A few surprises in The Summit League so far

The coaches were not kidding when they said that The Summit League is a conference on the rise.  Every team has an identity, and every team thinks they have a legitimate chance at winning The Summit League.  Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin and being 5-1 at the moment has definitely been the biggest surprise so far.  The season is still young, but we are done with the first calendar month.

I was going to come up with something looking at who the 1st and 2nd All Summit League teams were up to the end of November, but then I realized there is still a ton of basketball to be played out, so what is the point?  Instead, why not look at who and what have been some of the biggest surprises so far around the Summit?


Western Illinois with a win over Wisconsin is clearly what sticks out the most.  J.C. Fuller’s scoring going up is not that big of a surprise as he was getting better and better as the season went on for the Leathernecks last season, but shooting 72% from threes so far is big surprise.  He is not going to finish the year at 72% but he should continue to give the Leathernecks a second option after Garret Covington.

Obi Emegano being a scoring machine is not a surprise, but he has already made 21 threes on the year after making 29 all of last season.

We knew North Dakota State had to find someone to make up for the loss of scoring from Lawrence Alexander, but Paul Miller averaging 19.6 points per game, after scoring 6.7 per game last season, has been quite the jump through 5 games.

Jake White being healthy for the Mavericks has been like getting an entirely new player.  He is 5th in the Summit League in scoring right now at 16.3 points per game through 6 games, while only averaging 21.5 minutes per game.

Marcellus Barksdale did not get a double digit scoring performance until his 7th game.  He does not have a history of being a prolific scorer, but you would think the senior leader would be scoring a little more.

Tre’Shawn Thurman and Reed Tellinghuisen have caught up to AJ Jacobson.  It is not a huge surprise really.  Thurman was expected to get an increased role for the Mavericks as they lost Mike Rostampour, was Jacobson supposed to get more shots from the departure of Lawrence Alexander and the addition of a couple more post players?  Tellinghuisen is still not expected to be the main option for the Jackrabbits, but he is an efficient scorer that has added on some muscle.  The class of 2018 is a big time class for the Summit League, and there are still some junior college players and transfers that could be huge additions to the class.

John Konchar is what IPFW had been advertising.  Jon Coffman stated that Konchar would have been worth 5 more wins for the ‘Dons had he not redshirted last season.  He is averaging 11.6 points and 8.1 points per game so far.  Watch an IPFW game too, he looks like the most mature player the team has.  Coffman was also pretty big on the improvement of Brent Calhoun, but he is only averaging 1.8 points per game and shooting 31% from the field.

Nate Engesser is not starting for Denver.  He is leading the Pioneers in scoring with 16.2 points per game, but he has yet to start a game, and he is only playing 22.5 minutes per game.  Also Denver, who was thought to be the worst team in the league by many is 5-1 so far.  Many had it between Denver and Western Illinois as the two worst teams in the league, and they are both 5-1.

There are 4 freshmen averaging more than 10 points per game so far:  Konchar (IPFW), Mike Daum (South Dakota State), Dan Jech (South Dakota), and Joe Rosga (Denver).

Tra-Deon Hollins currently leads all Summit League players in assists and steals.  He leads the nation in steals as of right now.  He reminds of what it was like to play with Eddie Jones in NBA Live 99…on rookie mode.

I was pretty down on AJ Owens of Oral Roberts before the start of the season, but he is proving me wrong with 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and he even leads the conference in blocks so far.  My bad.

If you look up the scores on ESPN before any games are played, and you see South Dakota, ESPN lists Eric Robertson has their must see player.  Every time.

 

 

 

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

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

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

Some random things around The Summit League

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

 

Notes of me watching the UNO Women’s game online

I was not able to go to the Women’s basketball game today.  I don’t have to explain myself to you!  I watched this game instead of going to watch the Husker football game, so lay off.   I got the Mav tv on the Omavs website, and I decided to take some notes during the game.

  • In the pregame, Brittany Lange stated that a bulk of her post players are sitting out this year, so finding a rotation at the 5 could be difficult.  Caroline Hogue missed a month of practice, and if finally starting to get into things.  Sara Echelberry is a good choice at the 5 with her height, but she has more of the skills of playing the 3 or the 4.
  • As someone that is the same age as Lange, she totally passes the Someone I Could Get a Beer With test that people apparently base their voting decisions on.  If Lange (and Hansen) wanted to just grab a beer at Benson Brewery and hang out, I would so be there.  Mainly because I have a billion questions of Lange.
  • I thought you could get away games on this Mav tv deal.  This is a bummer.
  • My wife is watching Gossip Girl in the other room.  I’ve watched a total of 10 minutes of that entire show.  I feel like I could make a 8 minute montage of Blake Lively sobbing horribly based on the snippets that I have watched.
  • A double dribble was called?  Is that a new rule?
  • It looks like the West side of the court is still cursed.  Every shot is a brick.  Brick Yard Brewing needs to have a stand in Baxter Arena.
  • The right plug in my headphones does not work.  I’ve gone through 3 pairs of headphones this year.  Don’t ever let me buy you headphones.
  • We’re hitting some threes!
  • Amber Vidal and Bobbi Beckwith are really active at the top of the zone.  Central Florida is having a bit of an issue getting the ball past the two of them.
  • As I say that, a UCF player makes a cut right by the two of them and gets a two point basket.
  • So many Remy Davenport threes.
  • I am a big Vidal fan.  This could be a really odd comparison, but her handle of the ball and movement to the basket reminds me a lot of NBA’s Rod Strickland.  Super weird, right?
  • Remy Davenport looks more serious and more confident than last year.  She looks ready.
  • Look at how much deeper this team is.  They only graduate one player, someone might transfer out, but hopefully not half of the team… If they can keep a bulk of this team together and add the three players sitting out this year, they are can be a very tough out for teams next year.  Dare I say, a top 3 team in the Summit?  I’m seriously just throwing out a number, because I do not know much about the other teams in the Summit other than South Dakota State.
  • The Mavericks’ plays along the top of the key with the passes are really good.  Vidal and Beckwith are finding Davenport and Brecht open with ease.
  • Jonathan Green just asked if this would be the last media time out, and he got a hard NO from a woman’s voice.
  • UCF is making it a close game here in the final four minutes.  Please don’t make me break my computer on the second day of me owning it.
  • Rylan Murry liked one of my tweets.  I am pretty upset with him on his plug of Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries.
  • You can sense the nervousness in Jon Green’s voice that he is seriously terrified that he may have cursed the sealing the win.
  • Why can the men not bring the ball up to half court like the women?  I’m seriously going to break this thing and it’s stupid super sensitive mouse touchiness.
  • I like Caroline Hogue.  I liked her the second I saw the words “record” and “blocks” on the press release of her signing with Omaha.
  • Over the summer, when I was looking at the roster of new players, I was very afraid of how Lange might do rotations and figure out minutes for all the players.  I know it is just one game, but this looks pretty good so far.
  • 10-of-39 threes for the team.  I know it’s not a great percentage, but when was the last time the Lady Mavs hit ten threes?
  • 17-22 from the free throw line, I like that.
  • I think the girl that told Green NO on the final media time out just had a had a conversation with him over the commercial audio that they would go to one more break and where she would put the audio file of the game.  I love mess ups like this in broadcasts.  I just sit at the edge of my seat like: oh my gosh, someone cuss someone else out…please!
  • The three freshman that played on the team combined for 28 of the team’s 75 points.  Those three are going to be handfuls for the Summit over the next few years.
  • A buddy and I, have an over/under bet for women’s basketball.  We had a pretty low number of wins for UNO’s basketball team because of uncertainties that we had, but I selected the over.  I’m liking my chances for a free Growler of beer.
  • The woman told Green to have a great rest of the end of his day.  Hopefully he can get home and watch his precious football (and volleyball).

 

Notes about my tears from the Mavericks home opener

So I had kind of a bummer of a day yesterday.  My laptop finally died on Thursday night and confirmed yesterday that it had passed.  It was an ASUS, and I somehow got 7 years out of that piece of crap.  I was hoping to stretch its life out until after Christmas, but I knew our relationship was ending soon, so I had been backing everything up pretty good for the last year or so.  I still lost a few things that I will never get back, but I will not lose the pride in making a cheap hunk of junk last twice as long as it should have.  If anyone wants to go to a field and break it to pieces with my wife’s softball bats and listen to some gangster rap, I’ve got a little spare time.  We can bring the cheapest 40 we can find too.  Why?  Because I think it’s actually a societal norm that if a cop catches you doing illegal stuff in the middle of a field that you need to have a 40.
But there was a basketball game last night.  It was frustrating, there was very little flow to it with all of the fouling.  Yeah, not a big fan of the fouling.  We saw some new faces and some old ones with new haircuts.  The crowd was big, which was great.  The student section was full!  It wasn’t very loud, but they did not have much to cheer for in the first half.  It was just a really odd first half.  Justin Simmons and CJ Carter were both on the sideline to cheer on the Mavs.  I think I may have saw Alex Phillips as well, but I was not 100% sure about it.
  • So my seats got temporarily moved over a section with something to do with hockey that I didn’t quite fully understand but I nodded my head because I am a weak adult, the new seats were not as great of an angle.  I made up for it by drinking a Shock Top Twisted Pretzel ale.  As far as I know, you can only get this beer at Omaha Mavericks and Omaha Stormchasers games.  I am one and done with drinks at sporting events.  I never get these people spending 80 bucks on 10 beers at a sporting event and going to the bathroom every 10 minutes.  You spent at least 100 bucks to pretend to be at a sporting event.  I’m pointing at you CenturyLink Citizens.
  • The pregame for my friend and I was at Ponzu.  Why is Ponzu so bad at wrapping their sushi?  It just falls apart.  We were able to make at least 20 Seinfeld references though.  You cant beat that.
  • As we were sitting there the marching band (or I assume the marching band) came by pounding on drums around Aksarben Village.  My friend and I discussed how it’s actually kind of weird to see school spirit around UNO.  That wasn’t there 5 years ago.
  • So Randy Reed?  High energy guy off the bench?  Damn it, I hope that continues!  He is going to play such a big role in the Summit League, everyone has a 6’5″ or 6’6″ guy they throw in at the 4.
  • I know that Santa Barbara was missing their top returning player, and Omaha was missing Marcus Tyus, but Tyus’ three point shooting was dramatically missed last night.  I still say the basket on the side of the visiting team’s bench is cursed.
  • The fouls got annoying, this is worse than two years ago, it completely took any flow out of the game.  This scares me for a team that needs a face pace and flow to win games.
  • Jake White fouled out, took some contact himself, but he was healthy and that is so awesome.  He had a hard fall to the ground and quickly got up, like it was his way of showing us all that he was alright.  I remember a game last year in  which he fell to the ground and my wife’s coach mind was saying “get up kid, get back on D, what is wrong with him?”  And I sat there like: Careful babe, he might literally break.
  • I feel like Devin Patterson is able to channel this inner Chris Paul thing from time to time, but last night was not that night.  He has taken bad games by him personally in the past and had great bounce back games in the past.  Can he save that for UMKC when he goes up against an All American?
  • Did anyone notice that Kyler Erickson has an entire Millard South section cheering for him?  I think it’s 215 or 216?  His one rebound in the game was fantastic.  It was another moment where I thought the Mavs were giving up another offense board, but then he came flying out of no where to start a break.  He was out on the floor for the last defensive play.  I want to point that out.
  • It was so hard for the Gauchos to find passing lanes with Devin Patterson and Tra-Deon Hollins on the court at the same time, like they seriously could not figure it out.  I’m coining that backcourt as: The Devil’s Gate…whether you like it or not.
  • Hollins is a bandit.  He steals everything.  Remember in Home Alone 2 when Marv is thinking of all the dumb nicknames for him and Harry?  I motion to nickname Hollins as The Sticky Bandit.  It’s also great that this team has two passers that can penetrate as well.  All the kick out threes from the two of them to Tyus and Gibson are hopefully coming.
  • I want to say this about Tre’Shawn Thurman.  He picked up that second foul in the first half, and you could tell he was just angry with himself.  He sat on that bench in absolute Hulk like anger.  He was never more ready for that second half to begin.  When the first half ended, he wasted no time getting up off that bench and running to the locker room.  The fouls did not scare him in the second half, he came out more aggressive on offense and showed off some new post moves.  You could feel his pain and anger at the end of the game as he walked off the court.  He is a leader.
  • Seeing Zach Jackson get the start was a shock for me, especially since Tyus was in warm ups.  Jackson did okay though, he didn’t pass up on his first shot and took it with confidence.  He was not scared.
  • JT Gibson also played with great confidence.  Those two threes in a row got the big crowd back into the game.  He made it a game.  Going to love watching Gibson and Jackson grow and develop.
  • Toward the end of the game, the team bench was dry.  It was a close game, and guess who got the rest of the team to get up and cheer on their teammates…Ben Kositzke.  I think I was sitting near the Ben Kositzke and Alex Allbery fan clubs too.
  • I saw Rylan Murry after the game.  He looked sad.  I wanted to yell “Skinny Love” again, but I had Pandora on Skinny Love at work all day on Thursday and I think I almost cried at the music selection.
  • Did I hear Jon Green say this right on the radio: If UNO Volleyball wins the regular season title, they get to host the Summit League tournament the following year?  Oh my.  I wish this worked to a degree in basketball.  But like, since we beat Marquette last season, they have to come to Omaha to play the following year.  Or if Wisconsin lost to Western Illinois last night, they will have to travel to the fine town of Macomb in 2016.  Why cant that be a thing?
  • IUPUI beat Indiana State.  Oral Roberts beat Missouri State.  North Dakota State beat UC Davis.  How tough is the Summit this year?
  • If the Mavericks are ever on ESPN or ESPN2, or whenever they make the NCAA tournament; I badly want to see Derrin Hansen slowly and dramatically take off his glasses like he is in the cheesiest TNT drama that has ever been produced.

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.

Can the Mavericks improve on 5 Summit League wins?

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?

But for the sake of length, I am going to just post about Omaha to get started and why they should win more games than their 5-11 record last season.  Then I will come out with the rest of the Summit League later.


Omaha

Range of wins:  7 to 11 wins

Boldest Predictions:  Will pick up win against North Dakota State at home, will sweep South Dakota

Clearly, I am biased in how well I think the Mavs could do this season.  The Mavericks finished 5-11, but they had 4 conference losses decided by one or two possessions.  I know it does not work this way, but the Mavericks could have finished 8-8 or 9-7 in the Summit League had just a couple more things gone their way.  There is also more to play for with the Mavericks this season, and they should have a slightly stronger home court advantage with their new arena being right on campus. The attendance for the Mavericks has risen each season since transition, and people in town are starting to take them more serious.  2012-2013 was probably the most fun season to watch, but Omahans did not seem to even notice.  UNO Men’s Basketball was that new television show that had some good looking commercials that got you interested; but it was pitted in the same time slot as Breaking Bad in it’s prime and Sunday Night Football.   Justin Simmons had some of the most exciting dunks you could possibly witness; but Doug McDermott was in the middle of one of the greatest careers in Creighton and NCAA history; and Tim Miles was bringing a personality to the Huskers.  Omahans were in the mode of thinking they’d like to go to a Mavs game, but never fully pulled the trigger.  A few years later:  Creighton is down and Nebraska is too young for locals to know what is happening.  UNO has a brand new arena, in a fun part of town, some local guys on the roster that can make some noise, and six seniors to help start the new era of the program.

The Mavericks also have a pretty good way to start conference play with Western Illinois and IUPUI at home.  2013-2014 started @ Western Illinois, @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State; and 2012-2013 was @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State, and then a month conference break before they had South Dakota and Kansas City at home before going back on the road against very good IPFW and Oakland teams.  Last year the Mavs started on the road @ South Dakota and Western Illinois, and then came back home for North Dakota State and South Dakota State, before going back on the road against Oral Roberts.  The Mavs are finally not being welcomed to the Summit League with the middle finger jammed in front of their face, so hopefully they can start league play with some momentum.  The most difficult part of the conference schedule is going to be three straight road games at Denver, and the Mavericks yet to have a good game in the state of Colorado; then at Oral Roberts which is one of the toughest places to play in the Summit League; and then at South Dakota State who is the preseason favorite in the league and swept the Mavs last season by margins of 19 and 22 points.

As far as what is returning to the Mavericks: they lost Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter, but they are returning 61% of their scoring; which is the 4th highest in the league.  Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson as a returning back court is arguably one of the top 3 back courts in the league.  Jake White is hopefully healthy enough to give significant minutes when the conference season turns around, he is tied with his fellow teammate Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading returning rebounder in the league.  Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood should hopefully finally have roles edged out to really help this team improve.  Lack of depth was an issue for this team last season, but newcomers Zach Pirog, JT Gibson, and Tra-Deon Hollins sound as if they can really help the Mavericks improve on some of the weaknesses the Mavs had in 2014-2015, and add some needed depth to this team.  This team can go big, it can go small, it has adaptable lineups that can go up against anyone in the Summit.

From what I could tell, the preseason predictions biggest concerns with the Mavericks are that they cannot make up for the loss of Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.  Okay, everyone loses someone in college athletics, but should we really be concerned about losing two guys that were not recruited to ever play in a Summit League conference tournament?  So really, why are people so hard on them for losing Rostampour and Carter, but no one is hard on IPFW for losing Steve Forbes and Joe Edwards; or South Dakota for losing Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos; or Oral Roberts for losing half of their team?  Please don’t take this as a Rostampour and Carter Were Not Unimportant thought… The Mavs would not be the same without them.  The point is, it does not seem like the Mavericks are asking as much out of their newcomers and returning players as much as other teams.  They are asking Jake White to be healthy enough to score 2-4 more points and grab a couple more rebounds, which I realize is easier said than done; Tre’Shawn Thurman to continue to improve; Tyus and Patterson to be more consistent; and Reed and Smallwood work more on their roles that they established toward the end of last season.  Other than North Dakota State and South Dakota State, everyone else appears to be asking guys to come in and be stars or huge impacts right away.  One thing that does scare me about Omaha finishing in the top half of the conference is the injury to Marcus Tyus.  He’s coming off ACL surgery that he injured in February.  Being ready in full form throughout November, December, and January just seems like a lot to look for at this point.

Who is going to start for the Mavs?

Hip hip hooray, it’s the annual: Who the Heck is Going to be in the Starting Line Up this Season post

I was listening to the Summit League media day, it sounded as if Derrin Hansen was not 125% sure of who to start on his team, and it is kind of fun to sit around and speculate stuff for people so here we go.  If millions of people can sit at their computers dressed like a 7 foot tall puppy and speculate as to why Mark Hamill is not on the new Star Wars poster, then I can sit on the internet decked out in UNO Mavs gear and speculate who is going to start for the Mavericks and who will be the first guys off the bench.

One can safely assume that Devin Patterson and Tre’Shawn Thurman will be back in the starting line up.  One could also assume that Marcus Tyus will be in the starting five as well, but he ended the season early on a knee injury in 2014-2015.  It has been put out there that Tyus is doing fine in his recovery, and I am sure he is, but remember when Jake White got hurt in his junior season and we kept being told that he would be back next game because he was doing fine?  I am sure that Tyus will be in the starting line up, but maybe not at first.  We will see how his knees is actually doing in a few weeks.

So that leaves two spots open for starters to replace Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.

Is it safe to assume that Jake White will fill in Rostampour’s spot?  White started in 3 games in his junior season as a Maverick.  He averaged 6.3 points per game in those three starts, and 8.3 rebounds.  He is probably the obvious choice over sophomore Daniel Meyer and freshman Zach Pirog.

What becomes a more difficult choice for Hansen and staff will be filling in the void left by CJ Carter, one of the top scorers in school history.  The leading candidates at this point appear to be Tim Smallwood, Tra-Deon Hollins, Randy Reed, or JT Gibson.

I was kind of hard on Smallwood and Reed last season.  It’s not that I thought they were bad players, I just felt that UNO was not entirely sure how to use them for most of the season and did not have well defined roles for either of them for a majority of the year.  I was unsure about them as most of you would be if there was a new movie coming out featuring Adam Sandler and Nicholas Cage.  Over a ten game stretch, Smallwood had 3 DNPs, and was 0-10 from three point land.  I felt that Reed’s junior year was up and down.  One game he was getting 20 minutes, then the next game he was getting 2 minutes, and then a week from then he was getting a DNP.  It just seemed like it was difficult for either of them to get any rhythm going.  I would love a world where Smallwood is hitting three 3s a game and Reed is getting a monstrous dunk every other play.  That world might actually have Luke Skywalker on a Star Wars poster.

Then Marcus Tyus went down with an injury and missed the last 6 games of the season, and these two guys became the twist at the end of an independent film.  Smallwood was put into the starting line up, and I thought to my self: oh great, the guy who hasn’t had it in 2015 is getting the starting spot.  When Smallwood started getting more minutes, I realized how good of a defender he was.  He was not racking up a bunch of steals or blocks, but he was disrupting opposing players shots and passes, and he was a big reason why the Mavericks ended the season on a 3 game winning streak.  I grew super proud of his work on the defensive end in those last 6 games.  His 5-of-7 from downtown at IUPUI was a big factor for what helped the Mavericks hold on for a overtime win.  A statistic that surprised me when I saw the final results was that UNO finished 8th in the Summit League in 3 point field goal percentage last season.  Whether Smallwood is going to start or be one of the first guys off the bench, he has to help improve the team’s 3 point shooting.  If he can get his 26% 3 point shooting up to the 33% range, he can be a huge impact on his team.  The Mavs are 3-1 when Smallwood hits two threes or more…

Going into 2015, Smallwood has scored in 7 straight appearances.
Going into 2015, Smallwood has scored in 7 straight appearances.  How does Paul Miller tie his shoes?  Photo by Mark Kuhlmann

Due to life, my wife was not able to get to many games last season.  She was able to attend Oral Roberts at the Ralston Arena.  When Randy Reed came onto the court, my wife asked me who this guy was.  I read off his resume to her, and we watched on.  Reed was the high energy guy off the bench that the Mavericks needed that game.  He had clutch defensive plays to keep the game close, blocked some shots, altered even more shots, and really disrupted the Oral Roberts’ rhythm.  Every time the Mavs were on defense and Randy Reed was on the court, the Mavs fans were completely locked in.  We all wanted to see Reed take his game to the next level that night.  Like, who cares if they have Obi Emegano?  We’ve got Randy Reed on defense!  You have to like Reed coming off the bench though, since he can really guard the 4 and the 3.  With the much of the Summit League going to small ball, teams will really have a difficult time going up against Tre’Shawn Thurman and Randy Reed at the 4 for 40 minutes if they really want to play small ball against the Mavericks.  If they want to play big, the Mavs can go with Reed at the 3 and either Meyer, Pirog, Thurman, or White at the 4 and 5.

Reed can be one of the most excited Mavs to watch.
Reed can be one of the most excited Mavs to watch.  Photo by Mark Kuhlmann

Then there is Tra-Deon Hollins.  Get excited for this kid.  He adds a lot to this team, and he brings a lot to the areas that the Mavericks were missing last season.  He can defend, he can pass, he can score, he can rebound, and he can hit threes.  I would not be shocked if he got into foul trouble (along with other guards) early on in the season with the rule changes in college basketball, but hopefully everyone can adjust to everything fairly quickly.  If Hollins does not start and he is used as the high energy bench guy, he should definitely be on the court in crunch time in most situations.  It seems to take junior college players a little while to really define their role on a team, unless they are going to a 0-30 team that had no scoring before and they averaged 25 a game in junior college, then they probably know they will be taking a large quantity of shots.  Hollins knows what the Mavericks were missing last year though, so hopefully it does not take him long to find his niche.

The Mavericks and some local media sound to be pretty excited about J.T. Gibson as part of future for the Mavs.  Gibson was the player of the year for the state of Minnesota last year, and there are several Minnesotans that think bigger schools made a mistake by not recruiting Gibson.  Sounds like this other guy named Tre’Shawn that we know.  I have doubt that Gibson will start right off the bat for the Mavericks, but maybe he will as the season goes on and he establishes himself.  He would really have to impress coaches and set himself apart from teammates as there are so many upperclassmen guards on the team.  Apparently, Gibson is completely capable of playing the both guard positions.

Either way, the Mavericks should at least know who their top 8 guys are at this point.  They probably even have a good idea what their best line ups are, which is not something every team in the Summit League has figured out yet.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s pick someone from each team.


Denver – Nate Engesser – 6’3″ Sr

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

IPFW – Mo Evans – 6’0″ Jr

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

IUPUI – Marcellus Barksdale – 6’5″ Sr

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

NDSU – AJ Jacobson – 6’6″ So

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

Omaha – Devin Patterson – 5’11” Sr

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

ORU – Obi Emegano – 6’3″ Sr

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

USD – Tre Burnette – 6’5″ Sr

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

SDSU – Deondre Parks – 6’1″ Sr

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

WIU – Garret Govington – 6’5″ Jr

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

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

Denver – Marcus Byrd

IPFW – Joe Reed, DeAngelo Stewart

IUPUI – Mason Archie, Darell Combs, Nick Osborne

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

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

USD – Casey Kasperbauer, Trey Norris

SDSU – Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Reed Tellinghuisen

WIU – JC Fuller, Jabari Sandifer


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

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

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


G Marcellus Barksdale – 6’5″ Sr

G Tre Burnette – 6’5″ Sr

G Garrett Covington – 6’5″ Jr

G Obi Emegano – 6’3″ Sr

G Nate Engesser – 6’3″ Sr

G Mo Evans – 6’0″ Jr

F AJ Jacobson – 6’6″ So

G Devin Patterson – 5’11” Sr

G Deondre Parks – 6’1″ Sr

F Joe Reed – 6’8″ Sr

F Tre’Shawn Thurman – 6’7″ So

F Dexter Werner – 6’6″ Jr


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

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

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

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

supert


 

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

Thomas Neff – Denver

ex:  Thomas has had Eneff

Paul, Dylan, and Trey Miller – North Dakota State

ex: It’s Miller Time.

Expect this to get incredibly annoying.

Dan Jech – South Dakota

ex:  Dan with the ReJechtion!

Tyler Flack – South Dakota

ex:  Tyler takes no Flack!

Deondre Parks – South Dakota State

ex:  Deondre Parks himself on the bench.

 

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.

2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 10, Wyoming Cowboys

Okay, I am skipping the Mavs home game against Simpson College.  It’s just…you know…

Wyoming

2014-2015 final record:  25-10

2014-2015 home record: 15-2

2014-2015 Post Season:  Lost to Northern Iowa in NCAA tournament in “2nd Round”…I still think it’s the first round, but whatever.

Final 2014-2015 RPI:  72

Random Stat:  Wyoming record vs Northern Colorado/Denver/Air Force/Nevada – 4-1.  UNO record vs Northern Colorado/Denver/Air Force/Nevada – 3-2

Let me start out by saying…I like the Mavs in this game.  I like them a lot, even despite the fact that the Mavs are 0-5 when playing a division one opponent in the Mountain time zone since the transition.  Their only win since transition was against Johnson & Wales in 2012.  The Mavs are going to have 5 chances this season to get a win in the hour behind region (Colorado, Northern Colorado, Montana State, Wyoming, Denver).  I think Grand Canyon University might be in the Mountain Time Zone this time of year as well, I am not sure.  Bite me Arizona.


By the way, I learned something about myself here.  I somehow naturally always first type “Cowboys” as “Coyboys”.  It’s not a slam if you see that around here, just my natural incompetence.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about what the Cowboys lost.

Ricky Grabau, a 6’2″ guard that averaged 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, he shot 37% from three point range, made 61 threes in his senior season, and he was a 94% free throw shooter that got to the free throw line three times a game last year.

Derek Cooke, a 6’9″ forward that was an 8 and 6 guy and shot 72% from the field, and he also averaged a block and a steal per game in his senior season for the Cowboys.

Charles Hankerson, a 6’4″ wing player that averaged 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in his last season at Wyoming.  He also made 42 threes last season.

Matt Sellers, a 6’10 post player that only got 10 minutes per game, and he missed the last 18 games of the season.  He gave the Cowboys length though when he was available, and he had a 16 point and 8 rebound performance against Florida A&M while going 8 of 9 from the floor that game.

Oh, and then there is this other guy named Larry Nance, Jr.  6’9″ and 230 pounds, and he was a first round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers.  Nance averaged 16 and 7 his senior season, and also dished out 2.5 assists per game.  He also shot 51% from the floor and 78% from the free throw line.

Mitch Kupchak is excited about Larry Nance as anyone.
Mitch Kupchak is excited about Larry Nance as anyone.

I know losing some quality players, and only having one senior does not necessarily mean that the Cowboys are going to be terrible by any means.  But losing the main pieces of your roster is never a great thing.  What were your thoughts when That 70s Show lost Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher?  Or when Scrubs lost every damn member of the cast as regular characters?  You immediately wrote off the show, right?  I am apparently one of the few people that stopped with 2 and a half Men when Charlie Sheen left the show, not that I was an avid watcher while he was on the show though.

It is very hard on mid-majors when they lose a NBA guy.  It is a lot to lose, and a lot to make up.  I know Creighton was no longer a mid-major when they lost Doug McDermott, but they essentially had a mid-major roster when they lost him; and they had a significant drop off.  The Bluejays struggled finding an identity after they lost Kyle Korver and lost to Nebraska in the NIT while Korver was draining 3s with the Sixers.  Wyoming is going to have 8 new players to mix into their lineup.  Even when Creighton lost Anthony Tolliver and Nate Funk, the team had a huge drop off in a weak year for the Missouri Valley.  The team was mixing Dane Watts with a couple junior college players and like 6 freshman.  Things were okay, but not great.


So if they lost some great talent, what do they have coming back?

Josh Adams is a 6’2″ senior guard that is the only returning Cowboy that averaged in double figures.  He averaged 12.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 spg, and shot 44% from the field last season.  His season high was 27 points against ranked Boise State.  He has averaged 6 points per game and 36% from the field in five career games against Summit League opponents (Denver & South Dakota).  A player like this could really prepare new guards like Tra-Deon Hollins and JT Gibson for the Summit League.

A guy with a fun name to say: Jason McManamen is a 6’5″ junior that played in about 17 minutes per game last season and averaged 3.7 in each contest while shooting 40% from the field.  Probably his best all around game last season was when he had 5 points and 7 rebounds in a win over Montana State.

The last returning Cowboy to get significant minutes in 2014-2015 was Alan Herndon, a 6’9″ post player who is going to be a sophomore.  He averaged 3 points per game and 2.2 rebounds per game in his freshman season.  He was able to help the Cowboys pick up a win against some team called the Denver Pioneers in his freshman season with a 9 point and 6 rebound performance, perhaps helping out my stance that you need a decent offensive post game to beat the Pioneers, along with quick defensive guards.  We’ll get to that another day, probably.

Aside from these returning players, the Cowboys were able to pick up 2 three star freshman (per Rivals) who could be immediate impacts for Wyoming.  Their recruiting class is highlighted by Austin Conway from Aurora, Colorado.  He was rated a three star recruit and also held an offer from Indiana.  He appears to have some great handles.

Considering the Mavericks have a good chunk of their roster returning, and the Cowboys are not returning much; I really like the Mavs chances here.  I have questioned if the Mavericks can keep up their high pace on the road in the Rocky Mountain region, especially with a roster that hasn’t been extremely deep when they’ve played there.  Wyoming is actually at a higher elevation than Denver.  It is something that visiting teams need to be prepared for.  Can the UNO Biomechanics building prepare the Mavs for this?  Can they donate that?  I feel like I have seen elevation masks in there, or they were all playing Batman in there.  I’m sure it’s most likely science related stuff though, that program is crazy good.