Summit League Tournament at Denny Sanford PREMIER Center: Great for Fans, Not so Great for Shooters
By all accounts, the numbers coming out of the Summit League Tournament's first residency in the new Denny Sanford PREMIER Center were staggering: eight of the event's sessions set all-time records with the conference, and the overall totals for the men's and women's tournaments were the best the Summit League has ever seen.
In fact, when it comes to the women's tournament, so far in the 2015 post season, nobody in the country has done it better than Sioux Falls, with the championship game crowd of 6,926 surpassing the totals of this year's ACC, American, and SEC Conference final sessions.
Here's a look at the historic marks reached by this year's three-day event:
Records Set at the 2015 Summit League Tournament
- Men's Quarterfinal Session I (9,773)
- Women's Quarterfinal Session I (8,171)
- Men's Quarterfinal Session II (6,653)
- Men's Quarterfinal Round (16,426)
- Women's Quarterfinal Round (10,765)
- Men's Semifinal Session/Round (10,153)
- Women's Semifinal/Round (6,704)
- Women's Championship Session/Round (6,926)
- Men's Total Tournament (35,612)
- Women's Total Tournament (24,395)
- Combined Men's/Women's Total Tournament (60,007)
But while record numbers of fans embraced the tournament's fancy new home, players from across the Summit League struggled to find their shooting touches in the 12,000 seat venue.
Field goal percentages for teams in both the men's and women's fields were the lowest they've been in the last four years, the previous three events at the Sioux Falls Arena. Women's teams combined to shoot below 40 percent for the first time in the Sioux Falls era of the tournament, while the men had seven different instances in this year's event when a team registered less than 40 percent in a game, something that happened seven times in the three previous tournaments combined.
There are no doubt several factors that may play into those paltry numbers: tournament jitters and increased defensive pressure among them. But it also stands to reason that there will be a learning curve for players in the Summit League to adjust to the Premier Center's shooting backgrounds and atmosphere in the years to come.
Sioux Falls has the event locked up for the next two seasons, with a mutual option between the Summit League and the Sioux Falls Sports Authority to extend the agreement thru at least 2022.
One thing in certain: if fans continue to show up in the numbers they did this year, Summit League players will be firing away at the Premier Center's baskets for a long, long time.