It was fantastic being able to watch Summit League basketball in league play again. The last time Summit League teams matched up in conference play North Dakota State was looking forward to a date with the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. Then the world fell apart. There haven’t been a lot of things to cheer about since that day, but it’s important we take advantage of the little things like sitting at home (or for a select few in the arena) and watching some Summit League basketball. I am going to share things (I think) we learned from this weekend’s action.
North Dakota State at Western Illinois
- The Bison seem to be hitting their stride. NDSU lost two all summit guards in Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward. Then Donald Carter the assumed replacement at lead guard broke his leg in the summer. One thing I think we should begin to realize for programs like North Dakota State and South Dakota State is they seem to either have players step up when players leave or adapt the system to fit the current parts
- Western Illinois had the same result that ended their season last year with a loss to North Dakota State, but in spite of an almost entirely new roster, this is a better Western Illinois team. They adjust and fight the entire game.
- We had a question on the podcast on who is the go-to guy for the Bison. There may not be, but that isn’t a bad thing. Six players scored in double figures in the second game. Will opponents have a guy to key on game to game?
- Tamell Pearson whose playing time was limited in his first two seasons at UAB may have found a home in Macomb. Pearson is looking more and more like the Leathernecks #1 and showing some of the skills that made him a highly touted recruit coming out of high school.
- A two-game series against North Dakota State’s defense will feel like a root canal. There is no easy way around this defense. It will take a team consistently and constantly running their offensive system effectively. Western tried too often to go one on one vs the NDSU defense and the Bison just plain defend too well to score consistently against their man defense.
Kansas City at North Dakota
- This two-game series was a slugfest. Wasn’t the prettiest basketball a person will ever see. The officials let them play and especially Kansas City took advantage. North Dakota couldn’t really ever get into an offensive rhythm. The benefit was in game 1 Kansas City couldn’t put the ball in the basket and then that changed in the second half of game 2.
- Josiah Allick might be joining what might be the year of the bigs in the Summit League. In what has typically been a guard centric league, Pearson (discussed above) and Allick seem to be adding to the list of talented bigs in the Summit.
- Many will look at North Dakota’s offensive performance with dread. I think this series was more about Kansas City’s ability to defend than it was UND’s offense. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be concerned about with the Fighting Hawks offense but the Roos are going to make several opponent’s offenses look rough this season.
- The Roos get their hands on so many balls. The effort was consistent in both games in this series. It looked like Coach Donlon had them ready to go for conference play. Kansas City had 12 steals in game 1 and 7 steals in game 2. After watching it was shocking it was only 7 steals in game 2. Brandon McKissic and Marvin Nesbitt are going to cause many Summit League guards problems with their defense this season.
- Good news for North Dakota fans. It looked in game 2 that we were getting close to getting Desean Allen-Eikens back. Allen-Eikens logged 21 minutes in game two and made it to the free-throw line for 9 attempts. Started to look like he’s getting his last year’s athleticism back.
Oral Roberts at Omaha
- Oral Roberts sweep was the most impressive sweep of the weekend specifically because of who they swept. Now it’s possible Omaha is overrated by the time we get to the end of the season but right now we are under the assumption that the Golden Eagles swept a middle-of-the-road Summit team on the road.
- Marlon Ruffin is back from injury. The sophomore guard had some relatively quiet games after he initially returned from injury but came alive against ORU. Ruffin scored 24 points in game 1 and 21 points in game 2.
- Kevin Obanor continues to prove he is the most efficient player in the league. Obanor scored 39 points on 22 shots in game one and 27 points on 14 shots in game 2. I can’t imagine there is any way that Obanor isn’t the Summit League player of the week after averaging 33 points and 11 rebounds this weekend.
- Omaha made the mistake of letting the game get to ORU’s pace. Oral Roberts is going to run all the time because they are really good at it. When Omaha slowed the game down they fared well. It’s easy to get sucked into ORU’s style because the ball is falling in your own basket, but no one in the Summit can keep up with ORU playing that way.
- This was not the weekend I discovered this but it reinforced it. Max Abmas is the most dynamic scoring guard in the Summit. He can get to the basket and score with ease, has a good midrange game, in other words, there is no great way to defend him. By far the most dynamic part however is his unlimited range. Combine that with his ability to take the ball to the basket, and you have the most dynamic scoring guard in the league.
Denver at South Dakota
- Greg Stemen has been singing the praises of A.J Plitzuweit on the podcast and I was late to the party. Always thought he was good but unsure whether he was dynamic. He is pretty darn dynamic. Combining him and Stanley Umude makes for a very dangerous South Dakota team. Plitzuweit couldn’t miss on his way to 31 points in game one. However scoring is just one part of his game, Plitzuweit averaged 4 assists and 5 rebounds in the two-game set.
- It seems we already know what team is missing the Summit League tournament and we are two games into league play. Maybe I am wrong but I have seen no signs of life especially in the second half from this Pioneers team. They are without their dynamic sophomore big in Robert Jones, but it feels like he will still be out several games.
- South Dakota has a schedule over their next 6 games that could set them up for a fantastic start to Summit League play. It would not be shocking for USD to go 6-2 or even 7-1 in their first 8 games. The Coyotes next 6 games are against Kansas City, Western Illinois, and Omaha.
- If Denver is going to turn things around, it starts with Jase Townsend. Townsend had what had to be one of the roughest two-game stretches of his career. Townsend averaged 7.5 points for the weekend and just seemed to be distant. It’s been a rough three years in Denver for Townsend with a lot of losses. Is it starting to get the best of him?
- There was no letdown from South Dakota after a dominating first game. I thought they were primed for a letdown. I thought they would still win but would let Denver stay in it. A very positive sign that the Coyotes were focused and ready in both games of this back to back.