THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
Thursday, Feb. 20
* Omaha at South Dakota 8 p.m. (Midco Sports Net/Fox College Sports (Central))
* Western Illinois at Denver 9 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22
* Fort Wayne at IUPUI 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
* South Dakota St. at North Dakota St. 3 p.m. (MeTV Fargo)
* Western Illinois at South Dakota 5 p.m. (Midco Sports Net/Fox College Sports (Central))
* Omaha at Denver 8 p.m. (ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain)
* Summit League game
All times Eastern
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
Thursday, Feb. 13
* IUPUI 59, Denver 49
* Fort Wayne 75, South Dakota 69
* North Dakota State 56, Western Illinois 52
* South Dakota State 77, Omaha 60
Saturday, Feb. 15
* South Dakota 71, IUPUI 67
* North Dakota State 75, Omaha 59
* Denver 73, Fort Wayne 62
* South Dakota State 62, Western Illinois 50
* Summit League game
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Taylor Braun, North Dakota State
25.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.5 spg, 68.0 FG%, 62.5 3FG%
Nov. 11 CJ Carter, G Omaha
Mitch Patton, C IUPUI
Nov. 18 Luis Jacobo, F Fort Wayne
Nov. 25 Taylor Braun, G North Dakota State
Dec. 2 Jordan Dykstra, F South Dakota State
Dec. 9 Chris Udofia, F, Denver
Dec. 16 Marshall Bjorklund, F North Dakota State
Brett Olson, G Denver
Dec. 23 Taylor Braun, G North Dakota State
Dec. 30 John Karhoff, F Omaha
Jan. 6 Garret Covington, F Western Illinois
Jan. 13 Luis Jacobo, F Fort Wayne
Jan. 21 Taylor Braun, G North Dakota State
Jan. 27 Pierre Bland, G Fort Wayne
Taylor Braun, G North Dakota State
Feb. 3 Jordan Dykstra, F South Dakota State
Feb. 10 Brett Olson, G Denver
Feb. 17 Taylor Braun, G North Dakota State
COLLEGEINSIDER.COM LOU HENSON AWARD PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dec. 16 Marshall Bjorklund, F North Dakota State
THE SUMMIT LEAGUE BY THE NUMBERS
.562 | Winning percentage vs. traditional Mid-Major teams '10-11 to present
2/3 | Current players on NBA rosters / Number of NBA Draft picks since 2008
4 | All-time highest ranking for a Summit League team in the Mid-Major Top 25
(North Dakota State 2/17)
9 | Summit League's non-conference schedule strength ranking as of Feb. 18 (RPIratings.com)
10 | Record number of former Summit Leaguers in the NBA or D-League during the 2013-14 season
14 | All-time best Summit League ranking on RPIratings (Jan. '14) & Sagarin Ratings (current)
76.3 | National-best combined free throw percentage in league games
THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The college basketball world's best kept secret the past few seasons, The Summit League has been flying "under the radar" when it comes to achievements that place it firmly among the most-discussed "Mid-Major" conferences ...
Current rankings and preseason expectations illustrate The Summit League's strength:
• As of Feb. 18, The Summit League continued to hold an all-time best position in the USA Today Sagarin Ratings (14th). The Summit League also spent most of January occupying a record No. 14 spot in RPIratings.com and North Dakota State reached a league high at No. 24 during the first week of 2014.
• The Mid-Major Top 25 preseason poll marked the first time multiple Summit League teams concurrently occupied top-10 positions with North Dakota State's at No. 6, the league's highest spot in 15 years of the poll, and Denver at No. 9, making the league one of three with multiple top-10 squads. NDSU has ascended to an all-time league high No. 4 position in this week's poll while Fort Wayne reached its highest Mid-Major ranking in history at No. 19 in the Feb. 3 poll.
• Denver (No. 5) and North Dakota State (No. 7) made The Summit League one of two leagues with multiple top-10 teams in NBCSports.com's preseason Mid-Major Power Rankings.
> RPI GAINS
In a "snapshot" of the past five full seasons (2009-13), The Summit League has made a +8 net gain in RPI rankings, placing 27-26-21-16-19 during that span. Using the present RPI (as of Feb. 18), that jump would be an astounding +11 over six seasons. The league's RPI accomplishments include:
• The nation's 4th-best RPI ranking improvement (+4) since 2009-10
• Consecutive top-20 RPI finishes (2012 and 2013) for the first time
• Achieving multiple top-100 teams in consecutive years and in three of the past four seasons
> MEASURING UP AGAINST ITS PEERS
The Summit League has more than "held its own" against traditional mid-majors in recent history while compiling a(n):
• .572 winning percentage over the past three seasons (2011-13)
• League-record .500+ winning percentage in each of the past four seasons since 2009-10
• All-time best .620 clip during the 2011-12 campaign
> TOURNAMENT SUCCESS
The Summit League Basketball Championships continue to build a reputation as one of the nation's best mid-major tournament environments with highlights including:
• Nation's 2nd-highest increase (tie) in average tournament attendance ranking (+7) since 2010
• League records for total (m/w) attendance (44,868) and men's attendance (23,710) in 2013
• Ranked 12th of 31 conference tournaments for average attendance each of past two seasons
• 3rd among traditional mid-majors and 6th outside "power six" for average attendance in '12 & '13
• League's top-five total (m/w) attendance figures were achieved in the five seasons in Sioux Falls
• Playing league-record 6th consecutive tournament in Sioux Falls in 2013
• Moving into new 12,000-seat, $115 million Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls in '14
Selected in voting by coaches, SIDs and media
Rank School (1st-place votes) Pts.
1. North Dakota State (25) 305
2. Denver (3) 260
3. South Dakota State 233
4. Western Illinois 161
5. Omaha 130
6. Fort Wayne 120
7. South Dakota 102
8. IUPUI 81
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Taylor Braun, North Dakota State
Lawrence Alexander G North Dakota State
Marshall Bjorklund F North Dakota State
Taylor Braun G North Dakota State
Jordan Dykstra F South Dakota State
Justin Simmons G Omaha
Chris Udofia F Denver
Trevor Gruis C South Dakota
Luis Jacobo F Fort Wayne
Adam Link F Western Illinois
Brett Olson G Denver
Mitch Patton C IUPUI
South Dakota State's Jordan Dykstra is one of 10 national finalists for the men's basketball Senior CLASS Award, presented to the top senior student-athlete with notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. Fan balloting through March 24 at seniorclassaward.com counts for 1/3 of the total with the remaining 2/3 determined by NCAA Division I coaches and national media.
For the second straight season, South Dakota State's Brayden Carlson and Jordan Dykstra both earned Capital One Academic All-District honors. Carlson, who posted a 3.94 GPA in economics, and Dykstra, with a 3.71 GPA in biology/pre-dentistry, are eligible for Academic All-America selection. Two Summit League players have won the Academic All-American of the Year award - Green Bay's Tony Bennett (1992) and North Dakota State's Brett Winkelman (2009).
The Summit League has four of its eight teams ranked among the NCAA's top 31 free throw shooting squads (as of Feb. 17). IUPUI (14th) and South Dakota State (15th) are both among the nation's top 20 at 75.9 percent. Omaha (not included because of NCAA reclassification) would be tied for fourth at 77.2 and give the league five teams in the top 35. Individually, Denver's Brett Olson ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 93.4 percent free throw clip and leads a group of four Summit Leaguers in the top 100. As a whole, Summit League teams are shooting a national-best 76.3 percent from the charity stripe in league play this season.
MODEL OF EFFICIENCY
Through Feb. 9, The Summit League ranks first or second in four KenPom.com statistical categories: free throw percentage (1st at 76.3), effective field goal percentage (2nd at 52.9), three-point field goal percentage (2nd at 37.4) and two-point field goal percentage (2nd at 51.4). The Summit League held the top spot in four KenPom.com statistical categories for league games in each of the past two seasons. Below is a comparison of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 KenPom ranks:
Efficiency 106.0 in '12-13 (107.3 in '11-12) 3P% 37.4 in '12-13 (37.9 in '11-12)
Effective FG% 53.1 in '12-13 (52.9 in '11-12) 2P% 51.5 in '12-13 (51.1 in '11-12)
The Summit League features some of the nation's top marksmen. North Dakota State's Marshall Bjorklund is the NCAA's active career leader (as of Feb. 17) with a .656 field goal percentage, .028 ahead of second-place. Among active D-I players, Denver's Brett Olson is second with a .929 free throw percentage. South Dakota State's Jordan Dykstra is eighth with a .444 career three-point percentage while Olson is t-13th at .439.
THE COMPANY THAT YOU KEEP ...
As of Feb. 17, North Dakota State's Marshall Bjorklund ranks fourth on the all-time NCAA Division I field goal percentage list. His 65.6 percent clip places him ahead of NCAA legends Bill Walton (65.1), Lew Alcindor (63.9) and Akeem Olajuwon (63.9).
THIS AND THAT
The Summit League has at least one victory against teams from 18 of 20 traditional mid-majors conferences played this season and a .500+ winning percentage against 13 of those conferences ... North Dakota State has five career 1,000-point scorers on it roster ... Seven of the eight Summit League schools have earned a Player of the Week award in '13-14 ... At 5'4", Denver guard Charles Webb is the shortest player in college basketball … Fort Wayne features the two heaviest players in The Summit League in Steve Forbes (295 lbs.) and Brent Calhoun (280 lbs.) … North Dakota State's Taylor Braun has accounted for three of the league's top five scoring performances this season.
For the sixth consecutive season, The Summit League is holding its annual "Food Fight" initiative. Each of the eight member institutions designates a home game to collect food and/or cash donations. IUPUI (Nov. 12), Fort Wayne (Jan. 11), Omaha (Jan. 25), Denver (Jan. 30), South Dakota (Feb. 1), South Dakota State (Feb. 8) and Western Illinois (Feb. 13) are complete with North Dakota State (Feb. 22) still on the schedule. Last season's effort combined to raise over 64,580 pounds of food with SDSU claiming the title with a high-total of 22,500 lbs.
IN THE ASSOCIATION
A record 10 former Summit Leaguers are on NBA or D-League rosters this season, led by the 2008 and 2013 Summit League Players of the Year in the NBA. Former first round pick George Hill (IUPUI '08) is in his third season as a starter for the Indiana Pacers while 2013 second-rounder Nate Wolters (South Dakota State '13) started seven of his first nine games for the Milwaukee Bucks. When their teams played Nov. 15, both Hill and Wolters were in the starting lineup and it marked the first NBA meeting of Summit League draft picks since the 1992-93 season. In the D-League, former Fort Wayne standout Frank Gaines, selected with the first pick in the second round of the 2013 Draft, joined Damen Bell-Holter, Moses Ehambe, Ron Howard, Trey McKinney Jones, Larry Owens, and Charlie Westbrook on January's active rosters. Reggie Hamilton played in the D-League earlier this season, bringing the Summit total to eight.
Half of The Summit League's eight current members will be playing in new or drastically renovated basketball facilities over the next few seasons. The Summit League Basketball Championships will also move into a new venue, Sioux Falls' Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, a $115-million, 12,000-seat facility, beginning in 2015. A snapshot of facility enhancements across the league and scheduled openings:
• IUPUI (opening in 2014): Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, currently undergoing a $63-million renovation that will provide a 6,841-seat facility.
• North Dakota State (TBA): Plans to begin renovation of the Bison Sports Complex site that will be replaced by the Sanford Health Athletic Complex including the new 5,945-seat Scheels Center for basketball.
• Omaha (2015): The new UNO Community Arena, an $81.3-million project that will result in a 205,000 square foot facility with seating for approximately 7,500 spectators for basketball.
• South Dakota (2016): The new Sports Performance Enhancement Facility includes a 6,000-seat arena for basketball as part of a $58.8-million multiple-building project.
North Dakota State made history with its 73-69 victory at Notre Dame on Dec. 11. The Bison recorded their first victory over a "power conference" team and only the second Summit League road win over an ACC foe. The triumph was the first by any Summit League team (including Mid-Continent Conference era) over Notre Dame.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
The Summit League Basketball Championships will be played at Sioux Falls Arena for the final time in 2014 before moving into the neighboring brand-new Denny Sanford PREMIER Center the following season. The venerable arena, called a "classic barn" by ESPN, has been home to the league's record-setting tournaments from 2009-present. Memories from coaches, players, media and fans involved in the event are being collected for publication in March. A sampling of comments about the tournament atmosphere include:
• "For one week in Sioux Falls, we take an old-fashioned 50-plus year old arena and turn it into a heart-pounding, memory-making basketball wonderland." – Mike Huether, Sioux Falls Mayor
• "Very few mid-majors attract those kind of attendance numbers and excitement." - Terry Vandrovec, Sioux Falls Argus-Leader
• "The Sioux Falls Arena has the feel of a 'Hoosiers' movie to me ... When full, it's hard to find a more basketball-thrilling type of atmosphere." – Jeff Kolpack, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
While facing the nation's ninth-strongest non-conference schedule (2/18 RPIratings.com) this season, Summit League teams were on the short end of numerous close games. Of the league's losses ....
• 6 (10.2 percent of league total) have been by one point
• 11 (18.6 percent) by one possession (3 points or less)
• 17 (28.9 percent) were decided by five points or fewer
• 17 (28.9 percent) saw league teams leading at halftime
• 17 (28.9 percent) saw league teams hold leads in the final five minutes
ORU RETURNS TO THE SUMMIT
Oral Roberts University becomes The Summit League's ninth full-time member in 2014-15. A member of the Mid-Continent Conference/Summit League from 1997-2012, ORU won six regular season men's basketball championships and three tournament titles. The Golden Eagles most successful run came from 2004-08 when they won four consecutive regular season crowns and three straight tournament titles (2006-08). During its 15 years in The Summit League, ORU won nine Commissioner Cups, awarded to the league's top overall athletics program, 91 league championships and 49 regular season crowns.
CRADLE OF COACHES
Four former Summit League men's basketball standouts serve as Division I head coaches: Tony Bennett (Virginia), Bryce Drew (Valparaiso), Jim Les (UC Davis) and Greg McDermott (Creighton). The quartet, who all played when the league was known as the Mid-Continent Conference, have a 66-37 (.641) combined record through Feb. 16 after ending the 2012-13 season with a 91-45 (.669) record. Both Drew and McDermott coached in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
THE NAME GAME
In three decades of Division I basketball, The Summit League has produced several recognizable names through its history. Among them are ...
• Dick Bennett: Successful head coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin and Washington State
• Tony Bennett: Academic All-American of the Year, former NBA player, current Virginia head coach
• Bryce Drew: Synonymous with "The Shot" in the 1998 NCAA Tournament, former NBA player and current Valparaiso head coach
• Homer Drew: Legendary head coach at Valparaiso and former Director of Athletics
• Kevin Duckworth: 11-year NBA center and two-time all-star selection
• Winston Garland: Seven-year NBA point guard for five different teams
• Jim Les: Seven-year NBA sharpshooter, former Bradley head coach and current UC Davis head coach
• Ken "Mouse" McFadden: All-America guard led "Cinderella" Cleveland State to Sweet 16 in 1986
• Charlie Spoonhour: Colorful former head coach at Missouri State, Saint Louis and UNLV
Tony Bennett, Bryce and Homer Drew, and Kevin Duckworth joined Keith Benson, Caleb Green and George Hill on The Summit League's list of Top 30 Distinguished Contributors as selected during the 30th Anniversary season in 2011-12.
POINTS OF PRIDE
The Summit League continues a successful renaissance with unprecedented achievement by its student-athletes, coaches and administrators. Among these recent "points of pride" are:
• Five NCAA individual National Championships and six NCAA statistical titles in the past two years
• Student-athletes selected for the NCAA's most prestigious honor, the Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, and the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award in 2012-13
• A No. 10 national conference ranking for women's track and field, an all-time best RPI in any sport with a No. 12 volleyball ranking, highest-ever softball RPI ranking (18th) and consecutive men's basketball top-20 RPI finishes for the first time during 2012-13 seasons
• A total of 50 Academic All-Americans and 39 teams that received NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) honors since 2007
• Alumni currently competing in MLB, the NBA, MLS and PGA Tour and seven Olympians who competed at the 2012 London Games
THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
In its fourth decade of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at eight institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions, 62 All-Americans and 50 Academic All-America selections. For more information about the league and its history, visit www.thesummitleague.org or follow on Twitter @thesummitleague.
REFERENCING THE SUMMIT
Preferred references for each of the eight Summit League institutions are as follows:
DENVER PIONEERS (also: University of Denver, DU)
unacceptable: Denver University
FORT WAYNE MASTODONS (also: IPFW, Dons)
unacceptable: Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne
IUPUI JAGUARS (also: Jags)
NORTH DAKOTA STATE BISON (also: NDSU)
say it: BI-zun
unacceptable: ND State, N. Dakota St., Bisons
OMAHA MAVERICKS (also: UNO, Mavs)
unacceptable: Neb.-Omaha, UNOmaha, UN-Omaha
SOUTH DAKOTA COYOTES (also: USD, Yotes)
say it: KI-yotes
unacceptable: S. Dakota
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE JACKRABBITS (also: SDSU, Jacks)
unacceptable: S.D. State, Rabbits
WESTERN ILLINOIS FIGHTING LEATHERNECKS
(also WIU, Leathernecks)
unacceptable: W. Illinois, Necks, Westerwinds
THE SUMMIT LEAGUE (also Summit League)
unacceptable: Summit Conference
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The Summit League features the NCAA's most unique collection of one-of-a-kind nicknames among its member institutions. Within U.S. college athletics, three names are exclusively held by Summit League schools: Mastodons (Fort Wayne), Jackrabbits (South Dakota State) and Leathernecks (Western Illinois). In addition, the name Coyotes (South Dakota) is unique to NCAA Division I athletics. The story behind the origin of each member institution's name and its mascot can be found on the "What's in a Name?" section of thesummitleague.org.
Follow The Summit League via its three official Twitter accounts:
@summithoops (men's and women's basketball)
@summitchamps (sport championships)