Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

The Summit League    (Conf. W-L  — Overall W-L)

  1. IUPUI                9-1                          16-7
  2. Oakland                9-1                          15-8
  3. Oral Roberts              7-3                          12-10
  4. South Dakota State          7-3                          11-10
  5. IPFW                 5-5                          10-10
  6. North Dakota State          4-6                          7-13
  7. UMKC               3-6                          9-11
  8. Western Illinois        2-8                          8-12
  9. Centenary         2-8                          7-14
  10. Southern Utah            1-8                          5-15

Top Storylines

  • Last Saturday, Oakland was able to tie the record for consecutive conference wins with 16, but they couldn’t beat the record, getting hammered by IUPUI 78-54. The Jags capture the top spot in the conference, and all of the sudden, it’s a four horse race for first.
  • Oakland center Keith Benson earned another Summit League Player of the Week award with his 22.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in two games against North Dakota and South Dakota. Pro scouts are starting to attend Benson’s games on a regular basis now, and he has a good shot at landing a seat on an NBA sideline.

Last Week

IUPUI crushed Oakland on Thursday, making them the front-runner in the conference. I have said all year long, Oakland does not impress me, and they are beatable on any night. The Jags are picking up momentum, and they are the best team in the Summit as of today. Oral Roberts dropped a close game to their crosstown rival, the Tulsa Hurricanes. The loss was a big punch to the gut of the Golden Eagles (usually blowing a 15-point second-half lead does that), but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Since that loss, ORU has rallied to win back-to-back conference games in blowouts, and they still have their eyes on first place.

  • Alpha-squads: Oakland, IUPUI, Oral Roberts
  • Contenders: South Dakota State
  • Long-Shots: IPFW, North Dakota State
  • Bottom-feeders:  UMKC, Western Illinois, Centenary, Southern Utah

Team Breakdowns

In my standings I have three alpha squads and one contender, but in reality, only three teams can win the conference.  Oakland, IUPUI, and Oral Roberts have a combined conference record of 25-5. The bottom seven teams? 24-44.

  • IUPUI—very impressed with the Jags. Not a single team has been able to stop Alex Young (18.1 points) and Robert Glenn (18.2 points), and having two guys that can carry the team is a really nice asset. They are my pick to win the whole thing.
  • Oakland–don’t get me wrong, I still like these guys, as they have the most talent in the conference and it should be their turn to make the Big Dance. But they just haven’t been able to close the deal as a favorite… ever. So I will believe it when I see it.
  • Oral Roberts—seven of their ten losses came by a combined 30 points. That’s 4.3 points per loss. A couple more buckets, a few more free-throws, fewer injuries, and this team could be 19-3, and might be a darkhorse favorite when the conference tournament rolls around. Don’t forget, #12 New Mexico, Missouri, and Stanford fell to this injury-depleted team. Oakland and IUPUI could as well.
  • South Dakota State—lost to Oakland by three on Saturday, and their only bad game in the conference came early in the season against IUPUI. I still think lightning could strike and they end up in the conference semifinals or heck, even the final, but there is no chance they win the conference.
  • IPFW—4-1 in their last five conference games (dropped a close one to SDSU 65-64), but their next two games are against IUPUI and ORU, so that run could come to a screeching halt.
  • North Dakota State—they can be dangerous if they are shooting well, but they just don’t have the guard power that is needed to contend in the Summit. Whenever they face an upper-level team, they get exposed by the better point guards.
  • UMKC— they haven’t showed me enough to even be considered a long shot. They don’t have the ability to score more than 60 or 65 points a game, and like most of the teams at the bottom of the conference, they lack depth on their bench. 3-6 so far in the conference, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone expected much more this year.
  • Western Illinois—they are 8-12, but their wins have come from Truman State, Central Arkansas, Greenville, Culver-Stockton, Savannah State, Centenary, and Southern Utah. I don’t think those wins will boost your RPI.
  • Centenary—the hot start had all the Centenary fans believing (4-2), but since that time they have gone 4-12. David Perez has cooled off considerably, with his scoring average dropping to 16.9 points. On defense they are giving up 81 points per game.
  • Southern Utah—the Thunderbirds still have eight games to turn this season around and make it respectable, but they have only won one game since Christmas, so those prospects are grim.

Games to Watch

  • February 6 – Oral Roberts @ Oakland – Oral Roberts’ last chance to close the gap on Oakland before the tournament.
  • February 13 – IUPUI @ Oral Roberts – IUPUI will be looking to put away ORU, and perhaps clinch the number one spot.
Share this story

Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.


  1. Oakland                                               12-7       (6-0)
  2. IUPUI                                                     12-7       (5-1)
  3. South Dakota State                         9-8          (5-1)
  4. Oral Roberts                                      9-9          (4-3)
  5. UMKC                                                    8-8          (2-3)
  6. North Dakota State                         5-10       (2-3)
  7. IPFW                                                     7-9          (2-4)
  8. Centenary                                           6-11       (2-5)
  9. Western Illinois                              7-9          (1-5)
  10. Southern Utah                                  5-12       (1-5)

Top Storylines

  • IUPUI beat Oral Roberts at home 90-87. You can now legitimately argue that IUPUI is just as good as Oakland, if not better, and the Golden Grizzlies will be looking over their shoulder the rest of the way.
  • Oakland is on a 12-game conference win streak right now, dating back to late last year. The record is held by Cleveland State with 16. The way things are going for Oakland, they are going to blow that record away.
  • In Thursday night’s game, both IUPUI coach Ron Hunter and ORU coach Scott Sutton went an entire game shoeless to draw awareness to Samaritan’s Feat, a nonprofit organization that accepts shoe donations and distributes them to needy children worldwide.

    Last Week

    The Summit was quiet last week, with only four games played. However we still learned a couple new things: 1) IUPUI is good. Oakland is still better, but how much better? I can’t wait until these two meet again.  The power struggle between these two will be the top storyline going forward this year. 2) Maybe ORU can’t overcome the bad hand they have been dealt by injuries. It’s a shame, because it was looking like IUPUI, Oakland, and ORU were going to battle until the end. ORU just can’t win on the road, and even though the two losses to Oakland and IUPUI were by a combined six points, it’s still clear that they are on the outside looking in.

    Alpha Squads: Oakland, IUPUI

    Contenders: South Dakota, Oral Roberts

    Long Shots: North Dakota, UMKC

    Bottom FeedersIPFW, Centenary, Southern Utah, Western Illinois

    Team Breakdowns

    In a nutshell, there are three teams that can win the conference from this point in the season and South Dakota State and Oral Roberts are fighting for that third position. The Golden Grizzlies and the Jags are rolling while Oral Roberts is reeling, but they can bounce back. It is going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    • Oakland: Still Rolling.  I am really impressed with preseason player of the year, Jonathan Jones. Is it safe to change his name to Jon Jones yet? This guy is a man, and he owns every guard in this conference. He is clearly the number one player. His stat line is not huge, just 12/6/2 stls, but he doesn’t have to score with all those weapons available to him at Oakland.
    • IUPUI: Hear those footsteps? That‘s IUPUI closing the gap on Oakland.  Big conference win over Oral Roberts at home. People are paying attention now.
    • South Dakota: The enigma team. They shouldn’t be doing this well, but they are. It probably has something to do with having three players shooting 82% or better from the line. No other team has more than one. That can get you wins in close games they might have lost in the past.
    • Oral Roberts: Their three conference losses came from the three teams above, does that mean they are the fourth best team? Maybe, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish right here in fourth.  Scott Sutton is a great coach, but no coach in America can survive a long season after losing half his team.
    • UMKC: Just a little short on talent to compete with the big boys, but on a good night, they could squeak by South Dakota and Oral Roberts.
    • North Dakota State: They are a long way from the days of Ben Woodside. 5-10 is not where you want to be to say the least.
    • IPFW: I had a fan ask me during one Summit League game “what is a Mastodon (the IPFW mascot) anyway?” I said, “kind of like an elephant.” They could use an elephant in their roster; they’re too small to be a serious threat to anyone.
    • Centenary: The Gents are already having a better season than last year, and although his production dropped, David Perez is still scoring 17 points a game.
    • Southern Utah: They lost to IPFW and only managed to score 56 points. They are in serious need of offensive production.
    • Western Illinois: They blew out Centenary by 19, so we know they can still win. I hate to see teams play poorly, so I hope they can start getting things together in the second half of the season.

    Games to Watch

    • Tulsa @ Oral Roberts, Wednesday, January 20. 7 p.m. – Rumor has it that this game is already sold out. Over 11,000 fans expected for this one, and it should be split right down the middle. Crosstown rivals will be battling for the Mayor’s Cup, and city pride on the line. This game is always good, and both teams want to win it and can.
    • Oakland @ South Dakota State, Saturday, January 23, 7:30 p.m. – I cant imagine Oakland losing this one, but its #1 vs. #3 in the conference, and it could be a great opportunity for South Dakota to prove something.
    • North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts, Thursday January 28, 7 p.m. – Oral Roberts is looking to avenge last year’s heartbreaking loss at home that won the Summit League regular season crown for NDSU. There is a lot of bad blood between these two schools, and no Ben Woodside to save NDSU. Expect a good, close game.
    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Summit League

    Posted by jstevrtc on January 9th, 2010

    Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.


    1. Oakland   10-7 (4-0)
    2. South Dakota State   8-8 (4-1)
    3. IUPUI   10-7 (3-1)
    4. Oral Roberts   8-8 (3-2)
    5. UMKC   8-7 (2-2)
    6. Centenary   6-9 (2-3)
    7. North Dakota State    5-9 (2-3)
    8. IPFW   6-8 (1-3)
    9. Southern Utah   5-10 (1-3)
    10. Western Illinois   6-8 (0-4)

    Top Stories:

    • Oakland Center Keith Benson earned his third Summit League Player of the Week award while averaging 21 points and 9.5 rebounds in two conference wins. He is drawing a lot of draft buzz as of late, and I don’t see anyone matching up with this guy in the conference. His numbers are going to blow up in the next month.
    • Oral Roberts became the first Summit League team this season to defeat a ranked opponent. On December 23, Oral Roberts dismantled previously unbeaten New Mexico, 75-66. The win becomes even more impressive when you consider the fact that Oral Roberts is suiting up only six scholarship players because of injuries.

    Last Week:

    The big game of the week was Oakland at Oral Roberts, the two juggernauts of the Summit League. Oakland won the game, 67-64, claiming its first victory at ORU since 2000. Neither team was too impressive. Both teams could easily be upset, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both of these teams failed to make the NCAA tournament. ORU lacks toughness needed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and even though they have impressive wins against Stanford, Missouri, and #12 New Mexico, it just seems like their young players don’t understand what it means to win yet. When it comes down to who wants it more, Oral Roberts hasn’t shown they are that team this season. Oakland has tons of talent, but they are routinely getting outcoached. Greg Kampe has a bad track record when his team is a favorite, and I’m not convinced they can live up to the pressure of being a favorite in this conference. Expect a dark horse team to upset them in the conference tournament and make the NCAA.

    Alpha-squads: Oakland, IUPUI

    The Contenders: Oral Roberts, North Dakota

    The Long-Shots: South Dakota, UMKC

    The Bottom-Feeders: IPFW, Centenary, Southern Utah, Western Illinois

    Oakland — I could tell you the numbers of the Oakland stars — like Keith Benson and Jonathan Jones — but the bottom line is this team is beatable. If they are focused and locked in, Oakland has five guys that can score at any time. But when they let up, this team can be beat by anyone in this conference. They may win 24 or 25 games, but when the conference tournament comes around, I would be nervous if I was a Golden Grizzly fan.

    IUPUI — This team is going to be scary down the stretch. They have been playing well, and I expect them to finish second in this conference. They lost by three at Oakland last week, and forwards Alex Young and Robert Glenn are dominating. The Jags are my favorite dark-horse at this point.

    Oral Roberts — This is the definition of a Jekyll and Hyde team. They win on the road in Stanford, they dismiss Missouri and New Mexico at home, but they lose to South Dakota and Oakland with two of the worst basketball games I have ever seen in terms of overall execution. You could blame it of the horrible refs (seven fouls in 30 seconds at one point in the game against Oakland), but in reality Oral Roberts has no one to blame but themselves. Since their win against New Mexico they have shot an abysmal 38% from the field, and 63% from the line. Maturity is needed before the Golden Eagles can be taken seriously.

    North Dakota — The Bison really are not that good, but who below them is going to be better? Michael Tveidt is playing well and that may be enough to keep them above the other competition.

    South Dakota — This was the team at the beginning of the year for whom I had the highest expectations, and so far — holding a 4-1 conference record — they are living up to them.

    UMKC — The days when UMKC was a conference force seems so long ago. Their small lineup gets physically beaten by the top teams. On the bright side, UMKC already has as many wins as they did all last year, standing at eight for the year.

    IPFW — They showed some promise on the defensive end, holding Western Illinois to 49 points in their last game. On the other hand, how hard is it to do that? We are talking about Western Illinois. Deilvez Yearby, the lone star on IPFW, has scored in double figures every game this year, and has posted 16.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3 BPG so far this season.

    Centenary — The Gents are in a tough position, being demoted from D-1 basketball at the end of the year, but they are still playing hard, and that deserves a shout-out.

    Southern Utah — It’s hard to find anything good about this team. But they have blocked a shot in every game this season. Always glass half-full.

    Western Illinois — Forget what I said about the glass half-full stuff, these guys are bad.

    To sum-up the season so far, Oakland is the best team and they should be looking to dominate this conference all the way to the big dance, and they just might. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were upset by a team like IUPUI or even Oral Roberts. I could see the best team in this conference not making the NCAA tournament — in other words, it is still wide open.

    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Summit League

    Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009


    Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.


    1. IUPUI  (2-0)  8-3
    2. Oral Roberts  (2-0)  6-6
    3. Oakland  (1-0)  5-5
    4. UMKC  (1-1)  5-4
    5. Centenary  (1-1)  4-5
    6. North Dakota State  (1-1)  4-5
    7. South Dakota State  (1-1)  4-7
    8. IPFW  (0-1)  3-5
    9. Western Illinois  (0-2)  4-6
    10. Southern Utah  (0-2)  3-8

    Top Stories:

    The top story continues to be the mounting injuries for the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.  After losing sixth-man Warren Niles to a broken hand, it looks like this year’s team just may be cursed or something along those lines.  How else do you explain losing four players for the season, plus two more with broken bones, and one continuing to play with a sprained ankle?  The rash of injuries is unprecedented, and it leaves ORU with only seven healthy/eligible players.

    Oakland’s Center Keith Benson ranks among the nation’s top 10 in three individual statistical categories.  He is fifth in blocks with 3.9 BPG, seventh in double-doubles with six and 10th in rebounding with 11.4 RPG.  The man is simply unstoppable in this conference, and he will really take off once the weaker conference teams grace Oakland’s schedule.

    Last week Oral Roberts showed some heart, upsetting Missouri in at home 60-59, a season defining win for a team that has half the team out with injury.  Imagine how dangerous this team would be if they were full strength?  They followed up the emotional win with two losses to Indiana State and a blowout to Louisville, the same for Oakland, who dropped hard against Michigan State.  IUPUI took the liberty of establishing themselves as a real threat to win the regular season title, and an automatic berth in the NIT.  I can now guarantee with unwavering confidence that there are only three teams that can win the conference title in March.  Everyone else is simply awful.  Oakland, ORU, and IUPUI have a combined conference record of 5-0.  The remaining seven teams have a combined record of 4-9.

    Alpha-squads– Oakland, ORU, IUPUI.

    The Contenders– North Dakota State

    The Long-shots– IPFW, UMKC, South Dakota State

    The Bottom-Feeders– Western Illinois, Centenary, Southern Utah

    Oakland — We still haven’t been able to see how dominant Oakland will be in the conference, having only played one game so far.  They are still the favorites as the first half of the season comes to a close.  Their Center, Keith Benson, continues his dominance, being named player of the week in the Summit.  The junior is averaging 18/11 and 4 blocks a game.

    IUPUI —  The Jags are coming on strong, pushing their record to 8-3 and leading the conference right now.  I like the way the Jags are playing, and they are going to be a tough team to beat going forward.  They are getting big numbers from sophomore guard Alex Young and senior Robert Glenn, both combining for 36 PPG.  They are my dark horse pick to win the whole thing.

    Oral Roberts — Scott Sutton still has his team playing hard even though the team is completely decimated by injury. The big morale-boosting win at home against Missouri will give the remaining players some confidence.  This team will be at the top until the end, but there is no way they are winning the conference with seven players who are mostly walk-ons and newcomers.

    North Dakota State — North Dakota has a chance to move up in the conference and they could shock the top teams in this conference if Saul Phillips can keep his guys playing well. They have three guys in the top 15 in scoring. Their defense will have to improve if they want to compete with Oakland and IUPUI.

    IPFW — The Mastodons are 1-4 on the road so far this season, and have given up 84 PPG to conference opponents. Next up:  #12 Michigan State.

    UMKC — The Kangaroos are still searching for an identity and someone to step up as a proven leader for this team. They are near or at the middle of nearly every statistical category, which means they are just an average team in this conference.

    South Dakota State — Of all the teams in this conference, I am most disappointed with SDSU.  Coming into this year I had high hopes for this team.  They played well in the conference tournament, making a good showing by knocking off defending-champ ORU.  But this year they started off sloppy.  They are last in blocks, ninth in steals, and ninth in defensive rebounds.  They also need Garrett Callahan to start producing more; their star is only averaging 12.5 points.

    Southern Utah — They are going to struggle all year long, basically from a lack of talent.  But they play hard every night, and that will keep them in some games.  They will pull out a few wins during the long season.  They stuck with #23 UNLV for at least a half.

    Centenary — Centenary is not leaving Division I basketball quietly, continuing to battle hard, even though this will be their last year in the Summit League.  Led by the Conference’s top scorer, David Perez (21.4 PPG), the Gents are 1-1 in the conference and 4-5 overall, hardly the worst team in the conference, as was predicted.  It won’t last, but let’s give them their due for now.

    Western Illinois — The absence of an offense leaves WIU in a sad state.  Their top scorer, Matt Lander, is averaging a mere 10.9 PPG.  Eastern Illinois could only scrape together 44 points and they still beat Western.  What I am trying to say is… this team is bad.

    Upcoming games to watch:

    Saturday 12/19, 7:30 PM — Oakland @ Oregon.  To me, this is a must win game for Oakland.  This is a very beatable Oregon team.

    Tuesday 12/22, 7 PM — Oakland @ #10 Syracuse

    Wednesday 12/23 — #19 New Mexico @ Oral Roberts.  This is the first ranked team to visit the Mabee Center since 1996.

    With the midway point of the season approaching, this conference is Oakland’s to lose now that ORU is on the injured reserve.  Keep an eye on IUPUI, as they may make Oakland work for a championship.  Everyone else is playing for fourth.

    Share this story

    Checking In On… the Summit League

    Posted by jstevrtc on December 4th, 2009


    Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

    Current Standings (Overall Record/League Record):

    1. IUPUI  (6-2/1-0)
    2. Centenary  (4-2/1-0)
    3. Oral Roberts  (4-4/1-0)
    4. North Dakota State  (3-3/1-0)
    5. Oakland  (3-4/0-0)
    6. IPFW  (2-3/0-0)
    7. UMKC  (3-3/0-1)
    8. Western Illinois  (3-4/0-1)
    9. Southern Utah  (3-5/0-1)
    10. South Dakota State  (2-5/0-1)

    Top Storylines:

    • 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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Share this story

    2009-10 Conference Primers: #17 – Summit League

    Posted by rtmsf on October 20th, 2009


    Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

    Predicted Order of Finish:

    1. Oakland                          22-9        (16-2)
    2. Oral Roberts                  21-10     (15-3)
    3. South Dakota St.            18-11     (11-7)
    4. IUPUI                               17-14     (9-9)
    5. North Dakota St.           14-14     (8-10)
    6. Southern Utah                13-16     (8-10)
    7. Western Illinois             13-16     (6-12)
    8. IPFW                               11-18     (4-14)
    9. UMKC                             9-20        (4-14)
    10. Centenary                      6-23        (2-16)

    All-Conference Team:

    • Johnathan Jones (G), Sr, Oakland
    • Garret Callahan (G), Sr, South Dakota St.
    • Dominique Morrison (F), Soph, Oral Roberts
    • Jon Avery (F), Sr, IUPUI
    • Keith Benson (C), Jr, Oakland

    6th Man. Hunter McClintock (G), Fr,  Oral Roberts

    Impact NewcomerLarry Wright (G), Jr, Oakland.   The junior transfer from St. John’s University, should have an immediate impact on the Summit League. Two years ago he led the Red Storm in three-point field goal percentage, and he should be the perfect replacement for Erik Kangas, The Oakland great who set the all-time single season mark last year with 145 threes. Wright’s long-range shooting could be the key to Oakland’s success.

    summit league logoWhat You Need to Know. The Summit League is like the little engine that could. Every year, it produces a scrappy team that creates some hype in the NCAA Tournament. Last year Ben Woodside and his rag-tag boys from North Dakota State challenged the defending national champs (Kansas), and just came up short 84-74. This year’s Summit League has the potential to produce a similar Cinderella story, with teams like Oakland and Oral Roberts reloading with some really talented players. Watch out for Oral Roberts and their newcomer Damen Bell-Holter (Mr. Alaska 2007, top 50 center prospect on who has the potential to dominate the lesser big men in the conference. Defense is the key to winning the Summit League. Last years champ NDSU held their opponents to 69.1 points per game, and Oral Roberts, in their three straight championships from 2006-08, held their opponents to 62.0, 64.9, and 68.1 points per game.

    Predicted ChampionOral Roberts (NCAA Seed: #14).  With all the questions about age and inexperience with the Golden Eagles, it seems that Scott Sutton has the answers with his experience and skill level as a coach. Give him talented players, and his team will always compete. If Oral Roberts clinches another Summit league title, it will be their fourth championship in five years. I think a tough non-conference schedule (at Wake Forest, Missouri, New Mexico, Louisville,and Stanford) will be a trial-by-fire, and help their young freshmen mature quickly. The tough schedule also will help the NCAA Selection Committee give them a more favorable seed, especially if they win a couple of those big games (best bets are at home against New Mexico and Missouri). A #14 seed in the Big Dance will give Oral Roberts the Cinderella tag. A first round win is not out of the question for a Scott Sutton-led ORU squad.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Share this story

    RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Deep South

    Posted by zhayes9 on September 29th, 2009


    Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Atlantic South) are located here.

    It’s time for the fourth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico known as the Deep South region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

    Deep South Region (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX)


    Ed. Note: our assumption is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney will not be eligible to play this season.

    • Aubrey Coleman – Sr, G – Houston. Young Mr. Coleman was a controversial pick for our panel, to say the least.  There’s no denying his talent, but the 6’4 rock of a player went national (and viral) last season for his footplant on Chase Budinger’s face during a game at Arizona.  Seriously, that thing made what Christian Laettner did to Aminu Timberlake in 1992 look like playtime in the sandbox.  Coleman served his one-game suspension for the ugly incident, and proceeded to take out any residual anger he might have on the rest of Conference USA to the tune of twelve double-doubles and becoming the only player to finish in the top five in both CUSA scoring and rebounding.  Yeah, rebounding.  At 6’4.  Playing guard.  If that doesn’t give you a clue as to Coleman’s toughness (despite his cowardly act against Budinger), we don’t know what will.  Despite his position, Coleman makes it a common practice to regularly venture into the lane for frequent trips to the foul line on offense and for rebounds on defense (ranks #294 in def reb%).  He also ranked in the top 25 nationally in steals, and we should point out that only three guards in the entire country pulled down more boards per game than Coleman.  About the only part of Coleman’s game that isn’t quite honed is his outside shot (21% on threes), but he doesn’t take many, which shows recognition of his strengths and weaknesses.  With two star players (including Kelvin Lewis) returning for their senior seasons in Houston, it’s safe to say that Tom Penders is sitting on an explosive duo who could lead UH to a successful slate in a wide-open CUSA and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly twenty years.
    • Damion James – Sr, F – Texas. Just three days prior to the declaration deadline for the 2009 NBA Draft, Damion James told Texas head coach Rick Barnes that he’d be returning for a final season in Austin, a decision that drastically alters the expectations of a Longhorns team that underachieved a campaign ago. Texas should be a top-five team in 2009-10 due to an influx of talent from all angles: from returnees like Dexter Pittman, to transfers like Jai Lucas, stud freshmen like Avery Bradley and, most importantly, a senior season from Damion James. James has just about as much pure athletic talent as any forward in the nation featuring an NBA-ready body, constant activity on the glass and an ability to run the floor like few other 6’7 forwards. The issue with James has always been complacency and wavering effort. Often James will hang around the perimeter, settle for outside shots, disappear when his team needs him the most or settle for being a secondary figure when a player with the ability of James should always be The Man. When James is motivated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the Big 12 that can contain him. James finished on the All-Big 12 Second Team his junior season after finishing with 15.4 ppg and 9.2 rpg a year following a sophomore campaign in which James averaged a double-double. James ranked fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding, tenth in the conference in scoring and totaled double-figures on 31 occasions in 2008-09. A player the caliber of James should be right there with Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins at the top of potential Big 12 POY candidates for the upcoming season. He should be a first round pick and he should average another double-double. One of the reasons I have Texas pegged #2 in the nation preseason is because I trust James to provide that consistent effort for Rick Barnes in search of a very realistic Final Four.
    Share this story

    Buzz: Defensive Stalwart Chase Adams Heading to Pitt

    Posted by rtmsf on August 10th, 2009

    Pitt’s Jamie Dixon picked up some great news today when it was announced that Centenary’s Chase Adams, a 5’10 waterbug point guard originally from Baltimore, is transferring to play for the Panthers and he will be eligible immediately.  With Centenary’s recent decision to move down from D1 to D3, all of its players were given the option to transfer to another school without penalty.  Dixon must be ecstatic because his returning backcourt is relatively inexperienced (Ashton Gibbs was the presumed incumbent), but now he’ll be adding the 2009 Summit League DPOY, a player who was eighth nationally in steals per game (2.7).  This goes along with some nice numbers in scoring (14.6), rebounds (4.2) and assists (4.5) per game.  It sounds as if Adams will fit the Panther ethos of hard work and defense to a T…

    Share this story

    07.23.09 Fast Breaks

    Posted by rtmsf on July 23rd, 2009

    It’s actually been a fairly busy week in the world of college hoops despite the mid-summer lull, so let’s take a look at some of the other key stories coming down the pike…

    • Hoop Dreams, 15 Years Later.  This week in his Hoops Thoughts column, Seth Davis pushed us down memory lane to the grungy days of 1994, a year of Cobain, Madonna’s undies and OJ’s white Bronco, but also of a bedraggled jewel of a documentary called “Hoop Dreams.”  We have a fair amount of younger readers on this site, so if you’ve never seen this movie, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW, and rent it on Netflix or your local movie shop.  It is without question the best basketball film ever made.  Davis’ summary of the movie is good so we won’t belabor that here, but even fifteen years later, the movie holds its color, bouquet and taste much better than most items from that era.  We slightly quibble with Davis on his contention that HD was the first reality tv (The Real World says hello) or that the two players featured in the film, William Gates and Arthur Agee, were ordinary people (their extraordinary skills at basketball at a young age is what made them not ordinary), but we completely agree with his fundamental assessment that the authenticity behind these two players’ struggles still resonates today.  The early 90s, when Gates and Agee were documented in the film, was an era at the edge of a precipice in two key cultural shifts that are still impacting the game: 1) the worldwide online revolution of 1995, which has impacted scouting and recruiting in an exponential fashion now that players can be commodified based on Youtube clips and independent assessments from anywhere on the globe; and 2) Kevin Garnett’s decision to go to the NBA straight out of HS in 1995 led to a sea change in how high school players were viewed, pushing scouting (and dreams of riches) earlier and earlier into a player’s development.  From a re-viewing of the movie in 2009, it’s easy to see the seeds of World Wide Wes and his ilk as assembly-line talent evaluator-cum-agents strategically dropping their whispers of fame and fortune into player family’s ears at a young age.  What was once limited to the bigger cities and at a much smaller scale is now ubiquitous; where elite players were once counseled by their coach (as in, their HS coach, not their AAU coach), they now listen to runners and quasi-representatives from shoe companies.  All of the dirty elements that are plaguing today’s amateur player development and the college game are there on display, in a rawer, more transparent form, in Hoop Dreams.  The authenticity of how the system uses these players, only to spit them out when they’re no longer useful, is front and center – how have things changed?  Thanks to Seth for re-awakening everyone to this movie – it’s a must-see.     
    • SEC-TV.  Starting this fall, the SEC announced that it will broadcast an all-SEC sports network as part of its new $2.25B deal with ESPN.  The SEC Network (through ESPN Regional) will syndicate its college football and basketball games to 73 (and counting) markets, but what makes this announcement particularly compelling is how the SEC has strategically decided to move outside its traditional nine-state southeastern footprint for this deal.  Local affiliates in the major markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as the three major Texas cities, are included in this deal, which unequivocally shows that the SEC isn’t playing games in terms of its foray to dominate college sports through national recruiting.  Where this could really pay dividends is not with the Kentuckys and Floridas, but with the Mississippi States and the Georgias of the SEC.  If games involving those teams are on tv in major media markets showing recruits a fun, winning style, they might be more inclined to consider going there over local state U.  How will the other leagues react?
    • F the Gazelle Group.  They’re back again this season with another faux-tournament in the form of the Legends Classic.  Remember our piece shredding them on this last year?  If you don’t, here’s a refresher.  The Gazelle Group got upset when little Gardner-Webb upset Kentucky in Rupp two years ago during a preliminary round game, meaning that the legions of UK fans they expected to buy tickets the next week weren’t showing.  So what’d they do the next year – they fixed the tournament!  Yep, all four of the ‘host’ teams get automatic entry to the Championship Rounds (final four teams) despite what happens in the prelims.  Total asinine garbage.  This year’s four faux-champs?  Michigan St., Rutgers, Florida and UMass.  MSU-Florida could be interesting, and definitely keep an eye on summer hotshot Mike Rosario from Joisey (playing in AC). 
    • Quick Hits.  Anthony Mason, Jr.: back in a Johnnies uni for 09-10.  Jim Calhoun: still going full boreJosh Selby/World Wide Wes: that’s just messed upWooden Classic: Georgetown v. Washington; UCLA v. Mississippi St.  Coach K: are Duke fans mad atchaMurray Bartow: 2-year extension at ETSU.  Dickie V: Summer Rolls-RoycersTop 25 Recruits: broken downGary Parrish: on the summer circuitSix OTs: enjoyAntonio Burks: recovering after robbery where he was shot.  Centenary: downgrading to D3WCC Tourney: in Vegas through 2012 (at least).  2010 Vegas Odds: sell Louisville
    Share this story

    Summit League Wrapup & Tourney Preview

    Posted by rtmsf on March 7th, 2009

    Ryan Pravato of College Fast Break is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

    Tourney Preview (Sioux Falls Arena)


    Saturday Games:

    (1) North Dakota St. vs. (8) Centenary

    Centenary was outrebounded in their last meeting with NDSU by 22. Although Redus had a strong game, Adams and Stallings combined for just 16 points. Expect the same defensive play from the bigger, better guards of NDSU.

    (2) Oral Roberts vs. (7) South Dakota St.

    Home state advantage could make this a much tighter game than it is on paper. Jackrabbit forwards Anthony Cardova and Kai Williams, the only players taller than 6’5 to see regular minutes, must come up with huge games on the glass. If Ford and Lewis are not accounted for, it’s over.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Share this story