The Pioneers will have to migrate on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Dakota State-Oral Roberts Summit Tourney preview

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, this game…

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

Player of the Year: Max Landis, IPFW

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

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

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

Coach of the Year: Derrin Hansen, Omaha

All Summit League Team

FIRST TEAM

Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts, Sr

Max Landis, IPFW, Sr

George Marshall, South Dakota State, Sr

Devin Patterson, Omaha, Sr

Deondre Parks, South Dakota State, Sr

Jake White, Omaha, Sr

SECOND TEAM

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Garret Covington*, Western Illinois, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

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

HONORABLE MENTION

Kory Brown, North Dakota State, Sr

Nate Engesser, Denver, Sr

AJ Jacobson, North Dakota State, So

Paul Miller, North Dakota State, So

Tre’Shawn Thurman, Omaha, So

NEWCOMER

Darell Combs, IUPUI, Jr

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Fr

Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha, Jr

John Konchar, IPFW, Fr

Joe Rosga, Denver, Fr

 

Summit League Predictions: Jan 28-31

I went 6-2 at this last week, losing on a dumb gamble with Western Illinois over North Dakota State and a IUPUI 2 point win over their instate rival IPFW.

By the way, IPFW versus IUPUI had a crowd of 1500.  Both are decent basketball teams, and it is an instate rivalry.  Imagine that UNK was division one (heaven forbid) and they played in the Summit League and played at Omaha as two of the better teams in the league.  The attendance in Omaha would get up around 4,000 people…just as the South Dakota State at South Dakota game was.

January 28

Omaha (6-1) @ South Dakota State (5-2) on ESPN3

More on this later…

IPFW (5-2) @ Oral Roberts (3-5) on ESPN3

Max Landis, who is a great shooter and great player, is averaging 39 minutes per game since Mo Evans was declared ineligible to play.  He only really went to the bench against Omaha when he was in foul trouble.  Can he play (and more importantly shoot) at a high level every game playing that many minutes?  He shot 30% from the field in the last two games, and both were in Fort Wayne…granted it was North Dakota State and IUPUI who are both sound defensive teams, but the point still remains.  Oral Roberts is a deeper team than IPFW and can give him and John Konchar a few different looks.

I tried to look up the last time Oral Roberts dropped 3 in a row at home, and it took too long so I gave up.  Oral Roberts does have the 2nd worst defensive field goal percentage in the league in front of Denver…and boring note: Oral Roberts is the only team to play every team in the league at least once so far.  They also average more turnovers than any other team in the league…okay I may have just sold myself out of Oral Roberts in this game.

South Dakota (2-5) @ Denver (2-5)

How did Root Sports not pick up this game?

Fun fact:  Both of these teams got their wins are against Western Illinois and Oral Roberts, and both teams beat Oral Roberts when Obi Emegano was out.

South Dakota did a really good job guarding Nate Engesser last season, but can an incredibly inconsistent team go to Denver and pick up a win?  Actually, they probably can.  You have to shoot efficiently against Denver in order to keep up with their Princeton Offense, and South Dakota is 7th in league games so far in field goal percentage.

A scary thing about Denver actually, they are 7th in turnovers in the Summit with 13 turnovers per game…which given how slow they play, is a lot like averaging 20 turnovers a game for most teams.  Crap, I may have just sold myself out of Denver in this game.

January 29

Western Illinois (0-7) @ IUPUI (5-2)

IUPUI did win at Western Illinois a few weeks ago.  Garret Covington shot 6-of-16 from the field and 2-of-9 from three against the Jaguars while Jabari Sandifer was 1-of-8 from the floor.  The Western Illinois offense comes down the court and appears to have no plan, and they have to go up against one of the best defenses in the league…so that should be gross.

There is just not a lot of confidence to put on the Leathernecks right now.

January 30

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

The Jackrabbits did lose in Denver last season, but the most experienced team against the least experienced team this year?

South Dakota (2-5) @ Omaha (6-1)

This might be the least comfortable I have ever been as a Mavs fan.  South Dakota is one of three teams that have averaged more assists than turnovers in Summit League play, they have to be the biggest wild card in the league, and their ability to keep teams on the outside scares me as a fan of team that is last in the Summit in three point field goal percentage.  South Dakota also held the Mavericks to just 4 fast break points in Vermillion, which is actually really impressive.

Omaha also has not played as well at home as they have on the road, and they needed a 21 point comeback to beat the Coyotes.  There always seems to be a few Coyote fans that come to their games in Omaha; I am not sure if it is because it is an easy travel; or South Dakota has a decent amount of alums in the Omaha area; or because living in Vermillion must be awful and you need any excuse to get out.  Probably all of the above.

In conference play, the Coyotes have averaged the most fouls per game in the league, and Omaha shot 35 free throws against them in Vermillion a few weeks ago…which is mostly why I am not selling myself out of Omaha in this game.

The Coyotes can be trouble if Tyler Flack is back and healthy finally.

January 31

North Dakota State (4-3) @ IUPUI (5-2) on ESPN3

IUPUI is really trying to go all out to advertise fans to come out to their games this weekend…so maybe the Jaguars will have a home court advantage for once.

Let me tell you something interesting!  I was really going for Jim Carrey’s Fire Marshall Bill character screaming “Let me show you something!” but I probably failed to really capture it with just an exclamation point…IUPUI is 2nd in conference games so far in field goal percentage, and North Dakota State is 1st in defensive field goal percentage…on the reverse of that, North Dakota State is 6th in field goal percentage and IUPUI is 3rd in defensive field goal percentage…

IUPUI is 2nd in league play in steals per game, which being behind Omaha in that category is not too bad; and these teams are about even in turnovers.  So two of the best defensive teams can make for a low scoring frustrating game.  The Jaguars appear to have better defenders equipped to go against the Bison’s best players…Marcellus Barksdale, or Nick Osborne, or Mason Archie against AJ Jacobson (who has been struggling lately), Paul Miller, or Kory Brown.  NDSU’s true freshman Khy Kabellis is going to have to be matched up against Darrell Combs who averages 16 points per game, or Jordan Pickett who has averaged 11.6 points per game over the last 6 games.  Kabellis has shot 29% from the field when playing outside the state of North Dakota.

Western Illinois (0-7) @ IPFW (5-2)

Western Illinois had the best three point field goal percentage as a team in non-conference play, partially because they played just the dumbest non-conference schedule ever.  In league play, the Leathernecks are 8th in the conference in three point field goal percentage, and they are 8th in points per game in front of Denver…and IPFW is tied in first with Omaha in scoring.  The Leathernecks are also 8th in field goal percentage and IPFW leads the league in rebounding.  IPFW might be able to renovate their arena with all the bricks they’ll be able to pick up.

The Denver Pioneers need to grow up

Dear 5BWest,

I read all 475 words of your post “Summit League basketball needs to grow up.”  I read it 3 times, and skimmed through it a couple more times all while my brain drew a picture of a typical Denver Pioneer fan.  I admit the image did not come out positively, but I would like to point out a few things to you.

The University of Denver (10-9, 2-4 Summit), a young team sitting at one game above .500, has exceeded early season expectations.

I would like to point out that you that the Denver Pioneers have not exceeded any expectations.  Your team was selected 8th in the Summit League preseason poll, and through 6 games your team is currently tied for 7th.  I feel sorry for anyone who thinks that this is exceeding expectations.  One of the two Pioneers’ wins are at home against an Oral Roberts team who did not have the league’s leading scorer, Obi Emegano, who was out with concussion symptoms.  The team’s other win was against Western Illinois.  These two wins do not mean you have exceeded expectations.

Regardless of how the Pios  perform against UNO tomorrow night, it really doesn’t matter.

Way to diminish every game your team plays, I am sure the coaching staff and players working their asses off really appreciate your support.  Go tell your teams’ players that what they are doing is worthless.  By the way, if Denver beats UNO tonight and Pioneer fans brag up the win, it is your responsibility to tell them that they are idiots.

South Dakota State, an early league favorite, is 14-5 but a lackluster 3-2 in league play and it really doesn’t matter.

I love the “it doesn’t matter” tone you are putting down here.  You sound like the kid in high school who cannot find a girlfriend, so he justifies it with “high school is stupid and all these relationships end some day.”  I can say that with a full amount of confidence because I was that kid.  If it really did not matter, your precious Denver Pioneers would not run a respectable offense based on finding the absolute best shot on each and every single play, instead we would just see Nate Engesser throwing up half court heaves a minute into the game.  It’s about developing skills and decision making for these kids later in life.  As a guy who is married to a former division one athlete, who never got to experience a post season tournament, I can tell you that it does matter.  See, now the picture I have painted of a typical Denver Pioneer fan is a 6’2″, 120 pound kid with black nail polish and black eyeliner trying to prove a point.  Look at what you have done.

The Summit League, like most conferences, should be playing on a neutral court in either Des Moines, Iowa or Kansas City, Missouri. Both locations are convenient travel destinations for league members, provide lower cost travel, offer more attractive  amenities for visitors, provide more hospitable weather, and are ‘neutral’.

I can half agree with you here, but later you went here…

Today, a flight to Sioux Falls from Denver costs $400-600 per seat and hotel options and entertainment options are, at best, limited.

Have you been to Des Moines?  I have never heard a person come back from a late winter/early spring trip to Des Moines and talk about the amazing time they had.  The Iowa State fair has fried butter as a meal…seriously.

DU is not the only school that faces this unfair, unattractive disadvantage. BYU, IUPUI, and Western Illinois have to travel to Sioux Falls, too. How many of their fans will be there to support their teams? The answer to that question is easy.

Is BYU joining the Summit?  I would love that!  You should watch an IUPUI and/or a Western Illinois game on ESPN3 sometime.  Just being them is a disadvantage.  I am not sure they have fans.  IUPUI has put together a pretty decent basketball team this year, and they are barely getting 1,000 fans to each game.  Western Illinois fans…well…all 12 of them don’t have to worry about traveling to Sioux Falls right now.

Recruiting players to 1-bid conferences is difficult enough. Try to tell a recruit  they will be playing for the only conference bid on a hostile court with no fan support.

Whether you refuse to accept it or not, Jason Mims is doing a pretty good job for UNO soccer.  When going to a recruit’s home to try and talk them into Omaha during the transition, he said he simply just didn’t even talk about the transition.  If it came up, he would talk about how he would develop a player into a responsible adult.  Try that.  Try to talk about developing young people into responsible human beings…not “hey we play our conference tournament in Las Vegas so our fans can get so drunk they pee themselves inside a casino and people will call them daredevils…all while you’re in a hotel room not being able to enjoy Vegas because you’re 19 years old.”

Your basketball team is built on guys who were undervalued out of high school, and are playing for Denver because they have skills that are great to their system.  I have to say, it’s actually amazing to watch, and I sit here asking: “Was Joe Rosga not on Omaha’s radar?”  That is actually how to recruit to a 1-bid conference…and technically, every conference is a 1-bid conference.  The Missouri Valley is supposed to be a “Only 1 Team Conference” but they regularly get in 2 teams, and in 2006 they were able to get 4 teams into the NCAA tournament.  It might be because the conference tournament is in St. Louis, but that’s probably not the only reason…probably.  I need to see your highly analytical presentation to the Summit League to make a conclusion.

The conference tournament should be an ‘event’ – not an inconvenient, unfair obstacle for fans and players .

Let’s face it, our athletic programs we follow are 3rd or 4th rate programs in terms of local fan bases.  Denver has Colorado and Colorado State to compete with.  Omaha has Nebraska and Creighton to go up against for fans.  IUPUI and IPFW have Indiana, Notre Dame, Indiana State, Evansville, and others.  Oral Roberts has Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to deal with.  North Dakota State, South Dakota, and South Dakota State just have themselves, though, I think some of their fans double up as Minnesota fans.  I have family that live in Denver and I go a few times a year, rarely have I seen Denver Pioneers memorabilia in an establishment to show pride. So are people from Denver going to travel to Las Vegas and in the same month to your hypothetical Des Moines/Kansas City scenario?

The Summit League boasts that their current RPI puts them in the top 10 basketball conferences in the country. If the Summit League truly wants to improve their national profile, they need to offer a neutral court tournament in a more attractive location. The Summit League needs to grow up, or Denver needs to get out.

A neutral court in a more attractive location is not the one and only solution to grow the conference.  I do see your point that it is somewhat a disadvantage to host the conference tournament in Sioux Falls each and every single year, but is Des Moines or Kansas City the only destinations to throw out there?  Denver fans still have to travel a long distance, and hotels should be slightly more expensive than Sioux Falls.  In Sioux Falls, you have 4 teams that have easy short drives.  Kansas City really only provides an easy commute for Omaha and maybe the South Dakota schools…there is not really a city where everyone wins the easy commute.

Basketball teams in the conference built tough non-conference schedules to build up their own reputations, and other reasons, but it helped grow the conference.  The brand got out there with South Dakota State and South Dakota both winning at Minnesota, and other big non-conference games.  The brand didn’t get out there with Denver’s weak non-conference schedule built on Utah Valley, Idaho State, South Alabama, Air Force, Wyoming, Weber State, and San Diego.

If you want the Summit League to grow up, then Denver needs to grow up too.  Yeah, go back to the WAC purely on the basis that their conference tournament is in Las Vegas.  That is the grown up thing to do.  That is a grown up conference everyone is fighting to get into.

 

 

 

 

Summit League Predictions: Jan 6-9

So for my preseason rankings, I went through the Summit League schedule and applied wins and losses to each game, and I did it several times looking at different angles and added up all the records to come out with some standings.  So what the hell, why not provide some updated predictions as teams actually physically play?

January 6th

South Dakota @ IPFW

The home team lost each game in this series last season.  I admit to being a jerk toward IPFW all year, and I have little faith in this team’s post game and overall depth.  I also was not too huge on South Dakota going into the season, so this is a bit difficult of a game to pick.  The ‘Dons were never really tested in the non-conference, but they were able to pick up a win at home against Oral Roberts…which is something I originally thought would happen given Oral Roberts back and forth schedule to start Summit League play after playing an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule.

South Dakota forces more teams to take more threes than any other team in the league, and the ‘Dons make 10 threes per game and are 2nd in the conference in three point field goal percentage, which is why I am taking IPFW in this game…with a low amount of confidence.

Match up of the game could be: John Konchar (11.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 57 fg%) versus Tre Burnette (15.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 48fg%).  Both are undersized at the 4 position, but are both very essential for their teams.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

I really wanted to say Oral Roberts here, and really just on the basis of Oral Roberts Cannot Drop Seven Games in a Row.  That thinking is how you lose 500 dollars in roulette.  How could it possibly land on red 6 times in a row?  Clearly, the smart decision here is to put all my money on black!  Green double zero!  Where is that hospital that gives you money for a kidney?

The key to this game is if Obi Emegano will be in the game or not.  Emegano missed Oral Roberts’ game against South Dakota and the Golden Eagles ended up losing by 10.  The team made up of mostly newcomers had 22 turnovers against the Coyotes.  You cannot turn the ball over against Denver who is going to make the most out of every possession on you, especially when Denver is traditionally a very good home team.

Assuming Emegano is not playing…the match up of the game could be Jalen Bradley (10.1 ppg, 24 made threes, 38 3pt fg%) versus Nate Engesser (13.1 ppg, 33 made threes, 56 fg%).


January 7th

South Dakota State @ IUPUI

This is another game that is coming down to a key injury.  Jake Bittle has missed the last 6 games, and the Jackrabbits have acknowledged that they have a number of little nagging injuries to a number of players.  The Jacks have dropped 2 of their last 5, which really is not all that terrible, but all the last 5 games have been close with or without Bittle…the scrappy defense of the Jaguars could really get to the Jackrabbits if they do not have Bittle.  Seriously though, if Bittle plays you can change my prediction to South Dakota State winning the game.  I discussed how the Summit League is so close that an injury to any team could affect their standings in conference play.  Granted, I said teams 2 to 8, but Rob, you were there!

The key match up in this game could be Matt O’Leary (10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 46 fg%) versus Mike Daum (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 52 fg%).  I realize I look like a total clown picking this as the match up, but Daum could be the only chance the Jackrabbits have at stopping O’Leary.  O’Leary has really been consistent all year and he kept getting wide open looks and getting to the basket against Omaha, but just couldn’t convert as he went 4-of-12 from the field…he could be able to find the bottom of the basket if he gets the same type of looks at home.  Yes, I know defensively the Jackrabbits are different team than Omaha, but ride this out with me.  O’Leary also leads all players 6’7″ or taller in assists in the league, so there is that as well.

Omaha @ North Dakota State

See, I am not a completely biased loon!  The Mavericks have yet to beat North Dakota State since transitioning to D1.  They are going to have to overcome the fact that almost no player on their current active roster has really had a good game against the Bison.  In 4 career games, Devin Patterson has averaged 7.8 points and shot 22% from the field against the Bison.  Ouch.  Tre’Shawn Thurman did have 18 and 8 in his first game against the Bison last season, but only had 2 points later in the season when they moved him to the bench to bring in Jake White.

The Mavs need Thurman, Jake White (who combined for 2-of-13 in two games against the Bison last season), Daniel Meyer, and Randy Reed to play big against the defensively sound post of Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, and AJ Jacobson.

The fun match up will be Thurman against Jacobson after Thurman had his 18 and 8 in their first meeting and Jacobson had 17 and 8 in their first career game against each other.  The key match up will be if Tra-Deon Hollins who leads the nation in steals can keep the ball away from Paul Miller who is scoring 16.6 points per game and shooting 43% from the field and from behind the arch.


January 9th

IUPUI @ Western Illinois

I fully believe IUPUI is the better team of the two, but IUPUI has not won in Macomb since 2011…and the Leathernecks are a completely different team at home.  This game is on ESPN3, but it could be as difficult to watch as someone trying to decide between rebooting Weekend at Bernie’s or trying to come out with a good plot line for Weekend at Bernie’s 3.  Watching Marcellus Barksdale defend Garret Covington could be worth the watch, but I have come to terms that Covington for as good of a scorer that Covington is, is incredibly boring to watch.

Omaha @ South Dakota

Alright good, I am back to being a homer.  Both games between these two teams were exciting last year, even if Omaha did play with a hobbled Devin Patterson in Vermillion.  The Mavs will have to hit some threes against South Dakota and/or get to the free throw line as much as possible.  Omaha MIGHT have JT Gibson back by this one for some three point shooting.

IPFW @ Denver

The Dons were absolutely unphased by the Pioneers last season beating them by 16 points in both contests.  Does this not seem like the least interesting match up of all Summit League teams?  This is the Rachel Weisz film of the Summit League.  Seriously, find a serious actor or actress with a lineup of less interesting films.  It gets shaky after “The Mummy.”

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts should have Obi Emegano back, which I think would add plenty enough emotion to give them confidence after losing so many games recently.  I would like to say the Bison have the best defensive guards in the Summit League to handle Emegano, but he had 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting against the Bison last season in Tulsa.  The Mabee Center is not an easy place for teams to come in and pick up wins, unless you are South Dakota…then it is a little easy somehow.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

I think the Mavs played St. Marys, so I made some inane comments

I did not go to last night’s game.  It is not that I did not want to go, but it seemed impossible for me to convince another human being to go to this game with me, especially with the Chiefs-Broncos going on at the same time.  I thought of finding the one person I have a connection with that knows the least about college basketball, but also fills out a bracket each year just because their work forces them to; and I would just convince them that they beat that St. Mary’s team that is always in the bracket and winning a game or two.  I ended up not doing that.  I watched the game from home.

  • Gary Sharpe accidentally referred to Zach Jackson as Zachson…this is going to have to become a thing.
  • Hollins gets in every passing lane.  He might get 10 steals this game.
  • Can hear Sharpe and Grant Nieland talking over the audio of the commercial.  They’re thinking Omaha will win by 40 or 60.  I love this perk from Mav access.
  • Tim Smallwood is showing some great hustle so far.  Hope he keeps it up.
  • Jake White picks up his second foul, and Hansen is keeping him on the court; because why not?
  • The Mavs seem to be giving up some good looks on the perimeter to St. Mary’s, this could get scary when the Mavs are playing the likes of South Dakota State.
  • Did Tim Smallwood drink some Brawndo?
  • Devin Newsome had this running floater in the lane, that he missed, but I sat here in amazement at what was happening.  I hope he’ll use this aggressiveness in the future.
  • Hey some skinny blonde lady in a bikini just followed me on twitter.  I should give her my social security number.
  • I love the unintentional college football analysis between Sharpe and Nieland during the half time.  Sharpe called Alabama “sick.”  I’m not hip enough to use “sick” as a good thing yet.  You’re using something negative to describe something in a positive form.  I would never say “Alabama is so George Clooney as Batman.”
  • I’m bummed and happy at the same time about the redshirt to Marcus Tyus.  I am scared about this team’s three point shooting.  I think it is a legitimate concern.  I commented earlier how one injury could hurt any team in the standings from 2nd to 9th…so this could really hurt the Mavericks.  I do know that this will be a big help to Tyus’ career and his overall health.
  • The mouse on my new computer is so annoying.  Thank God it has a touch screen.
  • Daniel Meyer has a number of post moves.  It seems like he’s got part A, part B, but just cannot finish on part C of each post move, yet.  Can we just throw the ball to him for last 5 minutes of the game to let him work on that?
  • Sharpe keeps referring to players as a “southpaw” and I have no idea what it means.  I am just sitting here smiling and nodding.
  • I think Sharpe just hit on Bonnie Ryan during the kiss cam…
  • Kyler Erickson with an amazing steal of an inbound pass.  Players work harder when he’s on the court.  When my Millard South friends ask me how he is doing, I tell them he is the high energy guard off the bench.  He makes everyone else on the court work harder.  That’s an important character to have on a team.
  • Number changes sometimes confuse me.  Every time I get a glimpse of Tim Smallwood in his new number, I am just like: what the hell is Rostampour doing?
  • My wife is in the other room and is taking a break from the research she does on all of her grants, and she is watching Gossip Girl and laughing.  I’m just so damn mad right now.  By the way, do you realize how much research goes into a grant?
  • We just gave up 3 offensive rebounds on one play.  Need to work on boxing out on defense.  Newsome is the Maverick that finally came up with the rebound.
  • Meyer with a great baseline spin move to get a basket.
  • Meyer with a three point attempt.  I feel like Hansen might ground him for that one.  I feel like it’s going to be like Major League when Wesley Snipes makes an unnecessary flashy catch and manager has the best line in the entire trilogy to top off the scene.  Actually I am not sure if Major League counts as a trilogy.  Major League 2 is a significant drop off, and you would have a hard time picking between Major League 3 and George Clooney as Batman for something to sit around and waste 2 hours with.  Plus, ML3 has Scott Bakula, and it is impossible to watch Scott Bakula in a sports movie and not lose concentration wondering when the hell Paul Blake made the transition from a college quarterback in his 30s to transitioning to AAA baseball manager.  I would have gone into a coma if Sinbad was cast in ML3.
  • People are leaving a minute early, so they can beat the traffic from the 100 people at the game.
  • Mavs went 8-16 on the cursed basket.  I really think that Remy Davenport and Ellie Brecht broke the curse.
  • I wonder if an outsider is going to look at the stats of this game and say something along the lines of: Tre’Shawn Thurman only had 3 points, he’s having a sophomore slump.
  • Derrin Hansen said he needed to get these three freshmen games, so it was great to get them a game where they could figure game situations out.  All three scored in double figures.
  • This team is deeper than last season.  I know it wasn’t a top opponent, but you want your players to be efficient in games like this, and everyone off the bench played incredibly efficient.  The Mavericks were missing a high energy bench guy last season.  Now they have: JT Gibson, Randy Reed, Kyler Erickson, and possibly Tim Smallwood and Devin Newsome as high energy guys off the bench.

Some random things around The Summit League

  • I thought Wisconsin was incredibly overrated at 17, but losing to Western Illinois…after leading at halftime?  It is incredible to see Western Illinois get this win though.  They were picked 8th or 9th by most in The Summit League.  I thought they would be tougher outs in games because of their experience, but maybe still struggle.  They can be great if Garret Covington has a sidekick.
  • Denver with 3 games in 3 days.  I am still in shock that Marcus Byrd could get 8 assists in one game.  Nate Engesser with 26 points in 27 minutes against Lipscomb.
  • Paul Miller is rapidly rising as a star, as the Bison were expecting.  They were thinking that Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, and Miller would all have to make up for the scoring loss of Lawrence Alexander.  Turns out that they just need Paul Miller to do it.  Malik Clements is looking pretty good too, the Mavs offered him out of high school.
  • I watched IPFW’s game on ESPN3 when I got home Friday night.  I am still not sold on this team as a team in the top half of the standings in The Summit.  Their highly touted newcomers did very little against Valpo.  Other than John Konchar, he looks good.
  • Oral Roberts with a nice win over Missouri State.  Former Mav, Jalen Bradley, had a game high of 16 points with 4 threes.  AJ Owens had 14 points and 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks to make me look silly.  It’s scary to think that the Golden eagles could get a win while Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley did not play very well.
  • IUPUI with a win at Indiana State…how is that Summit League-Missouri Valley challenge talk looking now?
  • South Dakota also with 3 games in 3 days.  Tre Burnette had 22 points and 16 rebounds against Wright State.

 

I had some time, so I came up with a Summit League Super Team

The Summit League preseason team came out last week, and it was pretty fair.  It is actually really difficult to come up with a 1st and 2nd Team list of picks, especially in a guard heavy league and you are a fan that wants to see the first team be a traditional line up with 2 post players, a wing player, and 2 guards.

I was listening to the recordings from the Summit League Media Day yesterday and was happy that Scott Nagy basically called preseason teams pointless.  Last year no one predicted that his players Deondre Parks and George Marshall would be all league picks, and it is basically because no one knows how the newcomers are going to do at this point.  Or if someone like Tyler Larson is going to see a huge improvement in play.

IUPUI’s transfers Nick Osborne and Darell Combs could be better than AJ Jacobson and Garett Covington for all we know.  Or IPFWs redshirt freshman John Konchar could be a better player than Jake Bittle.  We have to wait and find out.  Preseason picks are basically made to make us even more excited for the college basketball season.

So I wanted to do something (that I thought) that would be fun and create a Summit League Super Team…  This was nothing more than merely fun and to verify my lunacy…maybe to show how much time I have on my hands with my wife busy studying and working toward her PhD.

Imagine there is a tournament with the best players from each conference each year at the end of every season.  There can be a power conference tournament and a mid-major tournament if you are really scared about this, but it is make believe, so get over it.  So, each conference has to put together a 12 man roster of their best players from the conference, and you can have three players that can be reserves in case any of the 12 get injured.  They can be in any year of eligibility, but they must have been eligible in the 2015-2016 season in this case.  One wrinkle in the roster is that you have to have at least one player from each team on the 15 man roster.

So let’s pick someone from each team.


Denver – Nate Engesser – 6’3″ Sr

  • 2nd best field goal percentage (51.4%), free throw percentage (82.9%) of any player returning to the Summit
  • 4th highest amount of 3 point field goal percentage (42.9%) of any player returning

IPFW – Mo Evans – 6’0″ Jr

  • Ranks 3rd in Assists Per Game (3.3) of returning players

IUPUI – Marcellus Barksdale – 6’5″ Sr

  • Tied for 2nd highest steals per game average (1.7) of any player returning to the Summit League
  • Played 4 different positions for the Jaguars in 2014-2015
  • Ranks 4th in free throws attempted per game for any returning player

NDSU – AJ Jacobson – 6’6″ So

  • 4th highest free throw percentage (82%) for any player returning
  • 18 games of scoring in double figures

Omaha – Devin Patterson – 5’11” Sr

  • One magazine voted him as preseason defensive player of the year
  • Summit League leader in steals per game for last 2 years
  • 2nd highest Assists Per Game (3.9) of any returning player
  • Ranks 3rd in free throws attempted per game for any returning player

ORU – Obi Emegano – 6’3″ Sr

  • Voted Preseason Player of the Year
  • Most points per game (18.3) of any returning player to the Summit League
  • Tied for 2nd highest steals per game average (1.7) of any player returning to the Summit League
  • Scored in double figures in 28 games in 2014-2015

USD – Tre Burnette – 6’5″ Sr

  • Leading rebounder (5.9/game) for returning Summit League players
  • Had 4 double doubles in 2014-2015
  • Averaged 12.3 points per game in the month of February 

SDSU – Deondre Parks – 6’1″ Sr

  • 3rd highest points per game average (14.1) for any returning Summit League player
  • 2nd most 3 point field goals made (69) of any returning player to the Summit League
  • Scored in double figures in 27 games in 2014-2015

WIU – Garret Govington – 6’5″ Jr

  • 2nd highest points per game average (15.5) for any returning player 
  • 4th highest amount of three point field goals made (63) for any returning player to the Summit League
  • 3rd highest free throw percentage (82.8%) for any returning player
  • 2nd most free throws attempted per game for any returning player

Okay…okay…the first thing I think when I look at this finished roster is that the team is small.  We are going to need some height on this roster to compete against the other conferences.  We cannot reasonably take this team to a tournament like this with Barksdale, Burnette, and Jacobson as our post game.  How about we throw in candidates to fill out the roster.

Denver – Marcus Byrd

IPFW – Joe Reed, DeAngelo Stewart

IUPUI – Mason Archie, Darell Combs, Nick Osborne

NDSU – Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, Chris Kading, Dexter Werner

Omaha – Tre’Shawn Thurman, Marcus Tyus, Jake White

USD – Casey Kasperbauer, Trey Norris

SDSU – Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Reed Tellinghuisen

WIU – JC Fuller, Jabari Sandifer


So we have to pick six out of these twenty guys, which is not easy.  How about we address the post player void first and pick three post players from the list.  Am I too bias to throw in Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman right off the bat?  Are Byrd or Kading better players than either of them?  The jury is out on Byrd since he plays in such a slow paced offense.  Kading apparently had 3 surgeries since the basketball season ended.  Osborne has yet to play a game in the Summit, and we are just going off of the He Played Alright in a Slightly Bigger Conference So He Has to be Pretty Good With a Year Off and Now Into a Smaller Conference card.

I like Reed though, he’s going to go from being the ‘Dons 5th option to being their 2nd or 3rd option.  He can step back and hit the three, even though he is not going to do it a lot.  He also played very well when Steve Forbes was hurt for a few games.  Okay, we are adding Reed and Thurman for sure.  So White or Kading…I know Kading did not score a bunch of points in 2014-2015, but he did not need to.  He led the Summit League in blocks per game season, and this team needs rim protection.  With Thurman and Burnette on the team, the team will have to the two leading returning rebounders in the Summit League, so we are somewhat covered there.  I think I got to take Kading on this one.  But crap, what about Dexter Werner?  He was probably actually the most important member of the Bison last season not named Alexander or Jacobson.  You look at Werner and you think he is just going to get rebounds and put backs, but that is not true.  He gets the ball at the top of the lane and drives it to the basket when he wants.  He also has some pretty spectacular spin moves that put a number of Summit League guards to shame.  I know he is undersized, but I think we have to go Werner, especially considering the injuries to Kading and White.

So we have Werner, Thurman, and Reed on the roster.  We are up to twelve.


G Marcellus Barksdale – 6’5″ Sr

G Tre Burnette – 6’5″ Sr

G Garrett Covington – 6’5″ Jr

G Obi Emegano – 6’3″ Sr

G Nate Engesser – 6’3″ Sr

G Mo Evans – 6’0″ Jr

F AJ Jacobson – 6’6″ So

G Devin Patterson – 5’11” Sr

G Deondre Parks – 6’1″ Sr

F Joe Reed – 6’8″ Sr

F Tre’Shawn Thurman – 6’7″ So

F Dexter Werner – 6’6″ Jr


This team has two very good point guards in Devin Patterson and Mo Evans, but they both can be a little fast.  We might need a guy to say “SLOW DOWN!!!”  The guy for that is Jake Bittle.  It is not like Bittle is slow, but if you ever watch a Jackrabbits game, Bittle is the man to run the half court offense.  He holds the ball at the top of the key and then Parks and Marshall work to get open.  He is the quarterback and they are the wide receivers.

I feel like we are one post player away.  I know I had Kading and White as the leading candidates before, but I want to go with IUPUI’s Nick Osborne on this one.  He is a transfer, sure, but there are high expectations around him for the Jags.  Maybe not as much as Cody Larson had when he transferred to South Dakota State from Florida, but there are high expectations for him.  I am not sure if he is going to be a great player in the Summit League, or better than White or Kading, but damn it I want to take the gamble here.

So this team has some rebounding and rim protection, ball handling and passing, three point shooting, and perimeter defense.  I think we might have to go with George Marshall here.  He is probably not the most important player on his team, but he is highly needed on what should be the best team in the Summit League in 2015-2016.

I don’t know how this team would do in a tournament like this, because I already wasted enough time make this, so it is not like I’m going to go waste even more by making an Super WAC Team.  It is probably not even the top 15 guys in the conference, but it would be an extremely competitive team.

supert


 

Here is a change of pace and the All Summit Get Ready for Terrible Puns and Poor Jokes Team

Thomas Neff – Denver

ex:  Thomas has had Eneff

Paul, Dylan, and Trey Miller – North Dakota State

ex: It’s Miller Time.

Expect this to get incredibly annoying.

Dan Jech – South Dakota

ex:  Dan with the ReJechtion!

Tyler Flack – South Dakota

ex:  Tyler takes no Flack!

Deondre Parks – South Dakota State

ex:  Deondre Parks himself on the bench.

 

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.