The 2015-16 season saw the Summit League set records in postseason teams and conference tournament attendance, as the league had possibly its most competitive year ever.
In the final part of our conference breakdown, we'll take a look at the three teams in the bottom third that will look to improve their fortunes in the 2016-17 season.
The 2015-16 season for Oral Roberts was a disappointment based on its past success. The Golden Eagles finished the year with a record of 14-17 (6-10 in conference), which was the program's first season under .500 since 2000-01. That was Scott Sutton's first season patrolling the sidelines, which goes to show the level of consistency that he's built at the program.
One of the few bright spots for ORU was the play of senior guard Obi Emegano. He ended his collegiate career with his best season to date, leading the conference in scoring with 23.1 points per game (t-eighth in the country) and posted a career high of 5.1 rebounds per game. He was named to the First Team All-Summit League for the second straight year, and finished in the top 10 in program history in multiple offensive categories.
In order to get back above .500 next season, the Golden Eagles will have to find new sources of offense. Omegano was the only player to average double-digit scoring last season, and no one played more than 25 minutes per game. Albert Owens and Jalen Bradley will likely be the biggest beneficiaries of an increased workload, but a more balanced offensive attack might be what it takes to get Oral Roberts back to the top of the standings.
In Craig Smith's second season as head coach, the Coyotes took a step in the wrong direction. They followed up a 17-16 (9-7, fourth in conference) season by dropping back to 14-18 (5-11, 8th) in 2015-16. South Dakota struggled on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 79.3 points per game (325th of 351).
The Coyotes wielded a balanced scoring attack with six players averaging between 8.3 and 13.2 points per game. Their up-tempo style didn't always yield an optimal efficiency, coming in at 1.024 points per possession (161st of 351). South Dakota will need to get more out of its possessions next season if it hopes to break into the top half of the conference. The Coyotes are losing 41.1 points per game due to players graduating and will need to have some guys step into bigger roles.
Possibly Western Illinois's only bright spot of the season came on opening night The Leathernecks made the trek to the Kohl Center and knocked off the 17th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on their home floor. The Badgers are known for rarely, if ever, losing at home, and to have a mid-major knock them off was one of the big November surprises in college basketball. The Leathernecks followed that up with four consecutive wins, but would only win five more games after that.
Ever since taking over the head coaching job in 2014, Bill Wright has struggled to make the program competitive in the Summit League; back-to-back 3-13 showings in conference play has left a lot to be desired for the Leathernecks.
To make matters worst, nine of Western Illinois' 13 conference losses came by double digits, showing exactly how far the Leathernecks have to go before they can compete.