SUMMIT LEAGUE NOTES AND RAMBLINGS
-This league was formerly known as the Mid Continental Conference. Valparaiso jumped ship and joined the Horizon League, and they were replaced by IPFW, North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
-North Dakota State and South Dakota State need to wait one more year before they are eligible for postseason play, so they will not be participating in the conference tournament. That is unfortunate, because NDSU will be a force right away and would have a very good chance at winning it if they were allowed to compete.
-None of the teams that are currently in the league have advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 1974 when Oral Roberts managed two wins in the Big Dance. Oakland won the opening round game in 2005, and that is the only other win in the NCAA Tournament that any of these teams have. Nevertheless, the league appears to be on its way up. SUMMIT LEAGUE TEAMS
-IUPUI was a modest 15-15 last season, and managed to go 7-7 in the conference, but they appear to be much better this year. For starters, they are back at full strength after losing guard George Hill
just five games into the season last year. He will likely be one of the best players in the league this year and is a very good scorer, passer and defender. Three other starters are back, so this team has quite a bit of experience and it could be their year to win the Summit and get back to the NCAA Tournament.
-NORTH DAKOTA STATE won 20 games last season and has four starters coming back. Unfortunately, they are not eligible for postseason play and will have to wait one more year until their probationary period is up. The good news is that they have no senior starters, so all the players will get a chance to compete for a spot on the NCAA Tournament next year. They have done a tremendous job during the transition period. They managed a big win at Marquette last season, and at Wisconsin the season before, so the players on this team have really been a part of building up the program. Most redshirted when they arrived on campus, and the reason for that was so they would get at least one chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. Guards Been Woodside and Mike Nelson both averaged over 15ppg last year, and showed they could pass the ball as well as they could shoot. Forward Brett Winkleman was also a big time scorer and did a good job on the glass as well. They will be a force in this league despite the fact they are not eligible to play in the conference tournament.
-ORAL ROBERTS has been the dominant force in the league over the past three seasons. They finished first in the standings all three years, and have won the conference tournament for the past two seasons. Unfortunately, their two best players are gone. They werent just the two best players for Oral Roberts, but Caleb Green
and Ken Tutt were two of the best players in the conference. The other three starters are back and ORU should have a solid team, but I believe their reign at the top of the standings will come to an end.
-OAKLAND has a very talented team this year, and should be among the teams in the mix for the league title this year. They did lose two of their best players and their frontcourt will likely suffer because of it, but three starters are back and Rutgers transfer Dan Waterstradt will likely be the starting center. They finished the season very strong and nearly defeated Oral Roberts in the championship game last year, but came up just short.
-CENTENARY managed ten wins last season, which may not sound like a lot but its a significant improvement compared to how they had been playing before. The recruiting is getting better and they do have an outstanding guard in Tyrone Hamilton. However, it looks as though most of their contributing players are going to be very young this year and we probably wont see them at the top of the standings. They are definitely going in the right direction though.
-IPFW finished 12-17 last year, and its the first time that their win total has reached double figures since joining div1. This is their first year in the Summit League, and although theyre improving and should continue to improve, they arent likely to contend for the league title this season.
-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE is new to the league this year and has one more year to go before being eligible for postseason play. The transition has been a much tougher one for them than it has for North Dakota State. They are in the building process, but they appear to have a strong foundation. Three starters are back from last year and there are several teams in the conference they should be able to compete against.
-SOUTHERN UTAH has a new coach and ten new players this year, seven of which are junior college transfers, and five of those players played for new head coach Roger Reid at Snow Junior College a season ago. These big time changes should end up being a good thing for this program, who has struggled to compete in the league. Three starters also return, so the team should be an improvement from what were used to seeing.
-Although three starters are back, UMKC lost their two best players from last season. They were an unimpressive 12-20, but did look pretty good in the conference tournament where they nearly defeated Oakland in the semifinals.
-WESTERN ILLINOIS was just 7-23 last year, and has struggled to compete in the league over the last several years. They have eight new players on the roster, and for a team that is trying to rebuild itself that may turn out to be a good thing. Despite the fact that theyve struggled for the past several seasons, the recruiting does appear to be improving, which is a good start when it comes to turning things around.