My trivial Summit League rankings – Feb 15

I’d like to thank all of the President’s who made the ultimate sacrifice to give me the day off of work today.

There are only two weeks left of the regular season for Summit League basketball.  IPFW, Omaha, and South Dakota State are in a race for the top two spots in the Summit League tournament; which is important because the two top spots play on Saturday, but then not Sunday if they can pick up a win on the first day.  Obviously, teams would like to play 3 out of 4 days instead of 3 days in a row.

Fun idea for a trip:  If Omaha were to be a 3 seed, you could travel to Minneapolis and laugh at the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves, and then head to Sioux Falls on Saturday to see the Summit League tournament.

1. South Dakota State

Last Week:  1

Remaining opponents conference record:  22-27

Mike Daum will have Mav fans cursing his name for the next few years.  DAUM! DAUM! DAUM YOU!  Another player South Dakota State has that Omaha went after in high school was Reed Tellinguisen.  Tellinghuisen would look really good on the Mavs, and he looks alright on South Dakota State, but he cannot guard stretch 4s, and mainly Tre’Shawn Thurman.  The amount of fear of on his face whenever Thurman got the ball on the low block was equivalent to when my parent’s dog becomes terrified by the sound of a hammer.

2. IPFW

Last week: 2

Remaining opponents conference record: 27-22

Omaha just had one of their most important weeks since transitioning to division one, and now IPFW is going to have a really important week themselves.  IPFW is about to have South Dakota State come to Fort Wayne on Thursday, and then Omaha come to town on Saturday.  Of the three top teams in the Summit League, IPFW is the least deep team thanks to Mo Evans no longer being eligible.

No player in the league has played more 40+ minute games than Max Landis, and the last two games the ‘Dons were really only been able to go with a 6 man rotation.  No team needs a top 2 finish more than the Mastodons.

3. Omaha

Last week: 4

Remaining opponents conference record:  21-16

Two huge wins for the Mavs last week.  I seriously hope that Western Illinois and Denver week does not come back to haunt them.  Obviously, you want the Mavericks to finish 1st, but 2nd is also pretty important, because that means the Mavericks could get a day off in the Summit League tournament (assuming they win the first game) and not have to play 3 days in a row.  Some of the Mavs looked pretty tired against North Dakota State.

I really do not think Jake White gets enough credit for what he has done on this team.  His shot has become so much better throughout the season, he is incredibly clutch, and there are really not many players in the league that can guard him.  NDSU’s Chris Kading seems to be the best equipped for it, but the Bison needed to have him guard Thurman down the stretch…which allowed for Jake White to go off in the second half over the shorter AJ Jacobson and Dexter Werner.

By the way, one of my keys for the Mavs to have a successful season was for Jake White to improve his field goal percentage and get up around 45%.  He’s shooting 57% from the field!  Now if only referees weren’t out to get him.

4. North Dakota State

Last week: 3

Remaining opponents conference record:  31-26

Okay, I know it gets a little dicey after the top 3 right now.  The Bison have dropped two in a row, but they still have wins over South Dakota State and IPFW on the season.  They are a scary team with Paul Miller on the court, but it would be extremely difficult for them to win one game in the Summit League tournament without him on the court.

I like David Richman, and I know that Chris Kading had some health concerns over the summer, but why did he not play Kading more against Omaha?  The interior of Omaha struggled to score with Kading on the court, granted Jake White was in foul trouble, but still.  NDSU’s best lineup was with Kading and Dexter Werner on the court, Omaha had difficulty scoring inside with the two of them on the court, but Richman insisted on going with Werner and AJ Jacobson as long as he could.  Is he not allowed to play all three of them at the same time?

5. IUPUI

Last week:  5th

Remaining opponents conference record:  28-22

I like the Jags, but the most they scored on their recent 3 game road trip was 58 points… The Jaguars have yet to lose a conference game at home, which is good for them because they have 3 of the last 4 at home…They only won their last two home games by a total of 3 points.

6. Denver

Last week:

Remaining opponents conference record:  15-23

The Pioneers have 2 of their last 3 on the road, and their offense makes them a dangerous team.  You know, that’s all I really want to say about Denver right now.  That’s all I really can say about the Pioneers before wanting to black out.

So, hey, Valentine’s Day was nice.  My wife doesn’t really care about Valentine’s Day, so that is pretty dope.  I made some spaghetti, but I threw in some mushrooms, zucchini, and scallops, and it was pretty tasty.  That was a side to the salmon we had, and I also made a pretty nice salad.  We each had our (current) favorite beers.  She had the Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, and I had the IRA from Zip Line.  That Zipe Line is pretty impressive.  You’re pretty jealous, right?  My Valentine’s Day was me drinking beer with my wife and us discussing how stupid Valentine’s Day is.

7. Oral Roberts

Last week: 8

Remaining opponents conference record:  23-15

The Golden Eagles only have one game this week and it is against Denver, which is really a game for them fighting over seeding in the Summit League tournament.  After that, Oral Roberts is at Omaha and South Dakota State.  Sounds fun.

Scott Sutton and Oral Roberts need to win their last three games just to finish at .500 in conference.  They have not finished below .500 since 2000-01.  The team doesn’t look like they are really “made for the future” right now either.

8. South Dakota

Last week: 7

Remaining opponents conference record:  14-23

The team lost their starting point guard, Shy McClelland, and a rarely used guard, Zach Dickerson, last week.  They are not an incredibly deep team in the back court, but they do have some depth in their front court.  Wasn’t South Dakota versus Oral Roberts one of the most anticipated preseason match ups for this conference?

9. Western Illinois

Last week: 9

Remaining opponents conference record:  27-21

They actually could still make the Summit League tournament.  Their last game against the season is against South Dakota, who is currently in the 8th spot.  Wait, so South Dakota versus Western Illinois might actually be important?  They could take advantage of North Dakota State not having Paul Miller on Wednesday, but if Miller is playing, let’s not kid ourselves… They also have South Dakota State, and now we’re all laughing and having a good time, but the Mav and IPFW fans are looking for God’s address to send him letters.  Actually, Western Illinois picking up a win at home against IPFW is not far fetched.

A pretty bias view of the Summit League

I think it’s pretty pointless to create preseason rankings and predictions before the non conference schedule.  They never really take transfers, junior college players, or freshmen into account.  Just:  This team has this returning, so screw it, we’ll pick them as number one. The non conference schedule is over now (well UNO has North Dakota at the end of the year), so maybe it’s time to start with some predictions?

There is not really a team that is far out ahead of the rest of the conference this year as compared to North Dakota State last year, or South Dakota State in 2012-2013.  There is not a Nate Wolters caliber player really, or even a Taylor Braun.  There isn’t really a large amount of great post players in the Summit this season, but there are a lot of great players at the wing position.  So how do I think it could end up?


1. South Dakota State  9-5  RPI:  141

Before the year started, I thought that South Dakota State would be the best team in league.  In my opinion, they have the league’s best post player Cody Larson, please don’t mistake me for thinking of him as the best post player in the league for me liking him as a person though.  Between watching on tv and in person, I’ve only seen Cody Larson play in five games, and he was kind of a whiny guy when I saw him in person…granted who knows what Mike Rostampour was doing on the floor to get him in a bad mood.  He sure is consistent though.  He averaged 13 points per game, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists last season, and he is doing the exact same thing through 14 games this season.

At the beginning of the year I wrote out some random and awful notes about each team’s roster and miscellaneous stuff.   My notes for SDSU:  Best post player, 2 seniors, 5 juniors, best coach in the league, big team, lots of size, Wisconsin transfer (George Marshall)…

Any time you have a former SEC and a former Big 10 player on the same team in a conference like the Summit League, you’re going to have some success.


2. IPFW  7-6  RPI: 262

The Summit League picked IPFW to win the conference, and it makes a lot of sense.  The Mastadons have size, experience, and really a good all around roster.

Steve Forbes missed 3 games due to an injury, but once he’s back to his regular Hulk like strength, the ‘dons will get on a roll going into conference play.  He returned against Cal Poly and picked up 12 points on 4-12 shooting and only had 2 rebounds.  He’s not going to stay at that poor shooting and that little amount of rebounds forever.  When you first see Forbes you instantly make fun of him.  How could that 300 pound guy run?  Does IPFW have a football team?  Then he starts posting up, and you realize it creates several problems for your teams post players.  It can create a lot of fouls on your team trying to keep him out of the paint.  Out of the 10 games that Forbes has played in, he has had 4 double-doubles, yeah one was against Michigan-Dearborn, but another was against Georgia Tech.

Alongside Forbes the ‘dons have Joe Reed at 6’8″ who is capable of getting 10 points a game.  IPFW also has Isaiah McCray, Mo Evans, and Joe Edwards who all score in double figures.  They have several weapons, it’s true.

Yet despite having a well balanced lineup, IPFW best win from an RPI stand point is over Miami (OH) at 297.  The ‘dons do beat the teams they are supposed to beat, so when they’re picked to win the Summit, maybe they will win the conference they are supposed to win.


3. Denver  6-7  RPI: 228

The Pioneers don’t score a lot of points, they don’t rebound the ball very well, but they play the Princeton offense and they do it well.  As a team the Pioneers shoot 49% from the field, 73% from the line, and 39% on threes, and they only turn the ball over 11 times a game.  Sure their games may be boring and no they haven’t won consecutive games yet this year, but they’re a tough play.  Only 3 of their losses have been rough.  The Pioneers lost by one to undefeated Colorado State, by two to Bryant, by six to Stanford in Palo Alto, and by ten to ranked Northern Iowa.

Denver only has 2 seniors and 4 juniors, but they’re all good and all essential to the operation of the team.  Senior wings Cam Griffin and Brett Olson lead the show and are enough for the Pioneers to pick up wins.  The Pioneers don’t really have much size with only two players that are 6’7″ or taller, but you don’t really need much of a post game when you’re running the Princeton offense.


4. Oral Roberts  6-7  RPI:  210

Coming back the Summit League, Oral Roberts had a tough non conference schedule, but Oral Roberts has always been cool with that.  They feel it makes them a better team by the time non conference comes, and that’s probably true.  They were able to pick up a win against city rival Tulsa who is currently sitting at 61 in RPI.

Scott Sutton is a good coach, he’ll have his team ready.  By the way when I started this I was mixing his name up with Sean Sutton…absolutely the wrong person to mix him up with.  Scott Sutton is rumored for a job at a bigger conference school every year and it never happens.  When ORU Athletic Director is contacted for a reference I find myself wondering if it’s like on The Office when Will Ferrell is giving Ed Helms a reference but is constantly referring to him as completely average.  If you want someone to go above and beyond, then yes, he’s probably not your guy.  Though if you want someone, who will do just enough to keep you happy, then yes Andy Bernard is the guy for you.

Oral Roberts is led by possibly the toughest 1-2 punch at the wing position in the Summit with junior wings Korey Billbury and Obi Emegano who lead the team in scoring and in rebounding.  Again not much size to this team with only 3 players at 6’7″ or taller, but Oral Roberts has a good history in the Summit.


5. Omaha  6-6  RPI:  309

So clearly a blog called “Omavs Blog” is going to have more details on the Omaha Mavericks, but I’ll try to not talk about it too much because much of it has already been talked about.  We thought the win over Marquette was the biggest non conference win by a Summit League team, and it’s the biggest name that a Summit League team beat, but Oral Roberts has the best RPI win with their win over Tulsa.  Omaha also has the worst loss to Chicago State, and in my completely bias opinion, the Mavericks would’ve won that game with Devin Patterson and Jake White in the lineup.  They’re both incredibly important to the team.

If the Mavs continue to have injury problems, they will not finish in the top half of the league, but that’s true with anyone really.  There are still a lot of new faces for the Mavs and trying to figure out a rotation with Jake White and now Devin Patterson out of the lineup has created some issues of getting into a flow with the Mavericks.  The Mavs have size and balance on their roster for the first time, they just need to get it all out on the court for once for a few consecutive games.  The biggest problem for the Mavs is turnovers, too many damn turnovers.


6. North Dakota State  8-5  RPI:  232

Yeah I went there.  I like North Dakota State, so it’s incredibly sad that I’m not entirely sold on them.  They lost a lot from their conference championship team last year.  Yes, they have the best player in the conference, Lawrence Alexander, and A.J. Jacobson is right up there with Tre’Shawn Thurman as contenders for Freshman of the Year, but they are quite young with only 3 upper classmen and have a new (but good) coach.  They don’t shoot all that well as a team at 40%, but they only turn the ball over 10 times a game.  NDSU also is quite big, their shortest player is only 6’2″.

There isn’t really a win that sticks out for the Bison as far as anything that should be shocking.  The Bison are another team that win the games they are supposed to win.  They did start the year out rough on the road against Texas and Iowa, losing both games by 30 plus.  The Mavs are 0-4 against North Dakota State since joining the Summit League, but could this be the year Omaha picks up a win against the Bison, or at least not get embarrassed?


7.  South Dakota  6-8  RPI:  284

Yes, I went there again.  Several people were down on the Coyotes before the season started, with good reason, but 6-8 in non conference for South Dakota is far above anyone’s expectations.  UNO beating Marquette was a big surprise for everyone, but South Dakota taking Creighton to two overtimes and only losing by 3?  That’s the biggest surprise in the Summit League in my opinion.

It’s been kind of a running theme that many of the teams around the conference are pretty young, but everyone in South Dakota’s rotation is a junior or senior, and they can shoot.  I probably sound like I am in love with experience or something, but in a conference like the Summit League, experience matters.  There was always that high school team that was never really had that great of a roster, but they were loaded with seniors, and those teams can surprise someone from time to time for an upset.

Has anyone noticed that 6’3″ Tyler Larson is averaging 16 points per game and 8 rebounds per game?  He’s also leading his team in assists with 3.6 per game.  Any team in the Summit would kill for that production.


8.  Western Illinois  5-6  RPI:  323

Garret Covington is a great player, but there is not much else going on with the Leathernecks.  As a team they only shoot 32% on threes, and 40% from the floor.  Ouch.  They have 5 wins, but two of them are against Anderson and Greenville, you probably haven’t heard of them… Another two of their wins were only by three points at home.

Junior College transfer JC Fuller has shown some promise and is starting to show some consistency scoring in double figures in their last 4 non conference games.  Fuller, to some extent, had some interest from Omaha.


9.  IUPUI  4-10  RPI:  293

Honestly, I’m surprised the Jaguars have four wins.  They don’t score many points, in fact, their leading scorer Marcellus Barksdale only averages 8.4 points per game.  They also don’t rebound that well, or shoot that well at 40% from the field.  Let’s just say this isn’t going to be their year.

But looking ahead, they have a brand new arena, and have you seen the dorms at IUPUI?  It’s like living in a 5 star hotel.  Matt O’Leary, Nick Osborne, Darell Combs, and Jordan Pickett are all sitting out due to transfer, and they’re all guys that would help this team out this year.  When you have a pretty young roster getting playing time and learning to play together, and then the next year you throw in some guys that have played and sat out a year to basically practice, you’re going to improve quickly when those transfer players get eligible next season.


All Summit League First Team

C  Steve Forbes  SR  IPFW

F  Cody Larson  SR  South Dakota State

G  Tyler Larson  SR  South Dakota

G  Lawrence Alexander  SR  North Dakota State

G  Devin Patterson  JR  Omaha

All Summit League Second Team  (Alphabetical Order)

G  Korey Billbury  JR  Oral Roberts

G  CJ Carter  SR  Omaha

G  Garret Covington  SO  Western Illinois

G  Obi Emegano  JR  Oral Roberts

G  Cam Griffin  SR  Denver

All Freshmen Team

G  Aaron Brennan  IUPUI

F  A.J. Jacobson  North Dakota State

G  Paul Miller  North Dakota State

G  Reed Tellinghuisen  South Dakota State

F  Tre’Shawn Thurman  Omaha