8 things to know about the Fort Wayne Mastodons

  1. The Mastodons had the 30th highest average attendance attendance increase from 2016 to 2017 (it was because they had a home game with Indiana and had 11,076 at that game).
  2. John Konchar led the conference in three point field goal shooting last season.  He shot 59.6 percent! The team also led the conference in most threes made, but were 5th in three point field goal percentage.
  3. John Konchar was listed as a sleeper for the NBA Draft.  For the sake of my brain, will someone please draft John Konchar?
  4. The ‘Dons play 4 games this season against non D-1 opponents.  4 freaking games!
  5. Since they are not in a Dakota, they have been ranked 4th or 5th in preseason Summit League rankings.
  6. It is likely that they have slipped in the rankings because they lost Mo Evans and have a “huge void to fill at point guard.”  If this is the case, they were actually scariest when John Konchar played at the point guard position, and fellow starter Bryson Scott is completely capable of handling the duties of point guard.
  7. The Commissioner of The Horizon League currently has any email with “Fort Wayne” in the subject or body to be automatically sent to their spam box.
  8. Their fans are probably going to see Tra-Deon Hollins in more NBA G League games than Omaha fans will.
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Summit League predictions: Feb 8-11

4-4 again last week.  This is actually a lot harder than it looks with everyone in the conference being so close.  The Tuesday to Thursday games always kill me.

February 7th

South Dakota (7-4) @ Fort Wayne (5-5)

The Coyotes defense held the high scoring Fort Wayne offense to 63 points last month, and most notably held John Konchar to 4-0f-12 shooting.  The game was a offensive struggle for both teams, and Tyler Flack was not playing in that game for South Dakota.  Can the ‘Dons have such an offensive struggle at home on a Wednesday night?

IUPUI (4-6) @ Omaha (6-5)

First off, if South Dakota loses and Omaha wins on Wednesday, they will be in a tie for third place.

Second off, IUPUI is so hit or miss this season, it’s hard to get a feel for them.  The Jaguars are also 0-3 in Wednesday/Thursday conference road games.

Third, the Mavericks had 10 blocks against the Jaguars in Indianapolis?

Fourth, there are going to be like 40 turnovers in this game, right?

Fifth, if you love half court offense, you should probably find a seventh grade YMCA game to attend tonight instead of this.

Western Illinois (4-7) @ Oral Roberts (3-8) on ESPN3

This loser of this game may very well be the team that does not make it into the Summit League tournament, so this game could sadly have a decent amount of intensity.  Intense like Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell chasing Jeremy Piven at the end of “Old School” intense but not that intense.

Western Illinois didn’t have a great rebounding advantage in Macomb, and each team had the same amount of turnovers, and made the exact same number of free throws, but Western Illinois made 7 more threes than Oral Roberts. That game was the 5th game in a row that Western Illinois had made at least 10 three point field goals, and since then they haven’t made more than 8 since or shot better than 35 percent on threes.  The difference in the game might not be the threes this time.

South Dakota State (5-6) @ North Dakota State (7-3) on ESPN3

It’s always fun when these two square off.  South Dakota State is on a three game winning streak with the last two wins against the two teams playing for last place.  North Dakota State has lost two in a row against South Dakota and IUPUI.

The Jackrabbits are not nearly as good on defense as the Coyotes or the Jaguars, and they don’t really match up that well against AJ Jacobson and Paul Miller.  If the Jackrabbits can play defense against Paul Miller, usually the Bison as a team do not play well.  Reed Tellinghuisen is just kind of a bad defender…

I also don’think it’s possible for North Dakota State to lose twice in a row at home.  I’m pretty sure the state has laws against this, so this is a safety thing for the Jackrabbits.

February 11th

South Dakota State (5-6) @ South Dakota (7-4) on ESPN3

What a tough week for the Jackrabbits.  Going from the bottom two teams in the Summit League at home to the top two teams in the Summit League on the road has to be a weird feeling.

The Coyotes are out for revenge after losing by 1 in Brookings on New Year’s Eve.

Seriously, are we not worried about the Jackrabbits’ safety this week?

Denver (7-4) @ North Dakota State (7-3) on ESPN3

Boring But Good meets Odd and Somehow Good.  You would think we should apply revenge factor to the Bison, and they probably will be out for revenge, but they were embarrassed in Denver.  That game probably led to the Pioneers to roll around the rest of the Summit League with a load of confidence.

Also, Denver is coming to Fargo with a week of rest.

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ IUPUI (4-6) on ESPN3

Prove that you can win on the road Oral Roberts.  I dare you.

Omaha (6-5) @ Fort Wayne (5-5) on, oh wait, it’s not on anything.

And I’ve just reached full on homer status.

I just want to start off saying that I’ve come to actually appreciate Fort Wayne fans.  They have a heart beat in them, and they engage in fun banter online against other Summit League fan bases.  They typically always back up their talk with an actual frame of reference.  If you point out something that their team is bad at, they see your point-of-view and can agree with your claim if factual. They don’t take you saying that they’re team is bad at defense, for example, as a personal attack and wish death upon your entire family like another fan base we know.

Now, the second half of conference play is a lot about revenge factor, intangibles, depth, and how you’re getting shafted on your schedule.  Sure, Fort Wayne is a better rebounding team.  Yes, John Konchar is unstoppable against the Mavericks.  Of course, Omaha has only beat Fort Wayne twice since transitioning to division 1.

Every game between these two teams has come down to the wire.  Omaha has been rebounding and playing better defensively ever since it was made obvious that they were a terrible rebounding team at home against South Dakota State.  Well that’s only two games, but you get it.  Daniel Meyer has played in the last two games like he has something to prove on the boards, so perhaps the Mavericks can actually defend Brent Calhoun for once.

John Konchar may be unstoppable against the Mavericks, but Derrin Hansen has been playing Daniel Norl off the bench more lately.  If you remember in the home game against the ‘Dons, and I’m going to throw out a guess that you don’t, Norl was the only Maverick that could stay in front of Konchar and keep the ball out of his hands.  Expect Norl to get more minutes against Konchar on Saturday.  I’m not claiming Norl is going to stop Konchar, the freaking guy shoots 64 percent from the field, but Norl defending Konchar for a few more possessions in Omaha could have made the difference.

Oddly, as much as the Mavs haven’t been able to stop Konchar and Calhoun, they have kept Mo Evans down in their meetings.  Evans has shot 37 percent in his career against Omaha, and he has shot 46 percent from the field during his career.

So if you’re wondering if the Mavericks are thinking revenge factor, and that they love playing on the road in big environments (in their minds) and haven’t been thinking about winning in the same building that Indiana lost in for a few months now…we’re wondering the same thing.

Summit League predictions: Jan 25-28

4-4 each of the last two weeks.  The Summit League isn’t easy this year with the teams being so close.

January 25

IUPUI (3-4) @ Fort Wayne (3-4)

The Jaguars won both games over Fort Wayne last season by a total of 5 points.  The Mastodons are looking to turn their luck around after three straight losses in the last couple of weeks.  Whoever wins this game gets to go to 4-4 and the other will be 3-5.

I don’t feel good about this and do not have a huge amount of confidence for Fort Wayne in this game, but here I am thinking home teams have a heavier advantage on weeknights…which hasn’t been totally consistent this season.

Reasons to like Fort Wayne:

  • They’re the home team.
  • They probably want it more after getting swept last season?
  • John Konchar, Mo Evans, and Bryson Scott are all really freaking good.

Reasons to not like Fort Wayne

  • IUPUI has one of the best defensive three point field goal percentages in the league, and have allowed the least amount of three point field goals in conference play.
  • Fort Wayne really doesn’t do a great job at getting to the free throw line, and they really need to force the Jaguars into foul trouble.
  • The Jaguars’ post players Matt O’Leary, Aaron Brennan, and Evan Hall all have decent mid to long rang games on offense, and Fort Wayne’s Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor are not the greatest at getting out and defending.
  • I love John Konchar, but I am not a fan of his current hair choice.  Who at Fort Wayne do we demand release of the stat splits based on the design of his hair?

I just want it known that out of all the Wednesday night games this week, I feel the least amount of confidence in this one.

Western Illinois (3-4) @ South Dakota (4-3)

The weakest offensive team in the Summit League playing at the strongest defensive team in the Summit League.  Should be fun.

Oral Roberts (3-4) @ North Dakota State (6-1) on ESPN3

The Bison are 3-0 at home and the Golden Eagles are 0-3 on the road.

I had been entering this yesterday, so now We know I can see the future, sort of:

Off topic:  North Dakota is the only team to beat the Bison in Fargo this season.  The Fighting…something are also second in the Big Sky so far.  It is possible they could win the Big Sky and the Bison could win the Summit.  Let’s open the floor for debate that if both make the NCAA Tournament, then the Summit should invite North Dakota to the league so we never have to face this possible catastrophe ever again.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Denver (4-3)

Hold on, I’m sick to my stomach.  Who would have thought, before the season, that Mike Daum versus Daniel Amigo would have been one of the most anticipated match ups between centers?  Even their back ups Ian Theisen versus Christian Mackey seems a bit fun.

It’s actually an interesting match up overall.  Two teams with 1st year head coaches, both trying out new offenses, both not the most consistent teams on defense, and both have a couple of the best sophomores in the league.  Both teams probably thinking next year with be their year.

In such an evenly matched game, how can you not want to favor the home team with an altitude advantage and just a wee bit more depth?

January 28

Fort Wayne (3-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-4) on ESPN3

While Fort Wayne has been under performing on the road, their post players Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor match up well to defend the Golden Eagles’ best player Albert Owens.

Oral Roberts has one of the worst perimeter defenses in the conference, which is music to the ears of the three point shooters of Fort Wayne.

Denver (4-3) @ South Dakota (4-3) on ESPN3

This might be the saddest Game of the Week the Summit League has had this year.

With Tyler Flack out, the Coyotes really do not have anyone to defend Daniel Amigo.  The Coyotes will be able to defend and disrupt the offense of Denver, but Amigo will still get touches on offense and shouldn’t be exerting too much of his energy on the defensive end.  Joe Rosga and Thomas Neff probably love the idea that South Dakota keeps teams out behind the three point line, since they both shoot higher than 43 percent in that area.

IUPUI (3-4) @ Western Illinois (3-4) on ESPN3

The Jaguars swept Western Illinois in two low scoring games last season.  Even though the Leathernecks have been playing poorly lately, the Jaguars no longer have the Garret Covington stopper we knew as Marcellus Barksdale.

In no way do I actually have confidence that Western Illinois will actually win this game, but they’re Western Illinois and they do weird things and have weird out of body experiences sometimes.  Saturday can be one of those days if Covington doesn’t have anyone to really bother him all day.

South Dakota State (2-5) @ Omaha (4-4) on ESPN3

The Mavericks will have an entire week of rest coming into this game, and South Dakota State will be on their second road game of the week after playing in Denver.

After that, you’re probably wondering why the Jackrabbits are in bold.  Omaha has a history of starting off games very slowly after having some rest.  After eight days of rest in December, they found themselves down 23-45 in Vermillion.  With more than a week of rest last year heading into the Summit League tournament, the Mavericks found themselves down by 15 at halftime against Denver.  On a week’s rest last season, they found themselves down by 13 at halftime in Fort Wayne, but were eventually able to force the game to overtime.

The Mavericks cannot have a slow start against the Jackrabbits.  They need to start off hot like they did in Brookings.  They cannot find themselves playing from behind to the Jackrabbits, who always have a good amount of fans at games in Omaha.

After being up big in Brookings, the Jackrabbits found daylight and almost came back to win that game.

Reed Tellinghuisen, who has been struggling this season, has shot 14-of-19 in his two career games in Omaha.  The Jackrabbits haven’t been that far off from any win this season, and if Tellinghuisen can get going and make the difference then the Jackrabbits could be going back to Brookings feeling like they may not be the team left out of the Summit League tournament.

Well, I want to cry.

 

 

A look at who the Summit League is losing

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

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


South Dakota

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

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

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

Graduates

Tre Burnette, 6’5″ guard/forward

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

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

Casey Kasperbauer, 6’1″ guard

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

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

Trey Norris, 6’0″ guard

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

Eric Robertson, 6’8″ forward/center

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

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

Duol Mayot, 6’5″ guard/foward

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

Departures

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

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

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

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

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

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


South Dakota State

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

Graduates

George Marshall, 6’0″ guard

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

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

Deondre Parks, 6’1″ guard

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

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

Jake Bittle, 6’4″ guard

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

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

Cory Jacobsen, 6’1″ guard

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

Departures

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

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

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

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


Omaha

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

Graduates

Devin Patterson, 5’11” guard

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

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

Jake White, 6’8″ forward

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

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

Randy Reed, 6’6″ forward

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

Tim Smallwood, 6’2″ guard

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

Departure

Devin Newsome, 5’9″ sophomore

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


IPFW

Graduates

Max Landis, 6’2″ guard

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

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

Joe Reed, 6’8″ forward

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

Michael Calder, 6’2″ guard

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

Departure

Andrew Poulter, 6’11” junior

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


Oral Roberts

Graduates

Obi Emegano, 6’3″ guard

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

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

Brandon Conley, 6’6″ forward

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

Departures

DaQuan Jeffries, 6’5 freshman

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

Tre Vance, 6’9″ junior

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


Western Illinois

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

Graduates

JC Fuller, 6’3″ guard

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

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

Tate Stensgaard 6’9″ forward

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

Jalen Chapman, 6’8″ forward

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

Jamie Batish, 6’4″ guard

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


North Dakota State

Graduates

Kory Brown, 6’4″ guard

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

Chris Kading, 6’9″ center

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

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

Departures

Trey Miller, 6’7″ freshman

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

Brian Ishola, 6’5″ sophomore

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


IUPUI

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

Marcellus Barksdale, 6’5″ guard

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

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

Mason Archie, 6’5″ guard

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

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

 

 

The Mastodons shouldn’t bury themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A stale South Dakota-IPFW SL Tourney preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summit League Predictions: Feb 3-6

I was 7-1 last week, and now I am 21-8 overall if you keeping track.  You are not keeping track.  I feel like I miss the most on IPFW.  Oh yeah, you’re not keeping track.

I may be completely off this week.  I just learned that Elizabeth Banks is going to play Rita Repulsa in the new Power Rangers epic.  It’s not that I am in shock over Banks playing a villain, I am just in shock that Hollywood thinks they can make money on a Power Rangers reboot.  Hopefully there is a really dark tone to the movie and gets taken seriously.  I am just kidding, it will be awful.  Hopefully there will be some realism in this round of the Rangers.  Like, how does Angel Grove go from being completely destroyed by a Megazord versus 500 Foot Alien battle, and there is still 8th period Algebra in the same day?  And this happened a few times a week.  Oh, and no one can replace Amy Jo Johnson as the Pink Ranger…no one.  Someone could easily replace her role in “Susie Q.”

Oh yeah, basketball…

So with the rest of the regular season, the Summit League tournament, and possible post season births; it is completely possible that the Summit League would have 4 teams finish with 20 or more wins.  South Dakota State and IPFW each need 2 wins, Omaha needs 5 wins, and North Dakota State needs 6 wins.  I don’t think the Summit has ever had 4 teams with 20 or more wins.

February 3rd

Omaha (7-2) @ Western Illinois (0-9) on ESPN3

The game in Omaha was a little scary for most of the 2nd half for the Mavericks.  JC Fuller started off hot in the game, but then cooled down in the 2nd half.  Fuller did have some interest from Omaha out of junior college, but not sure if there was an offer given by the Omaha staff.  This could be why he was taunting the Omaha bench after every made shot in the first half…why couldn’t the official that gave Tre’Shawn Thurman a technical foul for taunting IPFW have been doing the game?

Omaha is a better road team…and a home team…and an overall team than Western Illinois, but can the Leathernecks really go 0-16?  Daily Rpi has them going 1-15 in the Summit League with a win in their final game over South Dakota.  My hope is that Western Illinois does not come out with a Hey, We Almost Had This Last Time So This Can Be Our First Win mentality; and I hope Omaha comes out with a We CANNOT Lose This Damn Game mentality.  Omaha has yet to win in Macomb since transitioning to division one, so if they can win in Macomb it would be the 4th Summit League location they finally pick up a win at this season.  There is a little fight left in the Leathernecks, so the game could be closer than what you might think as a Mavs fan.  ESPN, as of the morning, had Omaha favored by 4 points.

Garret Covington was single handedly trying to pick up a win for his team last week at IUPUI.  He scored 8 straight points in a matter of 1 minute to keep the game close in the first half, and the Jaguars really did not have much of an answer for him second half.  Omaha was able to hold Covington to 4-of-13 shooting at the Baxter Arena, Tate Stensgaard became a problem for Omaha who was 13-of-15 from the floor.

February 4th

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ North Dakota State (4-4) on ESPN3

Oral Roberts beat North Dakota State in Tulsa by one point, but now the Golden Eagles have lost three games in a row.  North Dakota State almost won the game in the end…which when I think about it, it’s kind of ridiculous to say someone “almost won a game in the end” in a 1 point game…

North Dakota State is rebuilding a home game winning streak, and Oral Roberts is currently on a downhill trend.  The Golden Eagles average more turnovers in conference games than any other team, and every North Dakota State player appears to play better at home.

IPFW (7-2) @ South Dakota (2-7)

If Max Landis is feeling good, he could get 30 points in this game.  IPFW won the last time these two teams met in Fort Wayne…Mo Evans who is no longer playing this season, had 20 points and 9 assists in that game.

Craig Smith stated after the Coyotes’ loss to Denver that the team really isn’t listening to him right now, and not playing well together at all.  That’s exactly what you want going into a game with one of the best teams in the conference.

South Dakota is the worst rebounding team in the Summit, well other than Denver, and IPFW is the best rebounding team in the league.

IUPUI (7-2) @ Denver (3-6)

At first, I was all about Denver in this game with their home court advantage.  Denver probably will probably still not get away from their Princeton offense, and IUPUI plays the passing lanes and steals the ball away probably 90% as well as Omaha.  Jaguars beat Denver by 15 in Indiana and they can probably still win this game by at least 10.

February 6th

Denver (3-6) @ Omaha (7-2)

Omaha has a somewhat easy week with Denver and Western Illinois.  This better not be a trap.  Next week the Mavs have South Dakota State and North Dakota State in Omaha, both of those games should get over 3,000 in attendance.  When was the last time Omaha basketball had two games in the same week with over 3,000 in attendance.  The game against North Dakota State is the same day Omaha hockey plays Western Michigan.  Double header!

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ South Dakota (2-7)

This is actually a really difficult one.  South Dakota beat Oral Roberts in Tulsa, but Oral Roberts was playing without Obi Emegano.  South Dakota does not appear to really have an answer for a healthy Emegano, but no one seems to actually have an answer for Emegano, it’s the rest of the team that needs to step up.  Oral Roberts does have the needed three point shooting to defeat South Dakota.

IPFW (7-2) @ North Dakota State (4-4)

This could be a really fun, entertaining game.  IPFW won by 5 in Fort Wayne a couple weeks ago, a game that John Konchar had 19 rebounds.  The Bison can give Max Landis a few different looks, especially if they actually play Carlin Dupree again, just like Omaha did in the second half and he struggled against Landis.  By struggled, I mean he actually missed two shots in a row at some point.  This has to be the game that Landis’ minutes start catching up with him…right?

IUPUI (7-2) @ South Dakota State (7-2) on ESPN3

I’m just trying to put together the amount of revenge the Jackrabbits are going to come out with after losing to the Jaguars a few weeks ago, without Jake Bittle in the lineup.