Summit League Predictions: Jan 13-16

I went 4-2 last week missing on IUPUI @ Western Illinois and Omaha @ North Dakota State.  Who else would have picked IUPUI over South Dakota State or Denver over Oral Roberts?  I’m pretty damn happy missing on North Dakota State.  I feel like Western Illinois just keeps lying to us though.  They beat Wisconsin and people thought they would be a dangerous team, they still have votes in the Mid-Major 25, they returned a bunch of experience, but their shooting percentage keeps plummeting.  They’re the girlfriend that keeps cheating on your buddy, and she continues telling him this is the last time, so you have to keep getting drunk and playing Rock Band with him until 4 in the morning every Saturday night to help him keeping his mind off of stuff…and really you need to tell him to just move on.  Not talking from experience or anything.

January 13

South Dakota @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

The home team won each game in this series last year, which is partly why I am taking the Bison here…but mostly because the Bison are an overall better team.  The Bison won in Fargo by 24 the last time these two teams played.  One scary thing, (and I know I have mentioned this before) no team in the Summit League forces teams to take more threes than the Coyotes, and the Bison shoot the 2nd most threes in the league while being 7th in the league in 3 point field goal percentage.  The Bison were 8-of-12 from 3 at home against Denver and 8-of-21 at home against Omaha.  There are really not a lot of knock down three point shooters for the Bison, only Paul Miller and AJ Jacobson shoot higher than 30% from three.  The Bison have also gone with a few different lineup changes over the last few games, which has been a little confusing, but David Richman says his players are completely fine with this.

The fun match up of the game to watch could be the forward position between Tre Burnette (14.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 47fg%) versus AJ Jacobson (13.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 46fg%).  But the real match up to see is whoever Craig Smith decides to try and stop Paul Miller.

January 14

Oral Roberts @ IUPUI on ESPN3

I picked IUPUI to win this game before the start of the season.  I thought Oral Roberts would be favored because it was Oral Roberts and it is IUPUI, then the Jaguars would surprise the Golden Eagles, but instead Oral Roberts is 1-3 and IUPUI is 3-1.

Oral Roberts really has too many newcomers to face a defensive team like the Jaguars.  So far, in 4 Summit League games, the Jaguars are 2nd in the Summit in defensive field goal percentage and 1st in defensive three point field goal percentage.  In 3 games against the Jaguars last season, Obi Emegano shot 10-of-33 from the field and 2-of-9 from three.  The Golden Eagles have shown that they struggle without the preseason player of the year by losing to South Dakota and Denver, each team’s only conference win so far, so how could they do when he is being contained by Marcellus Barksdale?

Denver @ Western Illinois

Denver won in Macomb last season, but this was when Western Illinois basically did not have a roster anymore due to injuries late in the year.  This basketball game could be classically ugly.  There will be one team does not get into the Summit League tournament, and this is looking like the two worst teams in the Summit League, so the last tournament spot could be on the line.

In 4 conference games so far, Denver has the worst defensive field goal percentage in the league, and Western Illinois has shown they can shoot well against poor defenses.  I don’t want to think about this game anymore.

IPFWSouth Dakota State

Both teams are going to have difficult schedules on the week, and this should be a really fun game.  Fort Wayne lost by 29 the last time they played in Brookings, a game that the ‘Dons had 24 turnovers in.  Now, the ‘Dons are coming into this game on a 6 game winning streak.

This is a match up for two of the best back courts in the Summit, and there should be close to 20 three point field goals made.  A serious question for the Jackrabbits is: is Jake Bittle playing?  Without Bittle, I am taking IPFW.  The ‘Dons are a slightly better defensive team than the Jackrabbits, which could make a big difference in a game between two of the best teams.  In their first three conference games, the Jackrabbits have shot 38% from the field against IUPUI, Western Illinois, and Denver.  All of these games have been without Jake Bittle.  They cannot shoot 38% from the floor and beat the ‘Dons.

I don’t know how far back you can go and replay games on ESPN3, but if you can, go watch South Dakota State @ IUPUI.  South Dakota State, who is supposed to be the best coached team in the Summit, would go 5 minute stretches with 4 players not even attempting to move without the ball on every single play.  There is no one on the team that will force their teammates to move without Jake Bittle.

January 16

Denver @ IUPUI on ESPN3

See above about the South Dakota State not moving the ball on IUPUI.  Can IUPUI keep Denver from moving the ball around and getting shots off in their Princeton offense?  IUPUI swept Denver last season by a combined 4 points.  This game will be close, it will be low scoring, and it will be as frustrating as a 14 year old boy dealing with dial up internet when his parents are not home.  Hey, it takes a while to do homework when you’re 14.  Especially with a poor internet connection.

IPFW @ Omaha

The two highest scoring teams in the Summit will be facing off.  I would like to think the Omaha crowd will be larger than normal.  Their team is on their longest winning streak since transitioning to division one, Devin Patterson has won the conference player of the week award twice in a row, Tra-Deon Hollins leads the nation in steals, Omaha is coming off one of their best weeks in division one beating North Dakota State and South Dakota on the road, there will be no competing Creighton or NFL game, and the brand of Omaha basketball is getting some recognition right now.

This is the only game of the week for Omaha, while IPFW has to go on the road against South Dakota State and Omaha.  South Dakota State is ranked 15th in the Mid-Major Poll, IPFW is 20th, and Omaha is 10 votes away from being 25th.

Patterson against Mo Evans should be a really fun match up to watch in this game.  In 4 games against each other; Patterson has averaged 9.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.3 spg, and shot 52% from the field; Evans has averaged 12.3 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, and shot 42% from the field.  In IPFW’s current 6 game winning steak (not counting Purdue North Central), Evans has averaged 17.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.8 apg, and shot 49% from the field.  In Omaha’s current 6 game winning streak, Patterson has averaged 21.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2 spg, and shot 53% from the field.

Maybe Patterson and Evans cancel each other out, I don’t know.  Another interesting match up should be the battle in the post with IPFW’s Joe Reed (10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 55 fg%) and John Konchar (11.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 58fg%) against Jake White (16 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 57fg%) and Tre’Shawn Thurman (14.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 52fg%).  IPFW could start Brent Calhoun at the center spot, but Jon Coffman regularly takes him out pretty quickly and plays small ball with the 6’4″ Konchar at the 4 position.  Calhoun has gone from basically just being a tree in the middle of the lane to being effective in the last couple of games for the ‘Dons.  Last week against South Dakota and Denver, Calhoun averaged 13 & 5 and shot 11-of-12 from the floor.

These teams actually sound pretty close to each other on paper.  Now I feel bad for dogging on the ‘Dons all year.  Okay, how about this.  At the 2 guard position, Tra-Deon Hollins and Max Landis are almost opposite.  Hollins is not a great three point shooter, Landis leads the Summit in three point field goals made (Evans is 2nd in three point field goals made).  Landis is not known for being a great defender, Hollins leads the nation in steals.  Who is going to get the better of the two here?

This game has a recipe for a lot of drama.  Maybe another game Omaha is down by double digits and has to fight back, but the ‘Dons have several offensive weapons so it might be as easy as coming back on the Leathernecks or Coyotes.

South Dakota State @ North Dakota State on ESPN 3

I admit it.  I am for the most part only taking the Bison because they are the home team in this rivalry.  Last week, I took NDSU against the Mavericks mainly because they were the home team and because almost no Maverick ever had a quality game against the Bison…and I was very happy to be wrong.

Oral Roberts @ Western Illinois

Obi Emegano should hopefully be fully recovered from his concussion at this point.  I also don’t think Obi Emegano would let his team fall to his former school.  Against Western Illinois last season, Emegano averaged 23.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and shot 52% from the field.  Western Illinois’ best player, Garret Covington had 13.5 ppg, 6 rpg, and shot 26% from the field.  Emegano has the ability to fully put his team on his back and win a basketball game similar to North Dakota State’s Lawrence Alexander last season.

Western Illinois also recently stopped using Jamie Batish off the bench, who was leading the conference in three point field goal percentage at one point.  Mike Miklusak was giving the Leathernecks’ good minutes off the bench, but was injured against Omaha, and hasn’t been seen since.  Miklusak missed the last 13 games of 2014-2015 and Western Illinois went 1-12 with him out.  WIU’s top three players: Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer are far too consistent to go up against a guy like Emegano.


Summit League RPI Rankings as of January 12th

51. South Dakota State

78. IPFW

107. Oral Roberts

139. Omaha

152. South Dakota

163. IUPUI

170. North Dakota State

234. Denver

252. Western Illinois


Summit League Kenpom Rankings as of January 12th

83. South Dakota State

133. Omaha

155. North Dakota State

160. IPFW

188. IUPUI

189. Western Illinois

193. Oral Roberts

209. South Dakota

243. Denver

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 11

Again, this might be a step above of being on the range of worthlessness of Joe Lunardi’s bracket on August 5th…

1. Omaha, 4-0

Mehehehehehehe.  Never give up on this team.  They have 5 wins so far this season where they had to make a push for a comeback, and they almost had a comeback win against Santa Barbara.  The Mavs also showed stretches of comeback attempts on Eastern Michigan and Wyoming.  They can be down 20 at half time, and they would still feel confident enough to come out in the second half for the win.  What’s the make up a team that is built for a comeback in a game?  One that can force a load of turnovers, score in bunches, and force their opponent into foul trouble.

One amazing thing is that Omaha is currently 4-0 in the Summit League, and do you even remember that this has been done without Marcus Tyus on the team?  The Mavs have a top 3 back court in the Summit with Tra-Deon Hollins and Devin Patterson to go up against the back court of South Dakota State with George Marshall and Deondre Parks, and IPFW with a back court of Mo Evans and Max Landis.  Now throw this out there for next season, the Mavs could again have a top back court with Tra-Deon Hollins and Marcus Tyus…

Those Omaha Mavericks are so hot right now.
Those Omaha Mavericks are so hot right now.

2. South Dakota State, 2-1

Hey come on, man!  They lost to IUPUI!  They played that game on the road without the lifeline of their offense, Jake Bittle.  Bittle is expected back soon.  The team is also playing without back up wing Skyler Flatten right now.

3. IPFW, 3-0

Fully admit to being down on the ‘Dons before the year.  Mo Evans is a top 3 point guard in the Summit League, Max Landis is one of the best three point shooters, and John Konchar is the top rebounder as of right now.

The ‘Dons have played a relatively new Oral Roberts, South Dakota at home who lost more than half of their scoring from last season, and a new and young Denver team.  Their next three games are at South Dakota State, at Omaha, and North Dakota State in Fort Wayne…so the ‘Dons are going to have a chance to actually prove themselves in the next couple of weeks.

4. IUPUI, 3-1

Their one loss in the Summit League is an away game at Omaha.  Beating Western Illinois in Macomb is not an easy task.  As one of the better defensive teams in the Summit, they were able to hold Garret Covington and JC Fuller to 11-of-30 from the field.

The Jaguars have two games at home this week against Oral Roberts and Denver.  Could they seriously be 5-1 in the Summit League?  Wasn’t this basketball team almost garbage when Marcellus Barksdale started his career at IUPUI?

5. North Dakota State, 1-2

The home winning streak is over!  The Bison had to go from that to going on the road at Oral Roberts, who was getting Obi Emegano back.  The Bison are young, but David Richland does not seem like a guy who is going to let them give up anytime soon.  The Bison will get a chance to get things back on track this week with two home games against South Dakota and South Dakota State.

6. Oral Roberts, 1-3

The Golden Eagles dropped their first three games, but two of those games were without the preseason player of the year Obi Emegano.  This team is almost completely new, and really have not had many chances to all play together.  Seniors Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley did not play in their international trip this summer.  Scott Sutton has only finished outside of the top 3 once in conference play since 2003-2004, and that was 2 years ago when the Golden Eagles were in the Southland Conference.

The Golden Eagles have to play at Western Illinois and IUPUI this week…two places not very easy to play.

7. South Dakota, 1-3

Many polls had the Coyotes selected 4th or 5th in preseason polls.  The make up of the team does not make much sense though to be qualified to be in the top half of the league.  They lost 54% of their scoring, have several newcomers, and a few players sitting out due to transfer.  South Dakota also had several injuries over the summer.

8. Denver, 1-3

Another team made up of primarily newcomers.  Denver is still a good team at home though, they were able to beat Oral Roberts, even though the Golden Eagles were without Obi Emegano, a win is a win…I guess.

The Pioneers are not known for being a great road team, and they have Western Illinois and IUPUI this week on the road.

9. Western Illinois, 0-3

They beat Wisconsin.  We get it, some people think they are a good basketball team.   You watch a game of theirs on ESPN3 and the commentators will talk about the Leathernecks as if they are a deep threatening team.  They are 0-3, and their shooting appears to get worse and worse.

 

Summit League Predictions: Jan 6-9

So for my preseason rankings, I went through the Summit League schedule and applied wins and losses to each game, and I did it several times looking at different angles and added up all the records to come out with some standings.  So what the hell, why not provide some updated predictions as teams actually physically play?

January 6th

South Dakota @ IPFW

The home team lost each game in this series last season.  I admit to being a jerk toward IPFW all year, and I have little faith in this team’s post game and overall depth.  I also was not too huge on South Dakota going into the season, so this is a bit difficult of a game to pick.  The ‘Dons were never really tested in the non-conference, but they were able to pick up a win at home against Oral Roberts…which is something I originally thought would happen given Oral Roberts back and forth schedule to start Summit League play after playing an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule.

South Dakota forces more teams to take more threes than any other team in the league, and the ‘Dons make 10 threes per game and are 2nd in the conference in three point field goal percentage, which is why I am taking IPFW in this game…with a low amount of confidence.

Match up of the game could be: John Konchar (11.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 57 fg%) versus Tre Burnette (15.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 48fg%).  Both are undersized at the 4 position, but are both very essential for their teams.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

I really wanted to say Oral Roberts here, and really just on the basis of Oral Roberts Cannot Drop Seven Games in a Row.  That thinking is how you lose 500 dollars in roulette.  How could it possibly land on red 6 times in a row?  Clearly, the smart decision here is to put all my money on black!  Green double zero!  Where is that hospital that gives you money for a kidney?

The key to this game is if Obi Emegano will be in the game or not.  Emegano missed Oral Roberts’ game against South Dakota and the Golden Eagles ended up losing by 10.  The team made up of mostly newcomers had 22 turnovers against the Coyotes.  You cannot turn the ball over against Denver who is going to make the most out of every possession on you, especially when Denver is traditionally a very good home team.

Assuming Emegano is not playing…the match up of the game could be Jalen Bradley (10.1 ppg, 24 made threes, 38 3pt fg%) versus Nate Engesser (13.1 ppg, 33 made threes, 56 fg%).


January 7th

South Dakota State @ IUPUI

This is another game that is coming down to a key injury.  Jake Bittle has missed the last 6 games, and the Jackrabbits have acknowledged that they have a number of little nagging injuries to a number of players.  The Jacks have dropped 2 of their last 5, which really is not all that terrible, but all the last 5 games have been close with or without Bittle…the scrappy defense of the Jaguars could really get to the Jackrabbits if they do not have Bittle.  Seriously though, if Bittle plays you can change my prediction to South Dakota State winning the game.  I discussed how the Summit League is so close that an injury to any team could affect their standings in conference play.  Granted, I said teams 2 to 8, but Rob, you were there!

The key match up in this game could be Matt O’Leary (10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 46 fg%) versus Mike Daum (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 52 fg%).  I realize I look like a total clown picking this as the match up, but Daum could be the only chance the Jackrabbits have at stopping O’Leary.  O’Leary has really been consistent all year and he kept getting wide open looks and getting to the basket against Omaha, but just couldn’t convert as he went 4-of-12 from the field…he could be able to find the bottom of the basket if he gets the same type of looks at home.  Yes, I know defensively the Jackrabbits are different team than Omaha, but ride this out with me.  O’Leary also leads all players 6’7″ or taller in assists in the league, so there is that as well.

Omaha @ North Dakota State

See, I am not a completely biased loon!  The Mavericks have yet to beat North Dakota State since transitioning to D1.  They are going to have to overcome the fact that almost no player on their current active roster has really had a good game against the Bison.  In 4 career games, Devin Patterson has averaged 7.8 points and shot 22% from the field against the Bison.  Ouch.  Tre’Shawn Thurman did have 18 and 8 in his first game against the Bison last season, but only had 2 points later in the season when they moved him to the bench to bring in Jake White.

The Mavs need Thurman, Jake White (who combined for 2-of-13 in two games against the Bison last season), Daniel Meyer, and Randy Reed to play big against the defensively sound post of Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, and AJ Jacobson.

The fun match up will be Thurman against Jacobson after Thurman had his 18 and 8 in their first meeting and Jacobson had 17 and 8 in their first career game against each other.  The key match up will be if Tra-Deon Hollins who leads the nation in steals can keep the ball away from Paul Miller who is scoring 16.6 points per game and shooting 43% from the field and from behind the arch.


January 9th

IUPUI @ Western Illinois

I fully believe IUPUI is the better team of the two, but IUPUI has not won in Macomb since 2011…and the Leathernecks are a completely different team at home.  This game is on ESPN3, but it could be as difficult to watch as someone trying to decide between rebooting Weekend at Bernie’s or trying to come out with a good plot line for Weekend at Bernie’s 3.  Watching Marcellus Barksdale defend Garret Covington could be worth the watch, but I have come to terms that Covington for as good of a scorer that Covington is, is incredibly boring to watch.

Omaha @ South Dakota

Alright good, I am back to being a homer.  Both games between these two teams were exciting last year, even if Omaha did play with a hobbled Devin Patterson in Vermillion.  The Mavs will have to hit some threes against South Dakota and/or get to the free throw line as much as possible.  Omaha MIGHT have JT Gibson back by this one for some three point shooting.

IPFW @ Denver

The Dons were absolutely unphased by the Pioneers last season beating them by 16 points in both contests.  Does this not seem like the least interesting match up of all Summit League teams?  This is the Rachel Weisz film of the Summit League.  Seriously, find a serious actor or actress with a lineup of less interesting films.  It gets shaky after “The Mummy.”

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts should have Obi Emegano back, which I think would add plenty enough emotion to give them confidence after losing so many games recently.  I would like to say the Bison have the best defensive guards in the Summit League to handle Emegano, but he had 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting against the Bison last season in Tulsa.  The Mabee Center is not an easy place for teams to come in and pick up wins, unless you are South Dakota…then it is a little easy somehow.

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

A few surprises in The Summit League so far

The coaches were not kidding when they said that The Summit League is a conference on the rise.  Every team has an identity, and every team thinks they have a legitimate chance at winning The Summit League.  Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin and being 5-1 at the moment has definitely been the biggest surprise so far.  The season is still young, but we are done with the first calendar month.

I was going to come up with something looking at who the 1st and 2nd All Summit League teams were up to the end of November, but then I realized there is still a ton of basketball to be played out, so what is the point?  Instead, why not look at who and what have been some of the biggest surprises so far around the Summit?


Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin is clearly what sticks out the most.  J.C. Fuller’s scoring going up is not that big of a surprise as he was getting better and better as the season went on for the Leathernecks last season, but shooting 72% from threes so far is big surprise.  He is not going to finish the year at 72% but he should continue to give the Leathernecks a second option after Garret Covington.

Obi Emegano being a scoring machine is not a surprise, but he has already made 21 threes on the year after making 29 all of last season.

We knew North Dakota State had to find someone to make up for the loss of scoring from Lawrence Alexander, but Paul Miller averaging 19.6 points per game, after scoring 6.7 per game last season, has been quite the jump through 5 games.

Jake White being healthy for the Mavericks has been like getting an entirely new player.  He is 5th in the Summit League in scoring right now at 16.3 points per game through 6 games, while only averaging 21.5 minutes per game.

Marcellus Barksdale did not get a double digit scoring performance until his 7th game.  He does not have a history of being a prolific scorer, but you would think the senior leader would be scoring a little more.

Tre’Shawn Thurman and Reed Tellinghuisen have caught up to AJ Jacobson.  It is not a huge surprise really.  Thurman was expected to get an increased role for the Mavericks as they lost Mike Rostampour, was Jacobson supposed to get more shots from the departure of Lawrence Alexander and the addition of a couple more post players?  Tellinghuisen is still not expected to be the main option for the Jackrabbits, but he is an efficient scorer that has added on some muscle.  The class of 2018 is a big time class for the Summit League, and there are still some junior college players and transfers that could be huge additions to the class.

John Konchar is what IPFW had been advertising.  Jon Coffman stated that Konchar would have been worth 5 more wins for the ‘Dons had he not redshirted last season.  He is averaging 11.6 points and 8.1 points per game so far.  Watch an IPFW game too, he looks like the most mature player the team has.  Coffman was also pretty big on the improvement of Brent Calhoun, but he is only averaging 1.8 points per game and shooting 31% from the field.

Nate Engesser is not starting for Denver.  He is leading the Pioneers in scoring with 16.2 points per game, but he has yet to start a game, and he is only playing 22.5 minutes per game.  Also Denver, who was thought to be the worst team in the league by many is 5-1 so far.  Many had it between Denver and Western Illinois as the two worst teams in the league, and they are both 5-1.

There are 4 freshmen averaging more than 10 points per game so far:  Konchar (IPFW), Mike Daum (South Dakota State), Dan Jech (South Dakota), and Joe Rosga (Denver).

Tra-Deon Hollins currently leads all Summit League players in assists and steals.  He leads the nation in steals as of right now.  He reminds of what it was like to play with Eddie Jones in NBA Live 99…on rookie mode.

I was pretty down on AJ Owens of Oral Roberts before the start of the season, but he is proving me wrong with 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and he even leads the conference in blocks so far.  My bad.

If you look up the scores on ESPN before any games are played, and you see South Dakota, ESPN lists Eric Robertson has their must see player.  Every time.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Each Summit League team’s case as to why they are number one

It is going to be a very exciting year in the Summit League for men’s basketball.  Several teams are returning a good portion of their rosters, and while many think the league will be easily won by South Dakota State; they will be in a much tighter race for a championship than most people think.  Every team has a goal of winning the Summit League, but what is their case as to why they are number one?  After all, 9 walk in and only one comes out… I’m just messing with you.

March To The Summit League


 

Denver

Hi, we are the Pioneers, and we know that some people are picking us to finish last in The Summit League this upcoming season.  But we saw a statistic from kenpom recently that our coach, Joe Scott, has coached teams over the last ten years that have had the 2nd highest 2 point field goal percentage in division one.  That is because we run the Princeton offense, we are all about using the entire shot clock to find the absolute best shot possible, it is based on unselfishness and not on stars.

We ranked 298th in division one in points per game as a team, but we were 20th in the country in field goal percentage which was 1st in the Summit League.  We were 3rd in the Summit League in 2013-2014 in field goal percentage behind North Dakota State and Fort Wayne, who were both pretty good that year.  We were also 3rd in the Summit in three point field goal percentage over the last two years, and we recruit to our style, so expect that to continue.

We know we are a young team this year with 8 freshmen and 4 sophomores, but it is not like we are going to just play the underclassmen for 40 minute a game.  We have an unselfish trio of seniors to run our offense with Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, and Bryant Rucker.  Engesser shot 51% from the field last season, he and South Dakota State’s Jake Bittle are the only 2 guards in the Summit League to shoot over 50% on the year, and they have the two best shooting percentages of any players returning to the Summit League this year.

With the exception of three games in the Summit League last season (we are still pretty baffled by our losses to IPFW), we play every game very close, so your players better be ready to hit some clutch shots in the closing minutes.  We know we had a record of 12-18 last season, but we are a tough home team going 9-7 at home and we even beat this upcoming year’s favorite, South Dakota State, in Denver.  So take that!

Engesser is the only returning player for Denver that averaged more than 10 points per game.
Engesser is the only returning player for Denver that averaged more than 10 points per game.

Fort Wayne

So we return the least amount of division one experience in the Summit League, but at least we have arguably one of the top three point guards in the league with Mo Evans.  Our offense will probably run through him, and he will hopefully be either on the 2nd team All Conference team or at least Honorable Mention at the end of the year.  Team that up with Joe Reed and we have a good inside-outside game that can be pretty difficult to defend.  With so many new faces on our roster, it could be difficult to set a consistent line up at first and get everyone on board with our team defense, but at least we will be a mystery team for our opponents to defend.

One thing that we would like to point out is that we were last in The Summit League in free throw percentage last year, which can matter sometimes apparently.  Our three players that shot the most free throw attempts: Steve Forbes (75%), Joe Edwards (63%), and Isaiah McCray (49%) are all gone.  We still have Evans and Max Landis who both shot over 80% from the free throw line, two of the best returning players in the league in free throw percentage.  We recruited a junior college player named DeAngelo Stewart who shot 82% from the free throw line in his sophomore season at North West Tech.  Let’s just say we do not plan on losing to Dartmouth by 1 because we went 18-30 from the line or losing to Georgia Tech by 9 because we went 14-28 from the line.  Oh, we know we cannot go 100% from the free throw line, but damn it we lost 4 games last season where missed the exact number of free throws that we lost the game by.  That stings a little.

Stewart also played at Alabama State his freshman season, where his team went to the CIT, and we are totes expecting Stewart to be a major contributor on this team.  Some magazine also tabbed him as the preseason newcomer of the year in The Summit League.  We added another junior college player who has division one experience in 6’11” and 270lbs Andrew Poulter who started his career at Arkansas-Little Rock.  Does anyone in the league have anyone that can defend 6’11” and 270?  Do not answer that.  Aside from these additions, we have two transfers from Purdue and Bradley that will have to sit the year out, but hopefully they should help our team out in practice.

Wait, what does Stewart's jersey say? The Mastadons will need big things from their newest addition this season.
Wait, what does Stewart’s jersey say? The Mastadons will need big things from their newest addition this season.

IUPUI

Remember how many dicks picked us to finish dead last in The Summit League last year, and we ended up winning 6 conference games?  Do you remember that?  Were you there for that?  Sorry if we are a little rambunctious right now, but seriously do you freaking remember that?  We have one of the better young coaches in probably all of the Mid Majors, and he can go into any recruits home and his parents will remember who he is just by his name alone.  Scott Sutton goes into someone’s home and his parents are automatically concerned if he has his drinking problem under control because they hear the name Sutton, and that is what they associate with.  With new facilities, a new coach, a new type of recruit, our program is a reboot film and it is being led by the best young director out there, James Gardener.  We had one of the largest attendance increases by per game average in the country last season, so you know things are getting good.

Again sorry if we seem rude, but y’all can suck it.  Combine our coach with Indianapolis, the 14th largest city in the United States and we are actually a fun place to live.  It’s not like we’re a bunch of yokels that base their diet off of a 5.99 steak combo meal at the local grocery store chain.  No, this is IndianGoshDamnApolis!

We lost 5 players to transfer, but it is cool because we have already forgotten their names.  We get to put 4 new players onto our team that transferred from bigger conference schools, so basically we traded in a vespa for a regular motorcycle.  Like, we actually have a threatening post game now that we get to add to a 6-10 team, so we are thinking those wins are going up.  Oh, and we still have the widely disrespected Marcellus Barksdale, maybe the best wing defender in the league. Who are the two biggest offensive threats at the wing position in the Summit League? Obi Emegano and Garret Covington?  That is cute.  Barksdale held Emegano to 30% shooting in three games and Covington to 36% shooting in two games last season, so that is nothing to us.

What can the Jaguars do with an actual post game this year?
What can the Jaguars do with an actual post game this year?

North Dakota State

We basically win everything as it is, so why would you expect anything to be different this year?  We lost Lawrence Alexander, but we return everything else for the most part.  Our players actually have the most returning division one starts in the entire Summit League.  On top of all the players returning, we got to take our team on a summer trip to the Bahamas for exhibition games, where we learned even more about each other.  We have the best defense in the league, and while we are young, we have an incredibly mature and well disciplined roster.  Anyway you want to cut it, we are the San Antonio Spurs of the Summit League.  We have the best fans in the Summit League, because of the cold weather and there not being much to do in Fargo or the state of North Dakota, there is not much else to do.

Can you think of a team with a better core of post players than us?  Chris Kading, AJ Jacobson, and Dexter Werner: the three players combine for the complete package in the post.  If you think Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman can run the floor and dunk, you should see our newest recruit post player Deng Geu, he’s 6’8″ and has about a 40 inch vertical.  There is about 4 blocks a game right there with Kading, Werner, and Geu.  Oh, and our perimeter players are incredible defenders, so that stupid Jackassrabbits and their great core of guards do not scare us at all.  We held that team to 31% shooting in the Summit League championship last year.  What a bunch of turds.

The Bison lost by 10 to Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.
The Bison lost by 10 to Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.

Omaha

We know you are supposed to get better the more and more you go through transition, but we admit that last year we did not appear better by our amount of wins and losses.  Looks can be deceiving though… After picking up our best win ever as a basketball program, we stumbled mightily with losses against teams we should have beat like UMKC and Chicago State.  Consider the injuries though to some of our best players: Jake White, Devin Patterson, and Marcus Tyus battled through injuries.  You get all of those guys healthy on the court and we have a pretty deadly team.  Throw in some added motivation with a brand new arena and an opportunity to play in the Summit League Tournament, and we have an under the radar team.  Our attendance has been rising each and every season since the transition, and we expect that to continue as we move into the Baxter Arena so hopefully we can gain more and more of a home court advantage as time goes on.

We ended the 2014-2015 season on a three game winning steak, all those games were on the road.  We were actually even maybe 2 or 3 plays away from ending the season on a 6 game winning streak.  We still have yet to beat North Dakota State, but we came closer than we ever have before.  This was all with only having 4 players returning last year.  This year we have 9 players returning and 61% of our scoring, which is the 4th best in the league behind Western Illinois, South Dakota State, and North Dakota State.  We were able to take our players to Italy and learn about each other, we got in 10 extra practices, 4 exhibition games, and we know that this will pay off this season  We score a lot too.

College Sports Madness put senior guards Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson on the Preseason All Summit League 2nd team, SDSU had George Marshall and Deondre Parks on the first team, so if you think about it; we have the second best back court in the league.  That is probably how it works, right?  Sophomore Tre’Shawn Thurman has the highest points per game average for any returning post player in the league, unless you count NDSU’s AJ Jacobson as a post player, that is up to you.  Thurman also has the 2nd highest rebounds per game average for returning players, actually he is tied with fellow Maverick Jake White.  So we could have the second best back court in the league, as well as one of the top post combinations in the league.

The transition is over!
The transition is over!

Oral Roberts

“OBI EMEGANO:PLAYER OF THE YEAR!  SCOTT SUTTON:14 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS!  FIRST IN THE LEAGUE IN ATTENDANCE!  GOLDEN EAGLES RULE!”

*drops microphone*

*flips off the crowd with both hands*

If there is ever a Summit League All Century team, Emegano will probably be on it.
If there is ever a Summit League All Century team, Emegano will probably be on it.

SOUTH DAKOTA

We had a winning record last year and most people were thinking we would finish in 7th or 8th in the conference. Fun thing: we were able to pick up a win against every single Summit League team last year, other than ourselves, that would be ridiculous. Craig Smith is from the Tim Miles coaching tree, so you should expect him to increase his win totals this season, based on nothing.  We may have lost a ton of our scoring and whatever, but we still have Casey Kasperbauer: the three point king of the conference.  We also will have Tyler Flack back who sat out 2014-2015 due to injury, and a gang of role players that know how to play as a team.  No one was expecting Tyler Larson to be one of the best players in the league last season, so who knows who will step up this year.

Yes again we lost a lot of our team, but we found two great recruits in Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech.  Hagedorn picked to come here over Omaha and North Dakota State, and Jech picked us over North Dakota State, Montana State, Louisiana-Lafayette, and others.  You want to talk about a place where there is nothing to do?  Talk about Vermillion, South Dakota.  All our players can do is work out and get better at basketball.  Also, somehow Hagedorn continues to get taller and is now listed at 6’10”.  Did any teams in the Summit League pick up any big men better than what we picked up (on paper)?  Probably not.

Fear Red! Or something like that.
Fear Red! Or something like that.

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

We are the favorite to win this league this season, everyone’s favorite.  We return the most scoring in the Summit League, after Western Illinois, but ours has proven to be competent.  Slam!  We have an inexperienced post, but if we cannot get the ball into them we can just do whatever we want with Deondre Parks, George Marshall, and Jake Bittle.  Even after those three we have Reed Tellinghuisen who can score on the outside and is also capable of getting to the basket.  We keep being told about how our freshman Adam Dykman was incredibly overlooked by everyone as well.

We lost to North Dakota State by 1 in the Summit League championship, and our returning core is clearly upset about it.  It is not a question of why will South Dakota State win the Summit League, but rather; who has any chance of beating South Dakota State?

Seriously, come at us, bro.
Seriously, come at us, bro.

Western Illinois

We do not have much to say.  Garret Covington will score a bunch of points though, probably even be 1st Team All Summit.  We had a lot of injuries last season.

If it were possible, Covington might be demanding a trade.
If it were possible, Covington might be demanding a trade.

 

 

Who has the best Big 3 in the Summit League?

Basketball, meh, mainly the NBA has entered into an era of looking at teams by asking the question: Who has the best Big 3?  Having a Big 3 certainly is key, but really I think it’s just as important to follow up with who has better role players to back up Big 3?  Could the 2008 Boston Celtics have won an NBA championship without their young starters Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and older bench players of PJ Brown, Sam Cassell, and James Posey?  But while we are on the subject, that I brought up, let’s take a look at who could have the best Big 3 in the Summit League in the 2015-2016 season.


 

SDSU:

Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Deondre Parks

There is little doubt that the Jackrabbits will have the best guard trio in the league.  Each averaged double figures in scoring, and all three can defend the perimeter.  Each averaged double figure scoring, and Bittle has the highest field goal percentage of any returning player to the Summit league at 53.4 %.  The Jackrabbits also have 3 of the top 5 returning players in 3 point field goals made, Marshall made 64 threes in 2014-2015 and he did not even play the entire season.  The big question mark is; with Cody Larson graduating, who is going to rebound and defend in the post for them?

The Jackrabbits are returning 74% of their scoring from 2014-2015.
The Jackrabbits are returning 74% of their scoring from 2014-2015.

Role Players:

Reed Tellinghuisen, 6-6 SO:  If you look at the Jackrabbits fan forum, someone posted pictures of Tellinghuisen lifting weights, which is not weird at all.  He does appear as if he has added some weight onto his frame, which is great as he will be used more at the 4 position in his second year as a Jackrabbit.  The Summit League has Tellinghuisen, AJ Jacobson, and Tre’Shawn Thurman all in the same class at the forward position.  How excited are you for 2017-2018?

Connor Devine/Ian Theisen:  These two split time and basically taking turns of who was backing up All Conference player Cody Larson.  These two combined for for almost 5 points and 4 rebounds per game.  With a young front court, these two will be counted on more in the 2015-2016 season to step up.

Skyler Flatten, 6-6 SO: Flatten was actually getting a decent amount of minutes, but then something happened.  George Marshall happened.

Keaton Moffitt, 6-5 SR:  Keaton Moffitt also happened.  The transfer, from Division 2 Sioux Falls, made quite the impact on his team with his leadership and hustle, routinely making big plays when it was needed most.


 

Omaha:

Devin Patterson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Marcus Tyus, (Jake White)

The Mavericks could have a Big 4 if Jake White is healthy, with as many injuries as he had in his junior season, it is going to be like getting an entirely new player in the line up.  It seemed as if the entire team faced injuries issues last season, so if the Mavs can stay healthy, they can be a very dangerous team in the Summit League with their senior back court of Patterson and Tyus to go along with their rising sophomore star Tre’Shawn Thurman.

Random stat:  The Mavericks have the most experienced roster with the average eligible player being 2/3 of the way through their sophomore season, but they have the smallest roster with an average height of 6’4″.  If Zach Jackson, Ben Kositizke, and Zach Pirog all redshirt, the roster gets even smaller, but more experienced.  It is still up for debate if this is one of the meaningless things I have ever posted here.

The Mavericks are looking to make a big jump with a new arena and new era.
The Mavericks are looking to make a big jump with a new arena and new era.

Role Players:

Tra-Deon Hollins, 6-2 JR:  Averaged 17 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 5.3 apg his freshman season of junior college, he appears to be a little bit of everything, and can really help the Mavericks improve their perimeter defense.

Daniel Meyer, 6-9 SO:  Only averaged four and a half minutes a game in 2014-2015, but he is likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Mike Rostampour and the departure of fellow redshirt freshman Rylan Murry.  Meyer appeared to play with a lot of activity on the team’s trip to Italy.

Randy Reed, 6-6 SR:  I’d like to see Reed’s shot chart, I cannot think of many jump shots Reed made, or took.  He really can slash and get to the basket though.  When Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season, Reed really did a decent job of bringing energy off the bench.  There were many instances in the Mavericks’ home game against Oral Roberts that he made a play to keep Omaha in the game.  I would think with not a ton of post players around the Summit League that Reed will be used as a backup 4.


 

NDSU:

Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, AJ Jacobson

After losing the Summit League player of the year, Lawrence Alexander, the Bison will look to replace that offense in their back court.  AJ Jacobson said in a Q&A that the Bison are all about a team effort, and know that there is a next one up to take Alexander’s place.  It will probably actually be two up with Kory Brown and Carlin Dupree to take the load on offense over.  Seriously, this team is starting to become the HYDRA of the Summit League.

While this team is still relatively young, they seem to have completely bought into Dave Richman’s schemes.  A Big 3 probably does not really matter to the Bison, they appear to be ready for anything.  Looking at their roster, they probably have the most complete roster in the Summit League.  It is also probably worth nothing; that while the Bison are a young team, their roster has the most division one starts on the active roster for 2015-2016 with 197 starts.  Kory Brown is after all a 4 year starter…assuming he is going to start this season.

The Bison will continue to work as a team after the loss of Lawrence Alexander.
The Bison will continue to work as a team after the loss of Lawrence Alexander.

Role Players:

Chris Kading, 6-8 SR:  Kading averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2014-2015.  He is not much of a threat on offense, but he does rarely make mistakes.  Actually the Bison rarely make mistakes as a team.  Kading led the Summit League in blocks per game.

Paul Miller, 6’4 SO:  Miller averaged 6.7 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game, while making 37 threes in his freshman campaign, which is all impressive considering he was sharing the back court with the likes of Lawrence Alexander, Kory Brown, and Carlin Dupree.  He also had 10 games in which he scored in double figures.

Dexter Werner, 6-6 JR:  Had a massive jump from his sophomore to his junior season going from 2.8 points per game to 8.4 points per game.  He also only averaged under 20 minutes per game in 2014-2015.  With Werner coming off the bench, he and Jacobson allow the Bison to be extremely tough at the 4 position for 40 minutes.  It also allows Jacobson to move over to the 3 and play more outside, which is not a bad thing for them.  Werner was second on the team in blocks per game, and is tied with Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading shot blocker returning to the league.


 

IUPUI:

Marcellus Barksdale, Darrell Combs, Nick Osborne

A bunch of new faces for IUPUI, which is not a terrible thing.  Marcellus Barksdale is the team’s returning leading scorer, but he can easily fall to the team’s 2nd or 3rd best scorer on the team.  Eastern Michigan transfer Darrell Combs is ready to go and has shown he can get buckets.  I cannot wait for the “combing the court” puns from terrible ESPN3 commentators.  Loyola-Illinois transfer Nick Osborne is expected to make a big impact on this team as well, and will more than likely serve as the team’s primary post presence, as he and other Loyola-Illinois transfer Matt O’Leary are the only upperclassmen post players on the team.  Osborne was known for getting into lots of foul trouble when he was a post player for Loyola.  The Jaguars are going to look entirely different this season.

The Jaguars exceeded expectations in 2014-2015, what can they do with a group of new and improved players?
The Jaguars exceeded expectations in 2014-2015, what can they do with a group of new and improved players?

Role Players:

Seriously, how many 6’5″ guards do the Jaguars need?

Aaron Brennan, 6-6 SO:  Averaged 6.4 points per game in 2014-15 and started in 24 games, but could be moved to the bench with the additions of Osborne and O’Leary.  Not a bad thing for your team to have a guy on your bench with 24 career starts as a freshman.

DJ McCall, 6-5 SO:  Averaged a shade under 5 points per game and had 15 starts on the year.  Could also see an increase of minutes with the graduations of Elijah Ray and Khufu Najee.

The further I get into this, I realize that the entire team is a group of role players.

 


 

South Dakota

Tre Burnette, Tyler Flack, Casey Kasperbauer

I admit that throwing Flack’s name into the mix is a risk.  Due to an injury, he has yet to play under Craig Smith, but Craig is probably going to like using a 6’7″ guy who shot 45% on threes in his sophomore season.  Combine that with Casey Kasperbauer ranking 95th in the nation last season in threes made, and South Dakota will rely on the three ball a lot this season, again.  The trio can really make up for the losses of Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos from last season.

Tre Burnette is the Summit League’s leading returning rebounder from 2014-2015, and Kasperbauer has the most three point field goals made of any returning player to the League, he also has the 3rd highest three point field goal percentage of any returning player.

South Dakota lost 56% of their scoring, that is the most in the Summit League.
South Dakota lost 56% of their scoring, that is the most in the Summit League.

Role Players:

Trey Norris, 6-0 Sr:  Came off the bench in his junior year after being a starter in his sophomore season, but will compete for the starting point guard position with incoming JuCo player, Shy McClelland.  Norris had a drop off in production from his sophomore season under coach Smith, but he can still be a capable part of the offense for the Coyotes.

Eric Robertson, 6-8 Sr:  He made the game winning shot over the Mavericks in Omaha, right?  I just remember the beard, and being incredibly angry.  I do not completely blame him for the Mavericks’ loss, it is just the final image I have in my mind of that game.  Perhaps an increased role in his senior season with the departure of James Hunter, but Craig Smith did a decent job recruiting two 6’9″ freshman (Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech) that he may be intrigued to get to the top of the rotation immediately.


 

IPFW

Mo Evans, Max Landis, Joe Reed

I continuously forget about the existence of Max Landis, but he is on the team, I swear it, and he was 4th on the team in scoring last season.  The ‘Dons lost a lot of their post game, and they do not appear to have much replacing what they lost, so the team could rely a lot on Mo Evans to be a star.  Landis will be there to shoot the three, and Joe Reed will need to be counted on even more to be a stretch 4 than he has before.  Seriously, this is the first time we have seen the ‘Dons without a serious threat of a stretch 4.  Yep, first time in 5 years?  Reed did shoot 36% from behind the line last year, but did not take many as he only made ten on the year.  The team will be counting on two junior college transfers to fill the void of what they lost from last season, and will need them to adjust and contribute quickly.

Side note:  The ‘Dons will have transfers from Louisiana Tech, Purdue, and Bradley all eligible to play in 2016-2017.

The 'Dons have the fewest number of Division 1 starts by players on their roster.
The ‘Dons have the fewest number of Division 1 starts by players on their roster.

Role Players:

Andrew Poulter, 6-11 JR: Played in seven games his redshirt freshman year at Arkansas-Little Rock before transferring to Western Texas for his sophomore season, where he averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds per game.

DeAngelo Stewart, 6-6 JR:  Played his freshman season at Alabama State before transferring to Northwest Tech in Kansas for his sophomore season.  Averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg, and shot 47% from the field in his sophomore season.  A few people have already tabbed Stewart as the Newcomer of the Year in the Summit League.

 


 

Western Illinois:

Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer

It is hard to determine who the Leathernecks’ third best player is behind Covington and Fuller.  Sandifer was the third leading scorer on the team with 7.4 points per game, and he also led the Summit League in assists with 4.3 per game.  He even had a great opening weekend in the Summit with 22 points and 4 assists against IPFW and 20 points and 6 assists against Omaha, but then he was basically never heard from again only scoring in double figures one more time through the season.

Western Illinois actually has a lot of experience on their team, but how much faith can you put in a team that has gone 1-27 on the road in the last two seasons.  The last time they won a road game was January 30th, 2014 against IPFW.

The Leathernecks return 89% of their scoring, can they see improvement if they stay healthy?
The Leathernecks return 89% of their scoring, can they see improvement if they stay healthy?

Role Players:

Mike Miklusak, 6-6 JR:  Played in 15 games because of a season ending injury  He had 21 points and 7 rebounds against Omaha.  I am putting my head down right now.

Jamie Batish, 6-4, SR:  A bit of an inconsistent guard, but gives the Leathernecks an option on offense after averaging 6.4 points per game in his first season with the team.  He had 15 points in a win against Omaha.  Seriously, I am going to punch myself in the face right now.

Tate Stensgaard, 6-8 SR:  Played in 20 games before facing a season ending injury.  Has shot over 56% on his career as a Leatherneck.


 

Denver:

Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, Bryant Rucker

Honestly it is pretty difficult to analyze a team’s Big 3 when they run the Princeton offense.  Excuse me, I have to take a break, I just had a random memory of Barry Collier being a terrible basketball coach.

Okay, I am back… With their offense you need guys that take high percentage shots.  These three seniors-to-be had a combined shooting percentage of nearly 50% from the field and 42% on threes.  Marcus Byrd has the highest three point field goal percentage for any player returning to the Summit League.  The Summit League has been more difficult for Joe Scott and the Pioneers than it was for them against the Sun Belt and WAC, which hopefully is not all that surprising.  The Pioneers have gotten worse each of the last three seasons going from 22 wins to 16 wins to 12 wins, can they go for 10 this year?  With their high shooting percentage, the Pioneers can always be in a game, but with the Summit League having so many good shooters, teams have been able to take over games down the stretch.  It is pretty difficult to beat at home as they are 32-13 at home over the last 3 years, and last year they lost 7 games at home by a combined total of 39 points…one of those games was a 16 point loss to IPFW as an outlier.

Denver does not care about a Big 3.
Denver does not care about a Big 3.

Role Players:

Daniel Amigo, 6-10 SO:  5.7 ppg, 46 FG%

Jake Pemberton, 6-3 SO: Likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Brett Olson and Cam Griffin.


 

Oral Roberts:

Obi Emegano, Brandon Conley, Scott Sutton

With Korey Billbury and Bobby Word departing from the team, I really cannot come up with who is going to make up a Big 3 for the Golden Eagles.  On paper, it looks kind of rough for Oral Roberts and coach Sutton, but Sutton is probably one of the top coaches in the Summit League and entering his 17th season as the head coach of the Golden Eagles, so they cannot really be counted out, especially if they arguably the best player in the conference.  You want to talk about new faces?  Oral Roberts is going to be like trying to figure out who is joining the cast of another Expendables film.

Obi Emegano is a popular choice of Preseason Player of the Year.
Obi Emegano is a popular choice of Preseason Player of the Year.

Role Players:

Seriously have no idea what will be happening with this team.  Perhaps this is what happens to a team when they change conferences so often…naw what I mean Denver?  Brandon Conley is probably the only for sure thing on the team, everyone else seems to be the mystery man with his trigger on the finger.  The Golden Eagles can probably get above .500 in the conference with Emegano and Sutton though.

 

 

 

The basketball wild cards of the Summit League

With players coming and going, roles need to be filled on teams, and some players just respond quicker than others.  North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson clearly had a big year as a redshirt freshman, which was a huge help to the Bison as they lost three key seniors from their 2014 championship team.  IUPUI’s Marcellus Barksdale went from averaging 0.3 points per game as a freshman in 2012-13 to averaging 8.6 points per game in his sophomore season, and now is considered an All Conference candidate by many.  South Dakota State’s Keaton Moffitt transferred from a division 2 program to be a top guy off the bench for the Jackrabbits.  Omaha’s Mike Rostampour made an immediate impact with Omaha in his junior season after transferring from division 2.

With the Bison and Jackrabbits as the two favorites to repeat as the two top teams in the Summit League, the league seems to look like it will be in a pretty tight battle for who is 3rd to 8th (or 9th) in the conference standings at the end of the year.  So who are some of the potential wild cards in the Summit League that can set their team apart in 2015-2016?


 

Denver

EVERYONE ON THE ROSTER NOT NAMED MARCUS BYRD, NATE ENGESSER, OR BRYANT RUCKER

Here is a statistic that may jump out at you.  Denver returns the second fewest amount of division one starts on their roster in the Summit League, behind IPFW.  They are a young team, though so was North Dakota State last season, with 6 freshman and 4 sophomores on the roster, so I am incredibly curious who can make up for the losses of Cam Griffin, Brett Olson, and Jalen Love.

The team virtually has no post game, but it is not really something that is incredibly needed in the Princeton offense.  Barry Collier ran the Princeton offense really well without a competent big man at Nebraska.  That was a really bad joke.  Could sophomore Daniel Amigo make a big jump if he is healthy?  He started in all 15 of the games he played in during his freshman year averaging 5.7 points per game, and had three double digit scoring performance, but they were all in blow outs.

Daniel Amigo is super serial.
Daniel Amigo is super serial.

IPFW

JOHN KONCHAR – 6’4″, rFR

Could Konchar be a big time player as a freshman.  He redshirted in his first season with the ‘Dons, I assume because of the 4 upperclassmen guards that were on the roster last season.  Konchar averaged 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game in his senior season in high school in Chicago.  Holy crap!  He did see action in IPFW’s preseason game last season, but he only had 3 points in 15 minutes, but hey it was a preseason game.

RACHINE TALLA – 6’9″, SO

Talla is seriously the biggest question mark for IPFW.  He redshirted at USC Upstate his freshman season, and then only played in 2 games in junior college because Mississippi is the worst place on earth.  So how much of an impact can a guy be who has basically not played a competitive game of basketball in 3 years.


IUPUI

JORDAN PICKETT – 6’0″, SO

Pickett transferred to IUPUI after only playing in five games at Loyola before suffering a season ending injury in 2013-2014.  The Jaguars do not have much of a back court, they have a lot of 6’5″ guards, but can the bigger players deal with all of the smaller shooting guards the Summit League has to offer.  Pickett is likely to have a big role for the Jaguars in 2015-2016.  In the Jaguars’ red-white scrimmage last season, which was basically IUPUI vs their players who were forced to redshirt due to transferring, Pickett was able to score 11 points against…the Jaguars.

NICK OSBORNE- 6’8″, JR

One of three transfers from Loyola on the roster.  Osborne is expected to make an immediate impact with the Jaguars, as they have not had much talent in the post in a few years.  Osborne averaged 5.4 ppg and 4 rpg, and shot 50% from the field in his sophomore season at Loyola.  He did average 3 fouls per game, so curious to see how much time he will spend on the bench due to foul trouble in the Summit League.

How much of a difference can Nick Osborne make with the Jaguars.
How much of a difference can Nick Osborne make with the Jaguars.

NORTH DAKOTA STATE 

They lost Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund, and TrayVonn Wright a year ago, and they ended up repeating as Summit League Champions with a 1st year coach.  I think they will be fine…

One could ask; who is going to be make up for the 19 points per game that they lost in Lawrence Alexander?  Can Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, Paul Miller, and junior college transfer sophomore Malik Clements make up that 19 points a game in the back court?  Yes, they probably can.


OMAHA

JAKE WHITE- 6’8″, SR

Can Jake White be the best post player in the Summit League? Can he?
Can Jake White be the best post player in the Summit League? Can he?

Last year we were teased with White.  With 10 rebounds in his first half as a Maverick, we were thinking our front court would be unstoppable with him and Mike Rostampour.  Then a few minutes into the second half, White hurt his knee, and then for almost a month we kept being told: not this game, but next game probably…  If you look around the post players at the Summit League, White is capable of being the best post player in the League, but he has to stay healthy.  When White transferred, Derrin Hansen stated that White would be the best post player in the Summit.

DANIEL MEYER – 6’9″, SO

Meyer only played 4.5 minutes per game in his freshman season with the Mavericks, but with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry (i cried a tear) no longer on the roster, Meyer should expect more playing time in his sophomore season, I mean, right?  It sounded as if he did really well in Italy, but it did not sound like the teams the Mavs played against had many players taller than 6’5″…but I did not look at official rosters, just shady looking websites that did not look fully updated.  When Meyer did play last season, I was never terrified that he was going to ruin everything.  He seemed to move pretty well without the ball, set good screens, and had a nice touch.  He even looked like he could be as good as a passer out of the post as John Karhoff, but we will have to wait and see.


ORAL ROBERTS

ALBERT OWENS- 6’9″ SO

With the graduation of Denell Henderson, Owens will competing for the starting center position with junior college transfer Tre Vance.  Owens did average 3.8 ppg and 2.4 rpg, but he never really received any significant playing time in any of the Golden Eagles’ big games.  Yet, if you look around at some of the conference predictions, Owens is expected to be a big key factor to ORU’s success.  You know, assuming they have some success this season.

Owens had great size listed at 6'9" and 260lbs.
Owens has great size listed at 6’9″ and 260lbs.

JALEN BRADLEY- 6’0″ JR

Bradley is familiar with the Summit League, as he originally played for the Mavericks, but he only played in a total of 26 minutes against the Summit League due to injuries in 2013-2014.  Bradley went on to junior college for his sophomore season, where he averaged 17 points per game.  Everyone knew Bradley could shoot at Omaha, I remember watching him shoot from half court in warm ups and making it regularly, but we did question if he could defend or play the point guard position. While he was at Omaha, they were deep with guards with: CJ Carter, Marcus Tyus, Alex Phillips, Caleb Steffensmeier, Devin Patterson, and Justin Simmons.  The Mavericks could have used him in his sophomore season as that energy guy off the bench, and that would likely still be his role, but ORU fans are expecting him (and 6’3″ Div 2/Fresno State transfer Aaron Anderson) to fill a void left in Korey Billbury and Bobby Word.  That is a lot to ask.


SOUTH DAKOTA

TREY NORRIS – 6’0″ SR

Norris started in all 28 games he played in for the Coyotes in his sophomore season, but then was sent to the bench in his junior season as Craig Smith took over at South Dakota.  Can he be counted on to be the starter again and help lead the Coyotes to another winning record?

TYLER FLACK – 6’7″ JR

Sat out 2014-2015 with an injury.  He started 19 out of 29 games his freshman season and 27 out of 30 games in his sophomore season.  As a sophomore, he averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg, he also shot 55% from the floor.  Is he going to be the same after a serious injury, and will Smith have big plans for Flack?

Can Tyler Flack be Tyler Flack again?
Can Tyler Flack be Tyler Flack again?

Here is a glaring stat for South Dakota.  I was looking at the South Dakota State fan forum, wishing I had it in me to do some trolling, and the Jackrabbits are pretty stoked that they return so much of their scoring.  The Jackrabbits return 74% of their scoring, which is second in the conference behind Western Illinois who returns 89% of their scoring, but that is Western Illinois… Anyway, South Dakota lost the most scoring in the Summit losing 54% of their scoring.  So they are going to need Flack and Norris to return to 2013-2014 form.


SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

CONNOR DEVINE/IAN THEISEN

Did I mention that South Dakota State is returning 74% of their scoring?  I think I just did that.  Most of that is the loss of Cody Larson.  The Jackrabbits arguably have the best guard trio in the Summit League with George Marshall, Deondre Parks, and Jake Bittle, but they are left with little in the post after the loss of Larson, and they are young in the post.  Devine and Theisen shared the time behind Cody Larson in the post last season, can they and freshman Nebraska natives Michael Daum and Adam Dykman make up for that loss in Larson?


WESTERN ILLINOIS

When you only when 8 games, you lose 13 of your last 14 games, one of your wins is a 2 point win at home against Devin Patterson-less Omaha team, and 15 of your 20 losses are by 10 points or more, there is not much confidence riding in your team going into the next season.  So basically everyone on your roster not named Garrett Covington is a wild card.

The Leathernecks did have some injury issues in 2014-2015, and they have the 2nd most returning division one starts on their roster in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, and as previously mentioned, they do return 89% of their scoring.

 

 

What a Summit League-Missouri Valley Conference challenge could look like

My friend and I were talking and making fun of the Big 10 in how it has all these challenges, really I do not know if two challenges classifies as “all of these” but still, one sounds like enough.  Anyway, we were talking, and we got on the subject that the Summit League should get a challenge going.  It might not make a bunch of a sense really.  Challenges are meant for the bigger conferences, I guess, but really they are meant for some nice television ratings and to ensure all of the bigger conference teams do not just schedule all the SWAC and American East teams of the world…or the Summit League teams.

Maybe for a conference like the Summit League it would not mean a world of exposure, but it could at least ensure a game on television, or atleast ESPN3, for each of the schools involved in a challenge.  It seams most Summit League teams automatically throw in some WAC and/or Big Sky teams on the schedule, so really if you put together a challenge with the Summit League and the WAC or Big Sky, you really would not create much of a buzz.  So my friend and I (lazily) threw out the Missouri Valley Conference as a potential challenger to the Summit League.

It does not have that high amount of prestige that the Big 10/ACC Challenge has, but what does, really?  A bulk of the teams are already all in the same region, some even go after the same recruits, so maybe there would not be much national exposure to this, but regionally it could pick up a decent amount of attention.  Fox Sports could get in on this, they seem to like the Missouri Valley, mainly because there is not a whole bunch else they can pick up, so they could get behind this.

So here, I put together what it could look like if these two teams were to meet up in a challenge.  I based it off of the 2014-2015 standings, and took Wichita State out, just because, you know…  After you see this, you will clearly see that I am in no way qualified to coordinate a conference versus conference challenge.  But it actually creates for some pretty fun and interesting match ups if you get these conferences got together.


Final 2014-2015 RPI Rankings in parenthesis.

North Dakota State (94) @ Northern Iowa (11)

Admit it, you just got a little excited and you may have to go to the bathroom.  Both schools have gone up against each in recruiting, in just about every single sport that both have available.  If you have ever been to the Northern Iowa or the Fargo areas you will know that both like to pretend that they are in the state of Minnesota.

This could really serve as the marquee match up of this hypothetical challenge.  Obviously, Northern Iowa finished with a much higher RPI ranking, and South Dakota State even finished higher than North Dakota State, so really you could flip-flop the two.  North Dakota State has earned some national recognition for themselves, probably a little more than Northern Iowa sadly.  Northern Iowa really seemed to sneak up on people in the middle of the 2014-2015 season, but really they are almost always a really solid team that can go right up against anyone.  This game could really be the, Can North Dakota State Prove Themselves game, or the Is Northern Iowa Really That Good game, depending on which way you want to look at it.  I want to put a disclaimer here, that I believe both schools are the real deal, but most people unfamiliar with both schools pretty much never give either of them any credit and attribute their winning to playing a weak schedule.

Knowing what I know about Fargonians, if you take the pride that they have in North Dakota State, which is a ton of pride, and you remind them that Northern Iowa snapped the football team’s winning streak, they might declare war on the state of Iowa until this game were to actually happen in basketball.  Honestly, if this game were to happen in 2015, I am not sure North Dakota State has anyone that can handle Seth Tuttle.  AJ Jacobson and Chris Kading are pretty good, but Tuttle is incredibly consistent and he is 6’8″ and 240 and can do literally everything.

Fargo fans heading to Cedar Rapids, and thinkind Cedar Rapids is the Miami of the Midwest.
Fargo fans heading to Cedar Rapids, and thinking Cedar Rapids is the Miami of the Midwest.

Illinois State (53) @ South Dakota State (84)

It just so happens that these two teams will see each other in the Cancun Challenge in November.  It is no guarantee that they will play each other, but they could at least see each at the hotel or something.

Both teams won 20+ games last season, and both made it to the 2nd round of the NIT in the 2014-2015 season.  The teams though are returning the opposite type of players though.  Illinois State is returning more post players, while South Dakota State is returning an incredibly solid core of guards.  Both teams played 35 games in 2014-2015, the Jackrabbits attempted 116 more threes on the season than Illinois State did, so that might be an indicator of the different styles of play that the two teams go with…or it might be some dumb weird coincidence that stats are lying about, I honestly did not watch any Illinois State games last year.


IPFW (215) @ Indiana State (177)

Hey, hey, hey, Indiana!  Indiana is a basketball state, but these two schools have not really profited off of that notion for quite some time.  These schools appear to be moving in opposite directions with Indiana State on the rise and IPFW on the fall.  Okay, has IPFW ever really been on the top of the world?  Probably not, but they continue to underachieve.  Maybe a little match up with the Sycamores could get them to care.  It is not like the Sycamores are above exceptional, but they do have more glamour than the Mastodons do.  Wait for it, wait for it…IPFW graduated a good deal of their core, while the Sycamores only graduated two players that were the 4th and 6th best scorers on the team.

(I think) The last time these two teams met was in 2006 in Fort Wayne.  The Sycamores won the game 67-61 in front of about 2400 people.  Indiana State finished that season 13-18 and IPFW finished 12-17.  It is totally cool to not fully understand why people think Indiana is a basketball state.


Evansville (82) @ Oral Roberts (156)

Okay, we are getting lucky here.  An Indiana-Indiana match up and now a Private School-Private School match up.  Evansville always seems to be a bit of a wild card, and Oral Roberts is showing every sign of being a wild card in 2015-2016.  This game could seriously be directed by Wes Anderson.  You would be entertained, but you really would not know why.  It would be incredibly slow at moments, and then just oddly paced for brief stints to confuse the crap out of you.  You would constantly be thinking that you know what will happen next, but you will pretend to be surprised that it actually happened the way you thought it would exactly happen.  You would also pretend that you were entertained the whole time afterwards, and somehow forget that you were just survived 2 of the most boring hours of your life, but hey that one guy was really good in it.


South Dakota (212) @ Loyola (87)

Nothing gets you going like an old Coyotes and Ramblers match, or a good old Vermillion against Chicago atmosphere. Does it shock anyone else to hear that Loyola had an RPI of 87?  With the exception of a loss to Southern Illinois, the Ramblers really had a season in which they lost to the teams you would have expected them to lose and they won the game they should have won.  This was the same team that most of us made fun of as the replacement to Creighton in the Valley.  South Dakota exceeded expectations in 2014-2015, much like the Ramblers, but the expectations were so incredibly low for the Coyotes that no one outside of the Summit league seemed to notice.  There was some inconsistency, like just about every team in the Summit League…they picked up a win against North Dakota State, but also lost to IUPUI.


Drake (259)@ Denver (234)

We are back on a little private school on private school action.  Both teams will return very little in 2015-2016, so this would turn out to be a Who the Hell is That Guy With the Ball? game.  Drake had transfers from Northwestern and Penn State sitting out, so they will have some instant help coming in, note that I did not say instant stars, I said instant help.

Also, take note that this is the state of Colorado against the state of Iowa.  Those two states have a hate for each other that I will never understand.  Maybe it is the fact that they are complete opposites.  One has mountains, one has trailer parks, sorry for the slams Iowa, but seriously.  I like to think it is because of the episode of South Park when they find the guy frozen from the early 90s, and to help the guy adjust to modern times they send him to Des Moines because it is constantly 3 years behind in everything.  South Park is completely factual.

Wait, back to this…Denver is known for not scoring a bunch of points, not because of the inability to do so, but more so for the ability to be patient and wait for shots.  With that in mind, Denver scored more points per game than Drake.  That is how fun Drake is at the moment.  I watched a few of their game this last season, they were incredibly slow, and not because they ran an offense like Denver’s, but because their players were physically all incredibly slow.  Drake did shoot 41% on threes in 2014-2015, so there is that.


Missouri State (237) @ IUPUI (257)

These two teams between them only had one guy that averaged more than 10 points per game.  that one player, Marcus Marshall, averaged 19.5 before leaving the team in January.  I am really not building up a great case of this challenge to be an entertaining series.  But IUPUI already gets every game of theirs on ESPN 3 somehow…


Omaha (299) @ Southern Illinois (274)

I love how outside of a basketball game, Derrin Hansen seems like the most fun loving guy you will ever encounter, like he would just go get a beer and watch the NBA playoffs and crack a bunch of jokes with you…but on the sideline he never smiles and is completely ready for business.  There is no limit on the price that I would pay to see Derrin Hansen mean mug Barry Hinson all night.

Southern Illinois fans are some of the most sport educated people you will ever encounter.  In case you cannot tell, I am being sarcastic.  They are probably unaware that UNO is division one, but that is cool, it is not their job to know.  But when their fans are looking up information on Omaha on their Motorala Razrs they will realize that their former big time rival is from Omaha.  Ohhhhhhhhh, this will boil their blood like no other.


Western Illinois (328) @ Bradley (280)

This would definitely be the Aquaman versus Namor the Sub-Mariner of the crossover.  That is a DC vs. Marvel reference, and a damn good one if you ask me.  Western Illinois has Garrett Covington and JC Fuller to help them appear entertaining, note that I said entertaining. and not championship contending.  Bradley has, well I am sure they have something entertaining about them.  I know, I know, I have been completely ignorant for a guy that is in love with a basketball team that finished 299 in RPI.

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