A look at who the Summit League is losing

College sports graduates teams every year, players transfer, and teams are affected by that from year to year…duh.  Some top teams get worse because of what they are losing, and other teams get better with what they have coming back.

Here is who Summit League men’s basketball is losing this year, and the list is in order of what teams will be affected most by their losses.


South Dakota

It feels uncommon to see the team that finished 8th in a conference to be losing so many players.  Seems like these teams are typically youthful and at least have a lot to look forward to in the future as they develop their team.  South Dakota will graduate 4 players on scholarship and one walk on player; as well as lose three players to transfer.

The Yotes will have a new look with three transfers coming aboard, and could potentially have the deepest core of post players as most of their post players this season were freshmen and sophomores.

From 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, the Coyotes were losing the most scoring off their team at 57% and they fell from 4th in the conference to 8th.  Going into next season, they will again be the team that loses the most scoring at nearly 80 freaking percent of their scoring.

Graduates

Tre Burnette, 6’5″ guard/forward

Played in 32 games and started 23 in 2015-2016.  Averaged 13.2 points; 6.6 rebounds (4th in the Summit League), shot 44% from the field; 51% from the free throw line; and, 32% on threes.  Finished his senior season with 8 double-doubles.

Burnette played the 2, 3, and 4 for the Coyotes at different times.  His production and hustle will be missed by the Coyotes, but he could be being replaced by more efficient players.

Casey Kasperbauer, 6’1″ guard

Started in all 32 games for the Yotes in his senior season.  Averaged 12.1 points; 2.5 rebounds; 2.1 assists; and 1 steal per game.  Shot 41% from the field; 95% (led the Summit) from the free throw line; and 41% on threes.

Craig Smith once called Kasperbauer the best shooter that he had ever coached, and that will be missed by the Coyotes.  The transfer guards coming in for South Dakota appear to be slightly more versatile than Kasperbauer and be more productive over the 34 minutes a game that Kasperbauer was playing.

Trey Norris, 6’0″ guard

Played in all 32 games for the Yotes, and was moved into the starting rotation after Shy McClelland left the team, which was weird because Norris seemed to be the better point guard on the court for the team.  Ended the year averaging 7.5 points and 4.3 assists per game, but was averaging 12 points 5.4 assists in February and March.

Eric Robertson, 6’8″ forward/center

Started in all 32 games for South Dakota as a senior.  Not much of a rebounder for a big man averaging 3.2 per game.  Robertson scored 8.3 points per game on 47% from the floor.

I thought that Tyler Hagedorn or Dan Jech should have been playing more time than Robertson, and I may be more bias for Hagedorn being that he is from Nebraska, but both true freshmen seemed that they could have been more productive over Robertson.

Duol Mayot, 6’5″ guard/foward

Played in 17 games in his senior season as a walk on.

Departures

Dejon Davis, 6’4″ sophomore – Transferred to Indianapolis (D2)

Considered to be one of the most improved players in the Summit League after seeing his scoring go from 1.9 points per game in his freshman season to 9.3 as a sophomore.  Davis’ playing time was increased as well going from a seldom used guard his freshman season at 9.3 minutes per game to starting in 31 of 32 games in his sophomore season and averaging nearly 30 minutes per game.  He was 6th in the Summit League in field goal percentage shooting 55.1% from the field.  He was likely to see a reduction in minutes with Matt Mooney and Carlton Hurst becoming eligible, but Davis still would have been a contributor to the team.

Shy McClelland, 6’0″ junior – Left team in early February

McClelland averaged 11.5 points on 49% from the field in his time with South Dakota, but he shot 51% from the free throw line attempting over 4 free throws a game.  He was pretty inconsistent in his time on the team, but could have been a contributor to the Coyotes in 2016-2017.

Zach Dickerson, 6’4″ sophomore – Left team in early February

A transfer from Eastern Illinois that was not seeing much playing time for South Dakota, and probably was not going to see much of an increase in minutes in 2016-2017.


South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits are losing nearly half of their scoring, and they will working with a new head coach in 2016-2017.  Teams in the Summit League may not have the same fear that they’ve had going up against the Jackrabbits that they have had over the last few years.

Graduates

George Marshall, 6’0″ guard

Marshall ended the year struggling when it mattered most.  The Jacks had to survive through his 15% shooting in the conference tournament to move on to face Maryland in the big dance.  Marshall ended the regular season as a 1st Team All Summit League player with his 14.9 points per game, which was 10th in the league.

Marshall has potential to play basketball overseas or in the new NBLA.

Deondre Parks, 6’1″ guard

Parks played in 33 of the team’s 34 games and also averaged 14.9 points per game, and he was a good rebounder at his size with 4.6 per game.  He was shockingly pushed down to the Honorable Mention Team for the Summit after being named to the preseason 1st team.

Like his back court teammate, Parks also has potential to play basketball overseas or in the new NBLA.

Jake Bittle, 6’4″ guard

Bittle did not receive any post season awards after being named to the preseason 1st Team for the Summit League.  He was forced out and also played through some injuries, which may have led to some slightly inconsistent play for himself and the Jackrabbits.  Bittle led the Jackrabbits with 25 points in their win at Minnesota.

Losing Bittle as the guy to actually run the Jackrabbits offense is what could hurt the team the most.

Cory Jacobsen, 6’1″ guard

Never really saw much playing time as a walk on for the Coyotes.  Scored 2 points his senior season.

Departures

Connor Devine, 6’10” junior – Transferred to Alaska-Anchorage (D2)

Never truly broke into the rotation at South Dakota State playing behind a number of quality post players in three years.  Devine did average 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds as a junior, and shot 64% from the field in 8 minutes per game.  Could have been potentially a starter or the 1st post player off the bench in 2016-2017 with the Jacks currently with a lack of big men.

Logan Doyle, 6’8″ sophomore – Transferred to Northern State (D2)

Basically the exact same situation as Devine.  Only played in 7 games as a sophomore, but could have been one of the first guys off the bench in 2016-2017.


Omaha

Graduating four contributors is really hard to make up in college basketball, but the Mavericks will get to reload some of their roster with transfers and players returning from injuries.  The Mavericks will also literally be blessed with a 6th year of eligibility to Kyler Erickson.

Graduates

Devin Patterson, 5’11” guard

Patterson was the fastest player in the league, and that speed is what kept the Mavericks in a few games and gave the team a few victories.  Making up 18 points per game (3rd in the Summit) will be difficult, making up for his speed and his ability to get to the free throw line with be more difficult to overcome.

Patterson has potential to play basketball overseas or in the NBLA.

Jake White, 6’8″ forward

Even though White seemed to constantly be in foul trouble, he finished his senior season 5th in scoring in the conference with 17.3 points per game; as well as 6th in the Summit in rebounding at 6.2 rebounds per game.  It is hard to find a big man like White that can score from anywhere on the court as well draw as many fouls as he did.  As much as White did commit fouls, he was also able to tie for 3rd in the Summit for free throws attempted per game behind Obi Emegano and Devin Patterson.  White also shot 81% from the free throw line as a senior, which was 2nd in the league among forwards.

White has potential to play basketball overseas or in the NBLA.

Randy Reed, 6’6″ forward

Reed may have only averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds per game in his senior season, but the energy and hustle that he brought off the bench for the Mavericks was priceless and will be incredibly difficult to replace.  His 21 points and 5 rebounds off the bench on senior night was one of the most fun performances by a Mav to watch in person since the Mavericks made the transition to division one.

Tim Smallwood, 6’2″ guard

Smallwood was a little inconsistent, but he was able to improve on his shooting from his junior season to his senior season.  As a junior he shot 26% on threes, and he ended up shooting 37% on threes in his senior season.  I personally thought Smallwood was an underrated one-on-one defender.

Departure

Devin Newsome, 5’9″ sophomore

This appears to be unofficial at the moment.  Per the Omaha World Herald, Newsome is looking for a school to transfer to, but there has not been an official statement from anyone.  Newsome was rarely used in his freshman and sophomore seasons, and was unlikely to see an increase in minutes with the guards expected to be on the 2016-2017 roster.


IPFW

Graduates

Max Landis, 6’2″ guard

The ‘Dons are losing the Summit League player of the year that averaged 10 points a game on just three point field goals.  This is not something that is just easy to make up, but it can be done with a few players taking over the load of scoring and shooting.  After Mo Evans was forced off the team in the second semester, Landis stepped up as a passer and averaged over 4 assists without Evans on the roster.  IPFW has Purdue transfer, Bryson Scott to help take over the scoring load but he shot 29% in his two years on threes at Purdue while Landis just shot 45.6% on threes as a senior, which was 30th in division one.

Landis has recently had workouts with the Indiana Pacers and has potential to play in the NBDL.

Joe Reed, 6’8″ forward

The ‘Dons may end up missing Joe Reed more than they think.  He averaged 10.5 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game, but he was always ready to take a clutch shot.  The ‘Dons loved their small ball style in 2015-2016, and Reed was perfect to play at the 5 for that style.  Their core of post players in 2016-2017 may not be the best players for that type of system the coaching staff seemed to fall in love with.

Michael Calder, 6’2″ guard

Calder was fantastic making up for the loss of Mo Evans in the second half of the season.  He was a bit of a one dimensional guard in his junior season when he averaged 4.7 points, and he was able to step that up to 10 points per game overall as a senior.  Calder averaged 14.4 points in Summit League games after Evans was forced out for the 2nd half of the season.

Departure

Andrew Poulter, 6’11” junior

When Poulter signed with the ‘Dons, I was under the impression that Jon Coffman was going to start and play Poulter at the 5.  Poulter was overweight, shot terribly in junior college, was quite slow, and the ‘Dons wanted to go to a new small ball style.  I thought we were going to have to get Coffman checked into some sort of rehab, but instead Poulter hardly got any playing time at IPFW and decided to leave.  Just didn’t seem like the right fit from the beginning.


Oral Roberts

Graduates

Obi Emegano, 6’3″ guard

So I read somewhere that NBA scouts thought that Emegano was a junior and they were not taking his stock into the draft very seriously.  This seems like a really bitter end for the conference scoring champion after a bulk of his teammates leaving Oral Roberts over the last few years, a shoulder injury in the summer, a mid-season concussion, and being surrounded by an incredibly inconsistent youthful squad with zero chemistry.  Though a year from now we could be talking about how the 2016-2017 Summit League scoring champion, Garret Covington, was only a part of 40 wins in his entire collegiate basketball career.

Emegano has potential to be in the NBDL as he appears to be too short to play the shooting guard position in the NBA, nor really enough speed to be in the NBA…but people said the exact same things about Steph Curry.  The loss of Emegano is obviously huge for the Golden Eagles, and they may be classically bad in 2017.

Brandon Conley, 6’6″ forward

The undersized big man suffered through little injuries his entire senior year at Oral Roberts, which led to inconsistent play.  Conley did shoot 56.2% from the field, which was 4th in the Summit League.  His averages of 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds are something that can be easily made up with Oral Roberts’ youth.  They seem to routinely have a guy that goes from averaging 2 points a game to getting 8 to 10 points each game the following year.

Departures

DaQuan Jeffries, 6’5 freshman

Jeffries looked like a guard that loved playing against faster paced teams like Omaha and IPFW, and he even looked pretty good for what Oral Roberts liked to do…yet he transferred away from the team.  His versatility as being a 6’5″ guard who was actually probably better as a forward made it difficult to figure out where to play him in each and every game.  His 6.7 points per game was going to be 4th among returning players to the team.

Tre Vance, 6’9″ junior

Vance averaged less than one point and one rebound in his time at Oral Roberts.  Not really sure what to say here…  I’ve lost 17 pounds in the last 2 months…I’ve been working out a lot and eating really well.  It’s cool and all, but I have to buy a bunch of new clothes because I look like a little kid wearing a bunch of hand me downs from his big brother.


Western Illinois

I want to say it really couldn’t get any worse for the Leathernecks, but it doesn’t seem like it will get much better.

Graduates

JC Fuller, 6’3″ guard

Fuller started the year off pretty hot, and then his shooting dropped off toward the end of the conference season.  Fuller averaged 12.7 points a game, but I doubt Billy Wright will miss his shot selection.  The Leathernecks won two games in a row over Omaha and Denver when they decided to play freshman De’Angelo Bruster more than Fuller…then they went back to giving more minutes to Fuller and lost 4 of their last 5.

I will still remember Fuller as the guy that was absolutely on fire in the first half at Baxter Arena and talking shit to the Maverick bench, then put his forearm into Kyler Erickson’s chest right in front of a referee to push off to miss a 30 foot jump shot.  Then Fuller went missing the second half and the Mavericks came back from a big deficit to win the game.

Tate Stensgaard 6’9″ forward

I feel like Stensgaard was injured throughout his entire career.  He always appeared as if he was playing with a pulled hamstring.  Stensgaard could hit 15 foot jump shots consistently, and could put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket and draw fouls, he shot 60% from the field and averaged 8.6 points as a senior.  Western Illinois just boggles my mind.

Jalen Chapman, 6’8″ forward

Chapman started at center for the Leathernecks and averaged 17 minutes a game in each of his 2 seasons at Western Illinois.  I’m not really sure where else in the Summit League that he would have averaged 17 minutes a game.

Jamie Batish, 6’4″ guard

Batish was a really good shooter that had his career affected by nagging injuries.  The Leathernecks may have picked up a few more wins with the shooter being able to play more as a senior.


North Dakota State

Graduates

Kory Brown, 6’4″ guard

Brown is going to be hard to make up for the Bison, but they pride themselves on their Next One Up philosophy.  It’s not easy to lose a guy that was a part of 2 NCAA tournament teams and went to the conference championship every year he was a member of the team.  He was second on the team in rebounds and was arguably their best perimeter defender.  Brown was also that guy that you forgot was in the game when they’re down by 10 and then all of a sudden he makes a handful of defensive stops and scores on 4 straight possessions to get the Bison right back in the game.  They may not have that guy that can just create a 10 point swing in 2 minutes completely by himself next season.

Chris Kading, 6’9″ center

Normally, you wouldn’t think the loss of a guy that averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds is a big deal, but it is actually a little bit of a big deal for the Bison to lose Kading.  His senior year was slowed down with surgeries before the start of the season, which is what led to a reduction in playing time, but he was still effective for the Bison on the court with his smart play and defense.

In the game at Baxter Arena, AJ Jacobson couldn’t guard Jake White or Tre’Shawn Thurman and Jacobson got into foul trouble so David Richman called on Kading.  Kading grabbed some big boards, drew some fouls on Jake White, hit a big three in the first half, and helped spark a little run to keep the game close.  Thurman and Randy Reed were both bothered by Kading and couldn’t really score on him.  The second half, Jacobson got more playing time before ultimately fouling out, and the Bison probably could have won that game if Kading was fully healthy and could have gotten 35 minutes.

Departures

Trey Miller, 6’7″ freshman

Miller played 5 minutes for the Bison and just decided to say “eff this” and left the team.

Brian Ishola, 6’5″ sophomore

I’m not sure who Ishola was.  I think he was just a player that EA Sports made up when there weren’t enough players in the game anymore.


IUPUI

The Jaguars are graduating two seniors, but they are going to have the most returning to their roster in 2016.  They also added two senior transfers that will be eligible immediately and could have the most depth in the Summit League in 2016-2017.

Marcellus Barksdale, 6’5″ guard

One of the best perimeter defenders in the Summit League, and Barksdale had to play every position at some point in his career with the Jaguars as they just about didn’t have anyone else on the team in his first 3 years in the program.  If James Gardner had not come along for IUPUI and brought in a bunch of transfers with him, Barksdale may have been a part of 8 wins in his entire year with the IUPUI.

The stats for Barksdale won’t be hard to make up for the Jaguars, but his defensive presence that allowed the Jaguars to start most of their fast breaks may hurt them to a degree.  They really didn’t win games with their amazing offensive efficiency, they won 9 conference games with their scrappy defense that Barksdale was a major catalyst for.

Mason Archie, 6’5″ guard

The Jaguars considered Archie to be their best perimeter defender, yet that seemed like a ploy to have teams forget about Barksdale somehow.  His length may have bothered some of the smaller shooting guards in the league a bit, but it’s not like that is something teams couldn’t overcome.

The Jaguars are going to be the most experienced team in 2016-2017, if that wasn’t the case, I may have said the losses of Barksdale and Archie were more detrimental to the team.  They return 80% of their scoring from their 9-7 team, and are adding two graduate transfers and a transfer from Syracuse to the roster.  They’ll be fine.

 

 

The Bison should roam the Summit again in 2017

So did you think the North Dakota State Bison men’s basketball team overachieved or underachieved in 2015-2016?  They finished 5th in the Summit League (after being picked 2nd by most people), but they had a fair amount of injuries (maybe even most in the Summit), and they were able to make it to the Summit League championship again.

The Bison are only graduating Kory Brown (10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg) and Chris Kading (3.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg), so they will be returning 4 starters to their lineup.  On top of that they will be returning their top bench player, Dexter Werner, so on paper so far it sounds as if they can be at least good enough to return to the top half of the Summit League.

With three shooting guards committed, the Bison have one scholarship still open; and they are not a basketball program that really seeks out a lot of transfers from bigger schools or junior colleges.  After losing Lawrence Alexander, the team really prided themselves on replacing his 19 points per game with the guys they already had on their team.  Next Guy Up: I believe was their slogan.  Paul Miller boosted himself from 6.7 points per game his freshman season to 15.3 points per game into his second season.  Brown increased his scoring by 2 points, AJ Jacobson by 1 point, and the team did add sophomore Malik Clements (okay, I lied he came from a junior college) who averaged 6.3 points per game…so they were able to make up the scoring lost by Alexander.

The team can replace the 13.6 points per game that they are losing easier than they can make up the 19 points per game they lost from the year before.  It’s not really about just replacing x amount of points…you cannot just replace Val Kilmer (an average Batman) with George Clooney (terrible Batman) and expect to make a good movie.  Not that Batman Forever was great, but it wasn’t Kilmer’s fault.  Point is, I think, Brown and Kading did more than just score points.  They brought smart play when they needed it.  Losing smart players who bring defense and make big shots right when you need them can be a big loss for a team.  But…next guy up, I suppose.  When the Bison were at Omaha without Paul Miller, and AJ Jacobson was in foul trouble; Chris Kading and Kory Brown took the moment to just do more than scoring.

Chris Kading’s defense was really bothering Tre’Shawn Thurman for a stretch in that game.  Kading ended that game with 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks; but also every shot he made were instrumental to mounting a comeback for the Bison.  In the second half of the game, Jacobson was brought back in, as was Jake White for Omaha, and Jacobson couldn’t guard White or Thurman.  He couldn’t defend anyone driving to the basket, which is what helped Omaha from letting the Bison get the comeback win.  For a Bison fan, it was probably as sad as I was watching Batman & Robin.

It sounds as if the Bison are going to attempt to replace Kading’s production with their redshirt freshman Deng Geu.  Geu (it’s pronounced GOO) is 6’8″ with a lot of hop.  He said that the Bison wanted to add an outside shot to his game, so they are hoping to making him a shot blocking-jump shooting center who can get 2nd chance opportunities on the offensive end, so they want him to be Kading.  That’s what is odd, or special, or whatever, about Dave Richman, is that he is going to try and do the exact same thing offensively every single game.  Just run this stupid weave offense with the exact same pieces of the puzzle game after game.  Okay, it’s a successful plan obviously, but I would think it would get figured out after a few runs through the Summit League.

I thought the Bison were the anomaly of the Summit League this year.  Lots of injuries in the off season and regular season.  They are a pretty undersized basketball team, and also pretty slow for an undersized basketball team.  Malik Clements was listed at 6’3″ and 210 pounds, but he looked more like an unhealthy 230 pounds.  Players left the team at semester.  Carlin Dupree leaves the team in January over a dispute in playing time, and then comes back a month later just suddenly accepting that Khy Kabellis is better for the team as a starter. They had just a completely unwatchable game against IUPUI in the first round of the Summit League tournament, the way they played, anyone else in the Summit could have beaten them that day.  Paul Miller, the team’s leading scorer, was suspended for breaking team rules and could not play in their 2nd round game of the Summit League tournament.  Carlin Dupree, the same guy who was pissy about playing time two months ago, got the start to replace Miller against IPFW and scored 22 and 6 rebounds and hits timely shot after timely shot to lead the Bison over the top team in the Summit.  Dupree really bothered Max Landis in that game as well, if Paul Miller would have played more minutes in that game over Dupree, the ‘Dons may have actually won that game.  They then lost by 8 to South Dakota State, who maybe should not have been in the championship game the way they played against Denver and Oral Roberts, but damn it the Jackrabbits did it and played a really good game against Maryland in the NCAA tournament.  After this, the Bison didn’t get a trip the CIT, and I assume turned down a trip to the Vegas Mistaketeen.

All of this is why the Bison will probably be picked in the top 3 in the preseason rankings for the Summit.  These weird series of events, and the fact that they will be led next season by Dexter Werner and AJ Jacobson, who are the two most consistent players in the Summit League…though like stated, everything that the Bison do is based on doing the same thing over and over.  I’m sure if you played Texas Hold em with Dave Richman, he would be the guy that only bets to get in a hand if he has a pocket pair.

 

The Jaguars could run the Summit in 2017

It’s hard to believe that the Jaguars finished in the top half of the Summit League this season, especially if you can remember that this program won a total of 12 basketball games over the course of two seasons when the Mavericks were just joining the Summit League.  They continue to get better season after season, and 2016-2017 should be much of the same.  If you watched their Summit League tournament game against North Dakota State, and that was all you saw of them, you would think they were back to being the worst team in the league.

The Jaguars only lose two seniors going into 2016-2017, though those players were both significant contributors, but the team should be even better in next season, on paper.  Jason Gardner’s teams won 6 Summit League games in 2015 and 9 in 2016, it is not inconceivable to imagine that they can win 12 conference games in 2017.  This is assuming the whole team doesn’t just quit or something.

This season was somewhat of a transition season for the Jaguars as they introduced introduced 7 new players to the basketball court.  They tried to introduce all of these new players to their system by only playing two non-conference home games.  This just sounds like an uphill battle.  You could tell by the end of their non-conference season that the team had run out of steam.  The Jaguars lost their final 5 non-conference road games by an average of 25 points.  One of those losses was a 35 point loss to Creighton.  Good for you Creighton.  I’m glad you could find those games in your schedule that can benefit you.

What was most impressive to me about the Jaguars was how mature their players were on the basketball court.  They got the luxury of having almost every freaking game on ESPN3, so they actually had one of the biggest spotlights on their players so it was a little more visible to see their maturity as opposed to a team like Denver, who was hardly on anything for Mav fans to watch.  Their players hardly ever argued with the officials, they just played.  Their players didn’t try and do things they were incapable of doing, you hardly saw them taking 30 footers or driving into the lane with three dudes on them.  Their players handled post game interviews well, and you could tell how important basketball was to them.  Everyone on their team also appeared as if they were 30 years old.

The Jaguars are going to have the most coming back to their roster in 2016.  They lose Marcellus Barksdale, so their defense may not be as scrappy next season, but their offense shouldn’t miss much of a beat.  Their offense may actually be better adding Syracuse transfer Ron Patterson to the lineup.  Patterson was seldom used at Syracuse, and he shot a rather low percentage of 31% from the field in 14 minutes a game in his sophomore season at Syracuse.  But believe me, if the Mavericks had a Syracuse transfer, you would be pumped…no matter how terrible his stats were at Syracuse.

This season the Jaguars had 4 players that were transfers that finally got to play.  Darell Combs was a transfer from Eastern Michigan, he averaged 7.4 points per game in his sophomore season at EMU and then 16.3 points for the Jaguars in his junior season – which was 6th in the Summit League and will be the 2nd highest for any players returning to the league next season.  The team also introduced three players from Loyola, where Gardner used to be an assistant coach.

Matt O’Leary became one of the most consistent post players in the league, he averaged 10.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists a game in the Summit – after averaging 4.2 points and 2 rebounds his sophomore season at Loyola.  Nick Osborne added 8 points and 6 rebounds per game after averaging 5 and 4 in his sophomore season at Loyola.  Osborne and O’Leary really have the potential to be the best forward combo down low in the league next year. Sophomore Jordan Pickett was hardly ever used at Loyola in his freshman season because of injuries, but he was able to score 9.4 points per game primarily off the bench for the Jaguars this season.

With a bulk of their lineup coming back, the Jaguars have the most they can throw at teams.  They seem to already have 8 guys that build up a solid rotation.  In addition to this, they have three freshman that are committed, yet they all seem like they are redshirt candidates at this point.  Having your starting lineup established in April is never a bad thing for a team.  Unless you’re the Huskers apparently…

Their roster is set, as long as no one transfers, so there is no room for a wave of incoming transfers going into next season.  Aside from the mentioned players, the Jaguars have a good core of young guys to fill in the rest of their team.  Sophomore Aaron Brennan was used as a smaller power forward, and really was the last post player that they used, but he filled in well for injured players this season.  He had 10 points and 6 rebounds in the Jaguars’ win against the Mavericks.  Freshman Evan Hall showed some promise, but missed 9 games this season with injuries.  Hall was able to pull off four double digit scoring performances in his first season with the Jaguars.  TJ Henderson was another freshman who showed some promise with 5 double digit scoring performances, he scored 16 points against the Mavericks in the absence of Jordan Pickett.  DJ McCall did not get to play this season, but he averaged nearly 5 points per game in his freshman season with the Jaguars.  He will be back next season, and at 6’5″ he may be able to make up for the loss of Barksdale.

This team will have chemistry, versatility, speed, and they will be able to throw several different combinations of lineups at teams next season.  They did have to deal with a number of injuries this season, so that can be an issue for them.  The Jaguars may have to face another difficult non-conference season next year, but they should be the Summit League favorite in 2016-2017; even though I am sure IPFW will be the team that everyone just pencils in as the preseason number one.  The Jaguars swept the Mastodons in 2016.

 

 

 

The Mastodons shouldn’t bury themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Mavericks were 3-1 against the teams in the Summit League Championship

So the Mavericks are 3-1 against the two teams currently in the Summit League Championship, and I am not bitter about it at all.

We all knew from the start of the year that these were the two teams to beat in the conference.  Even though IPFW tied for the best record, they were never a guaranteed lock to win over North Dakota State.  We also knew that this conference tournament would be incredibly tough to come out on top and every game had potential to be great and filled with drama…and both of these teams are entering the championship game after roller coaster and emotional wins.  Every game in this tournament has been extremely difficult to win, well IPFW over South Dakota was pretty easy it seemed, and North Dakota State didn’t really pull away until late in their 15 point win over IUPUI.

I’ve liked South Dakota State to win the league the whole year, but it hasn’t been as dreamy as people have thought it would be.  At half time last night, Scott Nagy said his team was playing pretty well defensively, but they were playing poorly on offense.  It didn’t get any better in the second half.  The only player for the Jackrabbits that has played well offensively in the first two games of the conference tournament has been Mike Daum.  Could Daum be the tournament MVP if the Jackrabbits win this game?  A freshman taking home 1st Team All Conference and other awards, on top of Tournament MVP?  We’re going to have 3 more years of this?  I mean that’s great and all, but with all the other solid freshmen in the league, could this be the groundwork to make this a multi-bid conference in the future?

The Jackrabbits’ other 1st Team All Conference player, George Marshall, has looked like the opposite of an All Conference Player.  Marshall is 2-of-16 from the floor in the first two games of the conference tournament, and it kind of looks like he keeps looking at the bench wondering when someone will replace him on the court.  North Dakota State could have their two top players on the bench in foul trouble and still beat the Jackrabbits if Marshall is shooting that poorly in the championship game.  We could bring in Western Illinois to play and they could beat the Jackrabbits if Marshall continues to play like this, or Eastern Illinois.

You would think that South Dakota State could win this game on (basically) a home court advantage and the extra day of rest over North Dakota State.  I have to say, though, there has been a lot of green and yellow in the seats there in Sioux Falls.  I guess it could be Oregon Duck fans, but I will go with my instinct on this one.  The Bison are in the heads of the Jackrabbits, having an advantage over them in the last few seasons.  After the Jacks easily handled IPFW in January, the Bison beat the Jackrabbits by 11 in Fargo and held the Jackrabbits to 29% shooting.  Deondre Parks went 1-of-10 from three in that game.

The Bison also appear to just have more weapons on offense to throw at the Jackrabbits.  SDSU has 5 games that can shoot from anywhere and go off on any given night, but as pointed out, 4 of those 5 guys have not played well lately.  AJ Jacobson, Paul Miller, and Kory Brown all average double figures in scoring for the Bison.  Freshman Khy Kabellis has had his fair share of big scoring games and is coming off a 19 point performance against IPFW.  Dexter Werner is that off the bench high energy post player every team wishes they had, and he just had 18 points and 11 rebounds against IUPUI in the first round.  Carlin Dupree scored 22 points last night against the ‘Dons and made clutch play after clutch play.  The Bison also have senior center Chris Kading who can come in and affect the game with his defense.

Scott Nagy has built a strong reputation as a coach around the Summit League, but for some reason he has not fully connected with Marshall and Parks.   David Richman is the best coach in the league at getting his players to believe in themselves and play to his style.  The Bison lost almost everything from 2013-2014, and he got everyone to buy into him in his first season in 2014-2015.  This season, they lost the Player of the Year from 2014-2015, and he was able to convince them all that they could pick up the missing scoring and not have much of a drop off.  If it had not been for some poor free throw shooting and key injuries, the Bison could have finished with 1 to 2 more wins and been 3rd or 4th in the conference…maybe even 2nd depending on who they beat.  South Dakota State also had some injuries along the way to affect their season.  Nagy has questioned his team’s toughness for the last 3 months, and they are going up against a team that proved their toughness in a huge comeback win over the number 1 seed in the tournament.  You could rate the Jackrabbits’ toughness up there with the toughness of the lemurs in “Madagascar.”

With all of this, I generally feel like South Dakota State should win this game, but there is obviously no way to count out North Dakota State.  Like, there is not even that much confidence riding on the Jackrabbits in this.  I feel like the biggest challenge almost is that weave offense that the Bison run.  Facing the weave, after facing Denver’s Princeton offense, is 2 straight nights of constantly having to move, switch, and rotate on defense.  Both of those offenses are designed to mentally and physically tire out their opponent, among other things.  The lack of movement on offense by South Dakota State on offense really showed just how mentally exhausting it had become last night, and if they continue to play that way, they are going to lose this game.  At least the lemurs can move it move it. .

This game has all the makings of going down to the wire and being won or lost on a last possession just like the last year when these two teams played in the championship game.  So that means one of these teams will probably route the other and win by 20.

 

 

The laziest of Summit League semi final previews

I’m just, eh, I just want to, ugh… Okay, I am bitter right now.  I guess the Summit League tournament will still go on?


IPFW and North Dakota State

The last time IPFW and North Dakota State met, the Bison held the ‘Dons to a season low 46 points and 28% from the field.  The Bison were also without their leading scorer, Paul Miller.

The Mastodons may have the advantage of an extra day of rest, but the Bison are not a great match up for IPFW.  For the best IPFW offensive players, North Dakota State has a great defender to counter that player.  Joe Reed will be defended by Chris Kading or Dexter Werner for a bulk of the time, both players come off the bench, so Reed may need to take advantage of his time with them on the bench.  John Konchar will have to deal with AJ Jacobson and also Dexter Werner at any given moment.  Konchar did not play that great offensively against the Bison in their two meetings.  In Fargo, he shot 1-of-5 from the floor and in Fort Wayne he shot 2-of-6 from the floor but he had 19 freaking rebounds.  Max Landis will also be guarded by Kory Brown, who is one of the better wing defenders in the Summit League.  Landis shot 2-0f-10 in the loss in Fargo and 5-of-15 from the floor in the ‘Dons win in Fort Wayne.

The ‘Dons do have the extra day of rest, but the Bison have a slightly deeper team to throw at IPFW.  Seriously, only 6 players on IPFW actually get any real minutes.  The Bison also played one of the slowest games in the last decade last night against IUPUI.  A game so ugly it can only be described as the any given parody Andy Dick character of basketball games.  The Bison defense held the Jaguars to shoot under 30% from the field last night.  They also held South Dakota State under 30% from the floor earlier in the year.  So I guess that probably means they have a good defense or something.  Numbers are hard.  Once the blog gets Rylan Murry to be the Blog Math Guy, that’s when this can really get rolling.

Anyway, this game should be a great watch and should really go down to the wire.  If it does get down to the wire, North Dakota State is not a good free throw shooting team.  They shoot 68% from the free throw line, which is last in the Summit League.


 

South Dakota State and Denver

South Dakota State playing Denver is actually pretty scary.  Scott Nagy has called out his team a few times this season for not showing any toughness, and the only player on the entire team that showed any toughness Saturday night against Oral Roberts was Mike Daum.  The three senior leaders of the Jackrabbits combined for 5-of-20 from the floor against Oral Roberts and each had difficulty guarding freshmen guards of Oral Roberts.

The Jackrabbits have to go from a fast paced team to a team like Denver…and while South Dakota State swept Denver this season, they struggled in each game against the Pioneers this season.  Deondre Parks and George Marshall both struggled in each game against Denver, and the Pioneers had the game close in down the stretch in each meeting.  They both struggled Saturday against Oral Roberts, and they can really win this tournament with both players cold.

“The other guys” for South Dakota State need to step up for the Jackrabbits to avoid an upset against the Piooners.  Denver doesn’t have the length to guard Mike Daum from…anywhere, nor any length to bother Ian Theisen in the post.  South Dakota State has the defense to disrupt the Princeton offense, but if Denver is still on fire after their game against Omaha, the Pioneers are an extremely tough out for anyone.  Denver has also shot 50% or better in their last 3 games…one of those games was against the tough defense of before mentioned North Dakota State.

Denver’s freshmen have gotten better and better as the season has gone on, and they have really exceeded expectations as a team.  This is actually exactly what Joe Scott said would happen with this team.  The Pioneers also played in a weekend classic to open up the season playing 3 games in 3 days, where they beat Santa Clara and Lipscomb on days 2 and 3; so they are capable to continue playing their game day-after-day.

With an RPI hovering around 200, and probably little chance at a post season tourney, there is almost no pressure on the Pioneers.  If they win, they get to keep going, and yay.  If they lose, they had a season much better than expected and have a lot to build on for next season.  The Jackrabbits have a lot of pressure to win this game.  It is basically a home game, they need to prove their toughness to their coach, and they are losing a lot off their team heading into next season.  The expectation for this team was to win the Summit League regular season, and the conference tournament, anything less than that is a failure for them this season.


Just something quick on the Omaha women against South Dakota State

It’s obviously going to be tough for the Omaha women playing against South Dakota State in the semi final.  The Mavericks played them tough and impressed some people with their play against the Jackrabbits the first time the two teams met.

Talk about a team that exceeded expectations.  Some people just started looking ahead to 2016-2017 after the Mavericks lost an exhibition game at home, but now in March they have a winning record and are playing in the conference semi final after upsetting the 3 seed in the tournament.

They never backed down against IUPUI in what was a close game almost the entire time.  There was a moment when Mikaela Shaw hit a three to put the Mavericks at 57 points and ahead by 9 points, which was finally the defining moment to put the Mavericks ahead for sure, and the smile on Shaw’s face really was an accumulation of all the moments of where this team envisioned themselves to finally be after the entire transition period. With a win in the damn post season.

This team could seriously be in the top 3 in the conference next season.  I ignorantly say this as I am not sure what other teams have coming in; but they only graduate one player and have a former Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention player to add, along with some other fine pieces.  The team they are playing today, only graduates two players and returns 4 players that score in double figures…so this game this afternoon could be a trailer for what could become the conference championship next season.

 

A sore IUPUI-North Dakota State Summit tourney preview

IUPUI and North Dakota State make for the most even match up for the first round, and it may not even be an entertaining game.  Well, it will be entertaining from the aspect of it probably being a close game for 39 straight minutes, but not so entertaining that there will be a load of missed shots, probably some pretty bad calls by the referees.  Really, what else do you expect out of a 4 versus 5 game?  It’s like watching a movie where there is a good story and plot line in place, but all of the protagonists keep doing dumb mistakes to have you screaming “DON’T SHOOT THAT GUY, IT’S GOING TO CAUSE A LOT OF PROBLEMS…WHY DID YOU SHOOT THAT GUY!!!”

Both of these teams faced some injury issues in the last month.  The Bison were without their leading scorer, Paul Miller*, for 6 straight games in February.  The Bison lost 4 of their last 6 games, and Miller made it back for the last game of the season against Denver and went 1-of-9 from the floor in an 11 point loss.

*Miller averaged 15.9 ppg (8th in SL),  42 FG%, 41.8 3ptFG% (9th in SL), and 4.9 rpg)

The Jaguars were without their starting forward, Evan Hall**, for 7 straight games from late January to mid February.  They were also missing their top guard off the bench, Jordan Pickett***, for two games against Omaha and North Dakota State in February.  Pickett scored 20 points off the bench for the Jaguars and hit the game winning shot against the Bison the first time these two teams played.  IUPUI lost 5 of the last 7 games, with the injuries, and the early success in conference for both of these teams, makes them both tough outs in the conference tournament.

**Hall averaged 5.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 52 FG%

***Pickett averaged 9.5 ppg, 39 fg%, 83 FT% (5th in SL)

Both of these teams appear to have all of their major players back for this game, and both of these teams were healthy enough to have all of their key players in their first game; and that game ended in a three point made field goal by Pickett, and then a 75 footer that just missed by Paul Miller.

The teams seem just about even, but IUPUI should have the slight edge on North Dakota State.  The Jaguars are slightly deeper, have a slightly better core of post players, and are slightly better at defense.  IUPUI is 2nd in the conference in steals and are capable of disrupting the North Dakota State weave offense.

The Bison also have the worst free throw shooting in the conference, so in a close game when fouling becomes prominent at the end of the game, the Bison can lose their edge in a close game.  In their first game, IUPUI’s defense was able to force North Dakota State’s inbound passes to all of the worst free throw shooters for the Bison; and then the Jaguars were able to knock down shots to make the small comeback.

North Dakota State really cannot reasonably win this game if Paul Miller is back but not actually healthy.  If he’s in the game, but going 1-of-9, and not able to keep up with IUPUI’s transition offense; why wouldn’t it be better to just go with guards Kory Brown and Malik Clements more than Miller?  Brown averaged 12 points 7.2 rebounds in 6 games without Miller.  Clements, though, started the year off well and then really seemed to struggle as the year went on…which seems common for newcomers.  Seeing him in person in Omaha, made me feel like he was either injured or just not in great shape.  He appeared to struggle whenever Omaha would get out and run, and IUPUI likes to steal the ball and get out and run…maybe not as much as Omaha, but they like to play that way.  It actually made me kind of happy that he never committed to the Mavericks.

Anyway, the winner of this game will face the winner of IPFW & South Dakota…which will more than likely be IPFW, but obviously not guaranteed.  Both teams provide for a bad match up for IPFW in the second round, as they combined to go 3-1 over the regular season champion.  North Dakota State held IPFW to 46 points in Fargo, a team that averaged a shade over 80 points per game; and IUPUI swept the ‘Dons by a total of 5 points, but they were able to keep up offensively with IPFW by scoring 84 points in the first game and 80 in the second game.

 

 

A stale South Dakota-IPFW SL Tourney preview

Nothing gets you going like a good 1 versus 8 match up in conference tournaments.

So, I know I’ve said it a few times before, but South Dakota’s defense forces teams to take more threes than any other team in the Summit League…and also finished in 8th in defensive three point field goal percentage, so good for them.  Teams averaged taking 22 threes against the Coyotes.  Maybe it’s not that they force teams to take so many threes…maybe they are just giving wide open looks on threes, but still…

On the reverse: no team in the Summit League made or attempted more threes than IPFW.  The Mastodons made just a little more than 10 threes per game, and overall on the season, South Dakota State was 2nd in the Summit League in three point field goals with 93 less total threes than IPFW.  IPFW’s 10.3 threes per game is 6th in division 1.  The ‘Dons also led the conference in three point field goal percentage.  Aside from this, they also lead the conference in rebounding.

In the first meeting between the Coyotes and Mastodons, IPFW shot 9-of-26 from behind the arch.  The team overall also shot 52% from the floor, and four ‘Dons scored in double figures.  The ‘Dons won this game by 20 points, but it was a much different game than what will be played in the Summit League tournament.  Mo Evans is no longer eligible to play and he had 20 points and 9 assists in that game.  Tyler Flack for South Dakota was still not playing at 100% after coming back from sitting out the previous season with an injury; and also Shy McClelland was the only player for the Coyotes to score in double figures, and he has since quit the team.

In their second meeting, in Vermillion, Tyler Flack was becoming more comfortable coming off a couple double digit scoring games, Mo Evans was off of IPFW, and this was going to be South Dakota’s first game without Shy McClelland.  McClelland was a scoring threat for South Dakota, averaging 11.5 points per game, but he shot 51% from the free throw line and did not attempt many threes for South Dakota.  The Coyotes had senior Trey Norris to take the starter role, who had experience starting for South Dakota, but the team would still be left without some depth at the guard position.  Since McClelland left the team, Norris has averaged 12.5 points per game and the Coyotes were 4-4 without McClelland…granted one of those wins was over York, but they beat North Dakota State, Oral Roberts, and IUPUI.  Norris is also an 80% free throw shooter, so you kind of have to ask why Craig Smith wasn’t starting him over McClelland before.

So, in their second meeting, IPFW shot 20-of-36 on three point field goals, and Max Landis made 11 of those threes to help him get 44 points for himself.  IPFW won the game by 13 on the road.  Juco transfer, DeAngelo Stewart scored 17 points off the bench for the ‘Dons, and he probably does not get enough credit, along with senior Michael Calder, in how the ‘Dons have been able to remain successful after the loss of Mo Evans.  Hard to throw credit around at IPFW when Max Landis is more than likely going to be the Summit League player of the year.  Also, freshman John Konchar is a candidate for newcomer of the year averaging nearly 13 points and 9 rebounds per game.  Konchar also had a double-double in each game against South Dakota.  He had 15 points and 10 rebounds in his first game against South Dakota, and then 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists in the second game at South Dakota.

South Dakota can play big against IPFW with Tyler Flack healthy and 6’8″ Eric Robertson at center.  They also have a couple 6’9″ freshmen to come off the bench to back them up.  IPFW can match that really, but with all the threes that South Dakota allows IPFW to make…does it really matter if South Dakota plays big?

The Coyotes have 2 advantages in the first round of the Summit League tournament.
1. This is basically a home game for them…but they let Max Landis go for 44 points when they played in Vermillion against IPFW.

2. Max Landis has played 40 minutes in each of the last 5 games, granted it really does not seem to matter, but it is wearing Landis down a little.  He’s shooting 38% from three in the last 6 games as opposed to his 46% from three on the season.  And really, even if you just contain Landis; Konchar shoots 45% on threes; DeAngelo Stewart shoots 42%; Michael Calder shoots 39%; and Joe Reed shoots 34% on threes.  IPFW’s team three point field goal percentage is 6th in division 1.

Still, you would think IPFW would really like to get a big lead so they can rest Landis as they have IUPUI or North Dakota State in the second round if they win…and IPFW was a combined 1-3 against the Jaguars and Bison.

The game is a bad match up for South Dakota, but really how many 8 versus 1 seeds are great match ups for the 8 seed?

Summit League predictions: Feb 17-21

5-3 last week, but I love it when Omaha proves me wrong.  I don’t like it when Western Illinois proves me wrong.  This is a big week for seeding in the conference tournament.  IPFW meets South Dakota State and Omaha, who are all in a fight for 1st (and 2nd) place.  Denver has match ups against Oral Roberts and South Dakota, who are all in a fight for 6th, 7th, and 8th.  North Dakota State and IUPUI will also meet on Saturday, which should be a preview of the 4 versus 5 match up in the conference tournament.

So with all of the intensity in these last 2 weeks, I have absolute confidence of picking at 1-7 this week.

February 17th

Omaha (9-4) @ IUPUI (7-5) on ESPN3

Something that scares me is that road teams in the Summit League games are now 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference play…this includes the Mavericks losing at Western Illinois on a Wednesday.  The Jaguars are also 4-1 in conference play at home.  I think I said that they were undefeated at home in conference play on Monday…my bad.  It’s actually kind of amazing that IUPUI is better at home, it’s not like they have a huge home court advantage with a hopping crowd when averaging an attendance of about 1,000 people.

The Mavs won the earlier match up in Omaha, but it was not exactly a dominating performance.  IUPUI’s size is scary for UNO that they should be able to out rebound and crash the offensive boards and not let UNO run out in transition and get a number of easy baskets.  I say that somewhat blindly as IUPUI is 7th in the Summit in rebounds per game, but the Jaguars did have 15 offensive rebounds in Omaha.

The Mavs have to really watch out for Matt O’Leary.  He’s second on the roster for IUPUI in scoring and tied to lead the team in assists.  He plays efficiently, and at 6’8″, he might be the best big man in the Summit League at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket.  He can also step out and hit the three.  Matt Osborne’s game seems a little similar to Mike Rostampour as well, and the Jaguars have him coming off the bench; Mavs may have trouble crashing the boards with both Osborne and O’Leary on the court at the same time so Daniel Meyer and Randy Reed need to play smart in this game.

There is a part of me that is just going with the Jags in hopes to reverse jinx the Mavericks into a win.  I’m not sure if that is how jinxes work, but damn it, the science is not all there on jinxes.

I’m not sure if IUPUI’s Evan Hall will play or not.  He’s a 6’7″ freshman that averages 5 points and 4 rebounds, and he has missed the last 6 games.  I heard he was out with concussion symptoms, but that was from ESPN3 commentators who routinely get stuff wrong.  Anyway, the Jaguars are 3-3 in the last 6 games without him, and their three wins were by a total of 5 points.  They also lost earlier in the season to Missouri and Creighton when he missed two games.

Western Illinois (2-10) @ North Dakota State (6-6)

North Dakota State won by 13 in Macomb, and Western Illinois is not greatly equipped to stop the weave offense of North Dakota State; but this game could be closer than the 13 that the Leathernecks lost by earlier in the year.  The Leathernecks should actually have a shot in this game if NDSU’s leading scorer, Paul Miller, misses his fourth straight game.  Another sort of scary thing for the Bison is that they are in Oh Crap, Let’s Just Make it to March Without Anymore Injuries mode and Western Illinois is in Playoff Mode.  Western Illinois could be playing for a lot more right now.

Oh yeah, Summit League road teams are 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference. This is the last Wednesday night in the Summit League.

This Bison are pretty much a lock to finish in 4th or 5th and facing up against IUPUI in the first round of the conference tournament, which is a really even match up.

York @ South Dakota (4-9)

Wait… York?

Feburary 18th

South Dakota State (9-3) @ IPFW (9-3)

This could be really big.  The Mastodons really have no one to stop Mike Daum.  Brent Calhoun is not fast enough to guard him.  John Konchar is too small to guard him.  Joe Reed is also someone who is too slow to stop him, but probably has the best shot out of all the ‘Dons to do it.  Daum could really big the big difference in this game.  You could tell Omaha was deeply concerned with not letting Daum get the ball in the 2nd half last week.  The ‘Dons are going to need another 30+ point performance from Max Landis to come out on top  in this game, but does he have enough steam left in him after all the minutes he has played?

Landis has averaged 39 minutes a game in the last 10 games; and while he has had a few awesome performances in that stretch, he has had some duds in those 10 games.  He did come out as the player of the week the last time IPFW faced South Dakota State and Omaha in the same week; but this reminds me of when Greg McDermott played the crap out of Antoine Young in his junior year because they had no back up point guard, and Young could barely finish the season.

February 19th

Denver (5-8) @ Oral Roberts (5-8) on ESPN3

Did you know Denver made 20 threes in a loss against IPFW on Saturday?  They are not likely to repeat that sort of production, but Oral Roberts is not a great defensive team to play up against Denver’s constantly moving offense.  Oral Roberts is a team that can really take advantage of all of Denver’s turnovers…and by Oral Roberts, I mean Obi Emegano.  Denver leads the league with the most turnovers, which is actually kind of sad given how they have the fewest possessions in the conference.

Denver won the first meeting between these two teams by one point in Denver, but Obi Emegano was not playing in the game.

February 20th

South Dakota State (9-3) @ Western Illinois (2-10) on ESPN3

Oh, Western Illinois is the team to have North Dakota State and South Dakota State in the same week.

Amazingly, South Dakota State only won by 2 points in Macomb last season; and SDSU is not as good of a road team this season…Western Illinois has something to ride into this game.  Western Illinois also only lost by 4 to South Dakota State in Brookings at the beginning of the conference season.  Wait, this doesn’t sound like the mismatch that it should be.

The Jackrabbits have won 11 straight meetings against the Leathernecks.  Oh, there it is.  South Dakota State could be in a tough game on Thursday night with IPFW, so maybe they might not have enough left in them to go up against Western Illinois this week.  I thought the same thing when North Dakota State were traveling to IPFW and Western Illinois in the same week, so I don’t want to get burned on Western Illinois again…this is what it landing on red 12 times in a row in roulette does to a man.

IUPUI (7-5) @ North Dakota State (6-6) on ESPN3

The last meeting between these two teams was fun to watch.  IUPUI has really struggled to score on the road since then.  The Jaguars could really have the edge again if Paul Miller misses this game again.

Omaha (9-4) @ IPFW (9-3)

If it was not for a huge mistake on offense at the end of regulation in Omaha, the Mavericks would have had the comeback win against the Mastodons.  The dream is that IPFW will get into a long drawn out exhausting game with South Dakota State on Thursday and really tire out the legs of Max Landis, and then have to face the Mavericks who will have an extra day of rest.

Landis was almost impossible to stop in Omaha, going for 37 points.  Someone like Devin Patterson has responded well to defending someone after they’ve had a huge game like that against the Mavericks.  The Mavericks also appear to play better under pressure…I feel like all the double digit comebacks should be enough to explain that.

Anyway, IPFW has one of their biggest weeks of the season.  They could take control of 1st place in the conference, or they could lock them selves into 3rd, or they could keep it at a three way tie at the top of the Summit League.  Man, I dislike IPFW.  Jon Coffman really loves this basketball program, and seems like a guy to not let his team drop 2 games at home in the same week.  He reminds of me of the guy that parks his 88 Toyota Celica in the back of the mall parking lot so no one door dings it, even though the bumper is covered in rust.

Denver (5-8) @ South Dakota (4-8)

South Dakota’s back court is not deep enough or quick enough to match up against all the guards of Denver.  Denver embarrassed South Dakota a few weeks ago in Denver, and the Pioneers have shown that they can play in Vermillion by beating the Coyotes by 18 last season there.

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Feb 15

I’d like to thank all of the President’s who made the ultimate sacrifice to give me the day off of work today.

There are only two weeks left of the regular season for Summit League basketball.  IPFW, Omaha, and South Dakota State are in a race for the top two spots in the Summit League tournament; which is important because the two top spots play on Saturday, but then not Sunday if they can pick up a win on the first day.  Obviously, teams would like to play 3 out of 4 days instead of 3 days in a row.

Fun idea for a trip:  If Omaha were to be a 3 seed, you could travel to Minneapolis and laugh at the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves, and then head to Sioux Falls on Saturday to see the Summit League tournament.

1. South Dakota State

Last Week:  1

Remaining opponents conference record:  22-27

Mike Daum will have Mav fans cursing his name for the next few years.  DAUM! DAUM! DAUM YOU!  Another player South Dakota State has that Omaha went after in high school was Reed Tellinguisen.  Tellinghuisen would look really good on the Mavs, and he looks alright on South Dakota State, but he cannot guard stretch 4s, and mainly Tre’Shawn Thurman.  The amount of fear of on his face whenever Thurman got the ball on the low block was equivalent to when my parent’s dog becomes terrified by the sound of a hammer.

2. IPFW

Last week: 2

Remaining opponents conference record: 27-22

Omaha just had one of their most important weeks since transitioning to division one, and now IPFW is going to have a really important week themselves.  IPFW is about to have South Dakota State come to Fort Wayne on Thursday, and then Omaha come to town on Saturday.  Of the three top teams in the Summit League, IPFW is the least deep team thanks to Mo Evans no longer being eligible.

No player in the league has played more 40+ minute games than Max Landis, and the last two games the ‘Dons were really only been able to go with a 6 man rotation.  No team needs a top 2 finish more than the Mastodons.

3. Omaha

Last week: 4

Remaining opponents conference record:  21-16

Two huge wins for the Mavs last week.  I seriously hope that Western Illinois and Denver week does not come back to haunt them.  Obviously, you want the Mavericks to finish 1st, but 2nd is also pretty important, because that means the Mavericks could get a day off in the Summit League tournament (assuming they win the first game) and not have to play 3 days in a row.  Some of the Mavs looked pretty tired against North Dakota State.

I really do not think Jake White gets enough credit for what he has done on this team.  His shot has become so much better throughout the season, he is incredibly clutch, and there are really not many players in the league that can guard him.  NDSU’s Chris Kading seems to be the best equipped for it, but the Bison needed to have him guard Thurman down the stretch…which allowed for Jake White to go off in the second half over the shorter AJ Jacobson and Dexter Werner.

By the way, one of my keys for the Mavs to have a successful season was for Jake White to improve his field goal percentage and get up around 45%.  He’s shooting 57% from the field!  Now if only referees weren’t out to get him.

4. North Dakota State

Last week: 3

Remaining opponents conference record:  31-26

Okay, I know it gets a little dicey after the top 3 right now.  The Bison have dropped two in a row, but they still have wins over South Dakota State and IPFW on the season.  They are a scary team with Paul Miller on the court, but it would be extremely difficult for them to win one game in the Summit League tournament without him on the court.

I like David Richman, and I know that Chris Kading had some health concerns over the summer, but why did he not play Kading more against Omaha?  The interior of Omaha struggled to score with Kading on the court, granted Jake White was in foul trouble, but still.  NDSU’s best lineup was with Kading and Dexter Werner on the court, Omaha had difficulty scoring inside with the two of them on the court, but Richman insisted on going with Werner and AJ Jacobson as long as he could.  Is he not allowed to play all three of them at the same time?

5. IUPUI

Last week:  5th

Remaining opponents conference record:  28-22

I like the Jags, but the most they scored on their recent 3 game road trip was 58 points… The Jaguars have yet to lose a conference game at home, which is good for them because they have 3 of the last 4 at home…They only won their last two home games by a total of 3 points.

6. Denver

Last week:

Remaining opponents conference record:  15-23

The Pioneers have 2 of their last 3 on the road, and their offense makes them a dangerous team.  You know, that’s all I really want to say about Denver right now.  That’s all I really can say about the Pioneers before wanting to black out.

So, hey, Valentine’s Day was nice.  My wife doesn’t really care about Valentine’s Day, so that is pretty dope.  I made some spaghetti, but I threw in some mushrooms, zucchini, and scallops, and it was pretty tasty.  That was a side to the salmon we had, and I also made a pretty nice salad.  We each had our (current) favorite beers.  She had the Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, and I had the IRA from Zip Line.  That Zipe Line is pretty impressive.  You’re pretty jealous, right?  My Valentine’s Day was me drinking beer with my wife and us discussing how stupid Valentine’s Day is.

7. Oral Roberts

Last week: 8

Remaining opponents conference record:  23-15

The Golden Eagles only have one game this week and it is against Denver, which is really a game for them fighting over seeding in the Summit League tournament.  After that, Oral Roberts is at Omaha and South Dakota State.  Sounds fun.

Scott Sutton and Oral Roberts need to win their last three games just to finish at .500 in conference.  They have not finished below .500 since 2000-01.  The team doesn’t look like they are really “made for the future” right now either.

8. South Dakota

Last week: 7

Remaining opponents conference record:  14-23

The team lost their starting point guard, Shy McClelland, and a rarely used guard, Zach Dickerson, last week.  They are not an incredibly deep team in the back court, but they do have some depth in their front court.  Wasn’t South Dakota versus Oral Roberts one of the most anticipated preseason match ups for this conference?

9. Western Illinois

Last week: 9

Remaining opponents conference record:  27-21

They actually could still make the Summit League tournament.  Their last game against the season is against South Dakota, who is currently in the 8th spot.  Wait, so South Dakota versus Western Illinois might actually be important?  They could take advantage of North Dakota State not having Paul Miller on Wednesday, but if Miller is playing, let’s not kid ourselves… They also have South Dakota State, and now we’re all laughing and having a good time, but the Mav and IPFW fans are looking for God’s address to send him letters.  Actually, Western Illinois picking up a win at home against IPFW is not far fetched.