A season from hell for the Mavericks comes down to one final weekend.

If you’ve been paying attention, and based on the attendance numbers, you haven’t been, you’d see that the Omaha Mavericks and Denver Pioneers will be in a fight for the 8th and final spot in the Summit League tournament.

It’s been incredibly difficult to pay attention to sports over the last year. Without fans every sporting event has looked like watching a practice.

I’d say with confidence that my level of knowledge and interest of the Summit League is probably in the top 1% of people, but with all the games being played on Fridays and Saturdays and roughly at the same time, it’s been difficult to keep track of everything going on in the league. It has not helped that the Mavericks men’s basketball team has had a season from hell. The team started the season with perhaps the most depth in the Summit League, but injuries have plagued this team all season to lead to just a 3 win season, entering the last week of the season. Only 3 Mavericks have played in every game this season.

It’s obviously been a bad season for the Mavericks. I mean, any season you have less wins than Nebraska is going to be a bad year. Injuries have limited…well, just about everyone. The injuries have given opportunities for more minutes…well, everyone else. Sorry to get so technical with all the jargon there.

Ross Ferrarini (I think I spelled that right? Hell, let’s just call him McLovin), Jadin Booth, and La’Mel Robinson have each received more playing time than any of them expected this season, McLovin expected none before the NCAA declared eligibility to be a free for all program, and that experience will help them with confidence and other ways as their careers continue. Again, sorry for all the jargon. With Sam’i Roe, Zach Thornhill, Marlon Ruffin (hopefully all) healthy next season, their minutes should go down next season, but hopefully be more important minutes.

Freshmen Booth and Robinson already appear to have a good chemistry on the court together. They should be a deadly backcourt in the conference in a couple seasons.

Anyway, the Mavericks have got a final chance to get themselves into the Summit League tournament with a weekend showdown with Denver. Unfortunately, the Mavericks are on the road for this. Jace Townsend dropped 32 points against the Mavericks last season in Denver, before eventually going scoreless in Omaha. The Pioneers are not as an experienced basketball team as the Mavericks, and it will really be up to seniors Matt Pile and Ayo Akinwole to carry this team this weekend. This is their last chance, and everything is riding on them as their other fellow expected stars will not be playing with them. Fortunately for the Mavericks, the Pioneers do not really have a big man who can shoot and stretch the floor, which is something the Mavericks have struggled against all season…they struggled with a lot of things, but stretch 4s just killed them all year.

It’s also possible the Pioneers players dislike Rodney Billups and don’t want to play for him anymore, so maybe the Mavericks players will just want this more.

Can we act like we’ve been here before?

I’m not really sure what to say about the first week of college basketball. The Mavericks averaged over 20 turnovers in their first three games of the season and shot 18% on threes. Marlon Ruffin was a stud, though, and Matt Pile shot 100% from the free throw line, so at least there was that.

Either way, after starting the season 1-2, the Mavericks will be coming home to not play at home. The Mavericks finally get exactly what they’ve wanted ever since transitioning to division one, and that is playing the Creighton Bluejays.

I didn’t know much about the Mavericks’ Thanksgiving weekend opponents, hopefully they were just super good at defense and that’s why the Mavericks turned the ball over so much and shot so terribly on threes.

I also, honestly don’t know that much about Creighton, anymore. I’m aware they still have Marcus Zegarowski and Mitch Ballock, who is super freaking nice. I grew up liking Creighton basketball, but lately they’ve been like that ex you’re trying to forget. It’s pretty hard to forget about Creighton since I live across the street from their campus, but I’m trying.

Creighton’s only game this season was beating North Dakota State by 11. A month ago I was thinking the Mavericks were 11 points better than the Bison, but there is no way the Mavericks could beat the Bison while turning the ball over 21 times.

Either way, pretty great that this is finally happening and none of us get to go. Much of us probably won’t even get to see the beginning of the game because we’ll be at work or on our way home from work. I work from home, and it rules.

At least it’s here, we can talk about it, and then move onto bitching about Nebraska not wanting to play the Mavericks.

Can we at least act like we’ve been here before? We literally haven’t been, but can just pretend?

Creighton fans find Maverick fans to be super whiney about not playing them, and yeah we’re a little whiney about it. In our defense, we don’t really think it’s a rivalry the Mavericks could dominate we just find it stupid to not play an opponent from a campus 5 miles away.

I was going this big spiel about how to act around Creighton fans at this particular event, but I think that was just me hoping we’d be allowed to go. I live downtown, and the downtown area obviously faced a lot in the year 2020. There were events that took place, and I thought of discussing them here several times, but I don’t believe I’m the one to pontificate about them.

Either way, the restaurants downtown are hurting, especially the restaurants on the north end of downtown. Several of them rely on Creighton events. I work for one of the restaurants one night a week, and several members of the staffs are struggling with the restrictions and loss of hours.

If you’re looking to go out and watch the game, please do it responsibly, and consider going to the restaurants on the north end of downtown – particularly Blatt Beer & Table, Hook & Lime, Old Mattress Factory, and TSR. With the loss of the World Series, Olympic Swim Trials, Creighton baseball, Big 10 Baseball tournament, and other events those employees have lost out on thousands of dollar this year.

They could really use your help, and I am positive their staffs would love to talk to you about Creighton or Omaha basketball.

The Mavericks have some things working for them for an uncertain season

The 2020-2021 college basketball season could be the weirdest in the history of weird seasons. I know you’ve been looking around for that analysis, and I’m glad you stopped here for it. This might be the season the Mavericks have been waiting for, though.

As the Mavericks first became eligible for the post season back in 2015, Derrin Hansen was asked what the future looked like for the Mavericks. To paraphrase, Hansen said they’d look about the same as they did but longer and more athletic, since their recruiting was getting stronger with the hopes of playing for post season play. They’re longer, more athletic, deeper, and more versatile, and the roster Hansen has been pining for.

Perfect roster for…well a year that is the opposite of perfect.

Typically, once the Summit League conference schedule is released, I go through the entire schedule and simulate games over and over again based on different scenarios and factors to come up with a Summit League rankings. That’s fairly pointless, but I’ve got spare time. This seemed like it would have been more pointless this season, as there is going to be so many distractions for college basketball teams. Games will get canceled, players will be placed on an injured list for being sick, and other 2020 hijinks. Box scores will be filled with sad and weird Did Not Plays.

Marco Smith DNP – Sneezed

It’s going to be wild, it’s going to be wacky. Teams might not really have a home court advantage without a crowd. Just ask Scott Frost about home field advantage. Actually, no, ask Lovie Smith about playing on the road. He’ll be in higher spirits about being questioned.

At the end of the last season, I was feeling confident about the Mavericks run at a 2021 season title. At the beginning of this season I’m not even confident there will be a conference tournament.

So here, I’ve decided to list a bunch of things the Homer in me wants to say about the Mavericks being a contender for the Summit League title this season. You know, like when you watch a basketball game and the homer commentators always jabber on how their dude is the best in the conference at some random thing. “That dude is the best in the conference in eating sandwiches.”

  • With more consistency out of Wanjang Tut, the Mavericks could have best post presence in the Summit League…up there with Oral Roberts and South Dakota State
  • Marlon Ruffin and Zach Thornhill make up one of the most athletic wing combos in the conference. A lot of them slashing and drawing help defense to find open shots for others.
  • Omaha might have a problem finding “The Guy” on the team, but North Dakota State keeps finding success in the conference without having “The Guy”
  • Omaha has the deepest roster in the Summit League. This will help them with the back-to-backs and if players get placed on inactive lists.
  • Baxter Arena has been practicing social distancing at basketball games since before it was cool.
  • The Mavericks last 10 games will be against South Dakota, Western Illinois, Kansas City, North Dakota, and Denver. That’s the bottom half of the league, if there is a Summit League tournament they could pick up momentum heading into the tournament.
  • The Mavericks still have the most experienced coaching staff in the Summit League.
  • Last season, freshman Darrius Hughes and Nathan Brusseau both probably should have redshirted but did not because of the departures of Brent Barney and Logan Strom. Hopefully they have both developed more and will be more basketball ready for their sophomore season.
  • The Mavericks had no scholarship players leave the team from last season, other than obviously JT Gibson and KJ Robinson. Attrition and cohesion are important in a season like this. I assume, I mean, a season like this has never happened.
  • The Mavericks have the 2nd most upperclassmen on their roster in the Summit League. Western Illinois has the most, and I dare you to look at the Leathernecks’ roster and not be confused.

Party of 16: table or Booth?

I know there are several questions surrounding college basketball. The most important question might be: will it even happen? I was looking at the Mavericks basketball roster and I ended up asking myself a couple questions I’ve never really asked since UNO has transitioned to division 1. Does UNO have too many players on the roster?

I hope you’re excited about this season happening if it does. Mostly because the year has been an unending nightmare. Hasn’t been that bad for me, actually. I paid off my student loans. But then a week later someone ran a red light and totaled my car. I’m fine and healthy and I got a pretty large pay out for my car. I’m currently deciding between two cars. One is the obvious answer as to which of the two is better, but the other one is black and slapping an Omaha O on it would look real nice.

The Mavericks roster stands at 16 players. The only other seasons the Mavericks had 16 players on the roster since transitioning to division 1 were 2015-2016 when the Mavericks finished 18-14 on the year and lost in the first round of the Summit League tournament, and in 2017-2018 which is a season I pretend didn’t happen. UNO also had no scholarship players transfer, quit, or leave the team over the Summer and I’m not sure that has ever happened. The only player to leave the team was Hayden Miller, who had my vote for the best hair on the team.

With the addition of junior college transfer Sam’i Roe, the Mavericks are going to have a 7 man rotation of all upper classmen*. This is typically a good formula for success at a mid-major program. That’s what South Dakota’s Todd Lee said at the Summit League Media Day last season, and I guess they were okay enough to finish third in the Summit League and lose in the first round of the tournament. South Dakota State was also the least experienced team in the Summit League and they won a share of the regular season title, so there are other factors and it’s not exact science, but you get it**.

*It is still a little unclear if Marco Smith will be a sophomore or a junior.

**I started filtering through the Summit League to see who would be the most experienced team in their 7 to 8 man rotations this upcoming season and then got bored frustrated with Kansas City and stopped. The Mavericks are at least more experienced than Denver.

Looking ahead if this season actually happens, there will be some different questions surrounding the roster about playing time and redshirts.

In addition to working Smith and Roe into the lineup to replace KJ Robinson and JT Gibson, Derrin Hansen and his staff will have to figure out how to mix and rotate in their new young guards La’Mel Robinson and Jadin Booth. Robinson redshirted last season, but there are rumblings that he is good enough to start for the Mavericks this season at point guard.

So question: What do you do with Jadin Booth?

Do you redshirt Booth and allow him to work on his game in the gym and in practice, or do you play him and potentially play stretches with a freshman backcourt and let the two develop their on court chemistry? Keep in mind, Booth is going to have to compete in minutes with senior Ayo Akinwole, Robinson, Roe, Smith, and maybe even walk on redshirt freshman Grant Frickenstein (he’ll be leading nominee for the team’s best hair). That’s a lot of guards to rotate 40 minutes around.

I think Booth is going to be a great player and has the quickness, shooting, and potential to be just as good as someone like Marcus Tyus, but I personally think the right thing for him this year would be to redshirt him and give him time to get stronger.

Which brings us to another question about redshirts. In addition to bringing back front court players Matt Pile, Wanjang Tut, Darrius Hughes, and Nathan Brusseau the Mavericks are adding junior college transfer Devin Evans and Missouri-native freshman Dylan Brougham. Sophomore Kyle Luedtke can also play some minutes at the 4, if necessary.

Brougham is likely to redshirt for the 2020-2021 season, but would you throw a redshirt on sophomore Nathan Brusseau as well? Brusseau played 11 games off the bench as a freshman before suffering an injury. Brusseau didn’t appear to be playing with a load of confidence, but he has some energy and fight in him. The Mavericks have routinely played with a 3 man rotation for their front court under Hansen with a fourth guy usually used in garbage time and foul trouble situations, and that was Brusseau’s role last season.

With the addition of Evans in the front court, this allows the Mavericks some leverage with potentially redshirting Brusseau this upcoming season, which could help him put on more muscle and give him more time to come back from his injury last season.

Last question: How freaking excited are you for this basketball season? Actually, allow me to rephrase. How Frickenstein are you excited for this basketball season? I’m sorry I haven’t gotten out much lately. Something in the world happened and I’m still adjusting.

This team is deep, experienced, and can play with a lot of hustle and energy. We can just assume Matt Pile, Wanjang Tut, and Zach Thornhill will be back in the starting lineup, while the backcourt is still in up in the air, you should feel confident with just about any decision the Maverick staff makes with the starting lineup. If Hansen ends up starting Robinson at the point guard, the team could have Akinwole and Marlon Ruffin first up off the bench with a hopefully more developed Darrius Hughes off the bench as well.

The Mavericks have loved their versatility over the last few years, and this might be the most versatile basketball team they’ve ever had. They could potentially have 40 minutes of just non-stop movement and offense.

Omaha women’s basketball was always about potential under Brittany Lange, and still is

Chance Lindley apparently just didn’t show up to work one day.

He left college coaching and just moved away or something with little to no notice.  I think I saw somewhere a while back that he actually moved to Wichita and ran a bakery, for some reason. It’s also possible this life isn’t real and we’re in a simulation and there was just a glitch in Lindley and he was written out of the coding in this matrix.  I don’t know, I’m not into conspiracies, but it sounds like it could hold up.

Lindley spent just two seasons as the head coach at Omaha, and he was actually pretty successful in his tenure at the school, even if you legitimately forgot who he was.  He posted a 32-23 record with stars Paige Frauendorfer and Jamie Nash on Maverick roster, as they were transitioning to division one.

In that time, he assembled a really good recruiting class with Mikaela Shaw and Madi Robson in the group.

Either way, Lindley left us and ghosted us like a match on a dating app.  His departure created an opening for 26 year old Brittany Lange to take on the opportunity as an interim coach.  Lange was taking over a roster filled with fresh faces, but also filled with potential.

Most of us think we can do our jobs better than our boss.  Hell, my direct boss is socially inept, and she has said a total of 9 words in person to me in 2 1/2 years.  Regardless, I can’t imagine coming into work one day and having her boss say: “yeah, so they just aren’t answering their phone.  You’re in their role now, and all your subordinates need to be trained.  Cool, I’ve got some golf to go play. don’t mess up” and then me actually doing the job, let alone have the local newspaper reporting on it…and at 26 years old.

I am the same age as Brittany Lange, so naturally she’s the Omaha Maverick head coach I would want to sit down and talk to the most, if ever given the opportunity to talk to any Omaha Maverick head coach.  I’d literally be made of questions around her, and they’d all be questions about being a head coach at 26 years old, in a scenario in which she didn’t even really apply the job.

I’m trying to think of all the things I was doing at 26 years old. I was working a job I didn’t really like, thinking Blue Moon was craft beer, drinking a lot beer, starting a really bad basketball blog, and watching endless amounts of videos of people online skateboarding off of things.

My friends were either starting grad school or finishing grad school, drinking craft beer, and drinking a lot of beer, working jobs for way less than they were worth, having kids, and sharing endless amounts of videos of people skateboarding off of things.

Just thinking of how different Lange’s life was from other people’s lives around her age has always fascinated me.  She was the head coach of a division one basketball team, and while you all say “I could do that,” no you can’t.  The Mavericks went 12-16 in her first season as head coach, a team made up of just one senior, 5 freshmen, 3 junior college transfers, and two injured wing players; Brianna Bogard who played just 4 games and Cathleen Cox who missed the entire season.

Lange had the interim taken off of her title and she was awarded the head coaching position with the Mavericks.  In her second season as head coach, the Mavericks roster consisted of mostly freshmen and sophomores, and the future appeared bright with Mikaela Shaw and the young core.

After seeing a group of players leave after her second year, Lange brought in arguably her best recruiting class into the 2015-2016 season.  The class included sisters Michaela and Moriah Dapprich, sisters transferring from Wichita State, as well as Texas Tech transfer center Courtney Vaccher.  Freshmen players like: Kalen Phillips, who was a 4 star athlete on ESPN, Sara Echelberry, a 6’2″ versatile forward who appeared to have the skills to play all three front court positions, Amber Vidal, a streaky floor general point guard, center Caroline Hogue who averaged 3 blocks a game as a freshman at UNO, the sharpshooting Ellie Brecht, and local center Jay Bridgeman.

In 2015-2016, the Mavericks finished 15-15, and made it to the second round of the Summit League tournament.  The future never appeared brighter for the Maverick women.  As fans, we saw the potential in the freshman and knew we were going to be adding Vaccher and the Dapprich sisters to this roster. I haven’t even mentioned Remy Davenport, who was fantastic with the Mavericks.

We thought the only problem the team might have would be having maybe too much talent and the coaching staff figuring out how to divide up all the minutes.  In our minds, we really thought we were going to have a three deep rotation at center with Vaccher, Hogue, Bridgeman, and maybe even Echelberry.  The 2015-2016 team also had 6’3″ rim protector Vanessa Barajas as a back up center.

In March 2016, I was convinced the Mavericks would win the Summit League tournament a year later.  The team even picked up Jess Walter, a transfer from Indiana, who would sit out the year, but it felt like another ingredient for the future after the expected greatness.

Over the Summer, Hogue and Barajas both left the program and the Mavericks lost their rim protection.  The Mavericks still had their most talented roster since transitioning to division one, but it wasn’t enough as the team finished below expectations for a 5th place finish in the Summit League.  2016-2017 was the only season Lange would finish with a winning record.

Make any excuse you want for Lange, but through injuries and early departures, Lange was constantly left struggling with trying to figure out how to get her teams to gel. Having to change the team’s starting lineup game-after-game, players appeared to struggle with their constantly changing roles.

Lange would consistently recruit solid recruiting classes, but each class consistently brought players transferring out of the program.  With all the potential in her recruiting classes, Lange only had 3 players play 4 years in her program: Mikaela Shaw, Taijhe Kelly, and Kalen Phillips.  Yet, when you account for all of the injuries that occurred in her tenure to Jay Bridgeman, Ellie Brecht, Kalen Phillips, Cathleen Cox, and others you can understand the complications in finding the right lineups.

With the constant turnover to players and assistant coaches, the Mavericks struggled to find an identity.  With the exception of the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, the Mavericks were always looking for leadership on the court.

This last season was another example of all that turnover.  The roster was once again filled with new faces. The lineup was changed a number of times, roles were changed, the team kept coming close to wins but lost several chances late in the game, and players struggled to find consistency.

Like any other season under Lange’s tenure, fans can take note of the team’s potential.  Lange recruited wine players to the Omaha program, and year-after-year we saw the potential of where the program might be a year or two later.  As a fan, I wish we could see where the program might go with this core of talent and Brittany Lange, but year-after-year, we saw the mass exodus in the program.  Perhaps, a coaching change can take the potential Lange brought to the program and bring it some stability.  Maybe even be competitive with the likes of South Dakota and South Dakota State.

Lange leaves the program with some pieces attractive to a new coach.

Freshman Ella Ogier had perhaps statistically one of the most successful freshman seasons since Mikaela Shaw.  Sophomore center Mariah Murdie was named 2nd Team all conference, the first time a Maverick has been awarded to (1st or) 2nd Team since 2017.

The Mavericks finished 2-14 in the Summit League in Lange’s last season, but had 6 conference losses by 6 points or less.  The Mavericks will lose just one senior, and the foundation for a great team is there.

Lange took on a job no one really wanted at the time.  She will find an assistant coaching job and hopefully grow into the potential in her we all saw as fans, and I have no doubt she will be a head coach again. She will leave the Omaha program with pieces for a bright future, for the right coach.

As far as a head coaching search goes, all I’m going to say is: Connie Yori currently lives in Omaha.

The Mavericks face North Dakota with more at stake than it just being the last home game of the season

This last Maverick home game will have more factors than “I’m just a simple cave man. North Dakota on road – bad; Omaha at home – good.”

JT Gibson and KJ Robinson already played their Senior Day at Baxter Arena, but unless Omaha plays a CIT or CBI game at Baxter Arena* this will be their game in Omaha.

*Highly unlikely they accept a CIT or CBI invite, if offered.**

**Though, maybe they’d benefit from giving post season experience to the young core of Wanjang Tut, Zach Thornhill, Marlon Ruffin, and Darrius Hughes.  Actually, can we just schedule a late season exhibition game against the Huskers in Baxter Arena?  That should be their punishment for – a lot of stuff.

The Mavericks will be entering this game on a three game winning streak, aiming to build momentum for the Summit League Tournament.  The Fighting Hawks come to Omaha facing consistent inconsistency, winning then losing every other game for the last seven games in a pattern.  If they continue the pattern, North Dakota will lose this game.  It’s not about patterns, and according to Steve Smith’s commentary on NBA 2k20 – This is WHY we play the game!

With the exception of a few, most Summit League teams have been bad on the road this season, so it’s easy just to say Omaha has the dominant advantage against North Dakota.  The Fighting Hawks did win their last road game in Macomb, though.  A three point win, they also had a recent three point win against North Dakota State over the weekend.

Facing injuries and players adapting to a new system, North Dakota has had an inconsistent season.  However, with three seniors capable of hitting clutch shots and decent three point shooting, the Fighting Hawks keep themselves in games.

Last year in the Summit League Tournament, when Omaha and North Dakota faced in the first round, the Mavericks appeared to be the better team, but the Fighting Hawks just wouldn’t go away as they kept knocking down threes.  The same thing happened in Grand Forks in January.  Omaha was up 10 points with 13 minutes to go, but North Dakota went on a run to keep the game close.  They again just wouldn’t freaking go away.  Marlon Stewart is a player who won’t let his team just go away.  Which, is pretty respectable.

Matt Pile and Filip Rebraca battled in Grand Forks forcing both to bad offensive games, but both grabbed double digit rebounds.  Pile struggled on the road against Fort Wayne and Western Illinois, and the Mavericks won both games, but if Pile can make an impact on offense against North Dakota, he could be the difference between the game being close down the stretch, or the Fighting Hawks not going away.  Denver couldn’t stop Pile late in the Mavericks’ latest home game, and it helped put Denver away and keep the Mavericks going to a 23 point win.

Both teams can go on hot and cold streaks, and the Mavericks will want to play as well as they most recently did in Baxter Arena against Denver, if they want to keep North Dakota away from a lead late in the game.  The Mavericks let Kobe Webster keep it close on Saturday in Macomb.  That’s right, I said Kobe Webster, since he was the only Leatherneck who appeared to want to win that game.

Let’s also keep in mind that the Fighting Hawks are undefeated playing in the state of Nebraska this season.

The emotions may run higher for Gibson and Robinson in their last game at Baxter Arena.  There is a lot to play for in this game.  This is their last chance for a win in front of their home crowd  They also have a chance at securing a 3, 4, or 5 seeding in the Summit League Tournament.

That’s dumb, I hate that last sentence.  I don’t think college basketball teams really concern themselves with tournament seeding outside of winning the regular season, or securing a top 2 spot in the Summit League Tournament for a day off in the tournament.

But hear me out.


South Dakota, Omaha, Oral Roberts, and North Dakota are all competing for the 3-6 seeds in the Summit League Tournament.  Maybe seeding matters to teams, maybe it doesn’t.  Omaha and North Dakota play each other tonight, and Oral Roberts will be a strong favorite to beat Western Illinois tomorrow night and Fort Wayne on Saturday night.

Here is where seeding does matter…

Neither of these teams want to finish in 3rd place and go up against South Dakota, as the potential 3 seed, in Sioux Falls.  Omaha’s best options are to finish as the 4 or 5 seed.  Aside from not playing South Dakota in the first round, if they play in the 4 versus 5 game, they get to play at 6pm on a Sunday night, instead of 8:30, so there will be more of a possibility of their fans making the drive to Sioux Falls.

An 8:30 start time on a Sunday and a three hour late drive home isn’t ideal for those of us who have to work early on a Monday morning.  Trying to justify a half day with your boss because you were up late on a Sunday driving back home for a 3 seed versus 6 seed Summit League Tournament game isn’t the dream conversation.  Thanks a lot Summit League.


From the 4/5 game, the winner would likely go up against South Dakota State.  It would essentially be a home team for a  young South Dakota State team, who hasn’t really been tested.  Still, while young, they are a team who only has one game in the last week of the regular season, and was one of three teams in the Summit League to never play more than 2 consecutive away games in the conference, and also had week long rests heading into some of their biggest games.  Again, no conspiracy that the conference favors anyone here or tries to help them out a little bit the year after they lose one of the conference’s best players ever and 85% of their scoring.***

***Some Maverick sports fans may note the Frozen Four as their moment they really felt like UNO really had a sports community and felt like they were part of something when so many fans made the trip to Boston.  For me, it was sitting in the hotel lobby next to the Denny Sanford Premier Center with Maverick fans watching South Dakota State lose a historic game to the 8 seed Western Illinois.  We drank and cheered the shit out of a Western Illinois’ win.  After the game, we all gleefully marched into the arena as the Jackrabbit fans walked out with their tails between their legs. We talked smack, they had nothing to say.  The arena emptied.  We took over the lower bowl because the arena and Summit League staff stopped giving a shit about the tournament, but we cared.  My most memorable moment as a Maverick fan, so far.  Probably pretty sad it wasn’t an actual Omaha game, just watching a rival go down together, and that march into the arena.

After that tangent…anything can happen.  Seeding may not or may not matter, but this is the point the intensity level goes up.  There is more at stake for the JT, KJ, and the Mavericks.  These games matter, the momentum matters, you never know what’s going to happen this game or the next game.

The laziest Summit League predictions.

February 26th

Denver @ Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne is better.  I do think Denver has a brighter future, but for today Fort Wayne is better.

North Dakota @ Omaha on ESPN+

I closed my eyes, I’m biased, and I like Omaha more.

February 27th

Western Illinois @ Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts is better.

South Dakota State @ North Dakota State on ESPN+

The Jackrabbits may have won in Brookings, but North Dakota State is better.

February 29th

It’s Leap Day, anything can happen.

Western Illinois @ Denver

This game is a toss up.  Denver is probably better, and they’re at home.  Denver as the 8 seed, baby!  Billy Wright gone!  One more year of Billups!

North Dakota @ South Dakota

South Dakota is better, but maybe they rest some dudes after locking up the 3 seed?  It’s their senior day, so that’s doubtful.

Omaha @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

North Dakota is better.  Sigh.

Fort Wayne @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

Oral Roberts is better, but come on Mastodons!














Summit League predictions: Feb 19-22

February 19th

South Dakota State @ North Dakota on ESPN+

Look, I’m kind of rooting for the Fighting Hawks in this one, since I picked the Jackrabbits 5th in my preseason rankings and I don’t want to look so stupid; but I cannot find much of a reason for North Dakota to be a favorite in this game.

North Dakota State @ South Dakota on ESPN3

The Bison won their first match up with the Coyotes in Fargo by 2 points. It was a weird ending with a late offensive foul call on Cody Kelley. It was a foul that could have gone either way, and even the referee stood there for a few seconds trying to figure out what to call.  Expect the senior loaded Coyotes to come out focused against the Bison, as they’re also looking to secure a top 2 seed in the conference tournament.

February 20th

Omaha @ Fort Wayne

The Mastodons are not perfect at home. They’ve dropped home games to South Dakota State, Oral Roberts, and North Dakota State.  I’m hoping a dunk by Marlon Ruffin, which didn’t even count, will spark a fire in the Mavericks through the rest of the season.

The ‘Dons are also a young basketball team, and the younger teams tend to get worse as the season goes on. The big difference in their match up with the Mavericks earlier in the season was experience. Late in the game, the youth of the Mastodons’ point guards became an issue against the likes of JT Gibson, Ayo Akinwole, and KJ Robinson.  Jon Coffman said that, I did not say that.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

Matt Pile dominated the Pioneers down low, I can only imagine Emmanuel Nzekwesi and Kevin Obanor will do much of the same.  Especially since they already did once this season.

Robert Jones is eventually going to be so good, though.  Hopefully he doesn’t transfer when Rodney Billups gets fired.

February 21st

Omaha @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Man, I’m just being super biased this week.  The Leathernecks will have a week of rest coming into this game, but it just seems as if these players have given up on Billy Wright, and maybe a week of rest and getting out of any type of rhythm is a bad thing for a team so horrendous at offense.

How crazy would it be if Denver ended up going 2-1 in their last two games and ended up in the Summit League Tournament?  Maybe that saves Rodney Billups’ job…maybe a youthful Denver team sees a youthful South Dakota State team in the Summit League Tournament.  That would be madness.  Some might even call it madness in March.

North Dakota State @ North Dakota on ESPN3

Tough week for North Dakota. They play the two toughest teams in the Summit League at home.  Maybe they drop both games on purpose in hopes of falling to 7th in the conference so they potentially play on Saturday during the Summit League Tournament to get an extra day off in the event they win.  Maybe they don’t.

February 22nd

South Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN+

You’re not reading this anymore, are you?

I just think the Coyotes need and want this game more than the Jackrabbits.


Summit League predictions: Feb 12-16

February 12th

Western Illinois @ South Dakota on ESPN+

I’ve got this idea for a movie.  It’s like a comedy version of “The Expendables.”  We round up them comedy Hollywood folk like: Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Steve Carell, Dave Chappelle, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, and more and it’s just a movie about them playing themselves trying to come up with a parody to “The Expendables” but none of them can stay on track long enough to put together a movie, and they get in a bunch of craziness along the way.

Okay, was that a bigger waste of time to read about, or would it have been a bigger waste of time to hear about a basketball game we already know the outcome to?

Omaha @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

Think about how much the Mavericks had to overcome to defeat the Golden Eagles in Baxter Arena.  Now think of how bad JT Gibson has been struggling shooting the basketball, he’s shot 15% on threes over the last three games, and 23% overall from the field.  Also throw in the fact that Zach Thornhill stole the ball and sprinted down the court to throw down a monstrous dunk as time expired when the Mavericks were already up by 5, and how that must have upset the Golden Eagles.

February 14th

Denver @ South Dakota State

Fort Wayne @ North Dakota State on ESPN+

I’m going over these games together, as it’s fitting both of these match ups take place on Valentine’s Day.  South Dakota State and North Dakota State are the most beloved teams in the Summit League, so I find it ironic they both get home games on Valentine’s Day against the two teams with the least amount of love in the Summit.  Fort Wayne won’t even be in the conference next season, and Denver wishes they weren’t in the conference next season.

It’s so beautiful The Summit League honored Valentine’s Day with match ups that make you feel like you’re watching a bad relationship end, and another game that just plays out like an abusive relationship you want to see end, but the Pioneers think they cannot find anything better.

February 15th

North Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

The Summit League and ESPN3 invite you to take in a basketball production so low in quality you’ll question if the broadcasters are in an active pursuit to ruin your Saturday.  Yes, tune in to listen to two grown men get paid to mispronounce 19 year old kids’ last names, as they dribble the ball off their knees and miss contested driving floaters 18 feet away from the basket for some damn reason.  You’ll be so frustrated watching this game, you may even take up reading novels again.

Why take Western Illinois in this game, you ask? Just because they are the home team, and every team in this conference has been so bad on the road that it just seems like a safe bet? That, yeah sure, but also because these teams aren’t far enough away in talent, depth, or just about anything, but CJ Duff is a good enough defender to throw Marlon Stewart off on the road to give the Leathernecks an actual chance in a basketball game.  Also, Ben Pyle has a chance to outplay Kienan Walter on the perimeter and go off for a big day, and whenever Pyle plays big, the Leathernecks play big. I get that’s rare.

South Dakota @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Golden Eagles have already lost to one South Dakota team at home this season.  Emmanuel Nzekwesi and Kevin Obanor aren’t great at defending big guys on the perimeter like Tyler Hagedorn.

February 16

Fort Wayne @ South Dakota State on ESPN+

Things Fort Wayne would have to do to win this basketball game:

  • Be good at perimeter defense to slow down Douglas Wilson and Matt Dentlinger
  • Actually, be good at defense in general
  • Be good on the road
  • Not turn the ball over
  • Make free throws

Things South Dakota State has to do to win this game

  • Show up

Denver @ Omaha

Jace Townsend had to shoot 8-of-10 on threes to give the Pioneers a win in Denver, and that’s not likely to happen on the road at Omaha.  The Pioneers shot 55% overall from the field in that game, and they are capable of shooting well on the road, but the young Pioneers have a tough weekend on the road at South Dakota State and Omaha.

JT Gibson is going to have to get out of his current shooting slump for the Mavericks not to drop another game at home.  With the lack of depth of the Mavericks, they cannot afford one of their captains shooting 23% from the floor.  Not many teams could.







Summit League predictions: Feb 5-8

February 5th

Western Illinois @ Fort Wayne

If the Leathernecks can win this game, that will give both teams 3 wins and basically secure them spots in the Summit League tournament.  Unless the Mastodons all of a sudden get bad at rebounding, and the Leathernecks all of a sudden get good at offense on the road, that’s not going to happen.

North Dakota State @ Omaha on ESPN+

I know the Bison are favored in this game.  They probably are a better team than Omaha, overall, but not by a large amount.  These teams have differing styles, and I always find this match up incredibly fun to watch.  I sort of have a stat. I only sort of have it because I once jotted it down in some notes, but the notepad from that computer didn’t transfer over to a new computer.

Dave Richman team’s are kind of bad on weeknight road games, but they’re surprisingly really good on weekend road games.  It was one of the weirdest consistent things I’ve seen in the Summit League.  I thought it was just a common thing among teams at this level, but it’s really not.  They were 1-4 on weeknight Summit League road games last season.  They are 1-2 on weeknight Summit League road games this season.

February 7th

Oral Roberts @ North Dakota on ESPN+

Oral Roberts forces more turnovers than anyone in the Summit League, and North Dakota is one of the worst at taking care of the basketball, which is impressive as they play at one of the slowest paces in the conference.  The Golden Eagles already defeated the Fighting Hawks by 15 in Tulsa.  It sounds like the deeper and more experienced Golden Eagles should have a good shot at picking up a conference road win.

February 8th

Oral Roberts @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

These are evenly matched teams, and this game should be a blast. North Dakota State at home with an extra day of rest should be beneficial.

South Dakota @ North Dakota on ESPN3

Tough week for North Dakota with Oral Roberts and South Dakota coming to town. The home court advantage will be nice, but South Dakota is currently on a roll.

Omaha @ South Dakota State

The biased fan in me wants to say Omaha will win this game. They’ve had luck playing in Brookings in the past, but the Jackrabbits have been an excellent team this season.  Omaha has had many struggles on the road, and South Dakota State has one of the longest active home winning streaks in division one.  Though, Omaha’s did end last week, maybe Omaha can end someone else’s.

Fort Wayne @ Denver

I’m going with Denver in this game. I don’t want to talk about it. I just want chaos at the bottom of the conference.



KJ Robinson has gone from being benched to The Guy for Omaha

Have you ever been to the Metro Summer League?  Out by 120th and Blondo. There is a mix of current and former metro basketball stars playing weekly basketball for…some prize… I have rarely attended in the past, as it’s never really worked out with my schedule, and if I’m being 100% honest, I forget it exists every Summer until after it’s over.

One year, I actually went to a few games. I went with one purpose, and one purpose only. To see some new 3 star recruit freshman UNO basketball player named KJ Robinson.

There wasn’t much to KJ at the time. The Summer League was dominated by the likes of Mitch Hahn, Justin Patton, Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Foster, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and Khyri Thomas.  I walked in and saw Hollins dominating some game against a hobbled Marcus Foster.  Hollins’ backup KJ Robinson sat on the bench with his arms crossed like he was some little brother invited to just hang out with his older brother and his friends, and they just played video games and wouldn’t give him the controller.

At that point, I had no idea what expectations to place on Robinson. He looked bored and frustrated, but mostly bored, and I didn’t know if he was going to stick it out with this Omaha team or if he would eventually transfer.

I’m not exactly sure who you think of when you picture an All Time Omaha Men’s Basketball team in your head, or if you even think about it it, but I’m willing to place a bet that you likely don’t have KJ Robinson too high on the depth chart on that team.

Actually, I put together some weird math formula to put together the depth chart of the All Time Omaha Division One team.  He’s on the team. Currently 10th on the depth chart, but he still has 9+ games to go, so he may climb.  What can I say, I’m single, ladies.

Currently this season, Robinson leads the Mavericks in scoring, three point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three point field goals made; and it feels like he’s the 3rd most discussed player on the team behind Matt Pile and JT Gibson.  Maybe even 4th now after Marlon Ruffin.

Last season, when the Mavericks found themselves in clutch situations the general feel from fans was: “it’s fine, we have Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson.”  I’m not sure if this a collected thought, but now when the Mavericks find themselves in need of a bucket down the stretch this season, I find myself saying: “it’s fine, KJ will get one here.”

He just quietly does all of this.  It’s like that one episode of the ‘The Simpsons” when an Asian mafia fights Fat Tony’s gang in the family’s kitchen, and Marge instructs the family to leave the kitchen to escape the fight, but Homer wants to stay and watch because there is a little guy standing in the corner and he just knows he’s going to do something.

Playing against the Mastodons a couple weeks ago, KJ started the game off hot with three early 3’s, and then went quiet for almost another 30 minutes of the game.  After JT Gibson hit a big three to tie the game, I thought to myself: “you know KJ is going to do something here,” and sure enough he hit a big shot to seal the deal for the Mavericks.

Since the Mavericks have transitioned, there have essentially been 3 point guards:  Devin Patterson, Tra-Deon Hollins, and KJ Robinson.  And they’ve all been incredible, each had their niche.  Patterson was the fastest player Omaha has had, and could penetrate and get to the free throw line more than anyone.  Hollins was a defensive freak.  KJ has arguably had the highest basketball IQ out of all three of them and has done the best at keeping the team under control in high pressure situations, and hitting clutch shots and making big time plays.

As great as Patterson and Hollins were, they would occasionally make that frustrating play that made you want to rip up your program. Actually, why are you buying a program?  The internet has all the information you need.  KJ has never really had that one big time frustrating play.  Actually, one of the most frustrating Omaha plays I’ve ever watched was between Patterson and Hollins that cost them a game against the Mastodons.

We’ve slowly watched Robinson grow up the last 4 years.  His freshman season, Robinson was stuffed away in a talented back court consisting of Marcus Tyus, Tra-Deon Hollins, Daniel Norl, Kyler Erickson, and JT Gibson.  There were games Robinson was thrown into the game for a minute just to give Hollins a short rest, just because the coaching staff thought it might be a decent idea to take him out before a media timeout.

His sophomore season, the Mavericks faced injuries to almost every player on the roster. The team struggled, and I have almost completely put that season out of my mind.  Wait, what season are we talking about about?

In his junior season, Robinson led the Summit League in assist-to-turnover ratio in arguably the best season the Mavericks have ever had. What he brought to the team was completely overshadowed by Mitch Hahn and Zach Jackson.  Hahn and Jackson may have hit the last second shots, but Robinson consistently hit late shots to put the Mavericks in that situation for his seniors to have those opportunities.

His senior season started off with being disciplined for violating team rules, which I can only hope it’s something silly like stealing Derrin Hansen’s lunch out of the fridge.  He missed the first three games of the season, and Ayo Akinwole was inserted into the starting lineup, and became a star, himself.   He’s played his entire collegiate basketball career in the shadow of others.

He hit a game winning shot at North Dakota, which was almost in the exact same spot Mitch Hahn hit a game winning shot against the Fighting Hawks, almost as a statement to say he’s got the keys to the team now.

We’ve watched KJ grow over his career, but even in his own senior season he has gone from the guy who broke the rules to the guy who saves the team down the stretch.