With one final weekend remaining in Summit League Play, Billy Donlan, has his squad peaking at the right time. After a second straight weekend sweep, the Roos have now rattled off 5 straight wins putting their league record at 7-5. That record puts them at 5th in the league. If they push their streak to 3 straight weekend sweeps and both NDSU and ORU get swept, they could jump to a coveted Top 2 seed in the Summit League Tournament. What is even more impressive is the fact the Roos cannot seem to catch a break from the Injury Bug, seemly starting a new lineup each weekend. However, injuries just do not seem to rattle this squad as no matter who is playing, they always bring a nasty intensity on the defensive end that makes almost any game in League Play winnable. Their largest margin of defeat was 7 points at UND to start conference play. While their style is not always easy on the eyes, it is utterly amazing to watch how prepared this team comes to play and how no one intimidates them, no matter the odds.
Unfortunately for the Roos, I do not see my previously mentioned scenario playing out where they could jump to the #2 Seed. That is not a knock against KC, I just do not see neither ORU nor NDSU being swept this weekend. Additionally, Coach Donlan and his boys take on the challenge of beating the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in arguably one of the nation’s Top 5 toughest Arenas to play in. One game is a monumental achievement, sweeping in Frost Arena, is unheard of. This is not an opinion, that is a fact. Since the 2015-16 season, the Jacks have a Home record of 74-4 (96.1%). Only two other Division 1 Programs have eclipsed a 92% Winning Percentage in that time, Powerhouse Programs, Gonzaga, and Kansas. Long story short, the Roos have a tough task ahead of them if they want to move up in the rankings.
Most of the people who actually read my posts are my fellow friends and Alumni of SDSU. For the most part they are not real familiar with this new version of the “KC ROOS”. What most remember is a program that was always an easy “W” when going through the schedule. Below is a quick run-down of who the Roos key players are and how they will impact this weekend’s games.
Brandon McKissic – A 6’3” 195lb PG who is built like an SEC Running Back and often times plays like one. He is the best 2-Way player in the league, and arguably the best Point Guard in the League. McKissic is the Heartbeat of this team as he leads the squad in PPG (17.5) & SPG (1.6). On offense, when the Roos need a bucket, expect him to get the ball at the top of the Key and drive it left or right, straight to the rim. This is where he channels his inner “Running Back” Mentality. Sag off him and he will knock down a 3pt FG. On Defense, lets just say Alex Arians is in for a long weekend running the Jacks Offense. He is the equivalent of a “Shut Down” Cornerback in Football as he covers all PGs like Flies on…well you know the old saying 😉.
Josiah Allick – 6’8″ 225lb Forward – He is the team’s anchor in the Post and can score in a variety of ways, left shoulder hook shots, put-backs, and he can step out for 3. He is not flashy or intimidating, but do not let that fool you, he is one of the most efficient and effective Post Players in the League. One knock on Josiah is that he is heavily foul prone.
Zion Williams – The team’s “Glue Guy” and arguably the best defender in the league. At 6’4 195lbs and arms longer than my body, he can guard almost any position and is an absolute thief on the floor, whether he is picking pockets or deflecting passes leading to turnovers. Williams is also effective at using his size when he is playing the Point to take his man into the post scoring over them, an old school type of player. He will most likely draw the assignment of covering Baylor Scheierman.
Arkel Lamar – He has been battling injuries lately but if he does suit up this weekend, he’s the guy like look like an NFL Linebacker. Lamar came out of nowhere, literally had not played basketball in over a year when he transferred to KC this winter. He first stepped foot on campus on a Monday January 18th and immediately made an impact playing in that Saturdays game against Oral Roberts. At 6’5” 235lbs he plays the 4 and 5 for KC. Another defensive weapon for Billy Donlan, using his length and strength to beat up post players. Offensively, not super well rounded but can shoot the 3pt and is effective at put backs. Fun fact, he posted a Double-Double (12pts 10rebs) his Sophomore Year at UMBC in their historic upset over Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, becoming the first 16-Seed to ever beat a 1-Seed. If healthy, we will see a fun battle between him and Doug Wilson.
Marvin Nesbitt Jr. – Another 6’4 guy on the Roos Roster that plays like he’s 6’8”. Unfortunately for Marvin, he’s battled concussion issues all season long limiting him to only 10 games this season. However, Marvin has made an impact in all 10 games averaging 10.7ppg & 6.8rpg, including a 20-point outburst last weekend against Denver. Often playing the 4-Spot, he will guard anyone this weekend, possibly even Matt Dentlinger if they must play Small Ball.
Other Notable Players:
Franck Kamgain – 6’2” Guard – Shooter and Facilitator – went off for 23 points Game 2 last week against Denver. Another pesky “On Ball Defender” averaging over a steal per game.
Jacob Johnson – 6’5” G/F – Versatile Wing Player who has flashed at times with scoring, just ask NDSU 😉
Caden Boser – 6’8” F – Stretch 4 type of player. Another Freshman that has shown flashes, again ask NDSU
Demerius Pitts – 6’4” Guard – Typical Billy Donlan Guard. Not a threat from deep but can score and rebounds very well for his size.
Overall, this will be a difficult match-up for the Jacks. I do not see a sweep occurring, but the Roos have a knack for “Rope a Doping” their conference foes in Game 1 and running away with a victory in Game 2. If they arrive in Brookings, fully healthy, this will be a great series to watch from a competitive standpoint.
Last Time Out – Roos Sweep Denver
Game 1: saw the return of Marvin Nesbitt Jr. since he left Game 2 versus USD back in early January. His return could not have come at a better time as the Pioneers sent Josiah Allick to the bench just a couple minutes into the game with 2 Fouls. Teammate Brandon McKissic soon followed with 2 Personals. With the teams Top 2 Scorers riding the pine for most of the 1st Half, MNJ went off scoring in a variety of ways to pace the Roos with 18 1st Half Points. KC survived extreme foul trouble, Boser had 4 personals at half, to go to the locker room tied at 29.
2nd Half saw the team return to full strength and fully impose their defensive ways on the Pioneers leading to 22 Total Turnovers for Denver. Moreover, the Roos Guard Core took lethal scorer, Jase Townsend out of the game, limiting Denver’s Offense. Had it not been for Roscoe Eastmond and Koby Lam knocking down 3’s this game would have been ugly. In the end the Roos took Game 1 68-57. Nesbitt Jr. led all scorers with 20pts. McKissic added 16pts, while Zion Williams chipped in with 11pts 11rebs and 2stl.
Game 2: Senior Night in Kansas City did not disappoint, as the Roos took home another double-digit victory over Denver. With that said, the game did get off to an uneventful start with minimal scoring in the opening frames. However, much like the previous night where we saw Marvin Nesbitt Jr. break out with a 20 point out, the hero of this game was Franck Kamgain who would have a career night of his own. The Junior Guard paced the Roos in the first half with 11 of his game high 23 points. Foul Trouble once again reared its ugly head in the first half which allowed Denver to keep things competitive.
2nd Half was similar to the previous night, in that the Roos returned to full strength and played their best 20 minutes of the season versus D1 Competition. Scoring bursts by Kamgain, Williams, and McKissic saw the Roos explode for 48 points in the final 20. A big part of that scoring effort was their ability to get to the charity stripe and capitalize. Shooting a League worst 65% from the Line on the season, the Roos went 14-16 (87.5%) in the second frame. Kamgain led all scorers with 23 points. McKissic chipped in with 16 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals, while Williams had a career high 14 points along with 7 rebounds.
This weekends series starts Friday with a 7:30pm CST Tip-Off Time. Game 1 is scheduled to air on ESPN3.