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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
“OBI EMEGANO:PLAYER OF THE YEAR! SCOTT SUTTON:14 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS! FIRST IN THE LEAGUE IN ATTENDANCE! GOLDEN EAGLES RULE!”
*flips off the crowd with both hands*
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.
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?
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.