Hey, I think Matt Pile might be Captain America

I was never really a Marvel guy until about 2010, but I have seen enough of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to build an understanding that Matt Pile could actually be the real Captain America.

I am not going to sit here and start a conspiracy that Matt Pile became the way that he is, physically, because of some super serum put together in some lab, but I’m not going to sit here and tell anyone that it’s not possible.  I’m sure Pile built his physical presence up in a gym, but his 6 blocks against the Pioneers would likely have Denver wanting him to be tested for any scientific advantages he may possess.

Okay, I don’t really want to talk about Pile’s physical characteristics anymore, because, well, this is weird enough.  But what else does Pile possess for me to come up with such a claim?

Captain America doesn’t back down from a challenge, and neither does Matt Pile.  Capt moves without fear, as does Matt Pile.

When faced up against one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, Pile had to go up against NBA prospects.  Pile went right at them because he didn’t want to show fear.  When going up against South Dakota State’s Mike Daum, when Pile first got the ball, he looked right at Daum and took it right to the basket for a bucket.  On defense, when first against Daum, Daum tried going right back at him, and Pile blocked his shot.

Captain America is the tactician of whatever team he is on.  It would be a stretch to refer to Pile as a “floor general” in any sense, but he’s quite tactical on the court to use his strengths to help his team.

Watch Pile whenever he first gets the ball down on the block in any game.  With his back to the basket, he’ll look at his defender, he’ll look at the basket, and he’ll figure out his first move to show his defender who is stronger, and not that he’s not afraid.

As the game progresses and he catches the ball down on the block, with his back to the basket, he’ll stand there, maybe take a few dribbles, and watch teammates on the perimeter move around for an open basket, and he is completely capable of finding them.

Random thought:  The dumbest scene in all of the Marvel Universe is in “Captain America: Civil War” when Steve Rogers is holding the helicopter from flying away, and he switches arms positions, which the director wanted to do apparently because he just thought it looked cool.  Why wouldn’t the powered chopper just pull Rogers clear into the sky with it for the second he lets go of the platform?  I have no idea, but the scene would’ve been just as good, if not better, with Matt Pile as Captain America.

The free throws aren’t there, yet, and South Dakota and South Dakota State both exposed that Pile needs to figure out what to do when being double teamed, but he’s got a long basketball career ahead of him and he will figure that stuff out.  Also, how many freshmen in the Summit League are drawing double teams?  None.  Just Matt Pile.

There was a game in Tre’Shawn Thurman’s freshman year that I thought was really his coming out party.  It was ironically against Nevada, but he played with such confidence and swagger, and you could tell he felt he was the best player on the court.  I thought he was the best freshman Omaha had landed after watching him that game.

After watching Pile play Denver, I thought maybe Pile was the best freshmen Omaha has landed so far.  Pile had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks that night.  That may not have the feel of “this kid is the future” but he absolutely boggled Denver’s minds that night.  They couldn’t figure out how to score in the post with Pile on the floor.  Daniel Amigo, one of the best post players in the league, couldn’t match up against Pile.  As good as Thurman was against Nevada in the Baxter Arena, I never felt like Nevada was just frustrated by the guy’s presence like Denver.  I mostly just felt like Nevada was bad.

Also, coincidentally, both Thurman and Pile were able to take advantage of opportunities with older players being slowed down by injuries.  Pile received more playing time with Mitch Hahn, and now Lamar Wofford-Humphrey being injured.  Thurman picked up minutes with Jake White was sidelined, and the playing time probably helped him develop faster.  Hopefully, it can pay off in the same way for Pile.

Captain America may not have the coolest abilities out of all the Avengers, but he has the biggest heart and displays the biggest signs of leadership.  Matt Pile may not be the leader of the Mavericks, yet, but make no mistake that one day he will be Captain Omerica.


The Mavericks still have 6 regular season games remaining, and at least one Summit League tournament game to play, and Pile has already made an impression on the program.  This season he:

  • Had 6 blocks against Denver, which was the most by any Maverick in a basketball game since transition
  • Has 29 blocks on the season, one more and he’ll pass Tre’Shawn Thurman by an freshman since transition.  He’s 7 blocks away from passing Thurman for the most by any Mav for blocks on a season since transition.
  • Was the first Maverick freshman to record a double-double since transition.  It was against Doane, but it still counts.
  • Has the 4th most points by a freshman in a season since transition, he’s 28 points away from passing Marcus Tyus for 3rd.
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Summit League predictions: Jan 24-27

I was 5-2 last week.  My best week.

Amazingly, Oral Roberts has no conference games this week.  They play two non-D1 opponents.  It’s like they’re an SEC football team that plays a FCS team in week 9.

January 24

South Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN3

How fun of a game is this going to be?  INCREDIBLY FUN.

Daum versus Hagedorn.  Jenkins versus Mooney.  Blue versus Red.  Okay, I ran out of things.

Is it wrong of me to think that the Coyotes are the best team overall in the conference, even though the Jackrabbits have the best overall player in the Summit League?  Probably not.

With their home court advantage, in what should be a sold out crowd, the Coyotes will be able to utilize more depth and a better defense.

The x-factors of this game could be Reed Tellinghuisen and Trey Burch-Manning.  They’ll be guarding each other, and have two totally different styles of play.  Whichever of them can make key plays in big moments and take control of the other may be the difference maker in this game.

January 25

Omaha @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Each team is on a…I have no idea what to call this…a streak of conference games where you go W-L-W-L-W-L.  A Pattern Streak?  I don’t know.  I got nothing.  If the patterns hold true, both teams will win this game.  No, wait.  Crap.

The Bison have dropped 3 of their last 4 home games, which seems unheard of.  So really, what Bison team is going to show up?

I don’t think the Bison have an answer for Zach Jackson, and Mitch Hahn might be back.  So we will see what happens.  Hopefully, it’s good.

Western Illinois @ Denver

The Leathernecks have yet to win a game outside the state of Illinois this season.

Was it even noticed that the Leathernecks held Mike Daum to just 11 points last weekend?  Probably not since South Dakota State was still able to win by 28 points.  With Brandon Gilbeck being Daum’s primary defender, it plays into my theory that the one thing that bothers Daum is length.

January 27

Western Illinois @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

The Leathernecks have yet to win a game outside the state of Illinois this season.

Fort Wayne @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

The Mastodons have not won in Brookings since 2007, and Mike Daum scored 42 points the last time Fort Wayne came to town.  He also had 51 in Fort Wayne last season.

No one really has an answer for Mike Daum, but the ‘Dons don’t even have a clue.

Maybe with a full week off, the Mastodons can be well rested against the Jackrabbits who will be coming off an emotional game in Vermillion on Wednesday.

South Dakota @ Denver

The Coyotes are better at basketball on almost every level.  Home court advantage really shouldn’t matter that much.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 16

This weather has me too mad for words.

1. South Dakota State, 4-0

The Jackrabbits have the best player in the Summit and they’re undefeated in the conference.

They did have 0 bench points against Oral Roberts last week. The lack of a bench hasn’t hurt them yet.

2. South Dakota, 3-1

Without a doubt, they miss Carlton Hurst’s defense, but they were able to hold Fort Wayne to shooting 3-of-20 in Fort Wayne last week.

3. North Dakota State, 2-2

An up and down start to the conference schedule for the Bison, and they have already lost 2 in Fargo, which seems unheard of.  They’re not the only Summit League team having an up and down season, but they’re probably the best of the teams having an up and down season.

Their home loss to Denver seemed like a fluke.  The Bison were finding open shots, but just couldn’t knock them down.  Denver wasn’t doing anything spectacular.

4. Fort Wayne, 2-2

They can beat anyone in the Summit League when they’re knocking down threes, but when they’re not knocking down threes, the Mastodons are kind of bad.

5. Oral Roberts, 3-2

As somewhat expected, the young Golden Eagles couldn’t stay undefeated going into a weekend on the road against South Dakota State and North Dakota State.

The team did get Austin Ruder back from injury, and the rust was really showing, but with Ruder back on the team, the Golden Eagles have more depth and three point shooting.  If Ruder can be healthy, he could make up that three point difference in to South Dakota State.

6. Denver, 1-3

I’m still lost as to how Denver was able to pick up a win in Fargo.  The Bison just couldn’t hit wide open shots.

7. Omaha, 1-3

The Mavericks were able to finally pick up a road win in Macomb and held on for a competitive game in Fort Wayne last week.  Hopefully, the team can take advantage of a week at home against a kind of bad Pioneer team and a South Dakota team playing without Carlton Hurst.

They were able to hold John Konchar to 6 points on Saturday night, which is actually one of their bigger accomplishments this season.

8. Western Illinois, 0-3

Everything make sense again.

Summit League predictions: Jan 11-13

I don’t want to be that guy that just picks all the home teams, but I just really like all the home teams in their match ups this week.

January 11

South Dakota @ Fort Wayne

A little surprised this game is not on ESPN3, but what are you gonna do?

Carlton Hurst is going to be out with a broken hand, so who can guard Bryson Scott is a very big question mark for the Coyotes.

Omaha @ Western Illinois

So there probably won’t be a ton of defense in this game, but the Mavericks are starting to get a few things to click, finally.  The Mavericks know this is a winnable game, and if they put in the effort and energy they can overcome the Leathernecks’ home court advantage.

Denver @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

Denver is currently struggling, and they have yet to get a win in Fargo since joining the Summit League.  The Bison might not have anyone to match up with Daniel Amigo, but they can defend Denver at every other position on the floor.

Oral Roberts @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

This is actually a tough pick, and it should be since these are the only two undefeated teams in the league.  The Golden Eagles have three different looks to throw at Mike Daum with Javan White, Emmanuel Nzekwesi, and Albert Owens…also, how hard is it going to be for Reed Tellinghuisen to guard any of those guys?

I don’t like how much I am talking myself into Oral Roberts right now, but I will take the Jackrabbits at home.  They are an 11 point favorite, and I feel like Oral Roberts will end it at a closer game than that.


January 13

Denver @ South Dakota State

Daniel Amigo averaged 7.3 points and shot 24% against the Jackrabbits last season in 3 games.  So that might be bad.

Oral Roberts @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

What a tough week for Oral Roberts.  This is a game that is another mismatch for them, and in their favor.  They’re not a bad defensive team, and they can really force it down low against a smaller Bison team.  If there is any game that I have the least amount of confidence in, it is this one.

Omaha @ Fort Wayne

The Mavericks really seemed to have a weight lifted off of their shoulders when they defeated Fort Wayne in the Summit League tournament last season, but they are an entirely new team now.

Fort Wayne has been quite inconsistent, but Omaha has been bad at guarding John Konchar.  Terrible, actually.  Zach Jackson will likely be the primary defender to Konchar, but Daniel Norl actually did a decent job in his minutes defending Konchar in Omaha last season.  Konchar went 13-of-15 in Omaha last season, and I’m pretty sure both shots were missed when Norl was guarding him.

The good thing about this game is that we can finally unravel the conspiracy that Xzavier Taylor and Lamar Wofford-Humphrey are two different people.

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 9

1. South Dakota State, 2-0

The Jackrabbits have the best player in the conference, and they’re 2-0 on the road.  Depth is a slight problem as they let Omaha put a small scare into them by reducing a 29 point lead to just 13.

I legit feel bad because I thought Brandon Key was going to be a floor general to the team, and he did have some moments in the non-conference season, but he came into the game at Omaha for a minute and the Mavericks hit a couple quick shots, and he was immediately sent to the bench and not heard from again.

2. South Dakota, 2-1

A home loss to North Dakota State is probably what is keeping them from the top rating.  The Coyotes did play that game without Carlton Hurst, and it clearly showed on defense with the Bison’s Cameron Hunter going off for 35 points in Vermillion.

3. North Dakota State, 1-1

Yeah, yeah, it doesn’t seem like it would make sense to rank them below a team they just beat, but the Bison almost gave that game away in the end and was letting Matt Mooney get open shots late in the game.  The Bison also committed 17 turnovers in that game.  And again, had Carlton Hurst played that game, the Bison would likely be 0-2 right now.

4. Oral Roberts, 3-0

It may seem unfair to have the 3-0 Golden Eagles in 4th, but is it really?  They’ve played all three games at home and faced a depleted Omaha, an unproven Western Illinois, and a mismatched Fort Wayne team.  Their next three games are on the road against South Dakota State, North Dakota State, and South Dakota, so we will find out what the Golden Eagles are actually about.

I believe last year, I did say Emmanuel Nzekwesi was the future of the league.  So, I guess I’ll just sit here and toot this horn.

5. Fort Wayne, 1-1

You want to talk about another team with limited depth…in Fort Wayne’s two non-conference games only 7 players have reached double digits in minutes in each game.

Also, in those 2 games, the Mastodons only shot 22% on threes.

6. Western Illinois, 0-2

I got to admit, they have a pretty interesting Big 3 with Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, and Kobe Webster.  The Leathernecks also have some interesting role players around those guys.

7. Denver, 0-2

Fort Wayne is just inconsistent, Western Illinois is young, Oral Roberts has a bunch of a new faces, Omaha has injuries.  What’s Denver’s thing?

8. Omaha, 0-2

The Mavericks don’t really have a thing that they are great at right now.  They were pretty bad at getting to the foul line in the non-conference season, but they did a good job of it against South Dakota State and it helped them make the final score look more respectable.

Perhaps, they can get better at getting to the line and forcing some of the other conference teams with limited depth to foul trouble.  Maybe, Renard Suggs can get back into basketball shape and the Mavericks can have a threatening bench with Suggs, Matt Pile, and KJ Robinson/Ayo Akinwole.  Hopefully, Mitch Hahn’s shoulder can be better by March and he can actually play.

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – December 18th

1. South Dakota

After winning 4 in a row, the Coyotes are the first Summit League team to reach 10 wins.  The Coyotes had to rally back from a 12 point deficit on the road at San Jose State.  Tyler Hagedorn scored 27 points on 6-of-8 on threes on Sunday to help out the rally.  One of the fears of South Dakota heading into this season was that their interior game may be a little thin, but with Hagedorn playing like Mike Daum, the Coyotes really have a chance to show that they are the better team.

2. South Dakota State

Kind of nice that they were able to defeat future Summit League opponent North Dakota by 36, and then they were able to take Colorado to overtime over the weekend.

In their 36 point win over North Dakota, the Jackrabbits still had starter Reed Tellinghuisen out on the floor to end the game, as well as key bench players.  They actually have such a lack of depth they had to play a starter in garbage time.  Having Mike Daum is obviously great,  but can the Jackrabbits keep moving at such a high pace all season without a complete lineup?

3. Western Illinois

They didn’t play any games last week.  Welp, see ya later.

4. North Dakota State

The Bison played Valley City State last week.  That, could be a college?  They shot 70% against the…Valley Cityers?

Even though they had a game that was basically just an open practice, they were still able to play competition and only play AJ Jacobson 15 minutes, as well as provide some experience for their youthful bench.

5. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons were able to pick up a win over the weekend against Stetson, and a win is a win, but the Bison were able to beat Stetson by 36 earlier in the year.

Bryson Scott is leading the League in scoring so far, so good for him.  John Konchar leads the conference in rebounds, and that’s nice.

The ‘Dons are currently 7th in the Summit League in three point field goal percentage, shooting 35% on threes.  Isn’t shooting threes their thing?  Sort of, since they lead the conference in three point field goals attempted per game with 28 per game.

Along with Omaha and Denver, Fort Wayne is one of three teams in the conference that average more turnovers than assists.  The ‘Dons have talent on their basketball team, but they probably shouldn’t expect to get past day one of the Summit League tournament in March if they cannot play efficiently with that talent.

6. Oral Roberts

Players transferring, suspensions, and injuries are just a few of the problems for the Golden Eagles but they were able to pick up two wins in a row, including a 19 point win over Florida Gulf Coast.

The Golden Eagles are going to be the interior team this year in the Summit league.  Javan White had 25 points and 11 rebounds against FGSU and Emmanuel Nzekwesi posted 24 points and 11 rebounds in the same game.  Granted, the Golden Eagles are also experiencing such a lack of depth because of their issues that they have to play White and Nzekwesi for almost every meaningful second of every game, but the Golden Eagles may be able to pick up some unexpected conference wins this season if they can rebound, defend, and take care of the basketball against some of their high paced competition in the Summit League.

7. Omaha

I have a mini panic attack whenever a Maverick player falls down.

8. Denver

The Pioneers have the worst assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference.  They also force the least amount of turnovers, as well as have the fewest blocks in the Summit League so far.  They’re also 7th in the conference in scoring.  Denver has had the weakest strength of schedule in the Summit League.

Aren’t the Pioneers supposed to be playing at a high pace and scoring a bunch of points?  They also returned almost their entire roster, which won’t matter if they cannot play defense.

 

Maybe Arkansas State is just the right team to play right now

Sure, it might be a little difficult to get excited about a game between a 3-6 Arkansas State team coming to Baxter Arena to play a 1-10 Maverick team.  But hey, at least we get to see former Omaha Assistant Coach James Miller back in town.

Oh wait, no, James Miller left after last year’s Arkansas State team reached 20 wins and head coach Grant McCasland bolted for North Texas and took Miller with him.

Now, Arkansas State is coached by Mike Balado, who was last an assistant coach at Louisville from 2013 to 2017.  I don’t think anything bad went down there in that time frame.

Well, never mind.

There doesn’t seem to be any interesting Omaha to Arkansas State connections here.  Well, Arkansas State football almost beat Nebraska football in September, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with this.  Nothing at all, actually.

Either way, the Red Wolves are coming to Baxter Arena as a 3-6 team that still has yet to win a road game, and the Mavericks will be looking to defend home court as a team that has only played one home game, that they won.

After a grueling non-conference schedule, Omaha only has 5 non-conference games left.  In addition to tonight, they have two against non-division one opponents, another chance with Montana State, and a game we all assume they will lose at Kansas.  Though, maybe Nebraska can wear down Kansas this weekend.

Omaha will enter tonight’s game as a 3 point favorite against an Arkansas State team that just had a senior leave the roster.  The Mavericks might be able to finally play senior Renard Suggs tonight against Arkansas State.  Suggs could make an impact against a Red Wolves roster that has 8 upperclassmen.  Half of their upperclassmen are returners from last seasons’s 20-12 team.

The Red Wolves may have a better record than the Mavericks, but the Red Wolves currently rank 343rd in RPI, and their strength of schedule is ranked 333.  In addition to that, they are letting bad teams shoot nearly 50% against them.

Arkansas State’s leading scorer is 6’4″ senior Deven Simms, who is averaging 17 points a game and will likely be guarded by Zach Jackson.  The team’s second leading scorer is 5’11” junior Ty Cockfield averaging 14 points a game.

Even if Simms and Cockfield are working down a tiring Jackson and possibly David Norl or KJ Robinson, the Red Wolves lack a big man that could really defend Omaha big men Lamar Wofford-Humphrey or Matt Pile…and Wofford-Humphrey and Pile love to score down low and flex.  Daniel Meyer also had a pretty active game against a Jackson State team that was similar to Arkansas State in size.

The Red Wolves had held their opponents to shoot less than 30% from behind the arch, and Omaha has generally been a bad team at penetrating at getting to the basket and free throw line.

Not sure how much the Mavericks actually need a win over this Arkansas team, it’s not like they are trying to impress the NCAA Tournament committee with their resume at this point, but they will need a win for momentum heading into the Summit League schedule.  Also, they need to prove to their fans and themselves that because of their difficult schedule and injuries, that they are better than your typical 1-10 sports team.