Category Archives: the summit league

summit league tourney roundup.

The Summit League postseason tourneys are underway right now in Sioux Falls, S.D. So far, there haven’t been any surprises. I confess this roundup is rather generic. Forgive me. I am not on the ground in South Dakota to provide you up-close-and-personal coverage of the event. Perhaps next year. For now, here’s the map-of-the-earth view.

Men’s Basketball Bracket
As expected, No. 1 seed South Dakota State put away my IUPUI Jaguars 66-49. The nightcap between No. 2 Western Illinois and No. 7 South Dakota was a bit more dramatic as the Coyotes no doubt enjoyed the comforts of this “neutral” site. The Leathernecks, however, prevailed, beating South Dakota 54-53.

Tonight’s games:
No. 4 Oakland vs. No. 5 Fort Wayne—Normally, I’d say Oakland is the better team, but I think the Mastadons pull off the minor upset. They beat Oakland twice this year already. I know it’s tough to beat a team three times, but I’ve got a feeling about Fort Wayne.

No. 3 North Dakota State vs. No. 6 Kansas City—Ah, the charmed six-seed. Most often, upsets in the Summit tourney happen at the hands of the No. 6 seed. Not this year. Kansas City got its doors blown off twice by the Bison. It’s going to happen a third time.

Women’s Basketball Bracket
No surprises at all on the women’s side of the tournament. Top-seeded South Dakota State beat No. 8 seed Oakland 67-53. My No. 2-seeded IUPUI Jaguars knocked off No. 7 Kansas City 59-47, thanks to stifling defense. Again, no surprises.

Tonight’s games:
No. 4 Fort Wayne vs. No. 5 Western Illinois—I just saw Fort Wayne play last week. They are not the same team without Saule Kontautaite. I expect Western Illinois to pull this one out.

No. 3 South Dakota vs. No. 6 North Dakota State—For the sake of my Jaguars, I hope the Bison get the sixth-seed mojo working and pull out the upset. The Coyotes beat IUPUI twice this year. Worse yet, the “neutral” site. Sure, North Dakota State fans might travel in droves, too, but I like IUPUI’s chances better against the Bison. The Coyotes and Bison split on the season, so this is anyone’s game. The Coyotes match up well against IUPUI, but they’re vulnerable. Here’s to hoping North Dakota State sends the Coyotes packing.

Being There
I’ve been to three conference tournaments. The men’s team reached the championship game twice (2004, 2008). The women reached the championship game once, in 2008. Here’s to hoping the women’s team has two more games (and then some) to play. Of course, my legacy from my tournament junkets is one that you may have seen. I never get tired of sharing it.


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a kind of homecoming in the jungle.

JungleYou can’t always get what you want. Isn’t that how the song goes? That’s become the theme for the long-suffering IUPUI Jaguars men’s basketball team this season. Yesterday’s game against Omaha was one of the worst I’ve seen at home in a long time. Up by 22 points with about four minutes to play in the first half, only to lose by seven, 85-78. That’s a 29-point swing. What’s even more maddening: the Mavericks staged their comeback in about 15 minutes of game time. By the midpoint of the second half, it was up for grabs. With about eight minutes left on the clock, Omaha had the lead for good.

Maddening. Frustrating. Bewildering.

The last time we suffered such a bad loss in a game I felt we should’ve won was two years ago against Southern Utah University. I wrote about it here. The same recipe for disaster as two years ago occurred last night: large, early lead only gets squandered.

Maddening. Frustrating. Bewildering.

About Yesterday’s Game.
It was one of the more enjoyable days in The Jungle, I must say. Thanks to Homecoming festivities, we had an actual student section at the game yesterday. That always makes it more fun. Omaha’s SID, Bonnie, was very nice. But that’s to be expected. In all my years of working with opposing teams—about 15, total, between IU South Bend Titans and the Jags—I’ve only encountered one or two challenging people. The SIDs throughout our conference are always pretty good people.

Omaha’s head coach Derrin Hansen gave the table crew a laugh, too. Early in the second half, after a called timeout, Hansen forgot we’d already taken the under-16:00 media timeout. He kept asking Mike, the clock operator and Joe, official scorekeeper, why we haven’t taken the media timeout yet. We finally clarified with him what time it was taken. About a minute or two later, he leaned over and said, “you’ve got to forgive me, we’re a little slower in Omaha.”

IMG_1964My Day Behind the Mic.
We had one of our best crowds of the season yesterday. It’s always more fun to work in a full house. I had a good voice for most of the first half, although the timeout reads are starting to wear me out. And the eight-minute halftime Homecoming read was a rather tall order. The challenge there is to get through it without sounding like your droning on and on. Though it sounds counterintuitive, the more you try to punch up the announcements, the worse they sound.

A friend of mine who’s had a career in broadcasting and PA announcing gave me a good note yesterday, after the game: slow down. He’s right. He’s dead right. There’s a tendency to want to rush through the reads—especially during the media timeouts—but it’s the best way to screw up.

Heading toward the NCAA regionals next month, I need to focus on slowing down my reads. The in-game stuff doesn’t concern me as much. I feel pretty good about my ability to manage the scorers, fouls and substitutions. I just need to focus on getting a little better with scripted copy.

No, I’m never satisfied with my performance. Ever.

But I did get a rather nice compliment from one of the player’s dads. After introducing the JagBand (where I always include a different title or nickname for the band director, David Copeland), Sean Esposito’s dad introduced himself to me so he could tell me he always gets a laugh out of those intros and looks forward to it every game. It’s always nice to hear folks appreciate when you’re trying to keep it fun. Although it’s getting tougher and tougher to come up with new nicknames for Dave. Yesterday, he was the “pet psychic to the stars.” Because of the long halftime reads, I was unable to get to the second read.

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jaguars wbb roundball roundup: …not even a fair fight; must not look past omaha.

Last night’s IUPUI Jaguars women’s basketball game against former conference rival Chicago State wasn’t even a fair fight. The Jags won 65-30 in a game that could best be described as an in-season scrimmage. No such thing as a bad win, but this game changes nothing in terms of post-season play. They only thing I’m sure Head Coach Austin Parkinson wanted more than a win was no injuries.

A few interesting facts from the game:
* The Jags scored 37 points in the first half alone.
* With 33 combined points, Kerah Nelson and Nicole Rogers outscored the entire Chicago State team.
* Chicago State actually led the game 13-10 in the first half.

Even Nervous Teenagers Score More Often Than This
Chicago State hit a layup with 4:01 remaining in the first half, making the score 33-17. They would add two free throws at :32 before the end of the half…they would not score again until 9:49 in the second half, when the score was 51-21.

When you do the math on that, that means they went 14 minutes and 12 seconds between field goals. Think about that! In real time, that’s close to an hour between baskets. And, not to pile on the Cougars, but if you saw their shot selection and their shooting technique, you wouldn’t be surprised. Many trips down the court, they were just chucking it at the rim, hoping for a miracle.

It’s also fair to point out IUPUI’s team defense is pretty strong.

Take Care of the Ball
If there’s a weakness in the Jags’ game to highlight, it’s turnovers. IUPUI coughed it up 22 times in the game. You can’t get away with that many turnovers in any of the remaining seven conference games.

Speaking of Conference Play
IUPUI is currently in second place by a half game with a 6-3 conference record. Holding onto the #2 seed is important, because it gives you the chance for a day off in the conference tournament. South Dakota State has a 2-1/2 game lead over IUPUI and will the the Jags’ next home opponent on Feb. 14. This game has huge implications for both teams. A Jags win would pretty much seal up any potential tie breakers for the top seed. Before that game, however, IUPUI has to travel to Omaha on Saturday. I’ll spare you my admonitions to beware The Trap Game! But seriously, don’t look past the Mavericks. They’re a pretty strong team at home.

As for league leading South Dakota State, they are in the driver’s seat. With the exception of IUPUI, they’ve already beaten everyone else in the conference at least once. They had a couple close shaves on the road agains Fort Wayne and Kansas City, but the Jackrabbits are not likely to have those problems again. No matter where South Dakota State finishes in the standings, they still enjoy a home court advantage in the “neutral” site of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Games To Watch This Week

  • Fort Wayne at South Dakota State, Thursday, 8 p.m. EST
    Could this be a trap game for the Jackrabbits?
  • IUPUI at Omaha, Saturday, 3 p.m. EST
    Jags are 4-6 on the road this season. A win keeps pressure on SDSU.
  • Kansas at South Dakota, Saturday, 3 p.m. EST
    A KC win only helps IUPUI.
  • Oakland at South Dakota State, Saturday, 8 p.m. EST
    Wishful thinking for Jags fans, but not gonna happen. The Grizzlies will get trounced.

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bad shooting, bad sound & a radio guy with a cold…just another tuesday night in the jungle.

Yes, we were down by six at the half; to an NAIA school.

Yes, we were down by six at the half; to an NAIA school.

It’s been a relatively quiet week or so around the Jungle. But I suppose that’s to be expected when it’s Finals Week. The men’s game last night was, in many ways, a snoozer. Too bad all that sleepwalking nearly led to an epic loss for the home team to an NAIA school that was 4-10 coming into the game. Fortunately, the Jags woke in the second half long enough to dodge a bullet and win 65-59, ending a four-game losing streak.

The good part is Ian Chiles was back in the lineup. The bad part is Mitch Patton is not. IUPUI’s been a band of walking wounded since Game 1.

Once again, the Jungle felt more like a mausoleum tonight. I’m not sure if it’s because of Finals Week or what, but we seem to have lost the touch with our students. We have a few loyal fans who come every game, but they’re the politest fans in the league. What I wouldn’t give to see the Red Zone packed to the rafters with students, jumping, screaming, waving signs and wearing crazy outfits. Where are you guys?!?!

My performance on the mic tonight was not one for the ages. No, nothing bad happened. But when the atmosphere is snoozy, there’s only so much I can do from Press Row to excite the crowd. I think it was just one of those sorts of nights all around. While the team struggled on the court, Press Row was going through the motions.

The man to my left, Jaguars play-by-play man Scott McCauley, was hampered with a cold that limited his normally boisterous voice to a low, death rattle. I can usually hear McCauley’s call pretty clearly all night long, but not this night. I, myself, got over a cold a couple weeks ago, but I’m still fighting with a clogged ear. So I spend my time trying to pop my right ear so I can get a sense of decibels in the Jungle. Add to that our sound system—if ever operating at full capacity would lead me to believe the Mayans were right—and you’ve got a lot of variables that could spell disaster. Or, for us, just another Tuesday night in the Jungle.

The good news is the JagBand sounded good tonight, even though their director ran outta there after the National Anthem like he was being chased. Either way, the band sounded good tonight. I’m going to give credit to the ‘bones. Just because.

The good news—and all that matters—is we got a win tonight.

There’s no such thing as a bad win, right?

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memo to iupui students: own the red zone.

A night in The Jungle, from my seat on Press Row. Empty seats suck. We need to pack the house every night.

For as long as I’ve been working as the PA announcer for IUPUI Jaguars basketball, I’ve longed to see the students really and truly come around and make our home court a raucous joint for games. Our home court, affectionately called The Jungle, is unique in its intimacy. When you’re at a game in The Jungle, you are practically on the court. That means a loud, rowdy environment in the stands is most definitely felt on the floor. And we love our fans when they make their presence known to opposing teams.

Over the years, we’ve had some really special games against our rivals where our students stepped it up. I can think of at least three different games against Oral Roberts, a couple against Valparaiso and maybe one or two against Oakland. But that’s the problem: I can count on my hands the games in the past 12 seasons when students showed their stuff. Bedlam should be the norm, not the exception.

The 2012-13 basketball season is already underway, but it’s not too late for you to be a part of the excitement. Here’s what we need from the students:

1. Ownership. YOU own this program. Not the athletics department or the chancellor’s office. It’s YOU. And you can make a huge difference. On a campus of more than 25,000 students, all we really need is a 2 – 3 percent turnout to make a difference. With 500 of the loudest, rowdiest basketball nuts on campus in The Jungle, I promise you will make a difference. We need the students to own and patrol the Red Zone. We need the students to build, cultivate and grow the on-campus support and pass it to the next generation of students. It’s your Red Zone. Make it happen.

2. Wear the Colors. When you’re in the Red Zone, you must represent by wearing the school colors. The biggest party foul is wearing another school’s logo on your chest. Go to the bookstore and buy a Jags T-shirt and wear it to the game.

3. Let ‘Em Have It. This is NCAA D-I college basketball, not a golf tournament. Your team is playing for a shot at getting to The Big Dance. Your role as a fan is to make some noise. My advice: steal ideas from other schools. Watch a Duke game some time. What are the Cameron Crazies doing? Emulate that. There’s no shame in “borrowing.” You’re only in college once, so you won’t have many more opportunities to dress and act like this in public. Take advantage of that.

Bottom line: we need the Red Zone to be the loudest, nuttiest bunch of knuckleheads in the building. Whatever you do, the rest of the fans will feed off your energy. The team will feed off your energy. We already have a Pep Band, cheerleaders and a pretty fun basketball team. All that’s missing is you, students. The next men’s home game is Tuesday, 11 December vs. IU Northwest at 7:30 p.m. This is another warm-up before the conference schedule begins. Consider this a dress rehearsal. We need you there.

Your team will be there. Will you?

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march madness™ for the summit league.

The Summit League sent five men’s basketball teams and four women’s basketball teams to postseason play this year. According to the league, that’s some kind of record. South Dakota State (NCAA D-I), Oral Roberts (NIT), Oakland (, North Dakota State (College Basketball Invitational) and Western Illinois (College Basketball Invitational) all extended their seasons at least one more game.

On the women’s side, South Dakota State (NCAA D-I), South Dakota (WNIT), UMKC (WNIT) and Oral Roberts (WNIT) made it to postseason play.

Pretty impressive.

How are we doing so far? The women haven’t played yet. On the men’s side, not so hot: 1-3 (South Dakota State hasn’t played yet).

On the men’s side, Oakland beat Bowling Green 86-69 in its opening round game of the Postseason Tournament. They’re up again on Saturday vs. Toledo at home. Should be a good crowd in Oakland for that one.

Oral Roberts, who were shellshocked to lose in the second round to Western Illinois, were still in a daze when they faced Nevada this week. They lost 68-59. Bye-bye, ORU. We won’t miss you.

How about our CBI teams? North Dakota State and Western Illinois? How’d they do? Not so hot. North Dakota State lost by a point, 76-75 to Wyoming and the Leathernecks got stomped by Oregon State, 80-59.

The conference tournament champions South Dakota State has a tough draw in the opening round of the Big Dance™, taking on Baylor on Thursday. Sorry, Jackalopes, but I don’t see you beating Baylor. Incidentally, there’s a Summit League connection in this game. Baylor is coached by former Valparaiso head coach Scott Drew. He was the middle Drew to coach Valpo between Homer and Bryce. When will they officially change their name to the Valpo Drews? I digress.

It’s good to see the Summit League getting a little postseason love this time of year. It’s only disappointing for my IUPUI Jaguars because Ron Hunter coached at least two or three teams that were deserving of postseason play and never got the chance. The takeaway is, moving forward, the Jags will have plenty of opportunities to showcase their talents in the coming years. Of course, they’re going to need to have a significantly better season than they did this year. The Summit League is not and probably never will be a two-bid conference for the Big Dance. But that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve more looks for NIT.

Any conference team hoping to extend their season into mid-March is going to have to do a few things:
* Post a winning record
* Challenge for the regular season championship
* Advance to the conference championship game

You can already put it in cement that South Dakota State and Oakland will be odds-on favorites to make it to a postseason tournament. Western Illinois, North Dakota State, IUPUI, IPFW and South Dakota will have to step up their games to prove they can challenge those top two teams to have a chance.

Here’s to the future.

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