OT: My thoughts, hopes, and fears of the 2016 NBA Draft

Every year I tell myself that I am not going to watch the NBA Draft because it is so stupid, yet every year I find myself tuning in to see the first three picks and then I am just stuck on it for the entire evening.  I watched the 2000 NBA Draft while hanging out with a girl in my basement.  I have no idea what this girl’s intentions were with the 14 year old me, but I am absolutely positive she was disappointed to hang out in an air conditioned basement for several hours alone with me while I threw a fit for some time on how Marcus Fizer was going to have no business in the NBA, and I couldn’t truthfully make words come out of my mouth after the Celtics picked someone named Jerome Moiso at number 11.  That was one of the worst drafts, and that girl was just set up with disappointment from the beginning of inviting herself over to my house.

I do not get excited at all for the actual order of players picked.  Teams make terrible decisions based on fruitless data like: this guy is one inch too short.  I get more pumped up for the trades, and this 2016 NBA draft appears to be loaded with potential trades.  All top 5 teams have set out their intentions to make some deals on draft night.  I think the Sixers may be entertaining trades because they realize they want to take the high road and be thoughtful enough to not ruin just one more person’s life.

I’d love to be the guy that just yells into Mitch Kupchak’s ear that the Lakers should trade the number 2 pick for General Manager that knows what he is doing.  Most people day dream about living the lifestyle of a NBA player, but I fantasize about telling Steve Kerr that trading for Shaq was his worst decision as a General Manager; or telling David Kahn that he was the General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team and not the General Manager of the Target Center concession stands when he drafted Johnny Flynn.  Don’t forget, on top of drafting Flynn and Ricky Rubio over Steph Curry, the Timberwolves picked Ty Lawson at 18 but traded him for a future draft pick – which they ended up using to pick Luke Babbitt the following season.  They also took Wesley Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins in the 2010 draft.  Seriously, David Kahn…

Anyway, I am a lifelong Celtics fan, and the Celtics have a pretty bad history of drafting picks.  JEROME MOISO.  Sorry, I just randomly scream-type his names.  It’s a condition. Thanks a lot Rick Pitino, you’re a threat more serious than the Emperor to me. So, yeah, terrible draft history, but Danny Ainge has a done a solid job to make draft trades happen to get the best out of what he can.  This is probably a condition of his full intentions in the past of wanting the team to tank as much as possible, but Paul Pierce willing terrible rosters to be 7 or 8 seeds in the East.  As a Celtics fan, I clearly hate that the 76ers and the Lakers are picking in front of them…and I even have reasons for taking interest in what the Suns and Timberwolves will do at 4 and 5.  Here are some random fears, thoughts, and hopes for the NBA draft.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers have been one of my least favorite times for as long as I can remember.  I’m not an overly religious person, but I used to pray a lot over a four year period that Kyle Korver would get traded to anyone else (but mainly the Celtics).  This was after I spent some time thinking that Rodney Buford just belonged there.  I have no idea what that comment is supposed to mean, so I welcome your suggestions.  Either way, we need to update Buford’s wikipedia page to reflect his new coaching position with the Omaha Chargers.

Even though I hate the 76ers, I fully understand how pivotal this draft is for the franchise and how huge of an opportunity Bryan Colangelo has in front of himself to instantly turn this franchise around.

The Sixers are taking Ben Simmons with the number one pick, and will have nearly 60 million dollars of cap space to play with.  With a front court of Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and Joel Embiid – who has still yet to play an NBA game, and now Ben Simmons, the Sixers should be looking into trading one of these post players for an actual adult.

The Hawks are consistently in the rumor mill to trade one of their point guards.  Could a Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel for Jeff Teague be likely?  Or even throw something similar, yet more far fetched, to the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose.  Either of these two alone, with the addition Simmons, could improve Philadelphia from 10 wins to at least 20 in one year.

It’s not like one of these trades are the only options for the Sixers to get a point guard and some experience on their roster.  They could throw some money at Rajon Rondo, who almost no one else wants; Lance Stephenson, who I doubt the Grizzlies want back; Dion Waiters, who the Thunder probably wont be able to match qualifying offers for; Eric Gordon, who could probably be pretty cheap to prove that he can be healthy enough to be a contributor; Mario Chalmers, who is somehow an upgrade at point guard for the Sixers; and really just some NBA veteran who might seem like a risk, but could benefit the Sixers in the short term of their rebuild.

I’m not very fearful of the Sixers for the 2016-2017 season at this point, but this draft could really be a turning point for the organization to be back in the playoffs and be a competitor in the East again in a few years.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have stated that they do not want to be on a long term rebuilding plan, but the Lakers say a lot of things so who the hell knows.  Still, the Lakers do not want to be what the Clippers used to be in Los Angeles.  Almost every mock draft has the Lakers selecting Brandon Ingram, but there still has been a high degree of uncertainty around this.  Not so much that they will not pick him, but more uncertainty that they will actually want to keep him on the roster, or that he will even turn out to be a decent enough NBA player.  He appears like he would have a similar career to Charlotte Hornets’ player Marvin Williams, who was also picked number at number 2.  The Lakers have been rumored so far to trade away the number 2 pick, or De’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, and Julius Randle.  Okay, so they’ve been rumored to trade their entire roster.  Man, that Kobe Bryant was all about the team and organization!

The Lakers want to be a part of the run for Kevin Durant, they want to have their name out there for DeMar DeRozan, and really just every big time free agent.  The fear for the Lakers may not be who they pick in the NBA draft, but if they can actually pull off a blockbuster trade, which they have a history of pulling off.  I completely feel like I will be watching what the Lakers do in the 2016 NBA draft with the same level of shock in the 2007 draft when the Celtics put together what were pieces for the eventual moves to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  Those to moves eventually helped them quickly turn their team around with additionally signing veteran free agents James Posey, Eddie House, PJ Brown, and eventually Sam Cassell for one of the best put together rosters since 1990.

Boston Celtics

As much as I love the Celtics, I always have to turn away whenever they’re on the clock to make a pick.  I live in fear that I will damage my own property when I hear the stupid pick they have made.  What the hell am I supposed to do with my Joe Johnson Boston Celtics jersey?  I just made my dog wear my dog wear it for humorous photo opportunities.  Say the name Kedrick Brown to me in public, I dare you…I dare you… We’re not going to get in a fight or anything, you’re just going to be able to tell your children about the most ridiculous time you made a grown man cry in a public.  I still run into a panic attack when I hear Jerome Moiso’s name.

My only friends who actively engage in shit talking about the NBA with me are Suns fans, and we’ve had our fair share of THE RAJON RONDO TRADE WORKED OUT BETTER FOR US THAN YOU arguments, so the Celtics and Suns picking 3rd and 4th will most likely begin many years of frustrations.  The Celtics have discussed either trading the 3rd pick, or drafting Dragan Bender, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown, Marquese Criss, or Kris Dunn.  My fear of Bender is that this is one of those Well it Worked Out for the Knicks type of draft picks because of Kristaps Porzingis.  It reminds me of the late 90s to mid 2000s when NBA teams were rashly picking high school kids because they might be the next Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant.  The NBA was so fun back then just watching a bunch of 18 year old uncoordinated kids flush out like a group of terrible child actors from the movie industry.

It seems to be concluded already that either the Celtics or the Suns are taking Bender, and I am pretty excited to make fun of my friends for it either really working out for the Celtics or it not working out for the Suns.  This is a completely illogical statement, but it also, like, completely makes sense.  Am I right?

The Celtics still have a lot to figure out as far as who they are actually going to keep on their roster with Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner, and Tyler Zeller all as free agents; and several young assets on the roster that are tradeable.  This is why a draft day trade makes an incredible amount of sense for the Celtics.  Someone just take Marcus Smart, please!

I can’t imagine who the Celtics will actually take.  I cannot even put anything in the suggestion box.  The roster is weird at the moment, and it does not really seem like anyone available at number 3 would be an immediate impact to the team so my hope is just that they trade the pick with Marcus Smart for a veteran and 2017 2nd round draft pick that will eventually land a lesser known Tra-Deon Hollins…

Phoenix Suns

I am fully confident to say that I think the Suns are the worst ran team in the NBA (after the Sixers), and still have a Suns fan not argue it too heavily.  It’s not so much that the Suns are historically bad at picking players, but they do have a steady and miserable history of trading away guys right before they become stars; or signing average free agents to huge bloated long term contracts.  Just try and play the NBA Trade Machine with their roster, it’s almost impossible to make anything work out.

I thought of a hypothetical trade to get some blood flowing for my Suns fan friends.  Brandon Knight, some throw in to make the contacts work out, and the number 4 pick to Toronto in a sign and trade deal for DeMar DeRozan – which I think they would have to wait for free agents to officially be able sign to make the deal legitimate.  A back court of Derozan and Eric Bledsoe with Devin Booker off the bench to create a little new aged Durant, Westbrook, and Harden type of roster.  I doubt Robert Sarver even entertains this as an idea for his organization.  I mean, Joakim Noah is out there for them to throw everything they’ve got for 48 minutes a night of Noah and Tyson Chandler at center.  That’s pretty hard to pass up for a guy who apparently hates the citizens of Phoenix.

I know NBA teams are recommended to go after the best overall player and not most needed position, but should they take a guard to lump together with Bledsoe, Booker, and Knight if the top guy is a guard at number 4?  Would Hield or Dunn even be playable on the Suns roster?  Am I psychotic for thinking it would be in the Suns best interest to take Henry Ellenson or Marquese Criss at the 4th pick?  Though, I really don’t think Suns management can pass up on a guy named Dragan Bender.  It’s just too fun of a name to not have on your roster.

Minnesota Timberwolves

I have never hated or loved the Timberwolves.  They are the closest NBA team to where I live, so I have always felt a little desire for them to be decent enough to make for a reason to drive to Minneapolis for a game.  With that in mind, it seems to be getting closer and closer to the day that the Timberwolves are in the post season again, right?

The organization seems serious about getting to the playoffs with exceptionally good young basketball players, mixed with a few veterans, and now Tom Thibodeau as their head coach.  Think about that: The Minnesota Timberwolves got the head coach that was at the top of the list of every team with a vacancy this off season.  This could be huge, or it could all come crumbling apart dramatically…we’ll see.

The team does not necessarily have a lot of room to attract some top free agents this summer, and they have made it clear that they are incredibly open to the thought of trading the 5th pick.  That’s when you know it’s going to be a terrible draft, when 4 of the top 5 teams are trying pretty hard to get rid of their picks.  The team’s highest paid player, Ricky Rubio has even stated that he would be cool if they traded him.  Someone will take Rubio, like the Sacramento Kings who seem desperate at the moment and have a voice mail greeting of “This is the Sacramento Kings General Management office.  Press 1 for us to accept your trade.  Press 2 for Lost and Found.”

If they cannot work out a trade on draft day, it almost makes sense for the Timberwolves to take Buddy Hield as they are in desperate need for a shooter after finishing 25th on the season in three point field goal percentage.  But, cheap shooters are out there in free agency, and having Hield and Andrew Wiggins on the court at the same time seems like a defensive risk.


Other random stuff –

It doesn’t appear that Nebraska’s Shavon Shields will get selected in the 2nd round.  He is a likely candidate to get onto a Summer League team and work his way into the league.  A frequent knock at him is that he’s not quick enough to play the 3 in the NBA.  There is a spot somewhere with the right team for Shields in the NBA, maybe not big minutes, but Hornets, Nuggets, and Rockets come to mind as places for him to at least just make the roster…or at least on their NBDL teams.

As much as this may shock you, there will be no one picked from the Summit League.  Max Landis and Obi Emegano could be guys that make Summer League rosters and try and work their way into the NBA or NBDL

 

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A look at who the Summit League is losing

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

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


South Dakota

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

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

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

Graduates

Tre Burnette, 6’5″ guard/forward

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

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

Casey Kasperbauer, 6’1″ guard

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

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

Trey Norris, 6’0″ guard

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

Eric Robertson, 6’8″ forward/center

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

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

Duol Mayot, 6’5″ guard/foward

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

Departures

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

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

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

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

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

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


South Dakota State

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

Graduates

George Marshall, 6’0″ guard

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

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

Deondre Parks, 6’1″ guard

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

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

Jake Bittle, 6’4″ guard

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

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

Cory Jacobsen, 6’1″ guard

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

Departures

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

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

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

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


Omaha

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

Graduates

Devin Patterson, 5’11” guard

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

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

Jake White, 6’8″ forward

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

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

Randy Reed, 6’6″ forward

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

Tim Smallwood, 6’2″ guard

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

Departure

Devin Newsome, 5’9″ sophomore

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


IPFW

Graduates

Max Landis, 6’2″ guard

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

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

Joe Reed, 6’8″ forward

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

Michael Calder, 6’2″ guard

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

Departure

Andrew Poulter, 6’11” junior

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


Oral Roberts

Graduates

Obi Emegano, 6’3″ guard

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

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

Brandon Conley, 6’6″ forward

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

Departures

DaQuan Jeffries, 6’5 freshman

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

Tre Vance, 6’9″ junior

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


Western Illinois

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

Graduates

JC Fuller, 6’3″ guard

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

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

Tate Stensgaard 6’9″ forward

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

Jalen Chapman, 6’8″ forward

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

Jamie Batish, 6’4″ guard

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


North Dakota State

Graduates

Kory Brown, 6’4″ guard

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

Chris Kading, 6’9″ center

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

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

Departures

Trey Miller, 6’7″ freshman

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

Brian Ishola, 6’5″ sophomore

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


IUPUI

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

Marcellus Barksdale, 6’5″ guard

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

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

Mason Archie, 6’5″ guard

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

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

 

 

The Golden Eagles, I mean, ehhh, right?

Probably the most stressful year of Scott Sutton’s coaching career is over, but next could be equally as stressful…but probably not…I don’t know…

The Golden Eagles are only graduating Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley, so they have a lot returning for next season, which is good…I guess.  Hey Nebraska faithful fans, remember in 2008 you thought the next year’s team was going to be really sweet because they were only losing one player…but that one player was Aleks Maric?  Ouch.  Okay, that team actually made the NIT, but still, some Nebraska fans were thinking they would win the Big 12.  Those were the days.  The NIT is a pretty big deal for Nebraska fans, I’m sure it will be too for the Mavericks when it happens, but it is sad that is the measuring stick for a successful season for the Huskers in basketball.  Believe me, I love Nebraska basketball, but it’s like you’re trying to make something out of watching a terrible television show and hoping it develops into something episode after episode, but it never does develop into a great show.  Just okay enough to have Cialis commercials every episode.  I’m clearly talking about the second season of The Walking Dead.  14 of the 16 episodes in the second season was really just a spin off of General Hospital, but in Georgia, with zombies.

So the Golden Eagles only lose Emegano and Conley, but one of those players is Obi Emegano… Emegano averaged 23 points and 5 rebounds a game this season.  Conley averaged 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, he also had 3 double-doubles on the season.  Both of these players had injuries over the summer and appeared to be playing through a number of stingers throughout the regular season for Oral Roberts.

I think the most common phrase said by Golden Eagles fans during the 2015-2016 season had to be: “Oh, what kind of shot was that?!”  Oral Roberts had the worst shot selection in the league this season, and their team probably had the overall lowest basketball IQ.  I don’t think there is an official way to score Basketball IQ, I’d look into it, but, ah, screw it, there is no way.  I think you just watch a basketball team with a 7 year old and if they complain about the horrible passing and horrible shots taken by a team, you just know the team has a terrible collective basketball IQ.  It’s not exact science.  I say this, but the Golden Eagles were 3rd in the conference in field goal percentage.  They did average the 3rd most turnovers in the league behind Denver and Western Illinois…so there is that.

The Golden Eagles did finish in 7th in the Summit League with a 7-9 record, and they did that with one of the youngest teams in the league.  They also were never really killed in any of those 9 losses.  They lost by an average of 7 points per game, and even for a while many of us thought that they were going to upset South Dakota State in the first round of the conference tournament.  So with 60% of their scoring coming back for next season, you would think that they should be set up to be a quality team; but the problem is that they are losing Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley…

Sophomore center Albert Owens was showing consistency and promise in February and March when he averaged almost 13 points and 5 rebounds a game over the last month and a half.  The problem with Owens is that he is 6’9″ and 260 pounds and wanted to live on taking 16 foot jump shots.  If you’re an athletic 6’9″ and 260 pounds you should probably be going down low and punishing someone like Mike Daum, not scoring 2 points and grabbing 0 rebounds against the Jackrabbits.  Owens will be the team’s top returning scorer at 10.2 points per game.

After that our boy, Jalen Bradley, finished the season at 8.5 points per game.  Bradley had some good quality games throughout the year, but then would follow it up with 3 games of low scoring and low shooting percentages.  That is exactly how it is down the rest of the lineup for ORU.  Freshman Kris Martin had 17 points against South Dakota State, but then averaged 4 points over the next 5 games shooting 24% from the field.  The other 6’5″ freshman who torched the Mavericks with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting, DaQuan Jeffries, had several bad games throughout the year.  But as stated before, what freshmen are not inconsistent?

The freshmen (and the sophomores) for Oral Roberts have a lot of potential to be great players in the Summit League.  The inconsistencies of the Golden Eagles’ upperclassmen for next season of Jalen Bradley (8.5 ppg, 42 fg%), Aaron Young (5.5 ppg), and Aaron Anderson (4.2 ppg) might be how Scott Sutton’s team will finish in the bottom half of the Summit League again in 2017.  2018 though, the Golden Eagles could be a top 3 team in the league.  I say this as someone, who at one point, was super pumped for 2016-2017 as Jalen Bradley’s senior year with the Mavericks.  We were going to have a team centered around Tre’Shawn Thurman in the post and Jalen Bradley and Rylan Murry on the outside knocking down a combined 7 threes a game.  It was going to be like Magic the Gathering.  I’m not sure if that applies, I’m not sure how Magic the Gathering works, I think one of the rules though is that you cannot have a girlfriend.  I always thought Bradley would be a good player with the Mavericks and score about 10+ points a game by his senior year, but I never thought he’d be the guy the Mavericks would have to rely on to put the whole team on his back and win a conference championship with.

The Golden Eagles could still have someone transfer out at this point, but as of now they have one more scholarship available.  There are a number of kids from the areas they like to recruit from in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas that are leaving their schools that they could grab as a transfer to sit out and build up for the 2017-2018 season.

One guy that comes to mind – Jacob Hammond…  Hey, why not?  He left Nebraska in hopes of playing closer to home, but I am sure playing time is a factor for him.  Hammond is originally from Comanche, Oklahoma…which sounds terrible, which is in southern Oklahoma.  He could transfer to some Northern Texas school and be closer than Tulsa, but Oral Roberts has to be an option.  Can you imagine that front court for Oral Roberts in 2017-2018?  Albert Owens at 6’9″ and 260 lbs, a high flying athletic Javan White at 6’9″, and Hammond at 6’10″… Everyone in the Summit League would have issues scoring on them in the post.

The youth and the inconsistencies, combined with the improvements of the Summit League as a whole, is what makes Oral Roberts difficult to figure out.  If these freshmen (next year’s sophomores) take on the lost scoring of Obi Emegano next season, and the team makes less turnovers, they could make up that 8 points per game in their 9 losses and be one of the top teams in the Summit League in 2017…and if they don’t they could finish last.  Like, 9th place is a possibility for this team next season.

 

 

 

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: Feb 17-21

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.

February 17th

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)

Wait… York?

Feburary 18th

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.

February 19th

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.

February 20th

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.

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 10-13

I went 4-4 last week, and I have the confidence to go 2-6 this week.

If you’re wondering about my resume for predictions; I finished in the top 5% of ESPN brackets last season, so I’m kind of cool.  The worst my bracket has ever done was when I picked Kansas to win the whole thing and Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh hit a game winning shot to upset the Jayhawks.  Farokmanesh jogs on the same jogging path as me, and I have yet to scream at him, so I also have that going for me.

February 10th

South Dakota State (8-2) @ Omaha (7-4) on ESPN3

Badly want Omaha to be wrong on this game, it would be the biggest win they’ve had since transitioning to division one, but it is a really big challenge and Omaha would have to play nearly perfect.  The Omaha team we saw against Denver was far from perfect, and almost lost that game completely on fundamentals.  Omaha cannot win if Devin Patterson is 2-of-9, Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman are in foul trouble, and Randy Reed & Tim Smallwood are both hurt.

But hey, if Creighton can beat the # 5 team in the country on Tuesday, why can’t Omaha beat the # 45th-ish team in the country at home on Wednesday?

As much as South Dakota State has embarrassed Omaha since the transition, the Jacks are only a 3 point favorite tonight.

February 11th

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

Obi Emegano only played 20 minutes in their first meeting and ended up fouling out, and hearing that would make you think IUPUI won the game.  The Jaguars were out rebounded by 12 and gave up 10 threes, though.  The Golden Eagles are on a 5 game losing streak and do not appear to have any momentum going their way, but IUPUI also dropped their last 2 games.  Oral Roberts had guys step up, who normally don’t step up to beat IUPUI, can they really do that again?

Look, I just think IUPUI is an all around better team.  Do you want to fight about it?

North Dakota State (6-4) @ South Dakota (3-8)

North Dakota State narrowly beat the Coyotes in Fargo last month, and Coyotes are a bad match up for the Bison…especially if Paul Miller won’t be playing for NDSU.  The Coyotes are going to force teams to shoot threes, and although they have the worst defensive three point field goal percentage in the Summit, the Bison do not have a lot of guys that can consistently hit threes outside of Miller and AJ Jacobson.

Something I would like to randomly point out about Omaha: The Mavericks are no longer last in three point field goal percentage in conference games.  They are 7th above South Dakota and Western Illinois thanks to Omaha shooting 41% on threes over the last three games.

Yeah, I think North Dakota State is a better overall team.  I don’t want to fight about it.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Denver (5-6)

Western Illinois still has some fight in them, but the Denver players are really getting the hang of their system.  Western Illinois has yet to beat Denver since the Pioneers joined the Summit, and they have lost by an average of 11 points.

February 13th

North Dakota State (6-4) @ Omaha (7-4)

A sweep of the Bison?  You homer, you!

Paul Miller missed NDSU’s last game with a knee injury, even if he plays, can he be nearly as dangerous on a bum knee?  The Bison will struggle to score without Miller.

Of course I say that the Bison will struggle without Miller like a complete jerk, after NDSU just beat IPFW by 16 in Fargo.  The ‘Dons were playing that game with basically 6 players, more evidence to stick out there that IPFW is the least equipped team, of the top 4 or 5 teams in the League, to play 3 games in the Summit League tournament.

South Dakota (3-8) @ South Dakota State (8-2) on ESPN3

The Coyotes have still yet to win in Brookings since both schools joined the Summit League, and South Dakota has lost in Brookings by an average of 18 points.

Denver (5-6) @ IPFW (8-3)

IPFW only beat Denver by one in Denver.  IPFW should actually not be heavily favored in this game, Denver won 2 upsets last week by a total of 5 points.  This game could be another big game for Max Landis, and the Denver slow pace could be really good for him to have an efficient game.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Oral Roberts (3-6) on ESPN3

Got to say, I don’t feel that confident in Oral Roberts here.  The inconsistency of both of these teams is incredibly scary to really make a call.  I am still going with I just can’t see Obi Emegano letting Oral Roberts lose to his former school.

Maybe the Leathernecks can win again if they barely play JC Fuller like they did against Omaha.  The kid has an awful shot selection, and Billy Wright decided to play De’Angelo Bruster a bulk of the minutes.  Bruster did not make any shots, but he only took 3, and he got his teammates involved and made some really good decisions on the court as a freshman.

My trivial Summit League Rankings – Feb 8

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

1. South Dakota State

Last week: 1st

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

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

2. IPFW

Last week: 2nd

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

3. North Dakota State

Last week: 5th

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

4. Omaha

Last week: 3rd

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

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

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

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

5. IUPUI

Last week: 4th

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

6. Denver

Last week: 6th

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

7. South Dakota

Last week: 7th

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

8. Oral Roberts

Last week: 8th

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

9. Western Illinois

Last week: 9th

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