My trivial Summit League rankings – Dec 8

A few weeks away from the start of the conference season for The Summit League, are you starting to get pumped? Nothing like some meaningless rankings and broad observations to help get you there.

1. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons beat Indiana.  Don’t you remember?

They actually average more steals than Omaha.  That might break you.

2. Omaha

Don’t let the Iowa State poor showing get you down.  The Mavericks were worn down in that game after putting all of their focus on the Hawkeyes over the weekend.  You could see how Tre’Shawn Thurman was warn down in that game, he had no lift in his legs what so ever.  The whole team seemed deflated from the opening tip.  I was hoping Derrin Hansen would have used half time as a kindergarten style group nap.

Also, don’t let Nebraska or Creighton smack talking fans take anything away from Omaha beating Iowa because “it’s a down year for Iowa.”  These are the same people that were in agreement that thought before the start of the season that Iowa would be in the NIT because “Fran McCaffrey is just that good of a coach.”  I guess it’s also a down century for Nebraska, so Incarnate Word should just forget their win over Nebraska a few years ago ever happened.

Looking up and down the Summit League, it is hard to find a team that is more set up for success this season AND in the future.  Even though the Mavericks still have some things they need to work on, they have an actual chance to win the Summit League this season.  In addition to that, sophomores Zach Pirog, Mitch Hahn, and Zach Jackson are showing that they could be a dangerous front court combination over the next few years.  Freshmen JT Gibson and KJ Robinson are also showing flashes of improvement and could combine with that front court in 2018 to be the best starting lineup in the Summit League in 2017-2018.  Yes, I realize that some teams could get some junior college players or some transfers from bigger schools to contend with them, but as of right now, we have a Pirog, Hahn, Jackson, Gibson, Robinson lineup to look forward to.

3. North Dakota State

The Bison have the second highest RPI and Kenpom rating as of right now, but remember when the Bison were just unstoppable at home?  Then the Mavericks broke that trend last season?  The Bison lost to the Fighting Si..Hawks by 18 in Fargo last night.  Dexter Werner had 30 points and 13 rebounds in the game, but no one else for the Bison really showed up.  The Bison back court of Paul Miller and Khy Kabellis combined for 1-of-18 from the floor.

It may actually shock you that the Bison currently have the worst three point shooting percentage in the Summit League.

4. South Dakota

Can we just call them Mini-Nebraska?  They are good at defense, poor at three point shooting, and struggle to score ball at times.  They also appear to have a ton of depth on the team, but really there is just not much difference from the starters to the bench players…but the starters are not exactly 1st Team All Conference players.

5. IUPUI

The Jaguars have had a pretty tough schedule, with only two home games so far, and they still have to play on the road against Southern Utah and Northwestern.    While you were not paying attention, because Omaha was playing in Iowa City, the Jaguars were able to pick up a win at Ball State.  Then they almost pulled off another Summit League versus Big 10 upset by playing Illinois close.

6. South Dakota State

Not sure if you’ve watched a South Dakota State game, but it’s not really looking all that pretty.  The team has no flow whenever Mike Daum heads to the bench.  There is no true point guard to really set up a pick-and-roll situation.  It really is a team of guys that have not played much basketball together and are still working to figure it out.  They can turn this around by late February, but the process of getting there may not be pretty.

They were able to beat UMKC over the weekend, but the Kangaroos were playing without their best player, Martez Harrison.

7. Denver

3-5 on the year so far, and the Pioneers have been competitive in almost every loss.  This team is still transitioning their offensive culture from Watch Out For The 10 Screens Every Play to They Shot That With 20 Seconds On the Shot Clock, but they may have a chance of having it figured out by the end of the year.

Joe Rosga is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists a game.  It may be a difficult decision if you have to pick who the best sophomore is in the Summit League between Rosga, Mike Daum, and John Konchar.

8. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles have still yet to beat a division one team.  Oral Roberts has the toughest strength of schedule in the Summit League, and they almost put a serious scare into Michigan State…which is why they are getting the edge on Western Illinois for not having the worst ranking in the Summit.

The Golden Eagles still do not have much of a bench, and their roster is filled with youth and inconsistency.  One has to wonder if the tough schedule will help them fight through and prepare them for the Summit League, or just wear them down to the point they cannot compete for 40 minutes each conference game.

9. Western Illinois

Work has been super hectic for me lately while we have been transitioning to a new software, the alternator in my car died last week, and when I had Roto Rooter come out to my place to snake my drain, and the guy poked a hole in a pipe so when I ran the dishwasher a bunch of water leaked into my basement.  We had to cut through drywall to replace the drain and all the of the furniture that was in that room is currently sitting in a hall way.

Sorry, I just thought you might want to hear about some problems I have had recently while we are on the subject of shit shows.

A month out game preview: Iowa State

I’m sorry this isn’t exactly a month out.  I’m sure both of you that read this are so pissed right now.

omaisu

I find myself angry when Iowa State is brought up.  Not because of my sort of fan to the Iowa Hawkeyes, but because I never get them right in the NCAA Tournament.  Every year, I have them in the Elite 8 or Final 4, they lose in the first or second round.  Every year, I have them losing early, they make it further than I expect.  Every time I watch a football game of theirs and I root for them, they lose, but that’s just a normal Iowa State thing.  Still, Iowa State is my dark mistress that I cannot quite figure out.

How did you feel Iowa State would do when Fred Hoiberg left for the Chicago Bulls?  I personally thought they might slip back down to mediocrity and win typically less than 20 games a season, just as they did under Greg McDermott.  I admit that I thought that based off of literally nothing.

The Cyclones did pretty well in their first year under Steve Prohm.  Down by 14 at half, they stormed back to beat their nemesis Iowa after a half of basketball that made me think Jared Uthoff was using some alien advantage that gave him the skill sets of Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Mugsey Bogues, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Johnson.  At home, they picked up wins against # 1 (at the time) Oklahoma, # 4 Kansas, and # 24 Baylor.  They made it to the Sweet 16, and ended the season ranked 15th in the Coaches Poll.

This was with some NBA talent on the roster.  Georges Niang is now playing with the Indiana Pacers.  All college teams are losing players every single year, but losing a piece of 20.5 points per game and 55 perfect from the field to the NBA can be a large impact to a team.  Aside from Niang, the Cyclones also had 6’6″ forward Abdel Nader get drafted 58th by the Celtics, and is playing for their NBDL affiliate.  The Cyclones also graduated 6’9″ Jameel McKay who averaged 11 points and 9 rebounds as a senior at Iowa State and is playing professional basketball overseas.

That is a lot to lose, especially in your front court.  Not only that, the Cyclones lost their top assistant coach, TJ Otzelberger, who is taking over at South Dakota State.

The Cyclones went out and landed a couple of post players that are graduate transfers to help fill the void of their departed front court.  6’8″ Merrill Holden transferred from Louisiana Tech and is most likely to start at the center position.  Holden averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds a game for a team that went 23-10 and lost in the first round of the Vegas 16.  I mean, the Vegas 8.  I mean, a post season tournament.  I feel like I remember seeing Holden once had interest from the Mavericks out of high school or junior college, but I am not 100 percent sure on that.  Holden is a defensive center that could give Tre’Shawn Thurman fits in the post.

The Cyclones also brought in Darrell Bowie, a 6’8″ forward from Northern Illinois that averaged 10 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior.  The Cyclones replaced their professional basketball talents with blue collar type guys, which is not a bad thing.

The Cyclones still bring back talent.  Their point guard, Monte Morris, is currently projected as a 2nd round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.  Matt Thomas will be in the back court with him a 6’4″ shooting guard that shot 43 percent on threes last year, and was known as the Cyclones top perimeter defender.  Thomas replaced Nazareth Mitrou-Long in the back court after he was forced to sit the remainder of the season with an injury after playing in six games.  Mitrou-Long is apparently fully healthy again.  He averaged 10 points a game as a junior and shot 39 percent on threes that year.

Omaha fans may be getting robbed on a Tra-Deon Hollins versus Maurice Watson match up, but this Hollins versus Morris could be equally as good.  Maybe even better.  Actually, how about we just say it’s better since it’s actually happening.

With their legitimately good three point shooting, the Cyclones like to get out and run the ball and spread the floor.  This will be a high scoring game, and the Mavericks are going to need to defend the three, which was something they were not too bad at last season.

They will need to get cause problems to Iowa State and force some turnovers.  The Mavericks were one of the best in the NCAA at forcing turnovers last season, but the Cyclones and their returning back court were able to take care of the basketball.  The Cyclones were tied at 70th in the NCAA in turnovers per game with 11.6 turnovers a game and were 27th in assist to turnover ratio.

Given how hard the Mavericks play against teams like Iowa State, I think Omaha can keep this game close.  Considering that the Mavericks have a harder schedule leading up to this game, and could be worn down from all of their early season road games, I think Iowa State could be favored by 10 to 15 points in this game.

You also have to throw in how hard it is for a mid-major to go into Hilton Coliseum and pick up a win.  The Mavericks would need a few lucky breaks to pick up a win, or like 10 to 15 lucky breaks.