My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 24

Like I’ve said, and still maintain, there is not a huge amount of difference in the Summit League from top to bottom, so we could just say North Dakota State is number one and everyone else is tied for 2nd.

It is my birthday, so the Mavericks are going to be in 2nd this week.  Deal with it.

1. North Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 3rd

The Bison have a RPI ranking of 77 right now, they shot 13-of-16 on threes at Western Illinois over the weekend, and we are currently trying to figure out what the hell went so wrong in Denver.

I would check LetsGoDU, but it’s just going to talk about how the Pioneers should be in the Sun Belt.

2. Omaha

Last week’s ranking: 4th

Today is my birthday, so I am allowed to let my bias side show.  They were embarrassed in Tulsa, but a lot of that was just letting themselves embarrass themselves with: Marcus Tyus getting in early foul trouble, Tre’Shawn Thurman picking up the most untimely technical foul possible, and turning the ball over at least 10 times just by just dropping the ball right out of bounce unguarded.

These are things that can be fixed.  The biggest issue with this team appears to be rebounding, and especially giving up offensive rebounds.  It seems like too glorious of an event when you see Mitch Hahn, Daniel Meyer, or Zach Pirog beat a guy out for position to take away a rebound.

Omaha has lost the 2nd chance points battle in every conference game, except for their win to Denver…and I think Denver missed three shots the whole game.

Now, I’m just going to throw out a few things to make me feel better about this.

The Mavericks and the Bison are the only two teams in the Summit to have multiple conference road wins.  They also have the two best three point field goal percentages in conference play.  The Mavericks have also led conference play in steals per game.  They also have had the most turnovers, but have the highest pace and have more possessions from all the steals.

For other Summit League fans claiming Omaha is atrocious at defense; the Mavericks are 6th in defensive field goal percentage in front of Fort Wayne, IUPUI, and Oral Roberts.  They are also second in three point field goal percentage, and they are also in second in forced turnovers per game.

3. Fort Wayne

Last week’s ranking: 2nd

The ‘Dons have dropped three in a row, and it’s a little understandable since they’ve all been on the road.  None of their wins have been dominating in anyway, and they even got Dauminated last week.  Typing that hurt me to the core.  The ‘Dons haven’t actually been beaten badly in any of their losses, but they are 3-4 and many people thought they were going to win 13 to 14 conference games this season.

Their next two of three games are on the road, and the one home game is against IUPUI who swept the ‘Dons last season.

4. South Dakota

Last week’s ranking: 1st

They’re a little thin in the post with Tyler Flack out, and that was one of my fears with picking them last week against Oral Roberts.

A week at home against Western Illinois and Denver should be nice.

5. Denver

Last week’s ranking: 5th

I don’t like getting mean, well, it’s cool if it’s Denver; but isn’t Joe Rosga the least interesting of all the Summit League Super Sophomores?  Probably the worst defender out of all of them as well.

Welp, this has been fun.

6. IUPUI

Last week’s ranking: 6th

There was a point last year, where I found it difficult to figure out what kind of team the Jaguars were, and I feel that I have gotten there again this season.  They are not as tough and scrappy as they were last season on defense, and if they don’t get out in transition on offense, there appears to be a lot of just standing around.  There seems to be a lot jump shooting and hoping to God that they can grab the offensive rebound for easy put backs.  They lead the conference in offensive rebounds, so I guess it kind of works.  With 2-of-13 shooting from Darell Combs against Denver, and only grabbing 8 offensive rebounds as a team, that strategy did not work…

7. Oral Roberts

Last week’s ranking: 8th

The Golden Eagles are continuing to improve week after week.  In life after Obi Emegano, players are becoming more comfortable and confident with their shot selection.  In conference play, the Golden Eagles have the second best field goal percentage behind Denver, and they have had the best free throw percentage.  The Golden Eagles have also had the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference.

Albert Owens has scored 20 or more points in six consecutive games. Sophomore Kris Martin has also scored 20 or more points in five of the team’s seven conference games.  This young team has weapons, and if they continue to be consistent and find more confidence, they could potentially ruin the Summit League tournament for a top team.  Freshman Emmanuel Nzekwesi has also scored in double figures in each of the team’s conference wins.

8. South Dakota State

Last week’s ranking: 9th

The Jackrabbits’ five conference losses came by an average of 7 points per loss.  They’re not far away from turning this around.  They were able to hold Fort Wayne’s great three point shooting to 7-of-21 on Saturday.  Not sure if that is a sign of improvement on their perimeter defense, or just a consequence of Fort Wayne being run down from playing a competitive game against North Dakota State on Thursday.

The Jackrabbits actually have the second best defensive three point field goal percentage in conference play.  I just the poor perimeter defense talk on their fans being in complete panic mode in their fan forum online, and how easy it appears for opposing guards to penetrate and get in the lane against South Dakota State.

The Jackrabbits did also play a competitive game on Wednesday against IUPUI, and the last 3 minutes of that was probably the most frustrating chunk of basketball for any Jackrabbit or Jaguar fan.  Each team kept making shots in the last minute with plenty of time on the shot clock for the other to do something.

The Jackrabbits do appear be getting their rotation sorted out, and setting up an inside-outside game between Mike Daum and Michael Orris.

9. Western Illinois

Last week’s ranking: 7th

After winning their first 3 out of 4 conference games, the Leathernecks have dropped three in a row and have shot less than 40 percent in all three losses.

It’s good to see the Leathernecks are back.

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Summit League predictions: Jan 11-14

I was 6-2 last week, and 5-3 the week before.  That’s 11-5.  I’m good enough for a 3 seed in the conference tournament.

January 11th

Omaha (1-3) @ IUPUI (1-3) on ESPN3

The Jaguars are 5-0 at home so far this season, and last time at home they defeated Western Illinois by 18.  Last year in Indianapolis, the Mavericks couldn’t do anything to stop the Jaguars offense, and let them shoot 56 percent in that loss.  Expect the same this time, as the Mavericks have been bad on defense lately and IUPUI has shot at least in the high 40s in every home game.

Derrin Hansen made a point that a key to the game is that the Mavericks can rebound and not give IUPUI second chance opportunities.  In the last 3 games, the Jaguars averaged a +6.7 rebound margin.  The Mavericks in the last 4 games, averaged a -4 rebound margin.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ South Dakota (3-1) on ESPN3

This game is going to be all defense.  While it is early in the conference season, these two teams have the best defensive field goal percentage in conference games.  They also average the least amount of turnovers overall on the year among Summit League teams.

The Coyotes will be without one of their best post players, Tyler Flack, until February, but Norfolk native Tyler Hagedorn helped fill the void on Saturday with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a win over IUPUI.

The Coyotes will be able to defend the Bison guards and cause frustrations in the Bison offense enough to guide South Dakota to another home win.  The Coyotes are 8-0 at home this season.

The Bison lost by 14 in Vermillion last season, and that wasn’t your older cousin’s South Dakota team.  The Bison were also playing without their leading scorer at the time, Paul Miller.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Denver (1-2)

Western Illinois was able to win in Denver last season, who was playing without Joe Rosga at the time and CJ Bobbitt was limited to just 8 minutes in that game.  Expect Denver to be out for some revenge, and not to take Western Illinois lightly.

January 12th 

South Dakota State (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-3) on ESPN3

Oral Roberts just almost prevented the Jackrabbits from making the NCAA Tournament last season, just almost.  South Dakota State was able to escape the upset with every Jackrabbit playing poorly, except for Mike Daum.  Daum averaged 20.3 points and 7 rebounds against the Golden Eagles and can still have a huge game in Tulsa again this season.

The Jackrabbits mixed things up with their lineups and were able to get things going toward the end of the game against Omaha.  Oral Roberts has actually not been that bad for a 4-13 team.  They won each of their last two non-conference games, only lost to Creighton by 1, and had a rough start to conference play with three straight road games.  That home court is going to feel nice to Oral Roberts.

I went back and forth on who should win this game.  This game should be close throughout the entire duration of the game, with the winner escaping by winning on free throws toward the end of the game.  Both teams shoot above 70 percent at the free throw line.

January 14

Fort Wayne (3-1) @ South Dakota (3-1)

It’s almost a crime that this game wont have an ESPN3 broadcast.

Fort Wayne, one of the better three point shooting teams in the nation is going to go up against a team that allows teams to shoot more than 20 threes per game.  South Dakota is good at actually getting a hand in the face of shooters, but Fort Wayne can really move the ball around for the open shot.

Coming off of a defensive battle against North Dakota State, and having one of the best players out, South Dakota may not be able to last against Fort Wayne who will have an entire week of rest.  Fort Wayne leads the nation in three point field goal percentage, but South Dakota has the third best defensive three point field goal percentage in the conference.  The Coyotes have had the best defensive three point field goal percentage over the last 4 games.

With Tyler Flack out, the Mastodons should have a decent enough advantage in the post with Brent Calhoun, Xzavier Taylor, and John Konchar to take control of the game.  As good of a three point shooting team as the ‘Dons are, they aren’t too shabby at getting the ball down low.  The ‘Dons are also 16th in D1 in 2 point field goal percentage.

IUPUI (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-2) on ESPN3

IUPUI has a good enough defense to keep the inconsistent players of Oral Roberts off their game.

Alberts Owens is not quick enough to defend Matt O’Leary who is capable of scoring anywhere on the court, and none of the guards for Oral Roberts are great enough defensive players to slow down Darell Combs who is averaging 22.7 points per game so far in conference play so far.

As good as playing at home again might be for Oral Roberts, they don’t have the depth to win 2 games in three days.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ Denver (1-2)

Denver on the road is a bad match up for the Bison, but this is not the same type of game that it was a year ago when both team’s offenses worked down the shot clock on every possession to get the best shot.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Omaha (1-3)

It’s a good thing the Leathernecks are one of the worst teams in the conference at taking the ball away and creating possessions for themselves, since the Mavericks have averaged 15 turnovers (ouch) to 11 assists (ouch) a game since entering Summit League play.

Still, the Leathernecks have started out conference play hot, and the Mavericks have not.  Derrin Hansen did mention that the Mavericks have been practicing better lately, and offensively they did look pretty good in the last two games.  The hope is that the Mavericks are still bitter about their loss to the Leathernecks last season, which helped prevent them from getting a top two spot in the conference tournament, so hopefully they can come out playing at a high level and build up a lead.

Travel this week could be an issue for the Leathernecks who will be coming to Omaha after a road game at Denver.

It’s always the random guys that show up for Western Illinois to beat the Mavericks.

Last year, Mike Miklusak was averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds a game, but beat up the Mavericks 14 points and 11 rebounds in the Mavericks’ loss in Macomb.

Tate Stensgaard was basically playing with no one defending him when he scored 26 on 13-of-15 shooting and had 7 rebounds in Baxter Arena.  He ended up averaging 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.  Stensgaard The Mavericks had to come back from a 16 point lead to win that game.

In a loss to the Leathernecks 2 years ago, Jabari Sanidfer averaged 7.4 points on the season, but had 20 against the Mavericks.  Jamie Batish had 15 off the bench for the Leathernecks and averaged 6.4 points that year.

  • Also, a random note about Western Illinois.  Since losing Jabari Sandifer to a season ending injury, who is one of the most inconsistent players the Summit League has ever seen (or at least since Mav fans have paid attention), the Leathernecks have gone 3-1 and are 4-1 overall without him this season.

What I’m saying here is while the Mavericks are planning for Garret Covington, who is averaging 21.3 points, and Mike Miklusak, who is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds a game this season, they should really be worried most about this De’Angelo Bruster kid who averages 6 points a game.  He might have 30 points in Baxter Arena.

Thanks for reading.  I know low major weekly basketball predictions might not be super entertaining, but this time of year after college football has ended, it’s this or you have the Mel Kiper Season of just analyzing the 2025 NFL Draft.

 

Summit League predictions: Dec 28-31

I am sick on vacation, I am 2 hours behind in Oregon, and my in-laws are nuts.  Hopefully, this will make some sense.  It’s hard to pick between many of these teams because the non-conference schedule can have so many out liars, with some teams hardly playing any competition in November and December and Oral Roberts and Omaha having tougher schedules.

Oral Roberts strength of schedule RPI is currently ranked 10th in division one, and Omaha’s is ranked 88th.

December 28th

North Dakota State @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

Normally, I would probably just go with the home team in this match up.  The Jackrabbits have been pretty lackluster on defense this season, and the Bison weave offense will frustrate the Jackrabbits the entire game.  The Jackrabbits have appeared to get better and better as their team gets more time to gel together, but it seems to take a while for them to get into a rhythm each game.  If the Bison have a decent enough lead late in the game, their style of play will limit the amount of possessions that South Dakota State has to get back into the game.

The Bison may or may not have anyone who can stop Mike Daum, but who does?  Perhaps Dexter Werner and Deng Geu can give him different defensive looks for 40 minutes to bother him enough to get him just a little bit off of him game.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

This is actually kind of a good match up.  Daniel Amigo head-to-head with AJ Owens could be fun.  Jalen Bradley head-to-head with Joe Rosga should be fun.  Emmanuel Nzekwesi head-to-head with CJ Bobbit can be good.  Denver does have a bit more depth than Oral Roberts, and can run the Golden Eagles out of Denver.

Oral Roberts played the toughest non-conference schedule out of all the Summit League teams, so playing the Pioneers may seem like nothing to them.  However, the Golden Eagles are not a great defensive team, and the Pioneers have shown to be a solid team offensively.

December 29th

Western Illinois @ Fort Wayne

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Omaha @ South Dakota on ESPN3

The Coyotes are 6-0 at home.  Omaha has won in Vermillion two straight years, and swept South Dakota last season.

The Mavericks will be one of the deepest teams the Coyotes have faced at home, and while the Coyotes will be able to force Omaha to outside shots, that wont bother them too much now.  If the three point shooters for Omaha can knock down shots, they should be having a good night.  That Thurman-Hahn-Gibson-Tyus-Hollins lineup should create some points and start a good run of the Mavericks.

December 31st

Western Illinois @ IUPUI on ESPN3

It has to be pretty difficult to be the road team on a day like New Year’s Eve for college students.  The game is noon, though, so maybe Western Illinois will just be excited to get out of Indianapolis as soon as possible to head back to Macomb.

South Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

The Jackrabbits opening up the Summit League with two straight home losses…have I gone mad?

This game is incredibly important to both teams, but the Coyotes have been thinking of this game far longer than the Jackrabbits.  I mean, probably, right?

South Dakota has shown to be good enough at defense to keep themselves in games.

The Coyotes really don’t have anyone who can keep up with Mike Daum, and especially for 40 minutes.  Daum may have 40 points in this game, but maybe only one other guy can crack double figures.

The Coyotes may just let Mike Daum try to beat them on his own, which is a strategy other teams have gone with and been successful with.

Oral Roberts @ Fort Wayne 

What a rough start to the conference for Oral Roberts, travel wise.  They start out at Denver, and then head to Fort Wayne to play the Mastodons after the Mastodons pretty much get an open practice against Western Illinois.

Omaha @ North Dakota State

The Bison could be seeking a little revenge after Omaha came in last season and ended North Dakota State’s home winning streak.  The Bison are one of the better defensive teams in the Summit League this season, and their style of play is one that has bothered the Mavericks over the last couple of seasons.

Omaha did sweep the Bison last season, but if you recall: The Bison were playing without their leading scorer, Paul Miller, in Omaha and AJ Jacobson was in foul trouble for most of the game.

The Tre’Shawn Thurman versus AJ Jacobson has been fun to watch over the last couple of years, but the match up to see this year could be Zach Jackson versus Paul Miller.

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Dec 8

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

1. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons beat Indiana.  Don’t you remember?

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

2. Omaha

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

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

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

3. North Dakota State

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

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

4. South Dakota

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

5. IUPUI

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

6. South Dakota State

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

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

7. Denver

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

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

8. Oral Roberts

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

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

9. Western Illinois

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

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

The Pioneers will have to migrate on

The Denver Pioneers were a missed free throw away from playing North Dakota State in the Summit League Championship, and Joe Scott was also maybe that close to not being let go by the Pioneers.

The Joe Scott firing was a little shocking, but it kind of makes sense.  With Denver Lacrosse, Hockey, and Soccer all being very extremely competitive programs; it makes sense that the expectations for the private university would be higher on the men’s basketball team.  It’s sort of like how I had incredibly low expectations for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because it was directed by the guy who made 300 and written by the guy that wrote all three Blade films…I guess it’s the same…  I know a few people that have migrated to Denver, and I’ve asked them if they ever go to Pioneer basketball games and usually the reason they don’t go is because the Pioneers were pretty boring to watch.

Rodney Billups, who you will always refer to as “Chauncey Billups’ brother” is offering a more up-tempo style of basketball in comparison to the Princeton offense that Joe Scott ran.  One has to wonder how long it will take for this to turn out to be successful for the Pioneers.

Billups has a great young core of players who appear like they could work out well for an up-tempo style of play.  By the way, it will be okay for Mav fans to accuse the Pioneers for being trendy in picking an up-tempo style.  It’s fine.  Freshman guard Joe Rosga finished the season averaging 12.7 points per game; freshman forward CJ Bobbitt finished with 8.4 points per game; and freshman guard Thomas Neff finished 6.0 points per game.  All three freshmen shot above 43% from the field.

The Princeton offense is all about taking the best shot available, so their players usually shoot high percentages.  The best shot isn’t always the most important thing in an up-tempo style of play, so soon the Pioneers as a whole may actually not lead the conference in field goal percentage for once.

The Pioneers are going to have a couple roster changes for Billups to move forward with this new brand of basketball.  They are losing two guys, Nate Engesser and Marcus Byrd, who averaged double digit scoring, but we’ve routinely seen this to not be a problem for Denver.  Both players were efficient scorers, and seemed to find themselves open quite a bit while playing in the Baxter Arena… I thought Byrd was one of the more underrated players in the Summit in 2016, he averaged 16.7 points over the last 8 games of the season.  He was probably the biggest reason the Pioneers did not finish 8th in the conference.

Denver will also lose their point guard, Bryant Rucker.  It is weird to call someone a point guard when they average 1.5 assists per game, but the Princeton offense is not an offense for point guards to rack up assists.  No one seems to know what is going on with the sophomore center Daniel Amigo who only played in 13 games this season for Denver, but he showed some promise in his freshman season.  It’s okay, the Pioneers have 6’6″ sophomore center Christian Mackey to haunt our dreams.  I swear that kid was allowed 15 fouls in the first round of the Summit League tournament.

The Pioneers have two high school seniors that have signed letters of intent: a 6’0″ and 145lb point guard from Arvada, Colorado…and a 6’6″ wing player from the state of Texas.  These players could change their minds and go elsewhere with Denver going a new route in coaching, but as of right now the Pioneers only have room for one more player to sign for next season.

Their roster is filled with wing players, so one would think they would love a junior college post player or point guard; or a 5th year transfer at either position.  Denver is not really known for landing transfers, but maybe the new style will call for it.

Drake’s Kale Abrahamson is leaving the Bulldogs and will be eligible immediately.  Abrahamson is originally from Des Moines, so it is not like he would be transferring back home.  He started his college career at Northwestern, so he clearly likes academics…Denver just seems like the perfect place for the 6’8″ player that could help Chauncey’s brother jump start his culture change in year one.  He shot a pretty low percentage from the field (39.1) in his one year at Drake, but Drake basketball seems like a cluster of poor choices right now.  I say this like it’s a mean thing, but I am all about the Summit League going all in on trying to steal Drake away from the Missouri Valley.  Just think about it…

It is hard for most coaches to see a high level of success in year one, especially when changing everything; but the Pioneers have the pieces to move forward.  They are most likely not going to end up winning the regular season, but by could have things figured out as a team by the time they start the conference tournament, again.  They will probably finish the regular season standings in 2016-2017 somewhere between 4th and 8th in the Summit League.  Now if only they would actually play someone in their non-conference schedule.

South Dakota State-Oral Roberts Summit Tourney preview

South Dakota State and Oral Roberts are playing in the first round of the Summit League tournament.  No one predicted this happening.  Seriously, Oral Roberts was picked to finish third in the conference by basically everyone, even though the evidence was stacked up against them finishing 3rd.  Preseason predictions are based mostly on what teams are returning versus what they lost, and a combination of just assuming the standings should finish about the same as last season.

Amazingly, Oral Roberts lost the 2nd most off their roster from last season in the conference and South Dakota lost the most; and now they are playing in the Summit League tournament as the 7 and 8 seeds.  Western Illinois actually returned most of their team, and they finished in 9th, and now have to watch the tournament in Macomb…which sounds like the worst possible fate.

Oral Roberts got here by the loss of key players, off season injuries to their two seniors, Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley, no team chemistry, and mistake after mistake by their freshmen players.  The Golden Eagles lost to South Dakota State over last weekend and there was a point where one of the freshmen on the team was passing the ball to a teammate and the ball flew over the player’s head and into the 15th row of fans.  Scott Sutton just put his head down in disbelief and disgust for about an entire minute.  It was the same look I got when I learned that there are white chocolate Reese’s peanut butter cups on the second day of my diet.  Or the same look when my brother saw my parents giving my niece a microphone that provided her with the opportunity to listen and sing along to the same 15 seconds of that Let it Go song from “Frozen” over and over again.  Sutton even sounded depressed at the conference media day, opposite of how IPFW’s Jon Coffman sounded.

This was the first season that Scott Sutton and Oral Roberts finished below .500 in conference play since 2001, and now he gets to start the Summit League tournament against South Dakota State in Sioux Falls.  The Jackrabbits swept Oral Roberts by 12 points in Tulsa and then by 8 points in Brookings, so maybe they will only win this one by 4.  I think that is how math works.

I really do not think that any coaches in the Summit League will be leaving their jobs, but if I had to pick two guys that would most likely leave their jobs, it would have to be the two coaches of this game.  Scott Sutton is about to die of stress on the sideline, so why not try and go die on the sideline of a team at a bigger program for a few years.  Scott Nagy is going to lose the bulk of his team’s offense, and might not even be favored to finish in the top half of the Summit League next season.  Seriously; IPFW, IUPUI, Omaha, and South Dakota all look to be better on paper at this point.  Anyway, Nagy seems like a career South Dakota State guy, but would he not at least want to show some interest if the TCU, LSU, or Minnesota became open jobs?

Anyway, this game…

I would like to say that maybe Oral Roberts can come out with a revenge factor, or thinking this game could be their big moment.  This team was swept by the top three teams in the league: IPFW, South Dakota State, and Omaha…but hey at least they swept Western Illinois.  Actually, they swept IUPUI too and it was weird.  This game really seems like it comes down to maturity versus immaturity.  South Dakota State rarely makes mistakes and Oral Roberts makes mistakes every other play.

Last week when they played, Oral Roberts need 22 points out of Obi Emegano and 15 out of Brandon Conley to just keep the game somewhat close.  Jake Bittle of South Dakota State went 0-of-4 from the floor, Deondre Parks got into a little bit of foul trouble, and the Jackrabbits were able to still find other guys to step up to shoot over 50% from the floor as a team.

In their first meeting, Emegano scored 20 points and the Golden Eagles got a combined 33 points from their two freshman Javan White and Kris Martin.  The Jackrabbits will also able to shoot over 50% from the floor in that game.  That’s the thing though: you know Obi Emegano can get 20 points, but you have no idea where the rest of the scoring is coming from game after game by his teammates.  Emegano has scored in double figures in 34 straight games.  The last time he didn’t reach double figures was when Oral Roberts lost by 29 at South Dakota State last season.

It’s rare that any of his teammates can string along double digit scoring performances game to game.  Conley did it once this season where he scored in double figures two games in a row; point guard Aaron Young and freshman Javan White each also once had 2 games in a row of double figure scoring.  Jalen Bradley had 4 games earlier in the season with 10+, and then another 2 games in a row later in the season.  Freshman Kris Martin did it three separate times of 2 games in a row, and sophomore center Albert Owens had 5 different streaks of scoring double digits.  Owens actually had a decent month of February averaging 13.2 points per game, but ended with 2 points against South Dakota State.  He also only scored 5 points against the Jackrabbits back in January, and it was almost impressive how bad he played.  It looked like when your friends play a pick up game of basketball and you only have 9 guys, but you find the one random guy in the gym who just got down working out, and he come out onto the court and stands at the top of the key and decides to shoot terrible looking jump shots with the ball feeling as small as a dog toy because he just got so swole from his work out.  The point is, this team struggles with consistency…which pretty much shows when they have a 7 game losing streak and a 5 game losing streak on the season.

South Dakota State does not struggle with consistency.  They have yet to lose in the state of South Dakota this season.  They have barely ever lost when they’ve had their three seniors Jake Bittle, George Marshall, and Deondre Parks in the line up at the same time.  The only core player on the team that struggled with consistency was sophomore Reed Tellinghuisen who was up and down this season with his shooting.  He finished the last 4 of 6 games in double figures and the two games he did not score at least 10, he combined for 0-of-6 from the field against South Dakota and Western Illinois for a total of 5 free throws.  He was one of the guys to step up when he was needed last week scoring 15 points on 4-of-6 from the floor and also grabbed 6 rebounds.  The point there is if any of Bittle, Marshall, or Parks struggle; the Jackrabbits have Tellinghuisen (9.2 ppg), Mike Daum (14.8 ppg), and Ian Theisen (6.1 ppg) to step up.  If Emegano and Conley struggle, Oral Roberts is putting 50 dollars down on a random number in Roulette.

South Dakota State should come out on top in this game, and they are probably favored to win the conference tournament, which should be a slap in the face to IPFW.  I have no idea how ESPN says a team has a certain percentage to win a game, so I will just randomly say South Dakota State has a 97% chance of winning this game.  97% sounds good.


 

The Men’s basketball awards should be coming out today or tomorrow.  If I had to throw out a guess on who gets picked…

Player of the Year: Max Landis, IPFW

Newcomer of the Year:  John Konchar, but is it possible to get a three way tie with him, Mike Daum, and Tra-Deon Hollins?

Defensive Player of the Year: Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha

Sixth Man of the Year: Mike Daum, South Dakota State

Coach of the Year: Derrin Hansen, Omaha

All Summit League Team

FIRST TEAM

Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts, Sr

Max Landis, IPFW, Sr

George Marshall, South Dakota State, Sr

Devin Patterson, Omaha, Sr

Deondre Parks, South Dakota State, Sr

Jake White, Omaha, Sr

SECOND TEAM

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Garret Covington*, Western Illinois, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

*I think Covington gets on the 2nd team, but I don’t think he deserves it.

HONORABLE MENTION

Kory Brown, North Dakota State, Sr

Nate Engesser, Denver, Sr

AJ Jacobson, North Dakota State, So

Paul Miller, North Dakota State, So

Tre’Shawn Thurman, Omaha, So

NEWCOMER

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

Joe Rosga, Denver, Fr

 

My trivial Summit League Rankings – Feb 8

What a weird week.  IUPUI and Omaha both lost to Denver, and most likely feel out of the race to hold first place in the Summit League.

1. South Dakota State

Last week: 1st

The Jackrabbits are really rolling right now with Jake Bittle back in the lineup, now winning 5 games in a row.  The Jacks do have the next 3 of 4 on the road, with their home game against their instate rival South Dakota.  Their crunch time lineup of Mike Daum-Reed Tellinghuisen-Jake Bittle-Deondre Parks-George Marshall could really go up against anyone in the country.

I have a serious question.  The Jacks are going to lose three double digit scorers, who should all at least make the Summit League 2nd team, and they will more than likely not be favored to win the conference next season…so should Scott Nagy finally move onto a job elsewhere if the opportunity rises?

2. IPFW

Last week: 2nd

Hey my theory of Max Landis’ legs getting tired as the season goes on looked to be true against North Dakota State on Saturday.  Landis came back down to earth going 2-of-10 from the floor.  Actually, the ‘Dons shot 28% from the field and only had 46 points against North Dakota State.  Without Mo Evans, and not really a bunch of depth off the bench, could the ‘Dons even legitimately play 3 straight games in Sioux Falls in the Summit League tournament?

3. North Dakota State

Last week: 5th

The Bison are only a half game behind Omaha and IUPUI in the standings.  They have won the last 3 of their 4, and the one loss was on the road to IUPUI from a last second shot to Jordan Pickett.  With Carlin Dupree back, the Bison could really get going now, but they do have 4 of their last 6 games on the road.

4. Omaha

Last week: 3rd

Last week was rough.  Western Illinois wanted that win in Macomb more than Omaha.  I mean, they had lost the last 11, so of course the Leathernecks badly needed a win.  The loss to Denver was like taking a bunch of No Xplode and then trying to watch a Jason Bourne film, but having your girlfriend constantly trying to switch the channel over to Pretty Little Liars all while she is arguing with you over who’s turn it is to do the laundry.  Then you’re forced to go shopping with her, and not getting to watch Jason Bourne watch Clive Owen die.  Wait, why were you taking No Xplode, you didn’t even work out, bro?

Omaha not having Randy Reed really hurt the Mavericks against Denver, and it even looked like Tim Smallwood was playing with a little bit of pain.  The fans around really wanted to blame the referees for that loss.  I actually probably would have blamed Omaha’s 3 missed dunks, a number of missed layups, lack of boxing out, and a few bonehead turnovers (although only having a total of 9 was good).  Is it possible that Omaha was looking ahead to the next week against South Dakota State and North Dakota State?

Western Illinois really tried to push the ball inside against the Mavericks, and the Pioneers did the same thing without Jake White on the court.  Clearly the Pioneers had a plan for a stretch of the game where the idea was to get the ball inside to Christian Mackey and let him do post moves for baskets…which is what IPFW did in overtime against Omaha with Brent Calhoun.  This is the first time I put in a: Hey, the Mavericks should have put in Zach Pirog.  His length could have really bothered Mackey, who is 6’6″.

Is JT Gibson still on the team?  It didn’t look like he was on the road with the team in Western Illinois, and he wasn’t on the bench for the Denver game.  I know he’s injured, but he should still be on the bench, right?

5. IUPUI

Last week: 4th

Their losses to Denver and South Dakota State showed that while the Jags are a sound defensive team, but they can struggle in just deciding who is going to take a shot.  It’s not a method like Denver’s offense either, where they are trying to find the best shot.  It’s just that finding an open look for them is as difficult as trying to get your girlfriend to pick a restaurant…after shopping…after you were forced to watch Pretty Little Liars…all while you’re pumped on No Xplode.

6. Denver

Last week: 6th

Before the start of the season, head coach Joe Scott admitted that it would be difficult for his young team to figure out the offense, but he had a group of mature freshman that once they figured it out, they could make a run and win some games.  His team just beat the two scrappiest teams in the League: Omaha and IUPUI.  Still, is this the one team that the 1 to 3 seeds would most likely rather see in Sioux Falls?  This team has 3 of their last 5 on the road.  If this team has Joe Rosga, CJ Bobbitt, and Thomas Neff for the next four years, they could be a really scary team to face over time.

7. South Dakota

Last week: 7th

Like Omaha, the Coyotes have North Dakota State and South Dakota State this week.  Typically a weekly schedule that never fares well for teams, but the Coyotes looked good at home against Oral Roberts.

8. Oral Roberts

Last week: 8th

Wasn’t this team looking like rated 3rd in the preseason poll?  They have no identity, players seem to not have any roles, and Sutton constantly looks as frustrated as your dad when he’s on the phone with Cox Cable trying to figure out why the internet doesn’t work.  The Golden Eagles really look like the team in the Summit that has actually gotten worse as the season has gone on, and this team loses Obi Emegano after this year.

9. Western Illinois

Last week: 9th

Other than their loss on the road to IPFW and the home loss to North Dakota State, the Leathernecks have really been in every conference game this season.  That should actually say a lot about how hard it is to play in the Summit this season.  The Leathernecks could even still make the league tournament, yet they have three straight road games coming up.