I think it’s pretty pointless to create preseason rankings and predictions before the non conference schedule. They never really take transfers, junior college players, or freshmen into account. Just: This team has this returning, so screw it, we’ll pick them as number one. The non conference schedule is over now (well UNO has North Dakota at the end of the year), so maybe it’s time to start with some predictions?
There is not really a team that is far out ahead of the rest of the conference this year as compared to North Dakota State last year, or South Dakota State in 2012-2013. There is not a Nate Wolters caliber player really, or even a Taylor Braun. There isn’t really a large amount of great post players in the Summit this season, but there are a lot of great players at the wing position. So how do I think it could end up?
1. South Dakota State 9-5 RPI: 141
Before the year started, I thought that South Dakota State would be the best team in league. In my opinion, they have the league’s best post player Cody Larson, please don’t mistake me for thinking of him as the best post player in the league for me liking him as a person though. Between watching on tv and in person, I’ve only seen Cody Larson play in five games, and he was kind of a whiny guy when I saw him in person…granted who knows what Mike Rostampour was doing on the floor to get him in a bad mood. He sure is consistent though. He averaged 13 points per game, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists last season, and he is doing the exact same thing through 14 games this season.
At the beginning of the year I wrote out some random and awful notes about each team’s roster and miscellaneous stuff. My notes for SDSU: Best post player, 2 seniors, 5 juniors, best coach in the league, big team, lots of size, Wisconsin transfer (George Marshall)…
Any time you have a former SEC and a former Big 10 player on the same team in a conference like the Summit League, you’re going to have some success.
2. IPFW 7-6 RPI: 262
The Summit League picked IPFW to win the conference, and it makes a lot of sense. The Mastadons have size, experience, and really a good all around roster.
Steve Forbes missed 3 games due to an injury, but once he’s back to his regular Hulk like strength, the ‘dons will get on a roll going into conference play. He returned against Cal Poly and picked up 12 points on 4-12 shooting and only had 2 rebounds. He’s not going to stay at that poor shooting and that little amount of rebounds forever. When you first see Forbes you instantly make fun of him. How could that 300 pound guy run? Does IPFW have a football team? Then he starts posting up, and you realize it creates several problems for your teams post players. It can create a lot of fouls on your team trying to keep him out of the paint. Out of the 10 games that Forbes has played in, he has had 4 double-doubles, yeah one was against Michigan-Dearborn, but another was against Georgia Tech.
Alongside Forbes the ‘dons have Joe Reed at 6’8″ who is capable of getting 10 points a game. IPFW also has Isaiah McCray, Mo Evans, and Joe Edwards who all score in double figures. They have several weapons, it’s true.
Yet despite having a well balanced lineup, IPFW best win from an RPI stand point is over Miami (OH) at 297. The ‘dons do beat the teams they are supposed to beat, so when they’re picked to win the Summit, maybe they will win the conference they are supposed to win.
3. Denver 6-7 RPI: 228
The Pioneers don’t score a lot of points, they don’t rebound the ball very well, but they play the Princeton offense and they do it well. As a team the Pioneers shoot 49% from the field, 73% from the line, and 39% on threes, and they only turn the ball over 11 times a game. Sure their games may be boring and no they haven’t won consecutive games yet this year, but they’re a tough play. Only 3 of their losses have been rough. The Pioneers lost by one to undefeated Colorado State, by two to Bryant, by six to Stanford in Palo Alto, and by ten to ranked Northern Iowa.
Denver only has 2 seniors and 4 juniors, but they’re all good and all essential to the operation of the team. Senior wings Cam Griffin and Brett Olson lead the show and are enough for the Pioneers to pick up wins. The Pioneers don’t really have much size with only two players that are 6’7″ or taller, but you don’t really need much of a post game when you’re running the Princeton offense.
4. Oral Roberts 6-7 RPI: 210
Coming back the Summit League, Oral Roberts had a tough non conference schedule, but Oral Roberts has always been cool with that. They feel it makes them a better team by the time non conference comes, and that’s probably true. They were able to pick up a win against city rival Tulsa who is currently sitting at 61 in RPI.
Scott Sutton is a good coach, he’ll have his team ready. By the way when I started this I was mixing his name up with Sean Sutton…absolutely the wrong person to mix him up with. Scott Sutton is rumored for a job at a bigger conference school every year and it never happens. When ORU Athletic Director is contacted for a reference I find myself wondering if it’s like on The Office when Will Ferrell is giving Ed Helms a reference but is constantly referring to him as completely average. If you want someone to go above and beyond, then yes, he’s probably not your guy. Though if you want someone, who will do just enough to keep you happy, then yes Andy Bernard is the guy for you.
Oral Roberts is led by possibly the toughest 1-2 punch at the wing position in the Summit with junior wings Korey Billbury and Obi Emegano who lead the team in scoring and in rebounding. Again not much size to this team with only 3 players at 6’7″ or taller, but Oral Roberts has a good history in the Summit.
5. Omaha 6-6 RPI: 309
So clearly a blog called “Omavs Blog” is going to have more details on the Omaha Mavericks, but I’ll try to not talk about it too much because much of it has already been talked about. We thought the win over Marquette was the biggest non conference win by a Summit League team, and it’s the biggest name that a Summit League team beat, but Oral Roberts has the best RPI win with their win over Tulsa. Omaha also has the worst loss to Chicago State, and in my completely bias opinion, the Mavericks would’ve won that game with Devin Patterson and Jake White in the lineup. They’re both incredibly important to the team.
If the Mavs continue to have injury problems, they will not finish in the top half of the league, but that’s true with anyone really. There are still a lot of new faces for the Mavs and trying to figure out a rotation with Jake White and now Devin Patterson out of the lineup has created some issues of getting into a flow with the Mavericks. The Mavs have size and balance on their roster for the first time, they just need to get it all out on the court for once for a few consecutive games. The biggest problem for the Mavs is turnovers, too many damn turnovers.
6. North Dakota State 8-5 RPI: 232
Yeah I went there. I like North Dakota State, so it’s incredibly sad that I’m not entirely sold on them. They lost a lot from their conference championship team last year. Yes, they have the best player in the conference, Lawrence Alexander, and A.J. Jacobson is right up there with Tre’Shawn Thurman as contenders for Freshman of the Year, but they are quite young with only 3 upper classmen and have a new (but good) coach. They don’t shoot all that well as a team at 40%, but they only turn the ball over 10 times a game. NDSU also is quite big, their shortest player is only 6’2″.
There isn’t really a win that sticks out for the Bison as far as anything that should be shocking. The Bison are another team that win the games they are supposed to win. They did start the year out rough on the road against Texas and Iowa, losing both games by 30 plus. The Mavs are 0-4 against North Dakota State since joining the Summit League, but could this be the year Omaha picks up a win against the Bison, or at least not get embarrassed?
7. South Dakota 6-8 RPI: 284
Yes, I went there again. Several people were down on the Coyotes before the season started, with good reason, but 6-8 in non conference for South Dakota is far above anyone’s expectations. UNO beating Marquette was a big surprise for everyone, but South Dakota taking Creighton to two overtimes and only losing by 3? That’s the biggest surprise in the Summit League in my opinion.
It’s been kind of a running theme that many of the teams around the conference are pretty young, but everyone in South Dakota’s rotation is a junior or senior, and they can shoot. I probably sound like I am in love with experience or something, but in a conference like the Summit League, experience matters. There was always that high school team that was never really had that great of a roster, but they were loaded with seniors, and those teams can surprise someone from time to time for an upset.
Has anyone noticed that 6’3″ Tyler Larson is averaging 16 points per game and 8 rebounds per game? He’s also leading his team in assists with 3.6 per game. Any team in the Summit would kill for that production.
8. Western Illinois 5-6 RPI: 323
Garret Covington is a great player, but there is not much else going on with the Leathernecks. As a team they only shoot 32% on threes, and 40% from the floor. Ouch. They have 5 wins, but two of them are against Anderson and Greenville, you probably haven’t heard of them… Another two of their wins were only by three points at home.
Junior College transfer JC Fuller has shown some promise and is starting to show some consistency scoring in double figures in their last 4 non conference games. Fuller, to some extent, had some interest from Omaha.
9. IUPUI 4-10 RPI: 293
Honestly, I’m surprised the Jaguars have four wins. They don’t score many points, in fact, their leading scorer Marcellus Barksdale only averages 8.4 points per game. They also don’t rebound that well, or shoot that well at 40% from the field. Let’s just say this isn’t going to be their year.
But looking ahead, they have a brand new arena, and have you seen the dorms at IUPUI? It’s like living in a 5 star hotel. Matt O’Leary, Nick Osborne, Darell Combs, and Jordan Pickett are all sitting out due to transfer, and they’re all guys that would help this team out this year. When you have a pretty young roster getting playing time and learning to play together, and then the next year you throw in some guys that have played and sat out a year to basically practice, you’re going to improve quickly when those transfer players get eligible next season.
All Summit League First Team
C Steve Forbes SR IPFW
F Cody Larson SR South Dakota State
G Tyler Larson SR South Dakota
G Lawrence Alexander SR North Dakota State
G Devin Patterson JR Omaha
All Summit League Second Team (Alphabetical Order)
G Korey Billbury JR Oral Roberts
G CJ Carter SR Omaha
G Garret Covington SO Western Illinois
G Obi Emegano JR Oral Roberts
G Cam Griffin SR Denver
All Freshmen Team
G Aaron Brennan IUPUI
F A.J. Jacobson North Dakota State
G Paul Miller North Dakota State
G Reed Tellinghuisen South Dakota State
F Tre’Shawn Thurman Omaha