 1 moves, he was looking like an All American but he’s 6’11” and 275 going up 1 on 1 against some 6’5″ 175 pound guy.  Granted, it is high school and I doubt there were too many guys near his size to work out with, but still, I don’t see how his 1 on 1 skills will ever come into play from the Summit.  Then there is sophomore Racine Talla who is 6’9″ but hasn’t played a game of basketball in 3 years.  It just seems like a gamble to take them seriously at this point.  Maybe Jon Coffman realizes how to use them appropriately though, we will clearly have to wait and see.  And many people have them picked as the 4th best team in the conference, so maybe I am just a moron.  95% chance that I am a moron.


Oral Roberts

Brandon Conley, Tre Vance, AJ Owens, and Darian Harris

Did you know this team led the Summit League in blocks per game last season?  They essentially did not need production offensively from their post players as they had Obi Emegano, Kory Billbury, and Bobby Word to take on a bulk of the scoring, so they really just needed their post players to play defense and make great outlet passes.  I don’t think people are realizing how important Denell Henderson was to this team.  None of these players are huge scoring threats, and a lot of people are high on Owens even though he basically only got minutes when the Golden Eagles were getting killed last season.  He shot 40% from the field, and he was basically playing against other teams’ 3rd string most of the time.  Darian Harris also seems like he should be a shooting guard, but the ORU had to use him at the 4 position several times last season due to lack of a post.

I am nervous for Scott Sutton this season, but not in a way that I think he’s going to get fired or anything.  I really do not think he has a great roster this season, but it is Sutton and Obi Emegano.  I love hearing rumors every off season about schools looking at Sutton as a head coaching hire, but we may not get that this April and May.  If Sutton can come in top three of the league this season, I really think he deserves coach of the year, but I don’t think he’ll get it.


Denver

Marcus Byrd, Daniel Amigo, Christian Mackey, and 1 of 2 freshman.

I am scared for Denver this season.  A few have selected them to finish in last this season, CBS Sports rated them as the 3rd best team in the Summit League but it was pointless.  It is really hard to look at Denver and say they have the best players in anything, not because of a lack of talent, but because of the offense that Joe Scott runs.  Marcus Byrd averaged 8.5 points per game as a junior, 8.5 at Denver is like averaging 13 any place else.  Byrd can also step out and take the three, he actually has the highest three point field goal percentage of any player returning to the Summit League this season, and he makes nearly 2 threes a game.

Daniel Amigo was also giving the Pioneers pretty good minutes as a freshman, but his season ended early due to injury.  The Pioneers also have a 6’7″ freshman named Abiola Akintola from Australia, who was not widely recruited, but he averaged 17.8 ppg and 6 rebounds per game in the U18 Australian Junior Championships, whatever the heck that is.  I know there are a lot of question marks for international players, and it could be difficult to figure out if he is even the right fit for Denver, but it could be something amazing watching him develop.


Western Illinois

Tate Stensgaard, Jalen Chapman, Mike Miklusak, and the mystery man

All are average guys that on any other team in the Summit League would be role players, and really they are just role players for Western Illinois, but they give a lot of minutes to the Leathernecks when they are available.  They many lost the last 13 of 14 games of the season because they had no Stensgaard or Chapman for that time, but still, could they have made the difference.  The team has 4 freshman post players that will mix in.  I wonder how they will work out.