It’s hard to believe that the Jaguars finished in the top half of the Summit League this season, especially if you can remember that this program won a total of 12 basketball games over the course of two seasons when the Mavericks were just joining the Summit League. They continue to get better season after season, and 2016-2017 should be much of the same. If you watched their Summit League tournament game against North Dakota State, and that was all you saw of them, you would think they were back to being the worst team in the league.
The Jaguars only lose two seniors going into 2016-2017, though those players were both significant contributors, but the team should be even better in next season, on paper. Jason Gardner’s teams won 6 Summit League games in 2015 and 9 in 2016, it is not inconceivable to imagine that they can win 12 conference games in 2017. This is assuming the whole team doesn’t just quit or something.
This season was somewhat of a transition season for the Jaguars as they introduced introduced 7 new players to the basketball court. They tried to introduce all of these new players to their system by only playing two non-conference home games. This just sounds like an uphill battle. You could tell by the end of their non-conference season that the team had run out of steam. The Jaguars lost their final 5 non-conference road games by an average of 25 points. One of those losses was a 35 point loss to Creighton. Good for you Creighton. I’m glad you could find those games in your schedule that can benefit you.
What was most impressive to me about the Jaguars was how mature their players were on the basketball court. They got the luxury of having almost every freaking game on ESPN3, so they actually had one of the biggest spotlights on their players so it was a little more visible to see their maturity as opposed to a team like Denver, who was hardly on anything for Mav fans to watch. Their players hardly ever argued with the officials, they just played. Their players didn’t try and do things they were incapable of doing, you hardly saw them taking 30 footers or driving into the lane with three dudes on them. Their players handled post game interviews well, and you could tell how important basketball was to them. Everyone on their team also appeared as if they were 30 years old.
The Jaguars are going to have the most coming back to their roster in 2016. They lose Marcellus Barksdale, so their defense may not be as scrappy next season, but their offense shouldn’t miss much of a beat. Their offense may actually be better adding Syracuse transfer Ron Patterson to the lineup. Patterson was seldom used at Syracuse, and he shot a rather low percentage of 31% from the field in 14 minutes a game in his sophomore season at Syracuse. But believe me, if the Mavericks had a Syracuse transfer, you would be pumped…no matter how terrible his stats were at Syracuse.
This season the Jaguars had 4 players that were transfers that finally got to play. Darell Combs was a transfer from Eastern Michigan, he averaged 7.4 points per game in his sophomore season at EMU and then 16.3 points for the Jaguars in his junior season – which was 6th in the Summit League and will be the 2nd highest for any players returning to the league next season. The team also introduced three players from Loyola, where Gardner used to be an assistant coach.
Matt O’Leary became one of the most consistent post players in the league, he averaged 10.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists a game in the Summit – after averaging 4.2 points and 2 rebounds his sophomore season at Loyola. Nick Osborne added 8 points and 6 rebounds per game after averaging 5 and 4 in his sophomore season at Loyola. Osborne and O’Leary really have the potential to be the best forward combo down low in the league next year. Sophomore Jordan Pickett was hardly ever used at Loyola in his freshman season because of injuries, but he was able to score 9.4 points per game primarily off the bench for the Jaguars this season.
With a bulk of their lineup coming back, the Jaguars have the most they can throw at teams. They seem to already have 8 guys that build up a solid rotation. In addition to this, they have three freshman that are committed, yet they all seem like they are redshirt candidates at this point. Having your starting lineup established in April is never a bad thing for a team. Unless you’re the Huskers apparently…
Their roster is set, as long as no one transfers, so there is no room for a wave of incoming transfers going into next season. Aside from the mentioned players, the Jaguars have a good core of young guys to fill in the rest of their team. Sophomore Aaron Brennan was used as a smaller power forward, and really was the last post player that they used, but he filled in well for injured players this season. He had 10 points and 6 rebounds in the Jaguars’ win against the Mavericks. Freshman Evan Hall showed some promise, but missed 9 games this season with injuries. Hall was able to pull off four double digit scoring performances in his first season with the Jaguars. TJ Henderson was another freshman who showed some promise with 5 double digit scoring performances, he scored 16 points against the Mavericks in the absence of Jordan Pickett. DJ McCall did not get to play this season, but he averaged nearly 5 points per game in his freshman season with the Jaguars. He will be back next season, and at 6’5″ he may be able to make up for the loss of Barksdale.
This team will have chemistry, versatility, speed, and they will be able to throw several different combinations of lineups at teams next season. They did have to deal with a number of injuries this season, so that can be an issue for them. The Jaguars may have to face another difficult non-conference season next year, but they should be the Summit League favorite in 2016-2017; even though I am sure IPFW will be the team that everyone just pencils in as the preseason number one. The Jaguars swept the Mastodons in 2016.
5-3 last week, but I love it when Omaha proves me wrong. I don’t like it when Western Illinois proves me wrong. This is a big week for seeding in the conference tournament. IPFW meets South Dakota State and Omaha, who are all in a fight for 1st (and 2nd) place. Denver has match ups against Oral Roberts and South Dakota, who are all in a fight for 6th, 7th, and 8th. North Dakota State and IUPUI will also meet on Saturday, which should be a preview of the 4 versus 5 match up in the conference tournament.
So with all of the intensity in these last 2 weeks, I have absolute confidence of picking at 1-7 this week.
Omaha (9-4) @ IUPUI (7-5) on ESPN3
Something that scares me is that road teams in the Summit League games are now 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference play…this includes the Mavericks losing at Western Illinois on a Wednesday. The Jaguars are also 4-1 in conference play at home. I think I said that they were undefeated at home in conference play on Monday…my bad. It’s actually kind of amazing that IUPUI is better at home, it’s not like they have a huge home court advantage with a hopping crowd when averaging an attendance of about 1,000 people.
The Mavs won the earlier match up in Omaha, but it was not exactly a dominating performance. IUPUI’s size is scary for UNO that they should be able to out rebound and crash the offensive boards and not let UNO run out in transition and get a number of easy baskets. I say that somewhat blindly as IUPUI is 7th in the Summit in rebounds per game, but the Jaguars did have 15 offensive rebounds in Omaha.
The Mavs have to really watch out for Matt O’Leary. He’s second on the roster for IUPUI in scoring and tied to lead the team in assists. He plays efficiently, and at 6’8″, he might be the best big man in the Summit League at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. He can also step out and hit the three. Matt Osborne’s game seems a little similar to Mike Rostampour as well, and the Jaguars have him coming off the bench; Mavs may have trouble crashing the boards with both Osborne and O’Leary on the court at the same time so Daniel Meyer and Randy Reed need to play smart in this game.
There is a part of me that is just going with the Jags in hopes to reverse jinx the Mavericks into a win. I’m not sure if that is how jinxes work, but damn it, the science is not all there on jinxes.
I’m not sure if IUPUI’s Evan Hall will play or not. He’s a 6’7″ freshman that averages 5 points and 4 rebounds, and he has missed the last 6 games. I heard he was out with concussion symptoms, but that was from ESPN3 commentators who routinely get stuff wrong. Anyway, the Jaguars are 3-3 in the last 6 games without him, and their three wins were by a total of 5 points. They also lost earlier in the season to Missouri and Creighton when he missed two games.
Western Illinois (2-10) @ North Dakota State (6-6)
North Dakota State won by 13 in Macomb, and Western Illinois is not greatly equipped to stop the weave offense of North Dakota State; but this game could be closer than the 13 that the Leathernecks lost by earlier in the year. The Leathernecks should actually have a shot in this game if NDSU’s leading scorer, Paul Miller, misses his fourth straight game. Another sort of scary thing for the Bison is that they are in Oh Crap, Let’s Just Make it to March Without Anymore Injuries mode and Western Illinois is in Playoff Mode. Western Illinois could be playing for a lot more right now.
Oh yeah, Summit League road teams are 0-6 on Wednesday nights in conference. This is the last Wednesday night in the Summit League.
This Bison are pretty much a lock to finish in 4th or 5th and facing up against IUPUI in the first round of the conference tournament, which is a really even match up.
York @ South Dakota (4-9)
South Dakota State (9-3) @ IPFW (9-3)
This could be really big. The Mastodons really have no one to stop Mike Daum. Brent Calhoun is not fast enough to guard him. John Konchar is too small to guard him. Joe Reed is also someone who is too slow to stop him, but probably has the best shot out of all the ‘Dons to do it. Daum could really big the big difference in this game. You could tell Omaha was deeply concerned with not letting Daum get the ball in the 2nd half last week. The ‘Dons are going to need another 30+ point performance from Max Landis to come out on top in this game, but does he have enough steam left in him after all the minutes he has played?
Landis has averaged 39 minutes a game in the last 10 games; and while he has had a few awesome performances in that stretch, he has had some duds in those 10 games. He did come out as the player of the week the last time IPFW faced South Dakota State and Omaha in the same week; but this reminds me of when Greg McDermott played the crap out of Antoine Young in his junior year because they had no back up point guard, and Young could barely finish the season.
Denver (5-8) @Oral Roberts (5-8)on ESPN3
Did you know Denver made 20 threes in a loss against IPFW on Saturday? They are not likely to repeat that sort of production, but Oral Roberts is not a great defensive team to play up against Denver’s constantly moving offense. Oral Roberts is a team that can really take advantage of all of Denver’s turnovers…and by Oral Roberts, I mean Obi Emegano. Denver leads the league with the most turnovers, which is actually kind of sad given how they have the fewest possessions in the conference.
Denver won the first meeting between these two teams by one point in Denver, but Obi Emegano was not playing in the game.
South Dakota State (9-3) @ Western Illinois (2-10) on ESPN3
Oh, Western Illinois is the team to have North Dakota State and South Dakota State in the same week.
Amazingly, South Dakota State only won by 2 points in Macomb last season; and SDSU is not as good of a road team this season…Western Illinois has something to ride into this game. Western Illinois also only lost by 4 to South Dakota State in Brookings at the beginning of the conference season. Wait, this doesn’t sound like the mismatch that it should be.
The Jackrabbits have won 11 straight meetings against the Leathernecks. Oh, there it is. South Dakota State could be in a tough game on Thursday night with IPFW, so maybe they might not have enough left in them to go up against Western Illinois this week. I thought the same thing when North Dakota State were traveling to IPFW and Western Illinois in the same week, so I don’t want to get burned on Western Illinois again…this is what it landing on red 12 times in a row in roulette does to a man.
IUPUI (7-5) @ North Dakota State (6-6) on ESPN3
The last meeting between these two teams was fun to watch. IUPUI has really struggled to score on the road since then. The Jaguars could really have the edge again if Paul Miller misses this game again.
Omaha (9-4) @ IPFW (9-3)
If it was not for a huge mistake on offense at the end of regulation in Omaha, the Mavericks would have had the comeback win against the Mastodons. The dream is that IPFW will get into a long drawn out exhausting game with South Dakota State on Thursday and really tire out the legs of Max Landis, and then have to face the Mavericks who will have an extra day of rest.
Landis was almost impossible to stop in Omaha, going for 37 points. Someone like Devin Patterson has responded well to defending someone after they’ve had a huge game like that against the Mavericks. The Mavericks also appear to play better under pressure…I feel like all the double digit comebacks should be enough to explain that.
Anyway, IPFW has one of their biggest weeks of the season. They could take control of 1st place in the conference, or they could lock them selves into 3rd, or they could keep it at a three way tie at the top of the Summit League. Man, I dislike IPFW. Jon Coffman really loves this basketball program, and seems like a guy to not let his team drop 2 games at home in the same week. He reminds of me of the guy that parks his 88 Toyota Celica in the back of the mall parking lot so no one door dings it, even though the bumper is covered in rust.
Denver (5-8) @ South Dakota (4-8)
South Dakota’s back court is not deep enough or quick enough to match up against all the guards of Denver. Denver embarrassed South Dakota a few weeks ago in Denver, and the Pioneers have shown that they can play in Vermillion by beating the Coyotes by 18 last season there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Here is a change of pace and the All Summit Get Ready for Terrible Puns and Poor Jokes Team
So the Summit League is stacked with guards and wing players this season. College Sports Madness recently came out with a All Summit League 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th team and 16 of the 20 players were guards, 17 if you count South Dakota State’s Reed Tellinghuisen as a guard. The Summit League came out with their preseason 1st and 2nd teams yesterday, and 8 or the 10 players were guards. The teams they selected are fair for the most part, though I do not agree with leaving Tre’Shawn Thurman off the list, but I get that I am biased.
Anyway, there are so many guards on this list, and that is because the Summit League is going to be a very guard heavy league this year. So could one come up with a conclusion that who ever has the best post game is going to set themselves apart from the rest of the conference? So who has the best post players in the conference?
For the sake of argument, I am going to reduce each team’s list to their top 4 post players, because realistically teams hardly ever use more than 4 post players in the Summit League. Hell some players do not use more than two post players.
North Dakota State
Chris Kading, Dexter Werner, AJ Jacobson, and one of the other 3 players that will mix in.
I have kind of had North Dakota State as my team to win the conference this year, but I am growing more and more uncomfortable with that recently the more I am looking things up. Not that I think they are in trouble or anything. Anyway, it is pretty hard to argue that they do not have the best core of post players in the Summit League. I know someone might look at Chris Kading and say he’s only a 5 points and 4 rebounds guy, but he takes smart shots, he led the Summit League in blocks per game, and he would routinely hold the other team’s best post player to a bad game.
Dexter Werner was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Summit League last year, and he completely deserved it. He was a big time force that brought immediate energy to the Bison post game off of the bench, and he shot 51% from the field. He was playing undersized most of the time, but he was still able to get 1 block per game, which is tied with the 2nd most for returning players to the league.
Then the Bison have AJ Jacobson, and while there is no official Summit League Freshman of the Year Award, I am pretty sure it would have been him last season. He appears to be a popular choice for 1st Team All Summit this upcoming year, after coming off averaging 11.6 points per game and 4.2 rebounds, and many people think he is going to take a large load of the shots that Lawrence Alexander was taking. He is probably more of a traditional 3, but he did quite well for the Bison at the 4 position, and the Bison can bring in Werner off the bench and slide Jacobson over to the 3, making for a big lineup.
It is kind of unclear who the 4th post player will be at this point for the Bison. They had Nebraska-native, Spencer Eliason redshirting last season, and they are bringing in two 6’8″ freshmen that they appear to be pretty excited about. With Kading and Werner, you kind of expect one of the two true freshman to redshirt though, right?
Eric Robertson, Tyler Flack, Tyler Hagedorn, Dan Jech
I admit that is pretty difficult to go on from here, so how about South Dakota? The Coyotes might actually have the most talented post players, but there are some questions to it. Can Tyler Flack bounce back from sitting out all of 2014-2015 with an injury, and does Craig Smith even like him? Flack was averaging 8.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg, and shooting 55% from the field as a sophomore in 21 minutes on a pretty bad South Dakota team.
Can Eric Robertson survive as a starter if Smith doesn’t feel comfortable with starting a true freshman? Then there is two freshman, Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech. Jech gives the Coyotes a post player and Hagedorn gives the team a stretch four. The Coyotes were able to survive last season with 6’3″ Tyler Larson and 6’5″ Tre Burnette as their primary options in the post last season, so what is going to happen when Smith adds some height to their post game. Oh yeah, and there is also Tre Burnette, who had the highest rebounding average of any player returning to the Summit League.
Jake White, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Daniel Meyer, Zach Pirog (or Randy Reed)
It is kind of a bold move picking the Mavericks that high here. Consider this though, no player 6’7″ or taller that is returning to the league averaged more points per game than Tre’Shawn Thurman last season. Jake White is healthy apparently, while I cannot 100% verify this, but I am pretty sure he had limited minutes in his junior season due to injuries. Even with as many injuries that he had in his junior season, he was probably the fastest post player in the league. So you have to assume he will go from 20 minutes per game to 25-30, his field goal percentage should rise above 40% while he’s healthy, he can probably be a 10 and 8 guy. 10 and 8 should get you Honorable Mention in the Summit.
Daniel Meyer should be getting a minutes increase as well. Statistically, he had about the same statistics that Dexter Werner had in his freshman season at North Dakota State, and he should receive an increased role (maybe even a Werner like role) with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry no longer on the team. One game last year, I was sitting near Matt Hagerbaumer, you seriously need to take the opportunity to sit next to Hagerbaumer if you ever get that chance. He’s constantly yelling support to younger players, and he was so excited about Thurman and Meyer as freshman. He at one point said that they needed Meyer to be a banger down low and be the dirty work guy. Basically, the Mavs need him to be Matt Hagerbaumer 2.0, and he is capable of being that. Meyer apparently played very well on the team’s trip to Italy as well.
I am still unsure if Zach Pirog will redshirt. Hansen kind of has a history of redshirting big players, and the team already has White, Thurman, and Meyer; but maybe Pirog is even better than advertised? He should add immediate rim protection to the team, which would be extremely helpful, but how many minutes would be able to get this season? Not to mention, there will probably be a lot teams playing 6’5″ guys at the 4 position for a decent chunk of minutes this season, so wouldn’t you want to play Randy Reed more at the 4 position this season; leaving a lot of the minutes at the 5 to White, Meyer, and even Thurman. Just seems like minutes wise it would be a good idea to redshirt Pirog, but he is someone that can immediately help this team.
South Dakota State
Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, Michael Daum, Adam Dykman
There is a big gaping hole to make up in the loss of Cody Larson for the Jackrabbits, and it is unclear who will fill that role. The Jackrabbits also grew comfortable playing Reed Tellinguisen at the 4 last season, as the team’s 5th best offensive player, they really couldn’t keep him off the floor, even if he was playing undersized at times.
You look at Devine and Theisen and you think two guys that don’t even combine for 5 points per game, but really they were playing behind Cody Larson and sharing that role of backup post player. Then you realize that they both shot over 50 percent from the field, and they both had stretches over the season where they were making big plays. It’s also not like Scott Nagy cannot develop guys at all. Devine as a 40% free throw shooter might get left off the court down the stretch of the few close conference games the Jackrabbits will have.
The Jackrabbits also had Nebraska-native Michael Daum redshirting last season, who seemed like a pretty attractive recruit coming out of high school, so who knows how much he developed under the Jackrabbits staff. The basketball fan in me says “oh wow this guy averaged 25 and 13 as a senior in high school,” but the Nebraskan in me says “I have never even heard of Kimball, how could anyone be good at basketball from there.” The Mavericks offered him a scholarship though, he also held offers from South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and others, so non-Nebraskans see something in him.
Then there is even another Nebraska-native on the team, 6’7″ Adam Dykman. I am pretty nervous about Dykman, I constantly saw his name in the paper for big games, and I know a few guys hugely into Nebraska high school basketball that were upset that UNO or Nebraska did not give an offer to this kid. I am afraid he’s psycho angry about that.
With such a strong group of starting guards, I don’t think it’s going to come down to the post players for the Jackrabbits. The show Scrubs had a great core of cast with JD, Turk, Kelso, Elliot, and Dr. Cox, would the show have been successful if they threw in a bunch of episodes centered around Ted and made a three episode story arch about Ted? Many people would have turned away. I actually would have watched the crap out of that. So how many times are you going to hear a ESPN3 commentator say: The Jackrabbits are having a great night with Marshall, Bittle, Parks, and Tellinghuisen knocking down all these outside shots and beating their defenders to the rim; but I really think they need to get the ball into Devine to work his magic on Dexter Werner? Probably never.
Nick Osborne, Matt O’Leary, Evan Hall, and Noah Thomas
Nick Osborne and Matt O’Leary were decent players at Loyola and will now have increased roles with the Jaguars. Evan Hall and Noah Thomas are both true freshman, so the hard part for the Jags is throwing in an entirely new core of post players into their lineup. Hall is a 6’7″ freshman that was rated as a 3 star recruit and had offers from Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, and Lipscomb out of high school. Hall is a 6’9 and 235 post from the state of Indiana that averaged a double-double in his senior season. The Jaguars also survived last year on having guards playing as post players, so it’s not like they cannot win without a post game at all. Essentially, the team decided that they didn’t like the cast of the last season of the Power Rangers and went with entirely new ranger squad, and they feel pretty comfortable about how the new cast will go. How many other places are you going to find a Power Rangers reference talking about sports? Actually, I don’t think this my first time on here.
Joe Reed, Brent Calhoun, Andrew Poulter, Racine Talla
You’ve got to feel confident in a 6’8″ guy like Joe Reed that has shot about 55% for his career. Like Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman getting more shots because of departures, you’ve got to think that Reed’s shot attempts will go up with the loss of Steve Forbes. Reed is another guy with potential to be a 10 and 8 guy. His other three front court teammates are kind of question marks.
I’ve seen people bragging up Andrew Poulter, and I do not get it. He was a 7 and 5 guy as a sophomore at a junior college, and he also shot 47% from the field. I watched a video of him in high school working on some 1 on 1 moves, he was looking like an All American but he’s 6’11” and 275 going up 1 on 1 against some 6’5″ 175 pound guy. Granted, it is high school and I doubt there were too many guys near his size to work out with, but still, I don’t see how his 1 on 1 skills will ever come into play from the Summit. Then there is sophomore Racine Talla who is 6’9″ but hasn’t played a game of basketball in 3 years. It just seems like a gamble to take them seriously at this point. Maybe Jon Coffman realizes how to use them appropriately though, we will clearly have to wait and see. And many people have them picked as the 4th best team in the conference, so maybe I am just a moron. 95% chance that I am a moron.
Brandon Conley, Tre Vance, AJ Owens, and Darian Harris
Did you know this team led the Summit League in blocks per game last season? They essentially did not need production offensively from their post players as they had Obi Emegano, Kory Billbury, and Bobby Word to take on a bulk of the scoring, so they really just needed their post players to play defense and make great outlet passes. I don’t think people are realizing how important Denell Henderson was to this team. None of these players are huge scoring threats, and a lot of people are high on Owens even though he basically only got minutes when the Golden Eagles were getting killed last season. He shot 40% from the field, and he was basically playing against other teams’ 3rd string most of the time. Darian Harris also seems like he should be a shooting guard, but the ORU had to use him at the 4 position several times last season due to lack of a post.
I am nervous for Scott Sutton this season, but not in a way that I think he’s going to get fired or anything. I really do not think he has a great roster this season, but it is Sutton and Obi Emegano. I love hearing rumors every off season about schools looking at Sutton as a head coaching hire, but we may not get that this April and May. If Sutton can come in top three of the league this season, I really think he deserves coach of the year, but I don’t think he’ll get it.
Marcus Byrd, Daniel Amigo, Christian Mackey, and 1 of 2 freshman.
I am scared for Denver this season. A few have selected them to finish in last this season, CBS Sports rated them as the 3rd best team in the Summit League but it was pointless. It is really hard to look at Denver and say they have the best players in anything, not because of a lack of talent, but because of the offense that Joe Scott runs. Marcus Byrd averaged 8.5 points per game as a junior, 8.5 at Denver is like averaging 13 any place else. Byrd can also step out and take the three, he actually has the highest three point field goal percentage of any player returning to the Summit League this season, and he makes nearly 2 threes a game.
Daniel Amigo was also giving the Pioneers pretty good minutes as a freshman, but his season ended early due to injury. The Pioneers also have a 6’7″ freshman named Abiola Akintola from Australia, who was not widely recruited, but he averaged 17.8 ppg and 6 rebounds per game in the U18 Australian Junior Championships, whatever the heck that is. I know there are a lot of question marks for international players, and it could be difficult to figure out if he is even the right fit for Denver, but it could be something amazing watching him develop.
Tate Stensgaard, Jalen Chapman, Mike Miklusak, and the mystery man
All are average guys that on any other team in the Summit League would be role players, and really they are just role players for Western Illinois, but they give a lot of minutes to the Leathernecks when they are available. They many lost the last 13 of 14 games of the season because they had no Stensgaard or Chapman for that time, but still, could they have made the difference. The team has 4 freshman post players that will mix in. I wonder how they will work out.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With players coming and going, roles need to be filled on teams, and some players just respond quicker than others. North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson clearly had a big year as a redshirt freshman, which was a huge help to the Bison as they lost three key seniors from their 2014 championship team. IUPUI’s Marcellus Barksdale went from averaging 0.3 points per game as a freshman in 2012-13 to averaging 8.6 points per game in his sophomore season, and now is considered an All Conference candidate by many. South Dakota State’s Keaton Moffitt transferred from a division 2 program to be a top guy off the bench for the Jackrabbits. Omaha’s Mike Rostampour made an immediate impact with Omaha in his junior season after transferring from division 2.
With the Bison and Jackrabbits as the two favorites to repeat as the two top teams in the Summit League, the league seems to look like it will be in a pretty tight battle for who is 3rd to 8th (or 9th) in the conference standings at the end of the year. So who are some of the potential wild cards in the Summit League that can set their team apart in 2015-2016?
EVERYONE ON THE ROSTER NOT NAMED MARCUS BYRD, NATE ENGESSER, OR BRYANT RUCKER
Here is a statistic that may jump out at you. Denver returns the second fewest amount of division one starts on their roster in the Summit League, behind IPFW. They are a young team, though so was North Dakota State last season, with 6 freshman and 4 sophomores on the roster, so I am incredibly curious who can make up for the losses of Cam Griffin, Brett Olson, and Jalen Love.
The team virtually has no post game, but it is not really something that is incredibly needed in the Princeton offense. Barry Collier ran the Princeton offense really well without a competent big man at Nebraska. That was a really bad joke. Could sophomore Daniel Amigo make a big jump if he is healthy? He started in all 15 of the games he played in during his freshman year averaging 5.7 points per game, and had three double digit scoring performance, but they were all in blow outs.
JOHN KONCHAR – 6’4″, rFR
Could Konchar be a big time player as a freshman. He redshirted in his first season with the ‘Dons, I assume because of the 4 upperclassmen guards that were on the roster last season. Konchar averaged 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game in his senior season in high school in Chicago. Holy crap! He did see action in IPFW’s preseason game last season, but he only had 3 points in 15 minutes, but hey it was a preseason game.
RACHINE TALLA – 6’9″, SO
Talla is seriously the biggest question mark for IPFW. He redshirted at USC Upstate his freshman season, and then only played in 2 games in junior college because Mississippi is the worst place on earth. So how much of an impact can a guy be who has basically not played a competitive game of basketball in 3 years.
JORDAN PICKETT – 6’0″, SO
Pickett transferred to IUPUI after only playing in five games at Loyola before suffering a season ending injury in 2013-2014. The Jaguars do not have much of a back court, they have a lot of 6’5″ guards, but can the bigger players deal with all of the smaller shooting guards the Summit League has to offer. Pickett is likely to have a big role for the Jaguars in 2015-2016. In the Jaguars’ red-white scrimmage last season, which was basically IUPUI vs their players who were forced to redshirt due to transferring, Pickett was able to score 11 points against…the Jaguars.
NICK OSBORNE- 6’8″, JR
One of three transfers from Loyola on the roster. Osborne is expected to make an immediate impact with the Jaguars, as they have not had much talent in the post in a few years. Osborne averaged 5.4 ppg and 4 rpg, and shot 50% from the field in his sophomore season at Loyola. He did average 3 fouls per game, so curious to see how much time he will spend on the bench due to foul trouble in the Summit League.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
They lost Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund, and TrayVonn Wright a year ago, and they ended up repeating as Summit League Champions with a 1st year coach. I think they will be fine…
One could ask; who is going to be make up for the 19 points per game that they lost in Lawrence Alexander? Can Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, Paul Miller, and junior college transfer sophomore Malik Clements make up that 19 points a game in the back court? Yes, they probably can.
JAKE WHITE- 6’8″, SR
Last year we were teased with White. With 10 rebounds in his first half as a Maverick, we were thinking our front court would be unstoppable with him and Mike Rostampour. Then a few minutes into the second half, White hurt his knee, and then for almost a month we kept being told: not this game, but next game probably… If you look around the post players at the Summit League, White is capable of being the best post player in the League, but he has to stay healthy. When White transferred, Derrin Hansen stated that White would be the best post player in the Summit.
DANIEL MEYER – 6’9″, SO
Meyer only played 4.5 minutes per game in his freshman season with the Mavericks, but with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry (i cried a tear) no longer on the roster, Meyer should expect more playing time in his sophomore season, I mean, right? It sounded as if he did really well in Italy, but it did not sound like the teams the Mavs played against had many players taller than 6’5″…but I did not look at official rosters, just shady looking websites that did not look fully updated. When Meyer did play last season, I was never terrified that he was going to ruin everything. He seemed to move pretty well without the ball, set good screens, and had a nice touch. He even looked like he could be as good as a passer out of the post as John Karhoff, but we will have to wait and see.
ALBERT OWENS- 6’9″ SO
With the graduation of Denell Henderson, Owens will competing for the starting center position with junior college transfer Tre Vance. Owens did average 3.8 ppg and 2.4 rpg, but he never really received any significant playing time in any of the Golden Eagles’ big games. Yet, if you look around at some of the conference predictions, Owens is expected to be a big key factor to ORU’s success. You know, assuming they have some success this season.
JALEN BRADLEY- 6’0″ JR
Bradley is familiar with the Summit League, as he originally played for the Mavericks, but he only played in a total of 26 minutes against the Summit League due to injuries in 2013-2014. Bradley went on to junior college for his sophomore season, where he averaged 17 points per game. Everyone knew Bradley could shoot at Omaha, I remember watching him shoot from half court in warm ups and making it regularly, but we did question if he could defend or play the point guard position. While he was at Omaha, they were deep with guards with: CJ Carter, Marcus Tyus, Alex Phillips, Caleb Steffensmeier, Devin Patterson, and Justin Simmons. The Mavericks could have used him in his sophomore season as that energy guy off the bench, and that would likely still be his role, but ORU fans are expecting him (and 6’3″ Div 2/Fresno State transfer Aaron Anderson) to fill a void left in Korey Billbury and Bobby Word. That is a lot to ask.
TREY NORRIS – 6’0″ SR
Norris started in all 28 games he played in for the Coyotes in his sophomore season, but then was sent to the bench in his junior season as Craig Smith took over at South Dakota. Can he be counted on to be the starter again and help lead the Coyotes to another winning record?
TYLER FLACK – 6’7″ JR
Sat out 2014-2015 with an injury. He started 19 out of 29 games his freshman season and 27 out of 30 games in his sophomore season. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg, he also shot 55% from the floor. Is he going to be the same after a serious injury, and will Smith have big plans for Flack?
Here is a glaring stat for South Dakota. I was looking at the South Dakota State fan forum, wishing I had it in me to do some trolling, and the Jackrabbits are pretty stoked that they return so much of their scoring. The Jackrabbits return 74% of their scoring, which is second in the conference behind Western Illinois who returns 89% of their scoring, but that is Western Illinois… Anyway, South Dakota lost the most scoring in the Summit losing 54% of their scoring. So they are going to need Flack and Norris to return to 2013-2014 form.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
CONNOR DEVINE/IAN THEISEN
Did I mention that South Dakota State is returning 74% of their scoring? I think I just did that. Most of that is the loss of Cody Larson. The Jackrabbits arguably have the best guard trio in the Summit League with George Marshall, Deondre Parks, and Jake Bittle, but they are left with little in the post after the loss of Larson, and they are young in the post. Devine and Theisen shared the time behind Cody Larson in the post last season, can they and freshman Nebraska natives Michael Daum and Adam Dykman make up for that loss in Larson?
When you only when 8 games, you lose 13 of your last 14 games, one of your wins is a 2 point win at home against Devin Patterson-less Omaha team, and 15 of your 20 losses are by 10 points or more, there is not much confidence riding in your team going into the next season. So basically everyone on your roster not named Garrett Covington is a wild card.
The Leathernecks did have some injury issues in 2014-2015, and they have the 2nd most returning division one starts on their roster in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, and as previously mentioned, they do return 89% of their scoring.