I cant put together my thoughts when talking about Western Illinois

The Leathernecks beat Wisconsin to open up the season, and I am pretty sure it is the most forgettable big time win by a Summit League team of all time.  It is almost immediately discredited with: well, Wisconsin wasn’t together at that point…or something along those lines.  There were people that believed in Western Illinois after that, and hopefully those people that did use that belief to discuss how good the Summit League was as a whole for the season.  They probably more so had an attitude of: Well Western Illinois sucks, so who cares.

Western Illinois finished the season as 9th in the Summit League, which meant they had to sit out the Summit League tournament.  At least they got to really bulk up Creighton’s non-conference schedule.  It was not pretty after the Wisconsin win for the Leathernecks.  The team picked up some lopsided wins against the likes of some division 2 schools in addition to Illinois-Chicago and Eastern Illinois before going on an 11 game losing streak.  Then they hurt my brain when they broke their losing streak at home against the Mavericks.  The Leathernecks did expose a large weakness of that Mavs that Omaha was not a great defensive team in the post.  Once a team can get the ball past the quick hands of Tra-Deon Hollins and Devin Patterson, Omaha may not have the bodies to deal with guys down low.  Denver saw this and they just kept throwing the ball into Christian Mackey and CJ Bobbitt to just ruin the Mavericks.  Ehhh.

Much of the season for the Leathernecks was about as hard to watch as when your brother brings home some train wreck of a girl to meet your parents; and you hold a large amount of embarrassment that you know your brother.

The Leathernecks are going to be losing JC Fuller’s 12.7 points per game, which is probably a good thing as he thought he could have the green light to shoot like Steph Curry, but Curry actually makes the crazy shots he takes.  Western Illinois only played Fuller for 8 minutes when they beat the Mavericks and instead gave most of the back court minutes to freshman De’Angelo Bruster, who might be the new fastest player in the Summit League.  His speed created so many opportunities for other players in that game against the Mavericks, he may have actually won that game for the Leathernecks even though he scored 0 points.  Bruster only scored 2 points per game, but the Leathernecks were 2-0 in games he played more than 20 minutes, so hell, they might as well at least make an attempt to give him more minutes in 2017…but Billy Wright seems like the least creative coach in the League; so who knows.

Garret Covington will be the Summit League’s top returning scorer, and that is fun, I guess.  Covington has been known as being one of the league’s most threatening scorers over during the first three years of collegiate careers, but watch a Western Illinois game.  No one else knows how to get open, the coaching staff doesn’t have a great list of plays to really get players open, and Covington never really scores when the game is on the line and he can push the Leathernecks over their opponent.  Granted, they don’t have too many moments when the game is close for Covington can do that, but the point still remains…probably, I think, I may have gone in and out of points there.

The idea here is, who else on the team can actually score consistently?  Jabari Sandifer would go 8-of-12 from the floor one game and then go 2-of-13 the next game, and most of shots were Aw Crap, When Did the Shot Clock Change to 30 Seconds shots.  We like to ask these hypothetical questions of: Would Tre’Shawn Thurman put up the same numbers at a Creighton or a Nebraska?  The simple answer is no because he would be on a different team with a different depth and a different offense than what he is currently on, but it does not mean he is a worse player.

Anyway, if you took Garret Covington and threw him on any other team in the Summit League would he still be known as one of the most prolific scorers in the league?  Covington took 13 shots a game in 2016 and attempted almost 7 free throws a game to guide him to 18 points per game.  You put him on South Dakota State, pretend you’re trading him for Reed Tellinghuisen… Covington isn’t such a dominant of a scorer that he would have taken shot attempts from their three seniors and Mike Daum…Covington would score less than 10 points a game with the Jackrabbits.  Put him on Omaha’s roster, he’d score more than 10 points a game because of the offense, but he would have been the 3rd or 4th option on offense in most situations, and the Mavericks would have been freaking sweet…I think my general point here is that Covington should not have been a Summit League 2nd Team player.  Didn’t Lawrence Alexander finish as North Dakota State’s winningest player with over 100 wins?  It’s kind of a weird thing to say since basketball is a team sport, but Covington has only been a part of 27 wins in his three years at Western Illinois.

You know what, I hate talking about Western Illinois this long.  They at best will finish with 5 conference wins next season.  I am still salty at their men’s soccer team; they flopped so much against Omaha that I thought maybe Manu Ginobli, Vlade Divac, and Derek Fisher took up coaching college soccer.


My wife is out of town for a conference and I heavily debated of traveling (alone) to Tulsa to see the Mavericks take on Oral Roberts; or to Macomb to see UNO Softball play Western Illinois, but I unfortunately decided to be responsible and to save money.  Damn it, I brought up Western Illinois again.  UNO softball at Western Illinois is actually on the radio this weekend…sayyyyy whaaaaat?  88.3 FM is apparently a station?

I was worried about the softball team for UNO this season because of the depth of the pitching, but they are staying alive so far thanks to the bats.  Not saying the pitching has been awful between Laura Roecker and Abbie Clanton, but there are not a ton of options if the two of them are having a bad game or were to get hurt.  Nine players hitting above .250 right now…Nine!  That’s how many times Ferris Bueller unofficially missed class his senior year.  Three players are in the top 10 in the Summit League in batting average.  Oh and this team just beat Iowa State in Ames!  The Mavs are also 159 in RPI right now which is 2nd in the Summit behind North Dakota State.

With just one conference loss, the Mavs are currently 2nd in the conference standings behind 6-0 North Dakota State.  The Mavericks will end the regular season at North Dakota State and also still play 3rd place team South Dakota at home next weekend, so there is still a lot on the line for the Mavs as the two top seeds get byes in the conference tournament in Fargo.


Oh and per twitter, Caroline Hogue has left the women’s basketball team.  Someone may need to let Jon Green cry on their shoulder for a while.

 

 

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.

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Feb 1

1. South Dakota State, 7-2

Last week: 2nd

They’re getting healthier, and their core is back and playing well together.  Good for them…  Mike Daum has emerged as one of the top post players in the league, and could really be the presence this team needs to win the Summit League.

The Jacks have not been as good on the road, and they still have to play at IPFW and at Omaha this season.  That game in Omaha could really be the biggest crowd the Mavericks get all season, maybe around 4,000 or so.  There is a part of me hoping that the Coyotes end at 8th in the Summit, as they would really give the Jacks problems in the first round of the Summit League tournament.

2. IPFW, 7-2

Last week: 3rd

Max Landis is averaging 5.3 assists per game since Mo Evans was declared ineligible.  He is averaging nearly 40 minutes a game as well.  Could the ‘Dons start to losing games if Landis’ legs are getting too tired to shoot and play basketball?  They have a tough road week at South Dakota (who IPFW beat by 20) and at North Dakota State (who IPFW beat by 5).

3. Omaha, 7-2

Last week: 1st

Clearly, I love the Mavericks, but their two losses are to South Dakota State and IPFW.  Tim Smallwood just averaged 12.5 points last week, and Randy Reed averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds…how good could the Mavs be with that production from them every game?

4. IUPUI, 7-2

Last week 5th

The Jaguars have 7 games left this season, and have already surpassed how many conference wins they had last season (as did Omaha).  This is the only team in the league with a win over South Dakota State and IPFW, the home loss to Oral Roberts is still a little shaky.

They won 2 games last week by a total of 3 points.  Matt O’Leary had to go 9-of-9 from the field to beat Western Illinois, and IUPUI needed a three pointer from Jordan Pickett at the end of the game to beat the Bison…and Paul Miller just barely missed a full court shot to win the game.  To win against North Dakota State in the final minute, their defense was able to force the inbound pass to Dexter Werner, who is a 61% free throw shooter…and he went 1-of-2 from the line (2-of-6 overall).

This team has some offensive deficiencies to really beat down any teams, but they defense can really give everyone problems, and they can keep any game close.  The Jaguars have their next 4 of 5 on the road, so they could begin to fall from the other teams at 7-2.

Jordan Pickett looks good after hitting a game winning shot against North Dakota State, but he continues to get better and better.  He is also an incredibly mature player if you listen to him talk.  He was one of the transfers from Loyola, and Pickett could become a top three point guard in the Summit over the next two seasons…and he could be a big help as to why the Jaguars will be competing for the regular season title next year.

5. North Dakota State, 4-4

Last week: 4th

Kory Brown is turning into the scorer, averaging 16.4 points over the last 5 games, that the Bison wanted him to be with the departure of Lawrence Alexander.  Their offense is really difficult to watch when Paul Miller goes to the bench, surprisingly, Paul Miller is the best on the team at driving to the basket.  The Bison have a winnable home schedule remaining with: IPFW, Western Illinois, IUPUI, and Oral Roberts.  Their remaining road schedule though is: South Dakota, South Dakota State, Omaha, and Denver.

6. Denver, 3-6

Last week: 8th

Denver beat South Dakota, and was pretty close with South Dakota State pretty late in the game on Saturday.  The Pioneers are still not a very good road team, and they have a three straight games on the road in a row in a few weeks.

7. South Dakota, 2-7

Last week: 7th

The Coyotes lost to Denver by 14 last week, which is pretty much a beat down.  Still the number one seed will not at all want to play the Coyotes in Sioux Falls.  Tyler Flack had 14 points and 6 rebounds against Omaha on Saturday.  Flack missed all of the 2014-2015 season with a back injury, if Flack can be fully healthy and effective, the Coyotes could be deeper and deadlier with him back in the lineup.

Vermillion is a difficult place for away teams to play, so maybe the Coyotes can get going on a little run now with three home games in a row.  But seriously South Dakota, just seed yourself to play South Dakota State in Sioux Falls.

8. Oral Roberts, 3-6

Last week: 6th

All that the Golden Eagles had last week was IPFW, and Oral Roberts gave up a lead to lose the game in the final minutes.   Oral Roberts is on a three game losing streak, but those three losses are to South Dakota State, Omaha, and IPFW; and now they are going into a week at North Dakota State and South Dakota, two games that Oral Roberts should not be favored in.

This team is athletic, but young and they haven’t played too many games together.  In the last few minutes of their game against IPFW, players held onto the ball too long, didn’t even pay attention to the shot clock, and played as if the season did not even matter.  It doesn’t matter how good of a coach Scott Sutton is if his players do not listen to him.

9. Western Illinois, 0-9

Last week: 9th

I think instead of talking about the Leathernecks, it would be more useful and more productive if I told you about a yogurt fruit mix my wife and I make.  It’s vanilla Greek fit yogurt mixed with apples, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, and sunflower kernels.  It’s pretty freaking tasty, and really good as a breakfast.  I got the plain Greek fit yogurt, instead of vanilla, and I got to tell you…it was pretty awful.  So get vanilla.  It wasn’t my fault, HyVee was out of Vanilla because of so many people stocking up for Snowmagedon.  Really, why do people stalk up for something that might force them home for one and maybe two days?

I will add this about Western Illinois…ah hell, never mind.

A few surprises in The Summit League so far

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

My precarious Summit League preseason rankings

This intro is copied from yesterday’s post…

Sometimes I find preseason predictions pointless, other than starting a conversation about the upcoming season or letting people know what could potentially be the biggest games of the year, there is not really much of a point to it.

I mainly find them useless because of the methodology in ranking teams.  Many seem to just copy and past the standings of last year, and then make a small edit if a team had a high amount of turnover from last season’s roster.  But I came up with a plan to do this for the Summit League.  I was reading some preseason predictions for the Big 10 football season which was done by a bunch of ESPN writers.  Some made good points but they all had to come up with a record for each team, and the math did not always make sense.  One clown had Ohio State going 12-0 with a 8-0 Big Ten record and Michigan State going 11-1, and also with a 8-0 Big Ten record.  Seriously, how drunk and lazy and/or bad at math was that guy?  Or some guys would have two teams going 8-0 in conference, a couple going 0-8, and everyone else going 5-3.  The math didn’t add up and they were telling you that these teams would win these amount of games because they are Skeletor and they said so.

So I came up with a plan.  I would go through the Summit League conference schedule and assign wins and losses over the course of a number of weeks.  At first it was just: South Dakota State is a better team than Denver, so win goes to the Jackrabbits.  Then later, I would look at the difficulty of each team’s conference schedule.  Obviously, everyone plays each other twice, but there are some things that stick out; like how Denver is the only team with the highway to the danger zone in playing at North Dakota State and South Dakota State in back to back games.  Or how South Dakota and Oral Roberts are the only two Summit League teams without three straight games on the road in conference play.  Then things like Omaha playing on the road against someone on a Thursday, as road games on Thursdays appear to be difficult for most teams.  Actually road games are pretty difficult for anyone.  Then I would go through the schedule again and consider some teams’ strengths versus their opponents weaknesses.  Like how teams better be good at three point shooting against South Dakota as they forced teams to take the most threes with their defense…and other things.

But I assigned wins and losses to each game, and did it several times considering different factors.  Then I plain and simple would add up each team’s wins and losses to see who had the most after going through it about 15 times.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it better than just saying South Dakota State will go 15-1 in conference because of Jesus?  Probably.

Really, after going through all of this; I really do not see much separation between many of the teams.  South Dakota State seems like a clear cut favorite.  Then North Dakota State seems like they are 2nd best, but they really should not be as comfortable as one would think.  Then Oral Roberts-Omaha-IPFW-IUPUI-South Dakota appear to be in a fight for spots 3 to 7 with Denver and Western Illinois sitting at 8 and 9; but Denver is a difficult place to play; and Western Illinois, while not great last year, they do return basically everything.

So much of the 3 to 9 in the Summit League appears to come down to:

  • Who can stay healthy?
  • Who can win on the road?
  • Who can pick up a win against South Dakota State and North Dakota State?

South Dakota State

Range of wins: 13 to 15

This team’s back court is extremely good, and the Jackrabbits could score 30 points a game on just three pointers alone.  The obvious question mark for the team is who is going to rebound and play center?  Scott Nagy has admitted to not knowing what to do there.  I think one of the most underrated part of Cody Larson’s game was his passing ability.  A big man that can pass is so huge for your team.  He could draw in the double team and kick it out to the open man, or pass it to a driving player, and it was just a huge weapon for the Jackrabbits.

Their three game road stretch of at North Dakota State, Oral Roberts, and South Dakota is an extremely tough road stretch for them, but they will be fine in the end.  They start their conference schedule at home with Denver and Western Illinois… must be rough.


North Dakota State

Range of wins:  10 to 13

At first I just thought to myself: oh they have everyone back, and they have enough players to make up for the loss of Lawrence Alexander, so they should just own this conference.  Then I thought: replacing Lawrence Alexander might be one of the most difficult things to ever overcome.  So much of their offense was based on what Alexander could do, and he only had two games last season where he did not score in double figures.  No player in Bison history won more games at North Dakota State than Lawrence Alexander.  Teams generally have a significant drop off when they lose one of their best players in program history, but somehow I still really like them to finish 2nd in the conference.

Dave Richman has this team completely confident though and they are buying into his system, and their team motto is: just get better and better every day…which they do a good job of doing.  One thing that is scary to think about in addition to losing one of the program’s best players in history: is the fact that they went 12-4 in the Summit League last season, but they did not exactly blow anyone out.  Only three of their wins were by more than 10 points, and one of those was a revenge game against South Dakota where Alexander had 31 points on 11-14 shooting.  So who is for sure going to score the ball down the stretch when they find themselves in close games this season?  I am not saying that they cannot find anyone, but it is something to definitely consider.

The Bison probably have the best post game cores in the league with AJ Jacobson, Dexter Werner, and Chris Kading; but Kading is coming off some summer surgeries.   They can go small, they can go big with those three; the three of them each bring something different to their front court to give them several different options.  The Bison also appear to be extremely excited about freshman Deng Geu, but they have also stated that they may redshirt him.

They lucked out with the greatest 3 game road stretch ever.  They are at IPFW on a Thursday and then at Western Illinois on a Saturday, they then have a 8 day break before playing on the road at IUPUI.


Omaha

Range of wins: 7 to 11

I already talked about the Mavs

I realize I look like a total homer placing them this high.


Oral Roberts

Range of wins: 7 to 10

At first, I thought no way on this team.  They have lost too many players in the last few seasons, the newcomers do not look all that great, and they might even be one of the least deep teams in the Summit League, which is almost an accomplishment.  Then I remembered that is the exact same thing that I thought about North Dakota State last season.  Obi Emegano is going to have to have to be the same type of player that Lawrence Alexander was for North Dakota State last season, which is something that he appears to be capable of.

No one seems to be taking the losses of Korey Billbury, Denell Henderson, and Bobby Word very seriously though.  Billbury was potentially a 1st Summit Team player, and he is being replaced by unproven guys.  The whole team is completely changed.  Their two top returning guys (Emegano and Brandon Conley) had shoulder surgery over the summer as well, and did not play in their summer trip.  There is a lot to point at and say that this why they wont be a top 3 team in the conference, but for some reason, I always consider them a top 4 team in this conference.  I just think Scott Sutton is that good of a coach and that Obi Emegano is that good of a player.  Sutton has finished in the top 3 in the Summit League in every season that they were in the Summit League since 2003-2004.

I would not be shocked if this team finished 2nd in the conference, and I would not be totally surprised if they finished 8th in the conference.  There is just no telling what is going to happen.  Jalen Bradley appears to be in the perfect situation playing alongside Emegano.  Freshman Javan White, while he looks like you could snap his arm like a twig, seems like he can really help the Golden Eagles in the low post in a league with not much depth in post players this season.

The start of the conference season does not look like a big help to them.  Three teams they can beat, but on the road against IPFW, then back home for South Dakota, then back on the road against Denver, then back home for North Dakota State.  They make up for it late in the season when they have three straight home games against IUPUI, Western Illinois, and Denver.


IUPUI

Range of wins:  6 to 10

This team was picked last in the preseason rankings before the start of last season.  Everyone thought it was one of the worst rosters they had ever seen, but they were able to pick up 6 wins with that roster.  What were they bad at last year?  3 point shooting…fine add Darell Combs, a transfer that made 32 threes in his sophomore year at Eastern Michigan.  Rebounding…fine add two 6’8″ transfers from Loyola.  Too many turnovers…fine, everyone that turned the ball over the most left the team, except for Marcellus Barksdale who handled the ball the most for the team.  Guard dominated league?  Fine, put Marcellus Barksdale on Obi Emegano or Garret Covington on any given night.  Hell, they don’t even see him as their best perimeter defender.

The roster has improved, the coaches have a year of being together under their belt, and the program is improving more and more every day.  They did hold an open scrimmage this week, but had 3 newcomers sitting out with some nagging injuries.  One of the players that sat out was Jordan Pickett who transferred from Loyola where he had a history of injury problems, and it sounds like the Jaguars were expecting him to be one of the team’s primary ball handlers.  That could become an issue.

They might be one the most boring team to ever watch, but you cannot ignore their improvement and upside.  They also had Marcellus Barksdale playing four different positions last season in just about every single game, and he will not have to take on as much of a load this season with the additions to this team.


South Dakota

Range of wins:  5 to 8

I admit that I really like Craig Smith, and I think the loss of him as an assistant coach was a big factor as to why the Huskers had a drop off last season.  Some of these preseason rankings appear to just rating the Coyotes around 5th primarily on the fact that Craig Smith is their coach…and I am totally cool with that.  This team lost the most scoring in the Summit League, their team has been plagued with injuries in the preseason, oh and the staff currently has no idea who is going to score the ball for them.  Spots 3-9 in the Summit League could be incredibly close, injuries could ruin any team, as well as pretty much starting 3 weeks later than everyone else as far as full team practices go.

Another thing that is kind of weird is that Trey Norris is probably their starting point guard, who started is sophomore year, but Smith thought it was a much better decision to send him to the bench in his junior year.  So does Smith even believe in his point guard?  Also Tyler Flack is returning from a back injury.  You back isn’t important in basketball, is it?  I was on the Craig Smith can coach this team to 3rd or 4th bandwagon, but there seems to be something new every week that continues to point to the fact that this is going to be a long year for the Coyotes.

This team though is going to force teams to take 3s on them.  They forced their opponents to take the most amount of threes last season, and held them to the lowest three point field goal percentage in the Summit League…so you kind of need to be able to hit the three against them.


IPFW

Range of wins:  5 to 7

I have seen this team ranked any from 4th to 6th in preseason rankings.  The Summit League ranked them as the 4th best team.  I don’t see it.  They return the 2nd least amount of scoring the Summit League, and they return the least amount of division one starts on their team.  The losses of Steve Forbes, Joe Edwards, and Isaiah McCray seem too big.  It seems like they are asking their newcomers to do too much and are placing too high of expectations on them.  They think Brent Calhoun is going to have a breakout year because he lost a bunch of weight and is really healthy, but let’s wait a few games to see how much of an asset that can be.  They are putting a lot of emphasis on redshirt freshman John Konchar to be an undersized 4 man and play small ball this season.

I am just not sold on this team yet.  This team was the worst free throw shooting team in the Summit League, but I think they really are going to improve there, which could help them with some of the rule changes, but teams should be adjusted to the rule changes come conference play.  I do think this team does have probably the best order of games in the conference as well.  Oral Roberts at home on a Wednesday, South Dakota at home on a Wednesday, North Dakota State at home on a Thursday, South Dakota State at home on a Thursday; and on top of that they never have three games in a row in which they should not be completely unfavored.  Have to give credit to the fact that they have one of the top back courts in the league with Mo Evans and Max Landis, but who knows how valuable that can be in a back court dominated league…says the guy that bases part of Omaha’s potential success on the Mavericks having one of the top back courts in the league.

The team did underachieve last season, but Joe Reed admitted that last year’s team was just completely focused on the Summit League tournament, and did not look at their season on a game-by-game basis.  He said they are more focused on taking it one game at a time this season.  I will be surprised if this team ends up in the top half of the Summit League, but they could do it with lucky breaks with injuries to other teams and whatnot.  It is a young team, and a team of mostly newcomers.  I will say if they can keep this roster together, add their two transfers sitting out this season, and a 6’10” freshman that recently committed, that the Mastodons will be a very good team against the Summit League in 2016-2017.


Denver

Range of wins:  2 to 7

There are many question marks for this team.  I am really curious how a 30 second shot clock affects a team in the Princeton offense, probably not a ton, but it has to affect it in some way shape or form.  Denver does have 3 seniors to run that offense, but they do have 13 underclassmen on their team that have to learn that offense and be prepared to hit shots with the shot clock winding down.  Denver can pick up a few wins at home with their elevation advantage,  style of play, and Joe Scott’s coaching abilities, but do you really feel fully confident in 9 freshman and 4 sophomores on the road in conference play?  They also have 3 seasons in a row of declining in wins, so it is not like there is a bunch of momentum heading into this season.  Not to mention, they were picked 2nd in preseason polls last season.  I have seen them ranked as low as 9th in the Summit and as high as 6th.

This team should have a pretty decent non-conference season though with no power teams on their schedule, and Wyoming is the hardest team on their non-conference schedule, who lost everyone.   The start to the conference schedule is not very kind to the Pioneers.  They start off with with two weekend games on the road against North Dakota State and South Dakota State, and then they have Oral Roberts at home…so they are starting off with the three teams that are known for being the toughest in the Summit League.  After the Golden Eagles, they have IPFW at home who swept them last season by 16 point margins in each game; and then they are back on the road for games against Western Illinois and IUPUI.  It is possible that they start the conference season at 0-6.  Talk about momentum!


Western Illinois

Range of wins: 2 to 5

No one is taking Western Illinois very seriously, and it completely makes sense.  They ended 2014-2015 on a nine game losing streak and they were 0-8 in Summit League road games.  Western Illinois is not an easy place for other teams to pick up wins though.  They were 3-5 at home, and they lost both of their home games to North Dakota State and South Dakota State by 2.

It also seems like everyone on this team was injured at some point, and they return the most scoring in the Summit League at 89% of their offense.  They are also very excited about their two freshmen 6’11” Brandon Gilbeck and 5’11” DeAngelo Brewster.  Gilbeck and Brewster do not need to carry the load for this team with Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer still on this team, but they need to just be role players; so it is not like they have any pressure on them.  It is completely easy to write off the Leathernecks and pencil them in as the worst team in the Summit League, but they could seriously surprise a couple teams this year and pick up a shocking win or two.  The toughest part of the season for them is going to be when they 6 out of 8 games on the road in the conference.

But the serious questions were all no for the Leathernecks last year.  Can they stay healthy?  No.  Can they win on the road?  No.  Can they beat South Dakota State or North Dakota State?  No.

Just some haphazard notes listening to the Summit League Media Day

 

  • Joe Scott knows his team is young and the Pioneers are a work in progress, but he is preaching maturity to his team.
  • Jon Coffman is pretty damn excited about college basketball and his team.
    • Redshirt Freshman John Konchar has apparently put on a ton of muscle, and the ‘Dons are really excited about him and are more prepared to go small ball this year in the Summit
    • Brent Calhoun is expected to make a big jump for the ‘Dons, he has lost a bunch of weight and is in the best shape of his life.
    • I have realized that after an entire season that I have been spelling “Mastodons” incorrectly.
  • Jason Gardner is excited about this program, and thinks his staff will be more comfortable working together this year.  He has gained a large amount of respect for the Summit League.
    • In his opinion, Mason Archie is his team’s best defender and wants to defend the other team’s best player.
    • Marcellus Barksdale had to play four different positions in just about every single game for the Jaguars, he will not have to do that this year and expects Barksdale to benefit from not having to playing too many different roles.
    • Barksdale and Archie have both graduated already, and set a great example for the team.
    • His 4 transfers are really going to help this team.
    • The new arena has really helped the Jaguars in recruiting.
  • Dave Richman acknowledges that his team has 11 of his 15 guys as freshman and sophomores, but they are a deeper and more talented team than last year.
    • Chris Kading had 3 surgeries in the off season, will probably miss the first couple games of the regular season.
    • Lawrence Alexander carried the Bison on his back, he was the winningst most player in Bison history, it is not going to be easy to replace him.  They will have to replace him by committee.
    • The Bison ended up 12-4 in the league, but many of their games were won by just a possession.
  • Derrin Hansen (and Brittany Lange) is excited about the new arena, it has been a huge asset to the program, and they know it will help them catch up to the rest of the league in the next few years.  Not to mention it is extremely huge for the community.
    • Hansen is expecting more productivity from Tim Smallwood, Hansen is unclear if Smallwood will start or come off the bench yet.  Smallwood has a much better feel for the game right now.  He was a huge help when Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season.
    • Devin Patterson has become better in his leadership role.
    • Marcus Tyus is coming off his knee injury very well.
    • Jake White was only healthy for 2 or 3 games last year, he can have a big year if he is healthy.
    • Randy Reed is going to have a big role this year.
    • The players UNO has brought in bring in a winning culture, with all of them playing in their state championship games.  Zach Jackson’s team won the state championship.
    • Hansen thinks his new guys can be immediate impacts for his program, but it sounds like minutes may be an issue at this point.
  • Scott Sutton says he is excited and optimistic, but he also sounds like he wants to skip the morning and get straight to lunch.  He likes his new players, he knows there will be growing pains, but it is a tough group of guys that should be ready by the conference schedule.  Their non-conference schedule should really help prepare the Golden Eagles for the Summit League.
    • Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley have both been injured throughout the summer and had shoulder surgeries, but are doing very well at this point.  The staff is doing the best that they can to protect them.
    • Sutton thinks the rule changes in college basketball are going to benefit a guy like Emegano the most.  He already led the league last year in free throws attempted per game and he should get even more attempts at the line this season.  Sutton also likes how his team plays with a 30 second shot clock.
    • Sutton really really likes Jalen Bradley, and will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup.  Bradley got to play a lot on the team’s summer trip, where the team got to play with a 24 second shot clock.
    • Sutton could have a year where he is starting a couple freshmen.  AJ Owens is their post player, but not as consistent as they would like him to be.  Owens could have the biggest jump this year in the league.
  • Craig Smith sounds like he came to party. He thinks it is going to be a heck of a year for the Summit League, and his team will be a work in progress.  He is glad that his team set a foundation and a culture last year.  They lost a lot of scoring, so they have to figure out a way to score the ball.
    • Smith really does not know who is going to help take on the scoring yet, but Tre Burnette really caught on toward the end of the season.  Casey Kasperbauer is one of the best three point shooters he has ever coached.
    • The Coyotes have had a lot of injuries.  They have 17 players on the roster, but ended a practice with only 10 players recently.  It has been hard to get going and figure out lineups and who plays well together.
    • Dan Jech can score in a lot of different ways and is a great rebounder.  Smith sounds really excited about Jech.
    • Tyler Hagedorn has a great feel for the game and can do a lot of different things.
    • Tyler Borchers has been a great surprise for the Coyotes, he doesn’t look pretty with everything that he does, but he does great things.
  • Scott Nagy says his team has taken their time getting ready because of the great experience that they have at the guard position.  He thinks the Jackrabbits have a lot of depth, which is going to be needed in college basketball with the rule changes.
    • He points out that preseason awards mean nothing.  No one expected Deondre Parks and George Marshall to be all league picks last year.  Some transfers from IUPUI or on other teams could be big time players, and no one knows anything about them yet.
    • Jake Bittle and George Marshall both have nagging injuries, nothing that would keep them out, but they will be hurting after games.
    • Nagy thinks his team is smaller than he would like it to be.  They could even go very small with no true post player in some games.
    • Adam Dykman works extremely hard, and down the road will be a tremendous 4 man in the future.
    • The biggest question mark for the Jackrabbits is: how will they replace Cody Larson?  They are looking at 3 guys to replace him…Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, and Mike Daum.  He has no idea who will be their starting center at this point.
    • Nagy just seems displeased by rule changes, doesn’t see the need for them, but they have to play with them.  He doesn’t think the rule changes will affect how they play though.
  • Billy Wright feels his program is headed in the right direction.  His team has set a philosophy in how they want to recruit and compete.
    • Western Illinois returns 85% of their scoring.
    • His freshman are working hard to compete for starting spots and playing time.
    • Garret Covington has really worked hard to improve his rebounding
    • JC Fuller is one of the most underrated players in the league.
    • De’Angelo Brewster and Brandon Gilbeck will have big breakout years as freshmen.
    • The Summit League is close in talent, you are an injury or two away from going from the top to the bottom, or a recruit away from going from the bottom to the middle of the pack.

Who has the best core of post players in the Summit League?

So the Summit League is stacked with guards and wing players this season.  College Sports Madness recently came out with a All Summit League 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th team and 16 of the 20 players were guards, 17 if you count South Dakota State’s Reed Tellinghuisen as a guard.  The Summit League came out with their preseason 1st and 2nd teams yesterday, and 8 or the 10 players were guards.  The teams they selected are fair for the most part, though I do not agree with leaving Tre’Shawn Thurman off the list, but I get that I am biased.

Anyway, there are so many guards on this list, and that is because the Summit League is going to be a very guard heavy league this year.  So could one come up with a conclusion that who ever has the best post game is going to set themselves apart from the rest of the conference?  So who has the best post players in the conference?

For the sake of argument, I am going to reduce each team’s list to their top 4 post players, because realistically teams hardly ever use more than 4 post players in the Summit League.  Hell some players do not use more than two post players.


North Dakota State

Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, AJ Jacobson, and one of the other 3 players that will mix in.

I have kind of had North Dakota State as my team to win the conference this year, but I am growing more and more uncomfortable with that recently the more I am looking things up.  Not that I think they are in trouble or anything.  Anyway, it is pretty hard to argue that they do not have the best core of post players in the Summit League.  I know someone might look at Chris Kading and say he’s only a 5 points and 4 rebounds guy, but he takes smart shots, he led the Summit League in blocks per game, and he would routinely hold the other team’s best post player to a bad game.

Dexter Werner was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Summit League last year, and he completely deserved it.  He was a big time force that brought immediate energy to the Bison post game off of the bench, and he shot 51% from the field.  He was playing undersized most of the time, but he was still able to get 1 block per game, which is tied with the 2nd most for returning players to the league.

Dexter Werner was selected to the 2nd Team for the All Summit Preseason Predictions.
Dexter Werner was selected to the 2nd Team for the All Summit Preseason Predictions.

Then the Bison have AJ Jacobson, and while there is no official Summit League Freshman of the Year Award, I am pretty sure it would have been him last season.  He appears to be a popular choice for 1st Team All Summit this upcoming year, after coming off averaging 11.6 points per game and 4.2 rebounds, and many people think he is going to take a large load of the shots that Lawrence Alexander was taking.  He is probably more of a traditional 3, but he did quite well for the Bison at the 4 position, and the Bison can bring in Werner off the bench and slide Jacobson over to the 3, making for a big lineup.

It is kind of unclear who the 4th post player will be at this point for the Bison.  They had Nebraska-native, Spencer Eliason redshirting last season, and they are bringing in two 6’8″ freshmen that they appear to be pretty excited about.  With Kading and Werner, you kind of expect one of the two true freshman to redshirt though, right?


South Dakota

Eric Robertson, Tyler Flack, Tyler Hagedorn, Dan Jech

I admit that is pretty difficult to go on from here, so how about South Dakota?  The Coyotes might actually have the most talented post players, but there are some questions to it.  Can Tyler Flack bounce back from sitting out all of 2014-2015 with an injury, and does Craig Smith even like him?  Flack was averaging 8.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg, and shooting 55% from the field as a sophomore in 21 minutes on a pretty bad South Dakota team.

Flack is back.
Flack is back.

Can Eric Robertson survive as a starter if Smith doesn’t feel comfortable with starting a true freshman?  Then there is two freshman, Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech.  Jech gives the Coyotes a post player and Hagedorn gives the team a stretch four.  The Coyotes were able to survive last season with 6’3″ Tyler Larson and 6’5″ Tre Burnette as their primary options in the post last season, so what is going to happen when Smith adds some height to their post game.  Oh yeah, and there is also Tre Burnette, who had the highest rebounding average of any player returning to the Summit League.


Omaha

Jake White, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Daniel Meyer, Zach Pirog (or Randy Reed)

It is kind of a bold move picking the Mavericks that high here.  Consider this though, no player 6’7″ or taller that is returning to the league averaged more points per game than Tre’Shawn Thurman last season.  Jake White is healthy apparently, while I cannot 100% verify this, but I am pretty sure he had limited minutes in his junior season due to injuries.  Even with as many injuries that he had in his junior season, he was probably the fastest post player in the league.  So you have to assume he will go from 20 minutes per game to 25-30, his field goal percentage should rise above 40% while he’s healthy, he can probably be a 10 and 8 guy.  10 and 8 should get you Honorable Mention in the Summit.

Could Jake White be the most underrated post player in the league?
Could Jake White be the most underrated post player in the league?

Daniel Meyer should be getting a minutes increase as well.  Statistically, he had about the same statistics that Dexter Werner had in his freshman season at North Dakota State, and he should receive an increased role (maybe even a Werner like role) with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry no longer on the team.  One game last year, I was sitting near Matt Hagerbaumer, you seriously need to take the opportunity to sit next to Hagerbaumer if you ever get that chance.  He’s constantly yelling support to younger players, and he was so excited about Thurman and Meyer as freshman.  He at one point said that they needed Meyer to be a banger down low and be the dirty work guy.  Basically, the Mavs need him to be Matt Hagerbaumer 2.0, and he is capable of being that.  Meyer apparently played very well on the team’s trip to Italy as well.

I am still unsure if Zach Pirog will redshirt.  Hansen kind of has a history of redshirting big players, and the team already has White, Thurman, and Meyer; but maybe Pirog is even better than advertised?  He should add immediate rim protection to the team, which would be extremely helpful, but how many minutes would be able to get this season?  Not to mention, there will probably be a lot teams playing 6’5″ guys at the 4 position for a decent chunk of minutes this season, so wouldn’t you want to play Randy Reed more at the 4 position this season; leaving a lot of the minutes at the 5 to White, Meyer, and even Thurman.  Just seems like minutes wise it would be a good idea to redshirt Pirog, but he is someone that can immediately help this team.


South Dakota State

Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, Michael Daum, Adam Dykman

There is a big gaping hole to make up in the loss of Cody Larson for the Jackrabbits, and it is unclear who will fill that role.  The Jackrabbits also grew comfortable playing Reed Tellinguisen at the 4 last season, as the team’s 5th best offensive player, they really couldn’t keep him off the floor, even if he was playing undersized at times.

You look at Devine and Theisen and you think two guys that don’t even combine for 5 points per game, but really they were playing behind Cody Larson and sharing that role of backup post player.  Then you realize that they both shot over 50 percent from the field, and they both had stretches over the season where they were making big plays.  It’s also not like Scott Nagy cannot develop guys at all.  Devine as a 40% free throw shooter might get left off the court down the stretch of the few close conference games the Jackrabbits will have.

The Jackrabbits also had Nebraska-native Michael Daum redshirting last season, who seemed like a pretty attractive recruit coming out of high school, so who knows how much he developed under the Jackrabbits staff.  The basketball fan in me says “oh wow this guy averaged 25 and 13 as a senior in high school,” but the Nebraskan in me says “I have never even heard of Kimball, how could anyone be good at basketball from there.”  The Mavericks offered him a scholarship though, he also held offers from South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and others, so non-Nebraskans see something in him.

Then there is even another Nebraska-native on the team, 6’7″ Adam Dykman.  I am pretty nervous about Dykman, I constantly saw his name in the paper for big games, and I know a few guys hugely into Nebraska high school basketball that were upset that UNO or Nebraska did not give an offer to this kid.  I am afraid he’s psycho angry about that.

With such a strong group of starting guards, I don’t think it’s going to come down to the post players for the Jackrabbits.  The show Scrubs had a great core of cast with JD, Turk, Kelso, Elliot, and Dr. Cox, would the show have been successful if they threw in a bunch of episodes centered around Ted and made a three episode story arch about Ted?  Many people would have turned away.  I actually would have watched the crap out of that.  So how many times are you going to hear a ESPN3 commentator say: The Jackrabbits are having a great night with Marshall, Bittle, Parks, and Tellinghuisen knocking down all these outside shots and beating their defenders to the rim; but I really think they need to get the ball into Devine to work his magic on Dexter Werner?  Probably never.


IUPUI

Nick Osborne, Matt O’Leary, Evan Hall, and Noah Thomas

Nick Osborne and Matt O’Leary were decent players at Loyola and will now have increased roles with the Jaguars.  Evan Hall and Noah Thomas are both true freshman, so the hard part for the Jags is throwing in an entirely new core of post players into their lineup.  Hall is a 6’7″ freshman that was rated as a 3 star recruit and had offers from Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, and Lipscomb out of high school.  Hall is a 6’9 and 235 post from the state of Indiana that averaged a double-double in his senior season.  The Jaguars also survived last year on having guards playing as post players, so it’s not like they cannot win without a post game at all.  Essentially, the team decided that they didn’t like the cast of the last season of the Power Rangers and went with entirely new ranger squad, and they feel pretty comfortable about how the new cast will go.  How many other places are you going to find a Power Rangers reference talking about sports?  Actually, I don’t think this my first time on here.


IPFW

Joe Reed, Brent Calhoun, Andrew Poulter, Racine Talla

You’ve got to feel confident in a 6’8″ guy like Joe Reed that has shot about 55% for his career.  Like Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman getting more shots because of departures, you’ve got to think that Reed’s shot attempts will go up with the loss of Steve Forbes.  Reed is another guy with potential to be a 10 and 8 guy.  His other three front court teammates are kind of question marks.

I’ve seen people bragging up Andrew Poulter, and I do not get it.  He was a 7 and 5 guy as a sophomore at a junior college, and he also shot 47% from the field.  I watched a video of him in high school working on some 1 on 1 moves, he was looking like an All American but he’s 6’11” and 275 going up 1 on 1 against some 6’5″ 175 pound guy.  Granted, it is high school and I doubt there were too many guys near his size to work out with, but still, I don’t see how his 1 on 1 skills will ever come into play from the Summit.  Then there is sophomore Racine Talla who is 6’9″ but hasn’t played a game of basketball in 3 years.  It just seems like a gamble to take them seriously at this point.  Maybe Jon Coffman realizes how to use them appropriately though, we will clearly have to wait and see.  And many people have them picked as the 4th best team in the conference, so maybe I am just a moron.  95% chance that I am a moron.


Oral Roberts

Brandon Conley, Tre Vance, AJ Owens, and Darian Harris

Did you know this team led the Summit League in blocks per game last season?  They essentially did not need production offensively from their post players as they had Obi Emegano, Kory Billbury, and Bobby Word to take on a bulk of the scoring, so they really just needed their post players to play defense and make great outlet passes.  I don’t think people are realizing how important Denell Henderson was to this team.  None of these players are huge scoring threats, and a lot of people are high on Owens even though he basically only got minutes when the Golden Eagles were getting killed last season.  He shot 40% from the field, and he was basically playing against other teams’ 3rd string most of the time.  Darian Harris also seems like he should be a shooting guard, but the ORU had to use him at the 4 position several times last season due to lack of a post.

I am nervous for Scott Sutton this season, but not in a way that I think he’s going to get fired or anything.  I really do not think he has a great roster this season, but it is Sutton and Obi Emegano.  I love hearing rumors every off season about schools looking at Sutton as a head coaching hire, but we may not get that this April and May.  If Sutton can come in top three of the league this season, I really think he deserves coach of the year, but I don’t think he’ll get it.


Denver

Marcus Byrd, Daniel Amigo, Christian Mackey, and 1 of 2 freshman.

I am scared for Denver this season.  A few have selected them to finish in last this season, CBS Sports rated them as the 3rd best team in the Summit League but it was pointless.  It is really hard to look at Denver and say they have the best players in anything, not because of a lack of talent, but because of the offense that Joe Scott runs.  Marcus Byrd averaged 8.5 points per game as a junior, 8.5 at Denver is like averaging 13 any place else.  Byrd can also step out and take the three, he actually has the highest three point field goal percentage of any player returning to the Summit League this season, and he makes nearly 2 threes a game.

Daniel Amigo was also giving the Pioneers pretty good minutes as a freshman, but his season ended early due to injury.  The Pioneers also have a 6’7″ freshman named Abiola Akintola from Australia, who was not widely recruited, but he averaged 17.8 ppg and 6 rebounds per game in the U18 Australian Junior Championships, whatever the heck that is.  I know there are a lot of question marks for international players, and it could be difficult to figure out if he is even the right fit for Denver, but it could be something amazing watching him develop.


Western Illinois

Tate Stensgaard, Jalen Chapman, Mike Miklusak, and the mystery man

All are average guys that on any other team in the Summit League would be role players, and really they are just role players for Western Illinois, but they give a lot of minutes to the Leathernecks when they are available.  They many lost the last 13 of 14 games of the season because they had no Stensgaard or Chapman for that time, but still, could they have made the difference.  The team has 4 freshman post players that will mix in.  I wonder how they will work out.

 

 

 

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

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

March To The Summit League


 

Denver

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

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

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

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

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

Fort Wayne

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

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

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

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

IUPUI

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

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

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

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

North Dakota State

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

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

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

Omaha

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

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

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

The transition is over!
The transition is over!

Oral Roberts

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

*drops microphone*

*flips off the crowd with both hands*

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

SOUTH DAKOTA

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

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

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

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

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

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

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

Western Illinois

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

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

 

 

Who has the best Big 3 in the Summit League?

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


 

SDSU:

Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Deondre Parks

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

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

Role Players:

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

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

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

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


 

Omaha:

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

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

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

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

Role Players:

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

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

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


 

NDSU:

Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, AJ Jacobson

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

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

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

Role Players:

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

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

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


 

IUPUI:

Marcellus Barksdale, Darrell Combs, Nick Osborne

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

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

Role Players:

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

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

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

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

 


 

South Dakota

Tre Burnette, Tyler Flack, Casey Kasperbauer

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

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

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

Role Players:

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

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


 

IPFW

Mo Evans, Max Landis, Joe Reed

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

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

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

Role Players:

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

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

 


 

Western Illinois:

Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer

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

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

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

Role Players:

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

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

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


 

Denver:

Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, Bryant Rucker

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

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

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

Role Players:

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

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


 

Oral Roberts:

Obi Emegano, Brandon Conley, Scott Sutton

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

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

Role Players:

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

 

 

 

A look back at the players The Summit League has lost from 2014-2015

Every year we as sports fans analyze teams in college sports in consideration to what players teams lost versus what they have coming back, and what they have potentially coming in.  It is the easiest and the laziest way to determine who we think will be the best and worst teams.  So before all of that starts, lets take a look at the players the Summit League has lost so far from the 2014-2015 season.


North Dakota State – The Bison won the Summit League championship for the second straight year, and they are only losing one player to graduation.  So the lazy man will tell you that with only losing one player, they will probably go on for a three peat.  No, no, no, we are talking about a potential eight peat here.  That is a Bill Swerski’s Superfans reference.  The problem with the They Won the Championship and Are Only Losing One Player argument is that the only player that they are losing was the best player in the entire league.

Graduated:

Lawrence Alexander – there is no doubt that it will be difficult for the Bison to make up for the loss of Alexander, the 2014-2015 Conference Player of the Year.  Losing 19 points per game is no easy thing to lose, but we know players cannot stick around forever  Senior to be, Kory Brown showed some moments of that he could be the guy to make up that loss, but the Bison won the Summit League the last two years behind a complete team effort, so they will have to band together again to continue their dominant run in the Summit League.  They did pick up a commitment from Malik Clements, a 6’3″ junior college guard that will be a sophomore, who did at one time have an offer from the Mavericks.  They also have still no player on their roster that is smaller than 6’3″.

Transferred:

Jake Showalter – After only playing 13 games and averaging 1.4 points per game, it is no surprise to see the guard from Wisconsin transfer out after his freshman year.  With the addition of above mentioned Clements, Showalter was still probably going to be at the bottom of the rotation for the guards of the Bison.


South Dakota State – A team that only loses 2 players to graduation, but one player was an All Conference player and arguably the best post player in the league.

Graduated:

Zach Horstman – the senior was getting a lot of playing time before getting sidelined with an injury and being forced to miss two games against Omaha and IUPUI, this opened up more room for some of the younger guys to show off what they could do.  Before missing those two games, Horstman had 5 (out of 17) games of scoring in double figures and did not have any afterwards.  With lack of depth in the front court, the Jackrabbits had Horstman playing most of his time at the 4, but at 6’6″ and 205 pounds he was probably more in line to be playing the 3.  The Jackrabbits will have Reed Tellinghuisen and Skyler Flatten to still pick up most of the time for Horstman, and both are very capable players.  Not only that, but the Jackrabbits will have Nebraska native, Michael Daum to make up for the lost time at the 4 position, who redshirted in the 2014-2015 season.

Cody Larson – the perennial Lord of Jerkfaces and former First Team All Summit League player will definitely be tough for the Jackrabbits to make up.  Sophomore to be Ian Theisen showed some strong moments of what could come in the future for the post game of the Jackrabbits, and the Jackrabbits have some pretty big expectations from Daum, but are they 9 double-doubles good?  Are they 14 and 7 good?  Yes, I just puked a little.  I will be the first to admit it, and I have already mentioned variations of this before though, the Summit League was not stacked with really good post players this season.  There was Larson, Steve Forbes, and Mike Rostampour as the top 3, and then a big drop off after that.  Where was I going with this?  Not entirely sure, I just started saying that and was hoping it would go somewhere.  Maybe, just that the loss of Larson is not as big as it seems if no one else in the Summit League has a great post game.

Transferred:

Anders Broman – I remember coming out of high school, the Jackrabbits were incredibly excited about Broman.  Every school sounds excited about every player coming out of high school though.  It is not like Scott Nagy comes out to announce the players he signed and talks about his expectations of a few of them never developing and transferring out.  Either way, Broman is on his way to Winthorp.  Not sure his playing time was going to really increase his junior year playing behind Wisconsin transfer George Marshall, Jake Bittle, and Deondre Parks.  Seriously, does that guard trio not scare you, especially with Tellinghuisen and Flatten also capable of playing the guard position?


Oral Roberts – The 2015-2016 does not look like anything the Golden Eagles are looking forward to on paper, but Scott Sutton has seen this and done this before.

Graduated:

Denell Henderson – the loss of Henderson will mean Oral Roberts will again not have much of a post game, but they have never been extremely reliable in their post game.  Henderson averaged 3.5 points per game his junior year, before moving up to 8.8 points per game his senior year.  Albert Owens averaged 3.8 points per game this last season as a freshman, so is it pretty safe to say Owens will just kind of take over that role.  Yes, I based that off of very little.  No offense to Henderson, but it is not a bunch to make up.  Oral Roberts also has two freshman coming in that are taller than 6’7″, so there is really not a ton of fallout here.

Adrion Webber – I think Oral Roberts made the most appearances on ESPN3 out of all the Summit League teams last season.  I watched most of their games, and I cannot remember Webber’s name ever being mentioned.  He did score 9 on the Mavericks in their game in Tulsa, so it is possible I was too engulfed in anger to take in anyone’s name from the Golden Eagles during that game.  Former Creighton guy, Darian Harris did see an increase in minutes toward the end of the year, I assume Harris is a guy that is capable of making up for the loss of Webber.

Transferred:  

Korey Billbury – probably the biggest loss in the Summit League in terms of a guy transferring out.  It sounded as if Billbury had issues off the court that forced him to leave, which is why it is not really a huge shocker that he transferred out.  With Obi Emegano, I really thought these two had the chance to be the greatest guard combination in the Summit League for 2015-2016, but that will never be played out.  He shot 13-19 against the Mavericks in Tulsa, that is why I cannot remember Webber’s name.  On the court, he also averaged 14.4 points per game and led the Golden Eagles in rebounds with 7.4 per game.  Billbury’s game will be a lot for the Golden Eagles to make up, but they did beat North Dakota State, Denver, IUPUI, and a CBI tournament game without him last season.

Dederick Lee – not a shocking loss for the Golden Eagles here.  Former Maverick, Jalen Bradley will more than make up the loss for Lee.

Jabarr Singleton – another guy Bradley can make up for.  Singleton did score 10 points in the Golden Eagles win over the Mavericks in Tulsa.  Seriously, what the hell was going on in that game?

Bobby Word – an incredibly significant loss for the Golden Eagles.  Known mostly for being a shooter, Word averaged 8.4 points per game as a sophomore.  He also averaged 13.5 points per game after Billbury stopped playing, I cannot see Golden Eagle fans being super excited about losing both of those guys on the court.  The Oral Roberts, are going to be a pretty young team this upcoming season.


IPFW – The Mastadons had high expectations at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, and it was partially because of their senior trio of Joe Edwards, Steve Forbes, and Isaiah McCray, but with first year head coach Jon Coffman never really materializing the roster, and ultimately just seeming somewhat bored on the bench, the Dons fell below expectations.  If their expectations were so high because of the players they lost, what are they going to be like next season without those guys?  The Dons did sign three junior college players in an attempt to land some guys to be immediate impacts, so they could be the Magic 8 ball of the league in 2015-2016.

Graduated:

Joe Edwards – losing 12 points per game can be made up.  The Dons picked up a 6’5″ junior college player, who at one time played at Alabama State, DeAngelo Stewart who averaged nearly 17 points per game and shot 47% from the field his sophomore year.  He averaged 2 points per game as a true freshman at Alabama State, yes Alabama State is a real college.

Steve Forbes – some could argue that Forbes was the best post player in the Summit League, and really it was just because of his roundness and overall size.  There was not much seen out of him from a leadership standpoint, just a Hey Lets Get Out There and Try Maybe and We Can Still Get Some Nuggets Afterwards Anyway mentality.  I would have much rather had Mike Rostampour or Cody Larson as my team’s main post player last year, each guy had that leadership quality you are looking for.  The Dons may have fell off the map because of how little Forbes seemed to give a shit.  I watched their loss at South Dakota in March, and kept thinking that Forbes should have been dominating the Coyotes post.  South Dakota’s James Hunter, who averaged 6 points a game, had 16 points in the game off of 8 of 12 shooting, because he actually cared about the game.

Kevin Harden – Kevin Harden was never the same after missing 21 games in 2012-2013 with an injury.  His minutes kept dropping, his scoring kept dropping, he just fell out at IPFW.  It is something that you hate watching happen, but it does happen.

Isaiah McCray – McCray was always capable of doing a lot of things at IPFW, he just never did a lot of things at IPFW.  As one of the more inconsistent players in the Summit League, McCray may not be dearly missed by the Dons.  They still have junior to be, Mo Evans (10.2 ppg), and senior to be Max Landis, who was on the Summit League All Newcomer team, to make McCray a forgettable player.  The more I type, the more easy it is to understand why IPFW did not do as well as expected in 2014-2015.

Transferred:

Gage Davis – He did not play in 2014-2015.

Herbert Graham – everyone likes a guy named Herb, well except for the IPFW coaching staff apparently.  In 3 years, he only played a total of 195 minutes at IPFW.

Jure Gunjina – he played in 243 minutes in his one year at IPFW before transferring to Division 2 Georgia Southwestern.  Seriously, what has IPFW been doing the last couple of years.


South Dakota – I still feel like head coach Craig Smith did the most with the least in the Summit League in 2014-2015.  The losses of Brandon Bos and Tyler Larson will be tough tough on the Coyotes, but Smith continues to bring guys in.  He will have Iowa transfer Trey Dickerson and Air Force transfer Matt Mooney sitting out in 2015-2016, unless they get some form of waiver, but Smith is quickly turning South Dakota into the Transfer Here school in the Summit League, which instate foe South Dakota State cannot be too excited about.

Graduated:

Brandon Bos – It can be difficult to make up for someone who was a great shooter, but great shooters are all around the Midwest.  And again, Craig Smith, he is no idiot.  If you watched the game mentioned earlier with Steve Forbes full out not caring against South Dakota, you would have noticed Brandon Bos playing the game of his life scoring 29 points on 7 of 12 shooting, he also had 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

James Hunter – Hunter came into Vermillion from Washington State and did just enough to give South Dakota some form of a post game.  He may have only averaged 6 points per game and 3.5 rebounds, but it is not like he was worthless.  Without him, the Coyotes could of had Tyler Larson playing center.  Smith will have Nebraska native Tyler Hagedorn and Minnesota guy Dan Jech to come in to fill in the post in 2015-2016, along with a core of upperclassmen guards, the Coyotes may actually have some expectations coming their way at the beginning of the year.  Thanks a lot, Craig Smith.

Tyler Larson – at 6’3″ Larson averaged nearly 8 rebounds a game, and averaged 14.4 points per game.  He could do a little bit of everything, which is what helped him land on First Team All Summit League team.  Not to brag, but I think I called that one.

Transferred

Adam Thoseby – The Coyotes lost one of the greatest beards that the Summit League has ever seen.  Thoseby’s minutes were dropped significantly from his sophomore to his junior year, so it was no surprise to see him go.


Denver – Only graduating two players can be a good thing, but only graduating arguably your two best players can prove to be a headache.  Losing your two best players and not doing nearly as well as anyone would have thought you would have done, that can lead to a mystery team next season.  They will essentially be playing Clue on the court in 2015-2016.  Now who scored the shot from the corner last game that started with a pump fake, and can they do it again?

Graduated:

Cam Griffin – Griffin had some off the court issues, which caused his playing time to fluctuate throughout the season.  Fans do not miss these guys.

Brett Olson –  averaging 14 points per game at a school like Denver, who runs the Princeton offense, is like losing a guy that averages 20 points per game at a different school.  One of the best shooters and most disciplined players in the entire league will not be an easy thing to make up.  Denver has never been a team for the stars though, they have been successful off of team efforts.  Head Coach, Joe Scott, may actually prefer not to have a main scorer on his team.  Either way, losing a 2nd team All Summit League player is not anything that anyone should ever be in love with.

Transferred:

Dorian Butler – the 6’6″ California native never played for the Pioneers.

Cameron Delaney – Delaney started to pick up some minutes toward the end of the 2014-2015 season, but it was not enough to convince the Texas native to stay.  Delaney and Love could have really been a decent combo for the Pioneers in 2015-2016, but we will never know.  Delaney is off to Sam Houston State, which is where all great players go.

Jalen Love – surprised to see him go, I really thought he would have been a guy that would have been used to make up for the loss of Griffin and Olson.  But he is off to (Hello,) Newman.


IUPUI – There have been a ton of transfers in and transferred out with the Jaguars since Jason Gardner has taken over at IUPUI, which is not entirely abnormal.  I am not really sure they will miss anyone that left, mainly because I doubt the staff has had enough time to learn everyone’s names.  They have lost a lot of players, but they have been one of the worst teams in the Summit League, so it is not like the guys they bring in can be any worse.  With 5 guys transferring out, you may want to assume that they were leaving because they see the incoming players as guys that are going to be better than them.  6 wins though in 2014-2015 is probably 6 more wins than most people assumed the Jaguars were going to get.

Graduated:

Player name, 2014-2015 stats

Khufu Najee – 6’4″, 190lbs…7.4 ppg, 3,1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 44% FG, 28-35 FTs, 6-22 3pters

DavRon Williams – 6’7″, 225lbs…8.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.7 blg, 57% FG, 58% FT

Transferred:

PJ Boute – 5’9″ , 160lbs, Junior…5.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 30% FG, 32% 3ptFG, 78% FT

Josh James – 6’9″, 225 lbs, Sophomore…3.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48% FG, 69% FT

Jalen McCallum – 5’9″, 160lbs, Sophomore…2.3 ppg, 0.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.6 spg, 56% FG, 2-3 FT

Elijah Ray – 6’6″, 232lbs, Sophomore…4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 47% FG, 70% FT

Justus Stanback – 6’8″ 220lbs, Sophomore…2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 52% FG


Omaha – Another a team only graduating two players, but also losing their two best players.  On top of losing their two best players, the Mavs top returning players; Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, and Jake White each had a significant number of injuries during the 2014-2015 season.  If Jake White can get healthy, he and Tre’Shawn Thurman can hopefully make up for what the Mavs are losing in Rostampour on the court.  Neither of them really seem to have the motor and intangibles that Rostampour brought to the Mavs however, not sure anyone does really.  It is still possible that the Mavs could lose some players to transfer as they have yet to announce any players leaving.  The Mavs will also have to learn to deal with more buzz in 2015-2016 as it is their first year being fully eligible for division one, and they will have a brand new arena.  Oh, and we cannot forget the Taco Cannon prestige.

Graduated:  – I am not going to talk a lot about them at this point, because I kind of already have…

CJ Carter – 2nd Team All Summit

Mike Rostampour – Honorable Mention All Summit


Western Illinois – Although the Leathernecks only went 3-13 against the Summit League in 2014-2015, they have to be pretty optimistic about 2015-2016, when they return their two top scorers, and one of those players was a 2nd Team All Conference player.  Really Western Illinois does not lose much of anything, and a number of players on the team showed some flashes of being quality players.  Really, I feel like the Leathernecks spent the entire 2014-2015 campaign as a way of waiting for the summer of 2015.

Graduated:

Mohammed Conde – led the Leathernecks in rebounding at 6 per game.  The Leathernecks are bringing in two 6’10 freshman, so it is possible that they will not even notice the loss, or at least will fill in the loss pretty quickly.  The Leathernecks really played from the outside-in, rather than the inside-out this season, so the post game was never really anything they relied on.

Remy Roberts-Burnett – I am not sure if he had some injuries or off the court issues, but his time decreased significantly this season and he missed 9 games this last season.  I also do not want to be mean, but Western Illinois went 5-4 without him.  They ended the season 8-20.  Math.

Transferred:

Tyson Reynold – The 6’9″ junior from New York played a total of 14 minutes and scored 2 points for Western Illinois.  Remember the fallen.

Kendall Rollins- Never played.