This post is part of The Arena Pulse’s 2011-2012 Season Preview. For other previews, go to the ’11-12 Season Preview page.
As college basketball turns the page into another new season, The Arena Pulse will examine and predict some of the things to watch within the various conferences across the nation.
Let’s take a look at the Summit League:
Defending Tournament Champion: Oakland
Top Returning Scorer: Alex Young (IUPUI, 19.7 ppg)
Oakland’s Keith Benson has moved onto the NBA, but the Grizzlies still have enough talent to defend their Summit League regular season and tournament titles.
Reggie Hamilton, who averaged 17.6 points per game last year, will be joined in the back court this season by Travis Bader, Blake Cushingberry, and Michigan transfer Laval Lucas-Perry. As the squad will transition to a more guard-oriented approach in 2011-12, Oakland will likely have to figure out a way to slow down Oral Roberts front line, if they have the hopes of returning to the Big Dance.
Oral Roberts is loaded up front, highlighted by forward Dominique Morrison who is coming off a season in which he averaged 19.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest. Morrison is joined down low by Damen Bell-Holter, Steven Roundtree, and Michael Craion.
Player of the Year candidate Nate Wolters is the motor that makes South Dakota State go. Wolters averaged 19.5 points per game last season, while also dishing out a league-high 6.1 assists per contest. Wolters will be the focal point for the Jackrabbits, as they hope to break into the top half of the conference in 2011-12.
The Summit League showcases quite the plethora of elite scorers, from Wolters to Morrison to Hamilton. However, all three of the aformentioned scorers were looking up at IUPUI’s Alex Young a season ago, after the guard averaged 19.7 points per game. Young will be the key for the Jaguars who will turn to former assistant Todd Howard as their new head man in 2011-12.
This season will be the final year for Southern Utah in the Summit League, as the Thunderbirds are set to make the switch to the Big Sky. The league will welcome in Nebraska-Omaha, who is moving up from Division II. The move will become effective in 2012-13.
Breaking News: Oral Roberts announced on Tuesday that this would be their final season in the Summit League. The university will make the switch to the Southland Conference in July. ORU will be in search of a Summit League title in their final season in the league.
Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Oral Roberts
3. South Dakota State
6. North Dakota State
7. Southern Utah
9. South Dakota
10. Western Illinois
The Arena Pulse Preseason Player of the Year:
Dominique Morrison (Oral Roberts)
The Arena Pulse Preseason All-Summit League First Team:
G Nate Wolters (South Dakota State)
G Reggie Hamilton (Oakland)
F Alex Young (IUPUI)
F Dominique Morrison (Oral Roberts)
C Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts)
*Photo: Dominique Morrison *Credit: usatoday.com
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