Morning Five: 11.02.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on November 2nd, 2010

  1. The NCAA ruled on Monday that there would be no penalty forthcoming as a result of Kutchergate at the University of Iowa. We use that portmanteau in jest, of course, since there was never really any chance of the NCAA seeing anything sinister about what they agreed was an “unintentional and incidental” encounter. Still, we think that if Iowa’s going to have celebrities from their state visible at Hawkeye athletic events, they might want to take steps to keep it on the level of, say, Tom Arnold, or even Cloris Leachman. That way, there’s less chance that visiting high schoolers will end up talking about it in the papers or show up in a tweeted photo.
  2. Tom Izzo has suspended Korie Lucious for Michigan State’s exhibition against Saginaw Valley State tonight and the November 12 season-opener versus Eastern Michigan as a disciplinary action for Lucious’ DUI arrest back in August. Lucious eventually pleaded guilty in September to misdemeanor reckless driving. It’s obvious that he’d rather be playing, but at least he’ll have that much longer to rest that surgically repaired left knee.
  3. We were at Rupp Arena last night for Kentucky’s exhibition game against in-state NAIA opponent Pikeville College, and even though it was an exhibition it still got our juices flowing to commense our travels this season. Less excited about the whole affair was UK head coach John Calipari, who, despite a 97-66 victory and a 22-point performance from new floor general Brandon Knight, lamented his team’s lack of toughness and energy, noting in the post-game presser that right now his players “don’t get it yet; we need to get more physical…the guys are going to have to accept it.” While praising Pikeville’s effort and confirming that the NAIA squad “outworked” his team, Calipari (who coached this one sans necktie, oddly) drove home his frustration with his players seeming lack of interest by adding, “this isn’t about cool, this isn’t about style points,” and insinuated that Tuesday’s practice might divide the men from the boys.
  4. As of yesterday, a pair of schools “be gettin’ over in the Big Sky Coun-try…” OK, if you can’t tell by the lyric, the Big Sky Conference just got bigger. It announced yesterday that it will add Southern Utah and North Dakota to its roster starting with the 2012-13 season. While the decision was motivated largely by something called “football,” it shouldn’t be ignored that the revenue sharing bonus nets each athletic team at the schools an extra $135,000. And you thought conference realignment was all through.
  5. Is it possible that West Virginia’s Kevin Jones rebounded 12% of all shots missed by the Mountaineers last season? And that WVU rebounded 41.8% of their misses as a team?!? Both of those are staggering figures, and just part of the reason you should check out this article from SI.com’s Luke Winn as he crystal balls the Big East. Six days until the first games, people…
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RTC Conference Primers: #26 – Summit League

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 9th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for The Summit League.

Predicted Order of Finish

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

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Ceola Clark, III (G)Western Illinois (14.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.2 APG)
  • Alex Young (G) - IUPUI (18.3 PPG)
  • Dominique Morrison (F)Oral Roberts (15.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG)
  • Michael Tveidt (F)North Dakota State (15.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
  • Keith Benson (C) - Oakland (17.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.3 BPG)

6th Man

  • Reggie Hamilton (G) - Oakland (transfer from UMKC)

Impact Newcomer

  • Jake Lliteras (G) - Oral Roberts (14.8 PPG, H.S.)

What You Need to Know

The Summit League is not a power conference, and they have struggled in the NCAA Tournament, but the top teams continue to land big-time talent and improve as they seek respect from the big boys. When it was first assembled, the conference champs would end up a #16 seed in the Big Dance, but for the third straight year, the Summit League earned a #14 seed—not exactly Final  Four contention, but they certainly have the ability to wear those glass slippers when March Madness rolls around. The all-conference team I selected above might be the best mid-major talent we have seen in quite some time. Everyone on my all-conference team has one thing in common: if they go down, they go down swinging—that’s a must-have ingredient for a small school looking to compete on the big stage. I think this is the year we see the Summit League move past the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and take down some giants during the regular season.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Summer School in the Summit League

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 5th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

Around The Summit:

  • Dakota Invasion: The Summit League plans on joining the realignment-party beginning next season (2011-12) when Centenary will move down to Division-III, and the University of South Dakota will take their place. There has also been talks of adding an eleventh team, likely the University of North Dakota, joining the conference in the near future, which would mean FOUR teams from the Dakotas in the Summit. Good for rivalries, bad for the warm-blooded.
  • An Oak In Oakland: The top teams in the conference made some key additions that fit nicely into their team philosophies. Oakland is happy to have Summit POY Keith Benson back, but they also added a center for the future: 7’0, 220-pound Kyle Sykora. The big man shot 71 percent from the field and blocked 5.6 shots per game during his high school years in Miami. It’s not often a seven-footer comes to the Summit League, and the addition of Sykora will assure Oakland of big-man dominance for years to come.
  • New Guard: IUPUI and Oral Roberts also added some nice guard pieces to their depth.  P.J. Hubert (IUPUI) was an Associated Press honorable mention all-state selection in Indiana, and Jake Lliteras (ORU) was Player of the Year in the Carolina 9 conference. Both guys should have an immediate impact on the floor for two teams vying for a conference title. And last but not least, South Dakota made the most improvement when they picked up Rock Valley H.S. Stars Jordan Dykstra and Marcus Heemstra; both were given high grades by ESPN Insider.

Kevin Ford is gone, but the rest of the pieces remain intact for perennial favorite Oral Roberts

Power Rankings

  1. Oral Roberts – They lost one starter, and since they were a 20-win team last year (including victories over Stanford, #12 New Mexico, and Missouri) with only seven scholarship players healthy, the Golden Eagles have a golden opportunity ahead of them. They have won the conference title three of the past five seasons, and as long as Scott Sutton is still the head coach, this team will be one of the favorites. Known in the past for their strength at the guard position, ORU is especially strong there this year with five guards who have starting-five ability. Summit Newcomer of the Year Warren Niles leads the way.
  2. Oakland – Don’t sleep on the defending champs. Even though Oakland lost tournament MVP Derrick Nelson and the conference’s best guard, Jon Jones, the Golden Grizzlies return the Summit League POY Keith Benson and several key players from last year’s dominant squad that won 26 games, including 17 of 18 conference games. In a conference that only showcases three quality teams, Oakland has as good a chance as any to capture a second straight title, and they could replace ORU as the top team by the time the season starts, depending on how their recruits shape up. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

League Standings

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

Top Storylines

  • Two teams from the Summit made an appearance on this week’s Mid-Major Top 25 poll. Oakland (#14) and IUPUI (#22) were both rewarded for their dominant conference performances thus far.
  • WIU senior guard David Nurse was named to the ESPN the Magazine District V all-academic basketball team. Nurse is working on a masters degree in business and has a 3.8 GPA, proving that there are still students among the “student” athletes.

Last Week

We enter the final three weekends of conference play, and it seems like the top four seeds have already been decided. Oral Roberts dropped two conference games to Oakland and lowly Western Illinois. Unless they can pull off a miracle, you can stick a fork in this team. A fourth-seed in the tournament would mean playing both top-seeded teams in order to make the dance. The eighth and final conference seed is still up for grabs.  Western Illinois would like to have it, as they think they can upset anyone in the conference.

Team Breakdowns

  • Alpha Squads - Oakland, IUPUI
  • Longshots - South Dakota, Oral Roberts
  • Bottom Feeders IPFW, UMKC, North Dakota, Southern Utah, Centenary, Western Illinois. No one seems to have what it takes to win this league besides the top two teams.  Oral Roberts is too banged-up, South Dakota plays too small, and everyone else just doesn’t have enough.  If someone else not named Oakland or IUPUI ends up winning this conference tournament, it would be a Disney-style underdog story.

Team Capsules

  • Oakland – The only team that can beat this team is IUPUI. And they already faced them twice. You can pencil them in for a trip to the finals.
  • IUPUI - They have three very dangerous scorers (Robert Glenn–18.5 ppg, Alex Young –18 ppg, and Leroy Nobles–13.5 ppg), they will be a 20-win team, and could be Oakland’s Kryptonite. Remember at the beginning of the year? I said D wins the Summit League. They allow 67.8 points per game; I like love this team.
  • SDSU – The Jackrabbits live by the three-ball, and they die by the three-ball.
  • ORU - We keep talking about their close losses, five by three points or less, but at some point, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to make free throws and easy jumpers. ORU does neither.
  • NDSU – North Dakota relies on their execution of the offense and getting open looks in order to win games. They are not athletic enough to cut and slash. I don’t see this team going too far in the tournament. They have only nine wins and its mid-February.
  • UMKC – Will likely end up with the seventh seed, but could get as high as fifth. Then again, the Roos have IUPUI and Oakland coming up, so they could miss the tournament altogether.
  • WIU – The Leathernecks are somehow holding on to that final spot in the conference tournament with a 3-10 conference record.  This same record could also get you the eight seed in the Pac-10 tournament this year.
  • Centenary – Sure, they are on the outside looking in, but they aren’t that far out, and it’s never too late to turn the season around! They swept the season series against IPFW, and they have a chance to sweep Southern Utah and scoot into the conference tournament, with some help.
  • SUU – The Thunderbirds are 5-6 at home, and winless on the road (0-11). Next game: on the road at IPFW.

Games to watch

  • February 13: IUPUI @ Oral Roberts - This game lost any significant when ORU choked at home against the Leathernecks, but it’s still the best game of the week.
  • February 20: Oral Roberts @ Austin Peay (ESPN BracketBuster) – ORU needs this game if they want any confidence going into the conference tournament.
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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.
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Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

Standings

  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.
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    Checking in on… the Summit League

    Posted by jstevrtc on January 9th, 2010

    Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

    Standings:

    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.

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    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 jstevrtc on December 4th, 2009

    checkinginon

    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.

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    Checking In On… the WAC

    Posted by jstevrtc on November 27th, 2009

    checkinginon

    Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

    Current Standings:

    1. Louisiana Tech (4-1)
    2. Idaho (3-1)
    3. Nevada (2-1)
    4. Boise State (3-2)
    5. Fresno State (2-2)
    6. Hawai’i (2-2)
    7. Utah State (2-2)
    8. New Mexico State (2-3)
    9. San Jose State (1-2)

    The general consensus among the WAC’s head coaches during the preseason media day teleconference was that on paper this was one of the strongest, deepest set of teams in league history.  Through the first two weeks of play, that depth and strength has not translated into as many non-conference wins as the league had hoped.  At a combined 21-16, the league has not had the type of showing early that it wanted or needed to prove that it was capable of once again becoming a multiple bid league.

    In the first two weeks of play, the WAC had eight head-to-head games against the Mountain West.  Only Idaho has come away with a victory, an impressive 94-87 decision on the road in Salt Lake.  Only two of the seven other WAC/MWC games, all WAC losses, have been decided by single digits.

    Consistently inconsistent would be the best way to describe the league thus far.  Idaho followed up that big victory over Utah with a head-scratching 72-65 loss at Texas Southern.

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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 – Mountain Region

    Posted by rtmsf on October 27th, 2009

    impactplayers

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

    It’s time for the eighth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of somewhat forgotten states that have lots of land but relatively few players that we’re calling the Mountain 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?

    Mountain Region (CO, UT, WY, MT, ID)

    mountainimpact

    (ed. note:  since this region has a scarcity of BCS schools, we’re grouping all of its schools into the same pool)

    • Jimmer Fredette – G, Jr – BYU. Blessed with the one of the most memorable first names in college basketball, Jimmer Fredette emerged as one of the steadiest and most productive point guards in the nation during a breakout sophomore campaign at BYU. Fredette’s scoring average jumped 9.2 PPG from 2007-08, finishing second on the team in scoring (16.2) three-point percentage (.382) and free throw percentage (.847) while leading the Cougars in APG (4.1) and steals (50). His ranks in the Mountain West are equally impressive: fifth in scoring, third in assists, second in free throw percentage and steals while finishing fourth in minutes played. Along with multi-dimensional wing Jonathan Tavernari (below), it’ll be Fredette taking the reins of a BYU team poised to win another regular season MWC title under head coach Dave Rose. With several teams on their heels, the consistent and reliable point guard play of Fredette could prove the difference, especially in important non-conference tests vs. Utah State, Arizona State, Arizona and Nevada and the always-competitive MWC slate. Fredette managed to earn himself a spot on both the all-MWC first team and the MWC all-tournament team, and it wouldn’t shock us one bit if Fredette makes both lists in 2009-10 as well. This tough, hard-nosed competitor is one of the top point guards not only west of the Mississippi, but in the entire landscape of college basketball and should only improve in an anticipated junior season manning the Cougar ship.
    • Cory Higgins – G, Jr – Colorado. Frankly, the only bright spot on a depressing 2008-09 Colorado Buffaloes team was Cory Higgins. The 9-22 (1-15)  rebuilding project in Boulder is embarrassing and downright inexcusable for a school with their resources and attractive campus (football isn’t exactly a prettier situation). Give Higgins credit for remaining loyal to the Colorado program when he easily could have bolted for better situations. The 6’5 California native whose father, Rod Higgins, is a longtime NBA veteran, does everything for Colorado, finishing his tremendous sophomore season at 17.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, 47% FG, 83% FT and 36% 3pt. With Higgins mired in obscurity at the bottom of the Big 12, many casual fans have no clue that his all-around game matches just about anyone in the conference. Rick Barnes knows – Higgins scored 34 points on 11/20 FG in Boulder last February in a 9-point loss to Texas. Mark Turgeon knows – Higgins went for 27 points on 10/18 FG at home in early March in a 6-point loss to Texas A&M. The all-Big 12 third team selection was one of 13 players in the nation ranked first or second on their team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and the only sophomore to make that illustrious list. Sure, Colorado doesn’t provide much help in the way of talent for Higgins, but that’s not his fault. Higgins may be able to score 20-per-contest this season in Colorado. He hopes those epic performances also include a tally in the win column more often than nine times this season. Read the rest of this entry »
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