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.

 

 

 

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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

 

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.

My precarious Summit League preseason rankings

This intro is copied from yesterday’s post…

Sometimes I find preseason predictions pointless, other than starting a conversation about the upcoming season or letting people know what could potentially be the biggest games of the year, there is not really much of a point to it.

I mainly find them useless because of the methodology in ranking teams.  Many seem to just copy and past the standings of last year, and then make a small edit if a team had a high amount of turnover from last season’s roster.  But I came up with a plan to do this for the Summit League.  I was reading some preseason predictions for the Big 10 football season which was done by a bunch of ESPN writers.  Some made good points but they all had to come up with a record for each team, and the math did not always make sense.  One clown had Ohio State going 12-0 with a 8-0 Big Ten record and Michigan State going 11-1, and also with a 8-0 Big Ten record.  Seriously, how drunk and lazy and/or bad at math was that guy?  Or some guys would have two teams going 8-0 in conference, a couple going 0-8, and everyone else going 5-3.  The math didn’t add up and they were telling you that these teams would win these amount of games because they are Skeletor and they said so.

So I came up with a plan.  I would go through the Summit League conference schedule and assign wins and losses over the course of a number of weeks.  At first it was just: South Dakota State is a better team than Denver, so win goes to the Jackrabbits.  Then later, I would look at the difficulty of each team’s conference schedule.  Obviously, everyone plays each other twice, but there are some things that stick out; like how Denver is the only team with the highway to the danger zone in playing at North Dakota State and South Dakota State in back to back games.  Or how South Dakota and Oral Roberts are the only two Summit League teams without three straight games on the road in conference play.  Then things like Omaha playing on the road against someone on a Thursday, as road games on Thursdays appear to be difficult for most teams.  Actually road games are pretty difficult for anyone.  Then I would go through the schedule again and consider some teams’ strengths versus their opponents weaknesses.  Like how teams better be good at three point shooting against South Dakota as they forced teams to take the most threes with their defense…and other things.

But I assigned wins and losses to each game, and did it several times considering different factors.  Then I plain and simple would add up each team’s wins and losses to see who had the most after going through it about 15 times.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it better than just saying South Dakota State will go 15-1 in conference because of Jesus?  Probably.

Really, after going through all of this; I really do not see much separation between many of the teams.  South Dakota State seems like a clear cut favorite.  Then North Dakota State seems like they are 2nd best, but they really should not be as comfortable as one would think.  Then Oral Roberts-Omaha-IPFW-IUPUI-South Dakota appear to be in a fight for spots 3 to 7 with Denver and Western Illinois sitting at 8 and 9; but Denver is a difficult place to play; and Western Illinois, while not great last year, they do return basically everything.

So much of the 3 to 9 in the Summit League appears to come down to:

  • Who can stay healthy?
  • Who can win on the road?
  • Who can pick up a win against South Dakota State and North Dakota State?

South Dakota State

Range of wins: 13 to 15

This team’s back court is extremely good, and the Jackrabbits could score 30 points a game on just three pointers alone.  The obvious question mark for the team is who is going to rebound and play center?  Scott Nagy has admitted to not knowing what to do there.  I think one of the most underrated part of Cody Larson’s game was his passing ability.  A big man that can pass is so huge for your team.  He could draw in the double team and kick it out to the open man, or pass it to a driving player, and it was just a huge weapon for the Jackrabbits.

Their three game road stretch of at North Dakota State, Oral Roberts, and South Dakota is an extremely tough road stretch for them, but they will be fine in the end.  They start their conference schedule at home with Denver and Western Illinois… must be rough.


North Dakota State

Range of wins:  10 to 13

At first I just thought to myself: oh they have everyone back, and they have enough players to make up for the loss of Lawrence Alexander, so they should just own this conference.  Then I thought: replacing Lawrence Alexander might be one of the most difficult things to ever overcome.  So much of their offense was based on what Alexander could do, and he only had two games last season where he did not score in double figures.  No player in Bison history won more games at North Dakota State than Lawrence Alexander.  Teams generally have a significant drop off when they lose one of their best players in program history, but somehow I still really like them to finish 2nd in the conference.

Dave Richman has this team completely confident though and they are buying into his system, and their team motto is: just get better and better every day…which they do a good job of doing.  One thing that is scary to think about in addition to losing one of the program’s best players in history: is the fact that they went 12-4 in the Summit League last season, but they did not exactly blow anyone out.  Only three of their wins were by more than 10 points, and one of those was a revenge game against South Dakota where Alexander had 31 points on 11-14 shooting.  So who is for sure going to score the ball down the stretch when they find themselves in close games this season?  I am not saying that they cannot find anyone, but it is something to definitely consider.

The Bison probably have the best post game cores in the league with AJ Jacobson, Dexter Werner, and Chris Kading; but Kading is coming off some summer surgeries.   They can go small, they can go big with those three; the three of them each bring something different to their front court to give them several different options.  The Bison also appear to be extremely excited about freshman Deng Geu, but they have also stated that they may redshirt him.

They lucked out with the greatest 3 game road stretch ever.  They are at IPFW on a Thursday and then at Western Illinois on a Saturday, they then have a 8 day break before playing on the road at IUPUI.


Omaha

Range of wins: 7 to 11

I already talked about the Mavs

I realize I look like a total homer placing them this high.


Oral Roberts

Range of wins: 7 to 10

At first, I thought no way on this team.  They have lost too many players in the last few seasons, the newcomers do not look all that great, and they might even be one of the least deep teams in the Summit League, which is almost an accomplishment.  Then I remembered that is the exact same thing that I thought about North Dakota State last season.  Obi Emegano is going to have to have to be the same type of player that Lawrence Alexander was for North Dakota State last season, which is something that he appears to be capable of.

No one seems to be taking the losses of Korey Billbury, Denell Henderson, and Bobby Word very seriously though.  Billbury was potentially a 1st Summit Team player, and he is being replaced by unproven guys.  The whole team is completely changed.  Their two top returning guys (Emegano and Brandon Conley) had shoulder surgery over the summer as well, and did not play in their summer trip.  There is a lot to point at and say that this why they wont be a top 3 team in the conference, but for some reason, I always consider them a top 4 team in this conference.  I just think Scott Sutton is that good of a coach and that Obi Emegano is that good of a player.  Sutton has finished in the top 3 in the Summit League in every season that they were in the Summit League since 2003-2004.

I would not be shocked if this team finished 2nd in the conference, and I would not be totally surprised if they finished 8th in the conference.  There is just no telling what is going to happen.  Jalen Bradley appears to be in the perfect situation playing alongside Emegano.  Freshman Javan White, while he looks like you could snap his arm like a twig, seems like he can really help the Golden Eagles in the low post in a league with not much depth in post players this season.

The start of the conference season does not look like a big help to them.  Three teams they can beat, but on the road against IPFW, then back home for South Dakota, then back on the road against Denver, then back home for North Dakota State.  They make up for it late in the season when they have three straight home games against IUPUI, Western Illinois, and Denver.


IUPUI

Range of wins:  6 to 10

This team was picked last in the preseason rankings before the start of last season.  Everyone thought it was one of the worst rosters they had ever seen, but they were able to pick up 6 wins with that roster.  What were they bad at last year?  3 point shooting…fine add Darell Combs, a transfer that made 32 threes in his sophomore year at Eastern Michigan.  Rebounding…fine add two 6’8″ transfers from Loyola.  Too many turnovers…fine, everyone that turned the ball over the most left the team, except for Marcellus Barksdale who handled the ball the most for the team.  Guard dominated league?  Fine, put Marcellus Barksdale on Obi Emegano or Garret Covington on any given night.  Hell, they don’t even see him as their best perimeter defender.

The roster has improved, the coaches have a year of being together under their belt, and the program is improving more and more every day.  They did hold an open scrimmage this week, but had 3 newcomers sitting out with some nagging injuries.  One of the players that sat out was Jordan Pickett who transferred from Loyola where he had a history of injury problems, and it sounds like the Jaguars were expecting him to be one of the team’s primary ball handlers.  That could become an issue.

They might be one the most boring team to ever watch, but you cannot ignore their improvement and upside.  They also had Marcellus Barksdale playing four different positions last season in just about every single game, and he will not have to take on as much of a load this season with the additions to this team.


South Dakota

Range of wins:  5 to 8

I admit that I really like Craig Smith, and I think the loss of him as an assistant coach was a big factor as to why the Huskers had a drop off last season.  Some of these preseason rankings appear to just rating the Coyotes around 5th primarily on the fact that Craig Smith is their coach…and I am totally cool with that.  This team lost the most scoring in the Summit League, their team has been plagued with injuries in the preseason, oh and the staff currently has no idea who is going to score the ball for them.  Spots 3-9 in the Summit League could be incredibly close, injuries could ruin any team, as well as pretty much starting 3 weeks later than everyone else as far as full team practices go.

Another thing that is kind of weird is that Trey Norris is probably their starting point guard, who started is sophomore year, but Smith thought it was a much better decision to send him to the bench in his junior year.  So does Smith even believe in his point guard?  Also Tyler Flack is returning from a back injury.  You back isn’t important in basketball, is it?  I was on the Craig Smith can coach this team to 3rd or 4th bandwagon, but there seems to be something new every week that continues to point to the fact that this is going to be a long year for the Coyotes.

This team though is going to force teams to take 3s on them.  They forced their opponents to take the most amount of threes last season, and held them to the lowest three point field goal percentage in the Summit League…so you kind of need to be able to hit the three against them.


IPFW

Range of wins:  5 to 7

I have seen this team ranked any from 4th to 6th in preseason rankings.  The Summit League ranked them as the 4th best team.  I don’t see it.  They return the 2nd least amount of scoring the Summit League, and they return the least amount of division one starts on their team.  The losses of Steve Forbes, Joe Edwards, and Isaiah McCray seem too big.  It seems like they are asking their newcomers to do too much and are placing too high of expectations on them.  They think Brent Calhoun is going to have a breakout year because he lost a bunch of weight and is really healthy, but let’s wait a few games to see how much of an asset that can be.  They are putting a lot of emphasis on redshirt freshman John Konchar to be an undersized 4 man and play small ball this season.

I am just not sold on this team yet.  This team was the worst free throw shooting team in the Summit League, but I think they really are going to improve there, which could help them with some of the rule changes, but teams should be adjusted to the rule changes come conference play.  I do think this team does have probably the best order of games in the conference as well.  Oral Roberts at home on a Wednesday, South Dakota at home on a Wednesday, North Dakota State at home on a Thursday, South Dakota State at home on a Thursday; and on top of that they never have three games in a row in which they should not be completely unfavored.  Have to give credit to the fact that they have one of the top back courts in the league with Mo Evans and Max Landis, but who knows how valuable that can be in a back court dominated league…says the guy that bases part of Omaha’s potential success on the Mavericks having one of the top back courts in the league.

The team did underachieve last season, but Joe Reed admitted that last year’s team was just completely focused on the Summit League tournament, and did not look at their season on a game-by-game basis.  He said they are more focused on taking it one game at a time this season.  I will be surprised if this team ends up in the top half of the Summit League, but they could do it with lucky breaks with injuries to other teams and whatnot.  It is a young team, and a team of mostly newcomers.  I will say if they can keep this roster together, add their two transfers sitting out this season, and a 6’10” freshman that recently committed, that the Mastodons will be a very good team against the Summit League in 2016-2017.


Denver

Range of wins:  2 to 7

There are many question marks for this team.  I am really curious how a 30 second shot clock affects a team in the Princeton offense, probably not a ton, but it has to affect it in some way shape or form.  Denver does have 3 seniors to run that offense, but they do have 13 underclassmen on their team that have to learn that offense and be prepared to hit shots with the shot clock winding down.  Denver can pick up a few wins at home with their elevation advantage,  style of play, and Joe Scott’s coaching abilities, but do you really feel fully confident in 9 freshman and 4 sophomores on the road in conference play?  They also have 3 seasons in a row of declining in wins, so it is not like there is a bunch of momentum heading into this season.  Not to mention, they were picked 2nd in preseason polls last season.  I have seen them ranked as low as 9th in the Summit and as high as 6th.

This team should have a pretty decent non-conference season though with no power teams on their schedule, and Wyoming is the hardest team on their non-conference schedule, who lost everyone.   The start to the conference schedule is not very kind to the Pioneers.  They start off with with two weekend games on the road against North Dakota State and South Dakota State, and then they have Oral Roberts at home…so they are starting off with the three teams that are known for being the toughest in the Summit League.  After the Golden Eagles, they have IPFW at home who swept them last season by 16 point margins in each game; and then they are back on the road for games against Western Illinois and IUPUI.  It is possible that they start the conference season at 0-6.  Talk about momentum!


Western Illinois

Range of wins: 2 to 5

No one is taking Western Illinois very seriously, and it completely makes sense.  They ended 2014-2015 on a nine game losing streak and they were 0-8 in Summit League road games.  Western Illinois is not an easy place for other teams to pick up wins though.  They were 3-5 at home, and they lost both of their home games to North Dakota State and South Dakota State by 2.

It also seems like everyone on this team was injured at some point, and they return the most scoring in the Summit League at 89% of their offense.  They are also very excited about their two freshmen 6’11” Brandon Gilbeck and 5’11” DeAngelo Brewster.  Gilbeck and Brewster do not need to carry the load for this team with Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer still on this team, but they need to just be role players; so it is not like they have any pressure on them.  It is completely easy to write off the Leathernecks and pencil them in as the worst team in the Summit League, but they could seriously surprise a couple teams this year and pick up a shocking win or two.  The toughest part of the season for them is going to be when they 6 out of 8 games on the road in the conference.

But the serious questions were all no for the Leathernecks last year.  Can they stay healthy?  No.  Can they win on the road?  No.  Can they beat South Dakota State or North Dakota State?  No.

Just some haphazard notes listening to the Summit League Media Day

 

  • Joe Scott knows his team is young and the Pioneers are a work in progress, but he is preaching maturity to his team.
  • Jon Coffman is pretty damn excited about college basketball and his team.
    • Redshirt Freshman John Konchar has apparently put on a ton of muscle, and the ‘Dons are really excited about him and are more prepared to go small ball this year in the Summit
    • Brent Calhoun is expected to make a big jump for the ‘Dons, he has lost a bunch of weight and is in the best shape of his life.
    • I have realized that after an entire season that I have been spelling “Mastodons” incorrectly.
  • Jason Gardner is excited about this program, and thinks his staff will be more comfortable working together this year.  He has gained a large amount of respect for the Summit League.
    • In his opinion, Mason Archie is his team’s best defender and wants to defend the other team’s best player.
    • Marcellus Barksdale had to play four different positions in just about every single game for the Jaguars, he will not have to do that this year and expects Barksdale to benefit from not having to playing too many different roles.
    • Barksdale and Archie have both graduated already, and set a great example for the team.
    • His 4 transfers are really going to help this team.
    • The new arena has really helped the Jaguars in recruiting.
  • Dave Richman acknowledges that his team has 11 of his 15 guys as freshman and sophomores, but they are a deeper and more talented team than last year.
    • Chris Kading had 3 surgeries in the off season, will probably miss the first couple games of the regular season.
    • Lawrence Alexander carried the Bison on his back, he was the winningst most player in Bison history, it is not going to be easy to replace him.  They will have to replace him by committee.
    • The Bison ended up 12-4 in the league, but many of their games were won by just a possession.
  • Derrin Hansen (and Brittany Lange) is excited about the new arena, it has been a huge asset to the program, and they know it will help them catch up to the rest of the league in the next few years.  Not to mention it is extremely huge for the community.
    • Hansen is expecting more productivity from Tim Smallwood, Hansen is unclear if Smallwood will start or come off the bench yet.  Smallwood has a much better feel for the game right now.  He was a huge help when Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season.
    • Devin Patterson has become better in his leadership role.
    • Marcus Tyus is coming off his knee injury very well.
    • Jake White was only healthy for 2 or 3 games last year, he can have a big year if he is healthy.
    • Randy Reed is going to have a big role this year.
    • The players UNO has brought in bring in a winning culture, with all of them playing in their state championship games.  Zach Jackson’s team won the state championship.
    • Hansen thinks his new guys can be immediate impacts for his program, but it sounds like minutes may be an issue at this point.
  • Scott Sutton says he is excited and optimistic, but he also sounds like he wants to skip the morning and get straight to lunch.  He likes his new players, he knows there will be growing pains, but it is a tough group of guys that should be ready by the conference schedule.  Their non-conference schedule should really help prepare the Golden Eagles for the Summit League.
    • Obi Emegano and Brandon Conley have both been injured throughout the summer and had shoulder surgeries, but are doing very well at this point.  The staff is doing the best that they can to protect them.
    • Sutton thinks the rule changes in college basketball are going to benefit a guy like Emegano the most.  He already led the league last year in free throws attempted per game and he should get even more attempts at the line this season.  Sutton also likes how his team plays with a 30 second shot clock.
    • Sutton really really likes Jalen Bradley, and will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup.  Bradley got to play a lot on the team’s summer trip, where the team got to play with a 24 second shot clock.
    • Sutton could have a year where he is starting a couple freshmen.  AJ Owens is their post player, but not as consistent as they would like him to be.  Owens could have the biggest jump this year in the league.
  • Craig Smith sounds like he came to party. He thinks it is going to be a heck of a year for the Summit League, and his team will be a work in progress.  He is glad that his team set a foundation and a culture last year.  They lost a lot of scoring, so they have to figure out a way to score the ball.
    • Smith really does not know who is going to help take on the scoring yet, but Tre Burnette really caught on toward the end of the season.  Casey Kasperbauer is one of the best three point shooters he has ever coached.
    • The Coyotes have had a lot of injuries.  They have 17 players on the roster, but ended a practice with only 10 players recently.  It has been hard to get going and figure out lineups and who plays well together.
    • Dan Jech can score in a lot of different ways and is a great rebounder.  Smith sounds really excited about Jech.
    • Tyler Hagedorn has a great feel for the game and can do a lot of different things.
    • Tyler Borchers has been a great surprise for the Coyotes, he doesn’t look pretty with everything that he does, but he does great things.
  • Scott Nagy says his team has taken their time getting ready because of the great experience that they have at the guard position.  He thinks the Jackrabbits have a lot of depth, which is going to be needed in college basketball with the rule changes.
    • He points out that preseason awards mean nothing.  No one expected Deondre Parks and George Marshall to be all league picks last year.  Some transfers from IUPUI or on other teams could be big time players, and no one knows anything about them yet.
    • Jake Bittle and George Marshall both have nagging injuries, nothing that would keep them out, but they will be hurting after games.
    • Nagy thinks his team is smaller than he would like it to be.  They could even go very small with no true post player in some games.
    • Adam Dykman works extremely hard, and down the road will be a tremendous 4 man in the future.
    • The biggest question mark for the Jackrabbits is: how will they replace Cody Larson?  They are looking at 3 guys to replace him…Connor Devine, Ian Theisen, and Mike Daum.  He has no idea who will be their starting center at this point.
    • Nagy just seems displeased by rule changes, doesn’t see the need for them, but they have to play with them.  He doesn’t think the rule changes will affect how they play though.
  • Billy Wright feels his program is headed in the right direction.  His team has set a philosophy in how they want to recruit and compete.
    • Western Illinois returns 85% of their scoring.
    • His freshman are working hard to compete for starting spots and playing time.
    • Garret Covington has really worked hard to improve his rebounding
    • JC Fuller is one of the most underrated players in the league.
    • De’Angelo Brewster and Brandon Gilbeck will have big breakout years as freshmen.
    • The Summit League is close in talent, you are an injury or two away from going from the top to the bottom, or a recruit away from going from the bottom to the middle of the pack.

Who has the best Big 3 in the Summit League?

Basketball, meh, mainly the NBA has entered into an era of looking at teams by asking the question: Who has the best Big 3?  Having a Big 3 certainly is key, but really I think it’s just as important to follow up with who has better role players to back up Big 3?  Could the 2008 Boston Celtics have won an NBA championship without their young starters Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and older bench players of PJ Brown, Sam Cassell, and James Posey?  But while we are on the subject, that I brought up, let’s take a look at who could have the best Big 3 in the Summit League in the 2015-2016 season.


 

SDSU:

Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Deondre Parks

There is little doubt that the Jackrabbits will have the best guard trio in the league.  Each averaged double figures in scoring, and all three can defend the perimeter.  Each averaged double figure scoring, and Bittle has the highest field goal percentage of any returning player to the Summit league at 53.4 %.  The Jackrabbits also have 3 of the top 5 returning players in 3 point field goals made, Marshall made 64 threes in 2014-2015 and he did not even play the entire season.  The big question mark is; with Cody Larson graduating, who is going to rebound and defend in the post for them?

The Jackrabbits are returning 74% of their scoring from 2014-2015.
The Jackrabbits are returning 74% of their scoring from 2014-2015.

Role Players:

Reed Tellinghuisen, 6-6 SO:  If you look at the Jackrabbits fan forum, someone posted pictures of Tellinghuisen lifting weights, which is not weird at all.  He does appear as if he has added some weight onto his frame, which is great as he will be used more at the 4 position in his second year as a Jackrabbit.  The Summit League has Tellinghuisen, AJ Jacobson, and Tre’Shawn Thurman all in the same class at the forward position.  How excited are you for 2017-2018?

Connor Devine/Ian Theisen:  These two split time and basically taking turns of who was backing up All Conference player Cody Larson.  These two combined for for almost 5 points and 4 rebounds per game.  With a young front court, these two will be counted on more in the 2015-2016 season to step up.

Skyler Flatten, 6-6 SO: Flatten was actually getting a decent amount of minutes, but then something happened.  George Marshall happened.

Keaton Moffitt, 6-5 SR:  Keaton Moffitt also happened.  The transfer, from Division 2 Sioux Falls, made quite the impact on his team with his leadership and hustle, routinely making big plays when it was needed most.


 

Omaha:

Devin Patterson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Marcus Tyus, (Jake White)

The Mavericks could have a Big 4 if Jake White is healthy, with as many injuries as he had in his junior season, it is going to be like getting an entirely new player in the line up.  It seemed as if the entire team faced injuries issues last season, so if the Mavs can stay healthy, they can be a very dangerous team in the Summit League with their senior back court of Patterson and Tyus to go along with their rising sophomore star Tre’Shawn Thurman.

Random stat:  The Mavericks have the most experienced roster with the average eligible player being 2/3 of the way through their sophomore season, but they have the smallest roster with an average height of 6’4″.  If Zach Jackson, Ben Kositizke, and Zach Pirog all redshirt, the roster gets even smaller, but more experienced.  It is still up for debate if this is one of the meaningless things I have ever posted here.

The Mavericks are looking to make a big jump with a new arena and new era.
The Mavericks are looking to make a big jump with a new arena and new era.

Role Players:

Tra-Deon Hollins, 6-2 JR:  Averaged 17 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 5.3 apg his freshman season of junior college, he appears to be a little bit of everything, and can really help the Mavericks improve their perimeter defense.

Daniel Meyer, 6-9 SO:  Only averaged four and a half minutes a game in 2014-2015, but he is likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Mike Rostampour and the departure of fellow redshirt freshman Rylan Murry.  Meyer appeared to play with a lot of activity on the team’s trip to Italy.

Randy Reed, 6-6 SR:  I’d like to see Reed’s shot chart, I cannot think of many jump shots Reed made, or took.  He really can slash and get to the basket though.  When Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season, Reed really did a decent job of bringing energy off the bench.  There were many instances in the Mavericks’ home game against Oral Roberts that he made a play to keep Omaha in the game.  I would think with not a ton of post players around the Summit League that Reed will be used as a backup 4.


 

NDSU:

Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, AJ Jacobson

After losing the Summit League player of the year, Lawrence Alexander, the Bison will look to replace that offense in their back court.  AJ Jacobson said in a Q&A that the Bison are all about a team effort, and know that there is a next one up to take Alexander’s place.  It will probably actually be two up with Kory Brown and Carlin Dupree to take the load on offense over.  Seriously, this team is starting to become the HYDRA of the Summit League.

While this team is still relatively young, they seem to have completely bought into Dave Richman’s schemes.  A Big 3 probably does not really matter to the Bison, they appear to be ready for anything.  Looking at their roster, they probably have the most complete roster in the Summit League.  It is also probably worth nothing; that while the Bison are a young team, their roster has the most division one starts on the active roster for 2015-2016 with 197 starts.  Kory Brown is after all a 4 year starter…assuming he is going to start this season.

The Bison will continue to work as a team after the loss of Lawrence Alexander.
The Bison will continue to work as a team after the loss of Lawrence Alexander.

Role Players:

Chris Kading, 6-8 SR:  Kading averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2014-2015.  He is not much of a threat on offense, but he does rarely make mistakes.  Actually the Bison rarely make mistakes as a team.  Kading led the Summit League in blocks per game.

Paul Miller, 6’4 SO:  Miller averaged 6.7 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game, while making 37 threes in his freshman campaign, which is all impressive considering he was sharing the back court with the likes of Lawrence Alexander, Kory Brown, and Carlin Dupree.  He also had 10 games in which he scored in double figures.

Dexter Werner, 6-6 JR:  Had a massive jump from his sophomore to his junior season going from 2.8 points per game to 8.4 points per game.  He also only averaged under 20 minutes per game in 2014-2015.  With Werner coming off the bench, he and Jacobson allow the Bison to be extremely tough at the 4 position for 40 minutes.  It also allows Jacobson to move over to the 3 and play more outside, which is not a bad thing for them.  Werner was second on the team in blocks per game, and is tied with Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading shot blocker returning to the league.


 

IUPUI:

Marcellus Barksdale, Darrell Combs, Nick Osborne

A bunch of new faces for IUPUI, which is not a terrible thing.  Marcellus Barksdale is the team’s returning leading scorer, but he can easily fall to the team’s 2nd or 3rd best scorer on the team.  Eastern Michigan transfer Darrell Combs is ready to go and has shown he can get buckets.  I cannot wait for the “combing the court” puns from terrible ESPN3 commentators.  Loyola-Illinois transfer Nick Osborne is expected to make a big impact on this team as well, and will more than likely serve as the team’s primary post presence, as he and other Loyola-Illinois transfer Matt O’Leary are the only upperclassmen post players on the team.  Osborne was known for getting into lots of foul trouble when he was a post player for Loyola.  The Jaguars are going to look entirely different this season.

The Jaguars exceeded expectations in 2014-2015, what can they do with a group of new and improved players?
The Jaguars exceeded expectations in 2014-2015, what can they do with a group of new and improved players?

Role Players:

Seriously, how many 6’5″ guards do the Jaguars need?

Aaron Brennan, 6-6 SO:  Averaged 6.4 points per game in 2014-15 and started in 24 games, but could be moved to the bench with the additions of Osborne and O’Leary.  Not a bad thing for your team to have a guy on your bench with 24 career starts as a freshman.

DJ McCall, 6-5 SO:  Averaged a shade under 5 points per game and had 15 starts on the year.  Could also see an increase of minutes with the graduations of Elijah Ray and Khufu Najee.

The further I get into this, I realize that the entire team is a group of role players.

 


 

South Dakota

Tre Burnette, Tyler Flack, Casey Kasperbauer

I admit that throwing Flack’s name into the mix is a risk.  Due to an injury, he has yet to play under Craig Smith, but Craig is probably going to like using a 6’7″ guy who shot 45% on threes in his sophomore season.  Combine that with Casey Kasperbauer ranking 95th in the nation last season in threes made, and South Dakota will rely on the three ball a lot this season, again.  The trio can really make up for the losses of Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos from last season.

Tre Burnette is the Summit League’s leading returning rebounder from 2014-2015, and Kasperbauer has the most three point field goals made of any returning player to the League, he also has the 3rd highest three point field goal percentage of any returning player.

South Dakota lost 56% of their scoring, that is the most in the Summit League.
South Dakota lost 56% of their scoring, that is the most in the Summit League.

Role Players:

Trey Norris, 6-0 Sr:  Came off the bench in his junior year after being a starter in his sophomore season, but will compete for the starting point guard position with incoming JuCo player, Shy McClelland.  Norris had a drop off in production from his sophomore season under coach Smith, but he can still be a capable part of the offense for the Coyotes.

Eric Robertson, 6-8 Sr:  He made the game winning shot over the Mavericks in Omaha, right?  I just remember the beard, and being incredibly angry.  I do not completely blame him for the Mavericks’ loss, it is just the final image I have in my mind of that game.  Perhaps an increased role in his senior season with the departure of James Hunter, but Craig Smith did a decent job recruiting two 6’9″ freshman (Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech) that he may be intrigued to get to the top of the rotation immediately.


 

IPFW

Mo Evans, Max Landis, Joe Reed

I continuously forget about the existence of Max Landis, but he is on the team, I swear it, and he was 4th on the team in scoring last season.  The ‘Dons lost a lot of their post game, and they do not appear to have much replacing what they lost, so the team could rely a lot on Mo Evans to be a star.  Landis will be there to shoot the three, and Joe Reed will need to be counted on even more to be a stretch 4 than he has before.  Seriously, this is the first time we have seen the ‘Dons without a serious threat of a stretch 4.  Yep, first time in 5 years?  Reed did shoot 36% from behind the line last year, but did not take many as he only made ten on the year.  The team will be counting on two junior college transfers to fill the void of what they lost from last season, and will need them to adjust and contribute quickly.

Side note:  The ‘Dons will have transfers from Louisiana Tech, Purdue, and Bradley all eligible to play in 2016-2017.

The 'Dons have the fewest number of Division 1 starts by players on their roster.
The ‘Dons have the fewest number of Division 1 starts by players on their roster.

Role Players:

Andrew Poulter, 6-11 JR: Played in seven games his redshirt freshman year at Arkansas-Little Rock before transferring to Western Texas for his sophomore season, where he averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds per game.

DeAngelo Stewart, 6-6 JR:  Played his freshman season at Alabama State before transferring to Northwest Tech in Kansas for his sophomore season.  Averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg, and shot 47% from the field in his sophomore season.  A few people have already tabbed Stewart as the Newcomer of the Year in the Summit League.

 


 

Western Illinois:

Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer

It is hard to determine who the Leathernecks’ third best player is behind Covington and Fuller.  Sandifer was the third leading scorer on the team with 7.4 points per game, and he also led the Summit League in assists with 4.3 per game.  He even had a great opening weekend in the Summit with 22 points and 4 assists against IPFW and 20 points and 6 assists against Omaha, but then he was basically never heard from again only scoring in double figures one more time through the season.

Western Illinois actually has a lot of experience on their team, but how much faith can you put in a team that has gone 1-27 on the road in the last two seasons.  The last time they won a road game was January 30th, 2014 against IPFW.

The Leathernecks return 89% of their scoring, can they see improvement if they stay healthy?
The Leathernecks return 89% of their scoring, can they see improvement if they stay healthy?

Role Players:

Mike Miklusak, 6-6 JR:  Played in 15 games because of a season ending injury  He had 21 points and 7 rebounds against Omaha.  I am putting my head down right now.

Jamie Batish, 6-4, SR:  A bit of an inconsistent guard, but gives the Leathernecks an option on offense after averaging 6.4 points per game in his first season with the team.  He had 15 points in a win against Omaha.  Seriously, I am going to punch myself in the face right now.

Tate Stensgaard, 6-8 SR:  Played in 20 games before facing a season ending injury.  Has shot over 56% on his career as a Leatherneck.


 

Denver:

Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, Bryant Rucker

Honestly it is pretty difficult to analyze a team’s Big 3 when they run the Princeton offense.  Excuse me, I have to take a break, I just had a random memory of Barry Collier being a terrible basketball coach.

Okay, I am back… With their offense you need guys that take high percentage shots.  These three seniors-to-be had a combined shooting percentage of nearly 50% from the field and 42% on threes.  Marcus Byrd has the highest three point field goal percentage for any player returning to the Summit League.  The Summit League has been more difficult for Joe Scott and the Pioneers than it was for them against the Sun Belt and WAC, which hopefully is not all that surprising.  The Pioneers have gotten worse each of the last three seasons going from 22 wins to 16 wins to 12 wins, can they go for 10 this year?  With their high shooting percentage, the Pioneers can always be in a game, but with the Summit League having so many good shooters, teams have been able to take over games down the stretch.  It is pretty difficult to beat at home as they are 32-13 at home over the last 3 years, and last year they lost 7 games at home by a combined total of 39 points…one of those games was a 16 point loss to IPFW as an outlier.

Denver does not care about a Big 3.
Denver does not care about a Big 3.

Role Players:

Daniel Amigo, 6-10 SO:  5.7 ppg, 46 FG%

Jake Pemberton, 6-3 SO: Likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Brett Olson and Cam Griffin.


 

Oral Roberts:

Obi Emegano, Brandon Conley, Scott Sutton

With Korey Billbury and Bobby Word departing from the team, I really cannot come up with who is going to make up a Big 3 for the Golden Eagles.  On paper, it looks kind of rough for Oral Roberts and coach Sutton, but Sutton is probably one of the top coaches in the Summit League and entering his 17th season as the head coach of the Golden Eagles, so they cannot really be counted out, especially if they arguably the best player in the conference.  You want to talk about new faces?  Oral Roberts is going to be like trying to figure out who is joining the cast of another Expendables film.

Obi Emegano is a popular choice of Preseason Player of the Year.
Obi Emegano is a popular choice of Preseason Player of the Year.

Role Players:

Seriously have no idea what will be happening with this team.  Perhaps this is what happens to a team when they change conferences so often…naw what I mean Denver?  Brandon Conley is probably the only for sure thing on the team, everyone else seems to be the mystery man with his trigger on the finger.  The Golden Eagles can probably get above .500 in the conference with Emegano and Sutton though.

 

 

 

A look back at the players The Summit League has lost from 2014-2015

Every year we as sports fans analyze teams in college sports in consideration to what players teams lost versus what they have coming back, and what they have potentially coming in.  It is the easiest and the laziest way to determine who we think will be the best and worst teams.  So before all of that starts, lets take a look at the players the Summit League has lost so far from the 2014-2015 season.


North Dakota State – The Bison won the Summit League championship for the second straight year, and they are only losing one player to graduation.  So the lazy man will tell you that with only losing one player, they will probably go on for a three peat.  No, no, no, we are talking about a potential eight peat here.  That is a Bill Swerski’s Superfans reference.  The problem with the They Won the Championship and Are Only Losing One Player argument is that the only player that they are losing was the best player in the entire league.

Graduated:

Lawrence Alexander – there is no doubt that it will be difficult for the Bison to make up for the loss of Alexander, the 2014-2015 Conference Player of the Year.  Losing 19 points per game is no easy thing to lose, but we know players cannot stick around forever  Senior to be, Kory Brown showed some moments of that he could be the guy to make up that loss, but the Bison won the Summit League the last two years behind a complete team effort, so they will have to band together again to continue their dominant run in the Summit League.  They did pick up a commitment from Malik Clements, a 6’3″ junior college guard that will be a sophomore, who did at one time have an offer from the Mavericks.  They also have still no player on their roster that is smaller than 6’3″.

Transferred:

Jake Showalter – After only playing 13 games and averaging 1.4 points per game, it is no surprise to see the guard from Wisconsin transfer out after his freshman year.  With the addition of above mentioned Clements, Showalter was still probably going to be at the bottom of the rotation for the guards of the Bison.


South Dakota State – A team that only loses 2 players to graduation, but one player was an All Conference player and arguably the best post player in the league.

Graduated:

Zach Horstman – the senior was getting a lot of playing time before getting sidelined with an injury and being forced to miss two games against Omaha and IUPUI, this opened up more room for some of the younger guys to show off what they could do.  Before missing those two games, Horstman had 5 (out of 17) games of scoring in double figures and did not have any afterwards.  With lack of depth in the front court, the Jackrabbits had Horstman playing most of his time at the 4, but at 6’6″ and 205 pounds he was probably more in line to be playing the 3.  The Jackrabbits will have Reed Tellinghuisen and Skyler Flatten to still pick up most of the time for Horstman, and both are very capable players.  Not only that, but the Jackrabbits will have Nebraska native, Michael Daum to make up for the lost time at the 4 position, who redshirted in the 2014-2015 season.

Cody Larson – the perennial Lord of Jerkfaces and former First Team All Summit League player will definitely be tough for the Jackrabbits to make up.  Sophomore to be Ian Theisen showed some strong moments of what could come in the future for the post game of the Jackrabbits, and the Jackrabbits have some pretty big expectations from Daum, but are they 9 double-doubles good?  Are they 14 and 7 good?  Yes, I just puked a little.  I will be the first to admit it, and I have already mentioned variations of this before though, the Summit League was not stacked with really good post players this season.  There was Larson, Steve Forbes, and Mike Rostampour as the top 3, and then a big drop off after that.  Where was I going with this?  Not entirely sure, I just started saying that and was hoping it would go somewhere.  Maybe, just that the loss of Larson is not as big as it seems if no one else in the Summit League has a great post game.

Transferred:

Anders Broman – I remember coming out of high school, the Jackrabbits were incredibly excited about Broman.  Every school sounds excited about every player coming out of high school though.  It is not like Scott Nagy comes out to announce the players he signed and talks about his expectations of a few of them never developing and transferring out.  Either way, Broman is on his way to Winthorp.  Not sure his playing time was going to really increase his junior year playing behind Wisconsin transfer George Marshall, Jake Bittle, and Deondre Parks.  Seriously, does that guard trio not scare you, especially with Tellinghuisen and Flatten also capable of playing the guard position?


Oral Roberts – The 2015-2016 does not look like anything the Golden Eagles are looking forward to on paper, but Scott Sutton has seen this and done this before.

Graduated:

Denell Henderson – the loss of Henderson will mean Oral Roberts will again not have much of a post game, but they have never been extremely reliable in their post game.  Henderson averaged 3.5 points per game his junior year, before moving up to 8.8 points per game his senior year.  Albert Owens averaged 3.8 points per game this last season as a freshman, so is it pretty safe to say Owens will just kind of take over that role.  Yes, I based that off of very little.  No offense to Henderson, but it is not a bunch to make up.  Oral Roberts also has two freshman coming in that are taller than 6’7″, so there is really not a ton of fallout here.

Adrion Webber – I think Oral Roberts made the most appearances on ESPN3 out of all the Summit League teams last season.  I watched most of their games, and I cannot remember Webber’s name ever being mentioned.  He did score 9 on the Mavericks in their game in Tulsa, so it is possible I was too engulfed in anger to take in anyone’s name from the Golden Eagles during that game.  Former Creighton guy, Darian Harris did see an increase in minutes toward the end of the year, I assume Harris is a guy that is capable of making up for the loss of Webber.

Transferred:  

Korey Billbury – probably the biggest loss in the Summit League in terms of a guy transferring out.  It sounded as if Billbury had issues off the court that forced him to leave, which is why it is not really a huge shocker that he transferred out.  With Obi Emegano, I really thought these two had the chance to be the greatest guard combination in the Summit League for 2015-2016, but that will never be played out.  He shot 13-19 against the Mavericks in Tulsa, that is why I cannot remember Webber’s name.  On the court, he also averaged 14.4 points per game and led the Golden Eagles in rebounds with 7.4 per game.  Billbury’s game will be a lot for the Golden Eagles to make up, but they did beat North Dakota State, Denver, IUPUI, and a CBI tournament game without him last season.

Dederick Lee – not a shocking loss for the Golden Eagles here.  Former Maverick, Jalen Bradley will more than make up the loss for Lee.

Jabarr Singleton – another guy Bradley can make up for.  Singleton did score 10 points in the Golden Eagles win over the Mavericks in Tulsa.  Seriously, what the hell was going on in that game?

Bobby Word – an incredibly significant loss for the Golden Eagles.  Known mostly for being a shooter, Word averaged 8.4 points per game as a sophomore.  He also averaged 13.5 points per game after Billbury stopped playing, I cannot see Golden Eagle fans being super excited about losing both of those guys on the court.  The Oral Roberts, are going to be a pretty young team this upcoming season.


IPFW – The Mastadons had high expectations at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, and it was partially because of their senior trio of Joe Edwards, Steve Forbes, and Isaiah McCray, but with first year head coach Jon Coffman never really materializing the roster, and ultimately just seeming somewhat bored on the bench, the Dons fell below expectations.  If their expectations were so high because of the players they lost, what are they going to be like next season without those guys?  The Dons did sign three junior college players in an attempt to land some guys to be immediate impacts, so they could be the Magic 8 ball of the league in 2015-2016.

Graduated:

Joe Edwards – losing 12 points per game can be made up.  The Dons picked up a 6’5″ junior college player, who at one time played at Alabama State, DeAngelo Stewart who averaged nearly 17 points per game and shot 47% from the field his sophomore year.  He averaged 2 points per game as a true freshman at Alabama State, yes Alabama State is a real college.

Steve Forbes – some could argue that Forbes was the best post player in the Summit League, and really it was just because of his roundness and overall size.  There was not much seen out of him from a leadership standpoint, just a Hey Lets Get Out There and Try Maybe and We Can Still Get Some Nuggets Afterwards Anyway mentality.  I would have much rather had Mike Rostampour or Cody Larson as my team’s main post player last year, each guy had that leadership quality you are looking for.  The Dons may have fell off the map because of how little Forbes seemed to give a shit.  I watched their loss at South Dakota in March, and kept thinking that Forbes should have been dominating the Coyotes post.  South Dakota’s James Hunter, who averaged 6 points a game, had 16 points in the game off of 8 of 12 shooting, because he actually cared about the game.

Kevin Harden – Kevin Harden was never the same after missing 21 games in 2012-2013 with an injury.  His minutes kept dropping, his scoring kept dropping, he just fell out at IPFW.  It is something that you hate watching happen, but it does happen.

Isaiah McCray – McCray was always capable of doing a lot of things at IPFW, he just never did a lot of things at IPFW.  As one of the more inconsistent players in the Summit League, McCray may not be dearly missed by the Dons.  They still have junior to be, Mo Evans (10.2 ppg), and senior to be Max Landis, who was on the Summit League All Newcomer team, to make McCray a forgettable player.  The more I type, the more easy it is to understand why IPFW did not do as well as expected in 2014-2015.

Transferred:

Gage Davis – He did not play in 2014-2015.

Herbert Graham – everyone likes a guy named Herb, well except for the IPFW coaching staff apparently.  In 3 years, he only played a total of 195 minutes at IPFW.

Jure Gunjina – he played in 243 minutes in his one year at IPFW before transferring to Division 2 Georgia Southwestern.  Seriously, what has IPFW been doing the last couple of years.


South Dakota – I still feel like head coach Craig Smith did the most with the least in the Summit League in 2014-2015.  The losses of Brandon Bos and Tyler Larson will be tough tough on the Coyotes, but Smith continues to bring guys in.  He will have Iowa transfer Trey Dickerson and Air Force transfer Matt Mooney sitting out in 2015-2016, unless they get some form of waiver, but Smith is quickly turning South Dakota into the Transfer Here school in the Summit League, which instate foe South Dakota State cannot be too excited about.

Graduated:

Brandon Bos – It can be difficult to make up for someone who was a great shooter, but great shooters are all around the Midwest.  And again, Craig Smith, he is no idiot.  If you watched the game mentioned earlier with Steve Forbes full out not caring against South Dakota, you would have noticed Brandon Bos playing the game of his life scoring 29 points on 7 of 12 shooting, he also had 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

James Hunter – Hunter came into Vermillion from Washington State and did just enough to give South Dakota some form of a post game.  He may have only averaged 6 points per game and 3.5 rebounds, but it is not like he was worthless.  Without him, the Coyotes could of had Tyler Larson playing center.  Smith will have Nebraska native Tyler Hagedorn and Minnesota guy Dan Jech to come in to fill in the post in 2015-2016, along with a core of upperclassmen guards, the Coyotes may actually have some expectations coming their way at the beginning of the year.  Thanks a lot, Craig Smith.

Tyler Larson – at 6’3″ Larson averaged nearly 8 rebounds a game, and averaged 14.4 points per game.  He could do a little bit of everything, which is what helped him land on First Team All Summit League team.  Not to brag, but I think I called that one.

Transferred

Adam Thoseby – The Coyotes lost one of the greatest beards that the Summit League has ever seen.  Thoseby’s minutes were dropped significantly from his sophomore to his junior year, so it was no surprise to see him go.


Denver – Only graduating two players can be a good thing, but only graduating arguably your two best players can prove to be a headache.  Losing your two best players and not doing nearly as well as anyone would have thought you would have done, that can lead to a mystery team next season.  They will essentially be playing Clue on the court in 2015-2016.  Now who scored the shot from the corner last game that started with a pump fake, and can they do it again?

Graduated:

Cam Griffin – Griffin had some off the court issues, which caused his playing time to fluctuate throughout the season.  Fans do not miss these guys.

Brett Olson –  averaging 14 points per game at a school like Denver, who runs the Princeton offense, is like losing a guy that averages 20 points per game at a different school.  One of the best shooters and most disciplined players in the entire league will not be an easy thing to make up.  Denver has never been a team for the stars though, they have been successful off of team efforts.  Head Coach, Joe Scott, may actually prefer not to have a main scorer on his team.  Either way, losing a 2nd team All Summit League player is not anything that anyone should ever be in love with.

Transferred:

Dorian Butler – the 6’6″ California native never played for the Pioneers.

Cameron Delaney – Delaney started to pick up some minutes toward the end of the 2014-2015 season, but it was not enough to convince the Texas native to stay.  Delaney and Love could have really been a decent combo for the Pioneers in 2015-2016, but we will never know.  Delaney is off to Sam Houston State, which is where all great players go.

Jalen Love – surprised to see him go, I really thought he would have been a guy that would have been used to make up for the loss of Griffin and Olson.  But he is off to (Hello,) Newman.


IUPUI – There have been a ton of transfers in and transferred out with the Jaguars since Jason Gardner has taken over at IUPUI, which is not entirely abnormal.  I am not really sure they will miss anyone that left, mainly because I doubt the staff has had enough time to learn everyone’s names.  They have lost a lot of players, but they have been one of the worst teams in the Summit League, so it is not like the guys they bring in can be any worse.  With 5 guys transferring out, you may want to assume that they were leaving because they see the incoming players as guys that are going to be better than them.  6 wins though in 2014-2015 is probably 6 more wins than most people assumed the Jaguars were going to get.

Graduated:

Player name, 2014-2015 stats

Khufu Najee – 6’4″, 190lbs…7.4 ppg, 3,1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 44% FG, 28-35 FTs, 6-22 3pters

DavRon Williams – 6’7″, 225lbs…8.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.7 blg, 57% FG, 58% FT

Transferred:

PJ Boute – 5’9″ , 160lbs, Junior…5.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 30% FG, 32% 3ptFG, 78% FT

Josh James – 6’9″, 225 lbs, Sophomore…3.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48% FG, 69% FT

Jalen McCallum – 5’9″, 160lbs, Sophomore…2.3 ppg, 0.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.6 spg, 56% FG, 2-3 FT

Elijah Ray – 6’6″, 232lbs, Sophomore…4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 47% FG, 70% FT

Justus Stanback – 6’8″ 220lbs, Sophomore…2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 52% FG


Omaha – Another a team only graduating two players, but also losing their two best players.  On top of losing their two best players, the Mavs top returning players; Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, and Jake White each had a significant number of injuries during the 2014-2015 season.  If Jake White can get healthy, he and Tre’Shawn Thurman can hopefully make up for what the Mavs are losing in Rostampour on the court.  Neither of them really seem to have the motor and intangibles that Rostampour brought to the Mavs however, not sure anyone does really.  It is still possible that the Mavs could lose some players to transfer as they have yet to announce any players leaving.  The Mavs will also have to learn to deal with more buzz in 2015-2016 as it is their first year being fully eligible for division one, and they will have a brand new arena.  Oh, and we cannot forget the Taco Cannon prestige.

Graduated:  – I am not going to talk a lot about them at this point, because I kind of already have…

CJ Carter – 2nd Team All Summit

Mike Rostampour – Honorable Mention All Summit


Western Illinois – Although the Leathernecks only went 3-13 against the Summit League in 2014-2015, they have to be pretty optimistic about 2015-2016, when they return their two top scorers, and one of those players was a 2nd Team All Conference player.  Really Western Illinois does not lose much of anything, and a number of players on the team showed some flashes of being quality players.  Really, I feel like the Leathernecks spent the entire 2014-2015 campaign as a way of waiting for the summer of 2015.

Graduated:

Mohammed Conde – led the Leathernecks in rebounding at 6 per game.  The Leathernecks are bringing in two 6’10 freshman, so it is possible that they will not even notice the loss, or at least will fill in the loss pretty quickly.  The Leathernecks really played from the outside-in, rather than the inside-out this season, so the post game was never really anything they relied on.

Remy Roberts-Burnett – I am not sure if he had some injuries or off the court issues, but his time decreased significantly this season and he missed 9 games this last season.  I also do not want to be mean, but Western Illinois went 5-4 without him.  They ended the season 8-20.  Math.

Transferred:

Tyson Reynold – The 6’9″ junior from New York played a total of 14 minutes and scored 2 points for Western Illinois.  Remember the fallen.

Kendall Rollins- Never played.