Checking In On… the Summit LeaguePosted by jstevrtc on December 4th, 2009
Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.
Current Standings (Overall Record/League Record):
- IUPUI (6-2/1-0)
- Centenary (4-2/1-0)
- Oral Roberts (4-4/1-0)
- North Dakota State (3-3/1-0)
- Oakland (3-4/0-0)
- IPFW (2-3/0-0)
- UMKC (3-3/0-1)
- Western Illinois (3-4/0-1)
- Southern Utah (3-5/0-1)
- South Dakota State (2-5/0-1)
- Whatever could go wrong has gone wrong for Oral Roberts University to start this season. After getting an emotional win against Stanford, everything came crashing down to earth when they discovered that their junior point guard Rod Pearson became the third player THIS YEAR to suffer a season-ending ACL tear. To make matters worse, the third string point guard, sophomore Beloved Rodgers, quit the team last week as well. Apparently he was not happy with the minutes he was seeing. So Scott Sutton was forced to activate his fourth-string emergency guard, redshirt freshman Mikey Mangum. Who knew the most valuable player of the Golden Eagles season would not be a player at all, but the personal trainer? Here is a suggestion: stretch before games.
- Oakland continues to roll, with Keith Benson earning player of the week honors, averaging 20/11/5 blocks in three games last week. Also, Oakland guard Jonathan Jones became the conference’s all-time assist leader when he dished out 11 in a win over Central Arkansas on November 28; he now has 639 for his career. The previous record holder was Valparaiso legend Bryce Drew (626).
- The non-conference schedule is wrapping up for most of the Summit League, with only IUPUI, Centenary, and UMKC coming out on top with winning records. Oral Roberts and Oakland remain neck and neck according to their records, but in reality, Oral Roberts has fallen back even further with the loss of four key players. It’s never good when your second-string shooting guard, Kyron Stokes, now becomes your first-string point guard. The Summit is still the 20th or 21st best conference in the country, so the one coveted bid will hinge on the conference play. Anything can happen at this point, and this week will be a good indicator as to who are the true contenders.
Alpha Squads — Oakland
The Contenders — IUPUI, Oral Roberts, NDSU
The Long-shots — UMKC, Southern Utah, IPFW, SDSU, Centenary
The bottom-feeders — Western Illinois
There are still a couple good non-conference games slated for the Summit League. Oakland will be taking on Michigan State December 10 at 7:00 PM ET. We already know Oakland can’t compete with the high caliber teams after losing miserably to Kansas (89-59) and Memphis (77-46), but who knows? Maybe since they are playing a state rival they can get up for this game. Also, Missouri will be visiting Oral Roberts on December 9 at 7:00 PM CT. Last year, when Missouri was an Elite 8 squad, ORU played them close, losing 93-82. This time it’s in Tulsa. ORU has been decimated by injuries, so this may not even be close, but it’s worth a look.
IUPUI is looking sharp, posting a nice 5-2 record going into conference play; they look strong and ready to be mentioned as a true contender for the Summit League title.
Centenary, surprisingly, is near the top of the standings. Are they for real? The Gents posted the second-best non-conference record, going 3-2, and opened league play with a 93-85 win over Southern Utah. They are led by sophomore guard David Perez, who is smoking hot with 23.8 PPG, including 25 against Marquette. I don’t expect them to keep this up, but if they have found a star in Perez, maybe “long-shot” status is not out of the question.
UMKC took a loss to ORU on Thursday night 68-57, opening league play. It was a disappointment for UMKC seeing that Oral Roberts was only suiting up 8 healthy players. I expect the Roos to stay in the middle of the pack all year long.
Western Illinois may be the worst team in this conference now that Centenary has started playing some good basketball. A 52 point loss to Arizona State and a 32 point loss to Kansas State make you want to cringe. Don’t be fooled by their 3-3 record — Greenville, Truman State, and Central Arkansas are their three victims.
Oakland has been mentioned before, they are the best team in this conference, but not as good as we had hoped, losing big to Kansas, Memphis, and Wisconsin. They may start to put things together and build some momentum, and this could be a very different team come March. Derrick Nelson, Keith Benson, and Jonathan Jones have been great as expected. Combined, they provide 45 PPG, 18 RPG, and 7 APG so far for Oakland. I expect those numbers to increase as they start playing conference teams.
As I said, it’s not looking very good for Oral Roberts. Injuries have destroyed their once hopeful season. But they’ve still got some talent, and it will carry pretty far in a mediocre league. Don’t count them out quite yet.
Southern Utah got beat by Centenary. I really don’t think this team is a threat to go anywhere but the bottom of the standings.
IPFW has a chance to get a good spot in the conference tournament. They will be battling the likes of UMKC and North Dakota for that fifth or sixth spot. They are giving up 75 PPG and only scoring 65—that has to improve.
I am still not sure what North Dakota State is going to give us this year. I believe they will compete as a top team simply because most of the other teams are just mediocre at best. We will see when they get going in the conference.
South Dakota State has disappointed me, I expected them to be better. But they are proving to be the worst team so far in this season; five straight losses by an average of 12 points a game? They are looking snake-bitten.
What have we learned after the first quarter of the season? We learned that the Summit League is once again mediocre with only about three or four teams that have the players to win the conference. I expect Oakland to finish first by a long way, IUPUI to be second, ORU to finish third, and who knows after that. But, as we have seen with ORU so far, it only takes one or two injuries for the entire outlook of the season to change. But let’s hope the rest of the teams’ destinies are settled on the court and not the training room.