Mike Brown's Summit League Insider
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 14, 2010
1/14/10 at 8:13 AM
Oakland (Mich.): Has lived up to its billing as preseason league favorite by winning at Oral Roberts for the first time since 2000.
After that 67-64 triumph, head coach Greg Kampe wondered if his team could keep it going two nights later at Centenary, where the Grizzlies were embarrassed last year.
He had no cause for alarm. Larry Wright led five players in double figures with 15 points as the Grizzlies rolled to an 88-50 win in the Golden Dome.
"We knew our players were going to play hard after we got our butts kicked (in Shreveport) last season," Kampe said.
The Grizzlies' 5-0 start in league play matches their previous best in 2006-07.
South Dakota State: Won at UMKC and Southern Utah last weekend, sweeping a Summit League road trip for the first time.
After failing to win a conference road game in either of their first two seasons, the Jackrabbits are 3-1 on the road in 2009-10.
They'll be trying to slay another demon Friday when they visit North Dakota State, which they haven't beaten since 2006, losing six in a row.
Western Illinois: Hasn't finished higher than seventh in the league in four years, and with an anemic offense, the Leathernecks seem doomed to another low finish, despite leading the league in total defense.
WIU's defense keeps it in most games and the Leathernecks have lost five times by six points or less. But their shooters aren't helping. The Leathernecks shoot 38.8 percent as a team and are averaging only 57.5 points — 9.2 fewer than ninth-place ORU's 66.7.
Sophomore guard Ceola Clark is the only player scoring in double figures (12.3).
The Eagles have shot under 40 percent from the field in five of their last seven games and are last in the league in free-throw percentage (.672).
Head coach Scott Sutton says the Eagles are better shooters in practice and individual workouts than they show in games.
ORU was a combined 46-of-119 (.387) against Oakland and IPFW last weekend.
A potential blowout of IPFW never happened, at least partially because the Golden Eagles' guards were a combined 1-of-18 in the first half.
On the positive side, senior forward Kevin Ford has raised his free-throw percentage by 133 points to .585 since starting the season at .452 (19-of-42).
News and notes
ORU's players might want to get used to their surroundings when they visit IUPUI in Indianapolis' Conseco Fieldhouse on Thursday night.
Jaguars head coach Ron Hunter said his program is outgrowing its 1,250-seat campus facility. He's gradually working toward playing all home games in Conseco, home of the NBA's Indiana Pacers.
"As our program grows, we're needing a new place to play and it's easier for us to do that than it is for us to build an arena," Hunter said. "Talk of a new arena has really slowed down with the economy the way it is."
ORU's game will be the second of three in Conseco for the Jaguars this season, and Hunter said he's pushing to have every conference game there next year.
"(The Pacers) want us and we want them, and it's just a matter of working out the dates. Dates are the hardest part. I would have every game in there this year, but we just had very bad dates with the NBA and some of the other things they had in the building," Hunter said.
Scheduling may require using non-traditional days of the week. Summit League teams usually play on Thursday and Saturdays, but IPFW agreed to play the Jags on a Sunday (Jan. 31) to work around other schedules.
Player of the week:
Southern Utah guard Davis Baker matched a career high with 34 points, including 10 in overtime as the Thunderbirds notched their first league win, 85-79 over North Dakota State.
Baker made 13-of-23 shots, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range. He also had five rebounds.
Oakland's Derick Nelson had seven rebounds each in wins over ORU and Centenary and moved into 11th place on the Summit League's career rebounding list. He has 752.
Five of the Summit League's 10 teams are ranked among the nation's top 78 teams in free- throw percentage.
Southern Utah is 11th nationally (.762), followed by Centenary 28th (.745), SDSU 43rd (.735), IUPUI 46th (.732) and Oakland 78th (.718).
1. Oakland (11-7, 5-0):
Don't bet against Grizzlies running the table in conference play.
2. SDSU (9-8, 5-1):
Four-game winning streak is the school's longest at D-I level.
3. IUPUI (11-7, 4-1):
Senior forward Robert Glenn is shooting 55.7 percent from the field.
4. ORU (9-8, 4-2):
Golden Eagles' outside shooting is as chilly as the weather.
5. UMKC (8-7, 2-2):
Kangaroos have surpassed their 2008-09 win total (seven).
6. NDSU (5-10, 2-3):
Defending champs have had a hard time winning at home.
7. Centenary (6-10, 2-4):
Are marking time until drop to D-III level in two years.
8. IPFW (6-9, 1-4):
Senior forward Deilvez Yearby has scored in double figures in every game.
9. Southern Utah (5-11, 1-4):
T-Birds still searching for their first road win of season.
10. Western Illinois (6-9, 0-5):
Leathernecks lead league in defense, last in offense.
GAME OF THE WEEK
ORU at IUPUI
A battle of contenders is on tap as the Eagles invade Conesco Fieldhouse in Indianapols.
ORU was picked to finish second and IUPUI third in the league's preseason poll.
The Jaguars slumped last year when George Hill bolted for the NBA, but they're back in a big way. They lead the Summit League in scoring (74.3 points), overall shooting (.491) and 3-point percentage (.411).
Coach Ron Hunter has veteran role players surrounding senior forward Robert Glenn, who averages 18 points and 6.5 rebounds.