Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009

checkinginon

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

Standings:

  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.

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Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on November 20th, 2009

checkinginon

Standings

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

Top storylines.

  • Preseason favorite Oakland is having to get better the hard way, losing to Eastern Michigan by four and Wisconsin by 16 to start the season 0-2. Its not getting any easier, as Michigan State and Kansas await the Golden Grizzlies. I don’t think Oakland fans should worry too much, ranked 20th on the College Insider mid-major poll, they are still clearly the strongest team in the conference.
  • Oral Roberts’ campaign  to recapture the Summit League title has taken a huge hit with the loss of their top freshman, Hunter McClintock, to a season-ending ACL tear during a routine practice drill. McClintock, who hails from Patterson HS in North Carolina,and was recruited by Kentucky and Hawaii before committing to ORU, was expected to be a big contributor right away. ORU will have to dig deep to get past this loss.
  • IUPUI forward Robert Glenn earned his second career player of the week honors after opening the season with a 37-point performance at Drake. A nice win for IUPUI, and a career best for the senior as he is trying to make the most of his final season by keeping IUPUI in the discussion as one of the top teams in the conference.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Upper Midwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2009

impactplayers

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

It’s time for the seventh installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of very cold, very northern states that we’re calling the Upper Midwest.   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?

Upper Midwest Region (MI, WI, MN, SD, ND)

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  • Manny Harris – G, Jr – Michigan. The mastermind behind the turnaround of Michigan’s basketball program may be John Beilein and his 1-3-1 zone defense, but the catalyst has to be Beilein’s explosive 6’5 scoring guard/forward, Manny Harris. The lone bright spot in a 10-22 campaign in 2007-08 was the freshman Harris and his 16.1 PPG, strong enough to garner All-Big Ten Second team honors. Much like Beilein’s other reclamation projects, the Wolverines, and Harris, improved drastically in their second season under the former West Virginia head man. While his scoring average didn’t even jump a full point, it was Harris’ all-around production and on-court leadership that propelled Michigan to a 13-3 start, respectable Big Ten record and second-round NCAA tournament appearance, their first in 11 seasons. 6.8 RPG for a 6’5 guard is an accomplishment that cannot be overstated, a mark that tied forward DeShawn Sims for the team lead. Harris led Michigan in assists by a wide margin at 4.4 APG, upped his FG% from 38% to 42% and played nearly 33 MPG to lead the Wolverines. Harris has also become a much more efficient playmaker for Beilein, increasing his assist and scoring rates (even while attempting and making over 20% of Michigan’s shots) while his turnovers have dipped. One area where Harris must improve is outside shooting, which jumped from 32% to 33% behind the arc a year ago. With Harris’ tremendous penetration ability and explosiveness to the rim, making opposing defenses respect his outside shot will only enhance an already lethal game. The All-Big Ten first teamer is the straw that stirs the Michigan drink, having started 67 games in a row for Beilein. Should he improve his defense, Harris’ draft stock will shoot up in a season that could be full of accolades, and, for the first time since the Steve Fisher era of the 90s, a legitimate chance to lead Michigan deep into March.
  • Lazar Hayward – F, Sr – Marquette. Lazar Hayward’s role on this year’s Marquette squad should not be understated. Three guards and team leaders through the Tom Crean and Buzz Williams eras – Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews – saw their illustrious college careers end in the second round last March, leaving the program in the hands of Williams’ outstanding recruiting efforts off the court and Hayward’s all-around play on the court. The 6’6 multi-dimensional forward is now the face of a proud basketball school that may take a step back this season with the losses of those three guards that starred for four full seasons in Milwaukee. But it’s unlikely that Hayward will take a step back. Often overshadowed and underappreciated, Lazar averaged 16.3 PPG and 8.6 RPG as a junior last season while shooting 36% from three and 82% from the line, offering another outside threat to go along with McNeal and Matthews. In fact, Hayward finished in the top ten in a historic Big East in scoring, rebounding and free throw percentage last year. He even refined his game on an international stage over the summer, averaging 9.3 PPG and 5.6 RPG on the bronze medal-winning USA team at the World University Games. Hayward is now the face of the Marquette program for his senior season. While the Golden Eagles could struggle, Hayward must step into the departed guards’ shoes as team leader for the junior college and freshman influx headed to the Bradley Center in 2009-10, not only to facilitate success this season, but also for the future.

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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)

2009-summit-tourney-bracket

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.

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