by Michael Hadley
The Summit League is a crazy place to be for a basketball fan. Not only do things never really go as they seem they should, every week is like an experience within itself. Teams and players you expect to flop come from 18 points down, and guys that are due for a monster week fade away into the obscurity that is the so-called Badlands Conference.
So who started off the year right? What team impressed us the most? Who flopped? Check it out in this year’s first installment of the Student On Sports Weekly Awards!
Student On Sports Weekly Awards: Week 1, 11/11-11/17
Individual Performance of the Week: Southern Utah's Damon Heuir vs. Bryant
33 points (13-16 FG; 2-2 FT; 5-8 3P), 3 R, 2 A, 1 B, 1.9 PPWS
Yes, Nate Wolters had a great game against Western Michigan, but who would’ve seen this kind of game coming from Damon Heuir? Or anyone outside of Wolters, Alex Young, and a handful Golden Eagles? Heuir stepped up huge, missing three times all night, all of which came from behind the arc. The kid shot 96.9 percent overall, and scored just shy of two points every time he put a shot up. If he can have a couple more games like that through league competition, SUU could be much more dangerous than people have previously thought.
Team of the Week: North Dakota State
W vs. San Francisco 73-65; W vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 78-58; W vs. Northern Arizona 70-58; W vs. Green Bay 65-61
One could absolutely argue that the 4-0 start is less impressive because of who the Bison defeated, but looking at a few key stats will tell you the whole story. NDSU is +4.25 in the turnover margin through four games, whereas five of the ten Summit League teams are under “even”. The Bison, a short but fast team in years prior, are blocking 4.3 shots per game, and they also nabbed a whopping 8.0 steals and managed 14.8 assists per game. They won one up-tempo game (77 possessions vs. San Francisco), won one slow tempo game (60 possessions vs. Northern Arizona), and won two mid-pace games (70 and 68 possessions vs. Louisiana-Lafayette and Green Bay respectively). Could this be the second coming of the Bison?
Best Victory: North Dakota State 73-65 San Francisco
Last year the Dons took IUPUI down to the last shot in Las Vegas, and this year their only loss came in the opener against NDSU. Taylor Braun, a sophomore guard for the Bison, put up 26 points in the effort, adding 10 rebounds, three assists and five steals in 33 minutes on the floor. The win kick started NDSU’s season, and is easily the best victory for any Summit League team this year.
Worst Defeat: Texas-San Antonio 78-77 Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts had a serious chance to defeat future Southland foe Texas-San Antonio, but they couldn’t keep Roadrunner senior Sei Paye from getting the game winning shot off at the buzzer. Scott Sutton’s crew has a giant bulls-eye on their front from Southland teams like UTSA and on their back by Summit League teams, and I can assure you this isn’t the kind of start he was envisioning. After failing miserably at an attempt to upset West Virginia, his boys dropped this one, allowing UTSA to shoot 55 percent from the floor (44 percent from deep), and they couldn’t capitalize on 14 Roadrunner turnovers – probably because they had 15 of their own. Sutton desperately needs Damien Bell-Holter to recover from his back injury before games like Missouri State, Oklahoma, Gonzaga, Xavier… well, you get the idea.
What’s to come in the Summit League? Can Oral Roberts right the ship? Will Oakland figure out the right balance between their young bigs and experiences guards? Will Damon Heuir continue his success and lead the Thunderbirds to glory in their final Summit League season? Follow along with us on twitter at @CampusCitizen, and right here on IUPUICampusCitizen.com!