Served on a North Dakota bun, we have an IPFW hate sandwich

I do not really want to get in too deep about the South Dakota State game from Wednesday night, because it is pretty similar to everything that was said about the home loss to the Jackrabbits a few weeks ago.  SDSU is the best team in the league, and a goal for UNO basketball is to be on the same playing ground as them someday.  We are far from it right now.  The Mavs only graduate two players and so do the Jackrabbits, all four players that graduate from the two teams are key players, but maybe we should expect the same next season.  Patterson was able to defend George Marshall better this game and hold him to two points, but a combined 14-15 with 8-8 threes from junior guards Jake Bittle and Deondre Parks is clearly not good.  The Mavs need to figure out this perimeter defense thing.

The bench was no where to be found, but I must say that the Mavs bench put up some good numbers against Denver.  We need more of that every game.  I was out of the country for the Denver game, maybe I need to go the Caribbean for every game…


 

Hey North Dakota Hockey, screw you, I mean, let me take that back

I wish I knew more about hockey to say more than six words about it.  I love going to UNO hockey games.  I barely knew what hockey was before becoming a UNO student.  I saw it was free to go to the games and I did not want to be that guy that never took advantage of something like that.  That reminds me, I did not realize that Creighton only had 30 fans that cared about the basketball team until the other night against St. Johns.  Must be pretty hard to pretend you go to Duke when your basketball team is on an 8 game losing streak…

I have learned the rules of hockey, but I still have no idea what makes a good pass a good pass, and anything about any form of strategy.  If I had a kid that was in hockey and I was coaching the team, I would just say, “piss off the other kids until they fight you or do something else stupid so we can have more players than them for a few minutes.

I do know this, I can hate North Dakota, but I have to respect North Dakota.  Have you ever been to North Dakota while a Sioux game was on?  You can not do anything else.  My father-in-law has a farm in Minot and my wife and I go see him from time to time.  Usually when we stop somewhere, the place is decked out in North Dakota and North Dakota State flags, if there is a hockey game on then ALL televisions are on that North Dakota game, any other time of the year then it seems there is always one television that is devoted to playing reruns of hockey.  The NoDakians know their hockey, and I love going to UND-UNO hockey, there are more people in green, more people in red/black show up to show their support, it is a great experience.

I hate University of Missouri sports fans more than I hate any other fan base.  Their fans make literally no sense, and most are addicted to something incredibly bad for them.  When their football team became good, their fans did not know what was going on.  All they knew was, BALL GO PAST LINE, WE GOOD, then they cheered to the look of the Missouri players looking happy.  Last year when UNO played UND in hockey at CenturyLink, that is when I realized that I actually know very little about hockey.  I do not remember the exact situation, but UNO looked like they scored a goal and they started to cheer, but the people in green started to cheer as well.  The Mav population looked instantly confused when the Sioux faithful started to cheer.  The goal was called off due to a penalty, and all of the people in green knew it before it was even announced.  The Mav population just reacted to what they did not even understand what was fully going on, the NoDakians knew what was happening before the arena staff knew what was going on.

I am not saying we have to like them, but we need to respect them, but when basketball comes around they can screw off.  I just bring it up because I have seen some hate filled tweets on the Twitter machine, which I realize are in good fun, but college hockey is as important to these people as college football is to Nebraskans.  I would not want to piss off their fans to fuel the fire of their players, even though that is kind of the thrill of a rivalry.  Plus North Dakotans drink A LOT, so if they made the trip, lets just butter them up a tiny bit so they can pump a bunch of money into Omaha bars and hotels.


IPFW

The Mastadons were picked as the preseason favorite of the league. but now they are sitting at 6th in the League with a 3-5 record in the conference.

The ‘Dons beat the Mavericks in both meetings last season, but by a total of 5 points.  Do you remember the last game they played?  It was senior day for the Mavericks.  IPFW was one of the top teams in the league and really the only one fans thought could contend with North Dakota State for the championship. The game was forced to overtime, it was close in the entire overtime period.  There were some miscues from each side that had you sitting at the edge of the seat screaming What The Hell?!

IPFW gets the ball and in a last ditch effort, IPFW’s Steve Forbes puts up a three (he has never officially made or attempted a three so far at IPFW), the shot is a miss, but the official blows his whistle.  A foul on John Karhoff.  The Hoff looks at the ref like he is going to murder him right there with 1000+ witnesses and not even care.  Boos come from everywhere in the arena.  The referees have to go to the monitor to, I assume, check to see if it was a two point or three point attempt.

I am still not sure if anyone has ever said that foul was legit or not, but it was called a foul.  While the refs were checking the monitor, the body language was not good like – oh shit, what did we do?  An official can never really say yeah I screwed up, my bad, I am sorry.  They always say, I called it as I saw it.  The only time in recent memory that I can think of a ref admitting fault is when the first base umpire made a terrible call to screw up a perfect game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga.  Hey, at least Galaraga still got a sweet car out of the deal.  And the officials can look at the monitor and realize they made a mistake, but they cannot wave off the foul, so while I was watching those officials at the monitor, their body language was the body language of a couple dudes that realized that they are bad at their job.  It is not like I am mad at Steve Forbes, he did not make the call, but I do not recognize sports officials by name, so I just need a scapegoat.

A win probably would of had that big of an impact on the Mavs season.  After Forbes hit the free throws to give IPFW the win, I was thinking that the chances of going to the CIT were over.  I thought it was done, IPFW took away the positive feelings at the end of the year.  Thankfully, it did not eliminate UNO from postseason play and the Mavs could pick up their first post season win a few weeks later.  But still, the Mavs felt stripped of a win on senior day.  Karhoff, Matt Hagerbaumer, Justin Simmons, Alex Phillips, and Caleb Steffensmeier did a lot for the basketball program, they all played great on their senior day, but were screwed out of a win we felt.  And this is the IPFW team that went on to beat South Dakota State, and then only lose by three to conference champion North Dakota State.  I will say that is the first time I have seen Mav basketball fans boo out the refs, so perhaps it was a bonding experience for Mav fans.  I almost feel like we need to avenge that Karhoff’s foul*.  #win4theHoff

*I still do not believe that was a foul.  John Karhoff could walk up to me and say that it was indeed a foul, and I would not believe him.  I would think IPFW employed The Madhatter to put a mind controlling device on John Karhoff to say what they wanted him to say.  That’s a Batman reference.

UNO and IPFW are actually pretty similar teams on paper.  They have both lost to IUPUI, South Dakota State by a bunch, Western Illinois, Oral Roberts, and beaten Oral Roberts and won at South Dakota.  Their back court is roughly the same size at UNOs with Isaiah McCray at 6’0″, 6’2″ Max Landis, and 6’0″ Mo Evans.  They have been playing a little bit of small ball with 6’5″ Joe Edwards at the “four”.  Really it seems the plan is to stretch the floor with their four guards and then swing the ball around so they can work to get the ball into Steve Forbes in the post.  I based this off of the little bit of what I watched from IPFW at South Dakota last night, and also a little bit of nothing.

Something I did notice is that when South Dakota would run the crap out of the ball, it was difficult for IPFW and mainly Steve Forbes to keep up.  Steve Forbes probably does not look forward to a team that plays the pace of the Mavs.  It would be like a English bulldog with a stupid look on his face trying to chase down a black lab.**  When South Dakota would have to get into a half court offense, they were more successful when they got the ball inside to a post player who could put the ball to the floor and basically run around Forbes.  So what sounds good against something like that?  Tre’Shawn Thurman and/or Jake White?  This looks like it could be another close game between the Dons and Mavs.

**This may be kind of a fat joke, but I do not like making fat jokes.  I find them to be uncreative, and someone can always lose weight and you will just look like an asshole for making fun of them a while ago.  And Steve Forbes could beat me up at recess if he wanted.

This is a match up of two teams that have been underachieving in what has been an awkward year for the Summit League.  Something that was brought to my attention when I was listening to UNO-South Dakota State on the radio on Wednesday night is that most teams in this conference are not losing much to graduation. South Dakota State is graduating two players, North Dakota State is only graduating one player, Denver is graduating two.  IPFW and South Dakota each have three seniors in their rotations.  This season should mean more to them, they have the most to lose.  Most other teams are trying to build onto something for the next year or two.  It will probably be more tough to pick up conference wins next season with most teams seeming to be loaded with juniors.  IPFW does have four juniors in their rotation, but no other team has as many minutes from seniors as the Mastadons, they need this more.  The time is definitely now for them, but would that mean that there is more pressure on them to win this game?


Some thoughts:

UNO and Creighton play at the same time on Saturday, what a bum deal.  The CenturyLink gets a Jays Basketball-UNO Hockey double header.  I really cannot wait until next year when we can host UNO Basketball-Hockey double headers in Aksarben.

If neither UNO and Creighton make the post season, is it against the rules to schedule them to play?  Like an Omaha Mega Bowl?


Some milestone notes:

  • Mike Rostampour is 10 rebounds away from tying Matt Hagerbaumer for most rebounds by a Mav since transition.
  • Devin Patterson is 1 assist away from his 100th career steal as a Maverick.
  • Marcus Tyus is 1 steal away from tying Caleb Steffensmeier for 3rd most steals by a Mav since transition.
  • In his last game, Tre’Shawn Thurman passed Marcus Tyus for 2nd most points by a freshman since transition.

 

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All I want for my birthday is for the Mavs to end this losing streak

Thursday morning I will leave for a wedding in Mexico, the wedding happens to be on my birthday, so it will probably be the coolest place that I have ever spent my birthday.  I am a big sports fan, but I am also not such a crazed sports fan to where I will have my phone out the entire time checking college basketball scores.  Mostly because of signal on my cell, but also out of respect for the people getting married…  I just hope to come back to find out that the UNO Mavericks have picked up a win.  I am sure the room I am in will have wireless and I can check the score there, but who knows.

I do not ever want to be negative with any of this, but it is hard to find many positives for a team that is on a five game losing streak and just lost to the preseason last place team with UNO having a historic scoring performance from their senior captain.  So here are some positives…

Denver is also struggling.  A team picked second in the preseason rankings (see how preseason rankings are worthless) finds themselves at 6th in the conference at 2-3 with losses to South Dakota State, also IUPUI, and they are responsible for IPFW’s only win.  IPFW was the voted as the preseason champion.

Another positive, CJ Carter and Marcus Tyus are playing awesome right now.  CJ Carter scored 45 points on only 25 field goal attempts in his last game.  How many NBA players have you seen that needed to take 39 shots in order to get to 45?  Tyus, also went 7 of 10 in the Mavs last game.  He is also rebounding and passing the ball better this season, he really has become a more consistent player this season.  UNO did shoot 50% plus in their two losses, so naturally you want to blame defense, rebounding, turnovers, all the good stuff.  Before Oral Roberts and IUPUI, UNO was 6-0 when shooting above 44% and 0-9 when shooting under 44%, not counting Iowa Wesleyan. #themoreuno

UNO has no games this work week.  Denver plays Oral Roberts on Wednesday night, so UNO has more time to prepare for this game.  That can not be a negative.  Okay, now I do not know where to go from here.

If you were listening to the broadcast on the radio, Gary Sharp mentioned that teams are playing the Mavs to get better, it seems like some players are having out of body experiences and shooting much better against Omaha.  Ouch, considering Denver already shoots 49% on the year as a team and leads the Summit, so are you telling me they are going to be better than that?

Denver runs a Princeton offense, similar to Air Force, ehhhh, and is led by their two senior wings Brett Olson (shoots 51%) and Cam Griffin (shoots 54%).  Let me throw something at you.  Brett Olson stands at 6’5″ and Cam Griffin is 6’3″.  Denver is not really that big of a team, they do not have a talented big guy like Air Force did with Marek Olesinksi.  Marcus Byrd is probably their most talented guy that is 6’7″ or taller who averages 9 and 4 and shoots 52% from the field and 49% on threes.  So three of their top players shoot higher than 50%, well this already sounds fun.

Why mention this?  The perimeter defense that I have spoken of as being a big issue for UNO.  In 2012-2013, I thought the Mavs biggest weakness was in the post, and then it got better in 2013-2014 with the addition to Mike Rostampour to the lineup, but now it is a strength of the team with Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman also in the post.  Now the Mavs are having trouble guarding wing players.  Opposing teams’ starters that are 6’7″ or taller are shooting 46% from the field against the Mavs, guards that are 6’2″ or shorter are also shooting 46% from the field against the Mavs, and players that are 6’3″ to 6’6″ (and I will throw in Nebraska’s Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields into this category, just because) are shooting 50% from the field.

Maybe that does not sound like a significant thing, but when you are in a league filled with 6’3″ to 6’6″ wing players that can shoot the ball, it is a problem.  There are not a lot of great talented big guys in the league.  Hell, UNO is in last place and after IPFW’s Steve Forbes and South Dakota State’s Cody Larson, UNO probably has the next best 3 big men in the league of Mike Rostampour, Jake White, and Tre’Shawn Thurman.  Korey Billbury and Obi Emegano combined for 20-32 from the field against the Mavs, and statistically they are not quite as good as shooters as Cam Griffin and Brett Olson.  I do not even want to get into IUPUI.

I am pretty interested to see what Mike Rostampour will do in this game against Denver.  In no way do I think 5 rebounds in two games is okay with Mike Rostampour.  The last time he only had 3 rebounds in one game, he came back the next game with 11 points and 11 rebounds against Marquette.  The only time he had less rebounds over a two game stretch, he had 4 combined rebounds in 2 games against South Carolina State and Drake last season, he came back with a performance of 19 points, 9 rebounds, on 7-11 shooting with 2 threes at South Carolina State.  I would be incredibly surprised if Rostampour has three bad rebounding games in a row.

I love Carter and Tyus, but at 6’1″, I wish one of them could play the point guard position for the stretches of the game that Devin Patterson is on the bench.  You are never quite sure what is going to happen when the Mavs go to the bench.  It is like you are putting in a new Weezer CD, you know there will be part of a song that is pretty good, but the rest of the CD, you are not entirely sure what you are getting yourself into.  I thought of this, I used to be a big Weezer fan, but I have not given that band one dollar since that Maladroit album.

When Matt Hagerbaumer, Alex Phillips, and Caleb Steffensmeier came off the bench last season, you knew exactly what you were getting.  Defense and rebounding from Hagerbaumer, and some sweet dunks when he got the opportunity.  Defense and shooting from Alex Phillips, maybe one poor decision from time to time, but nothing too extreme.  Defense, ball control, and if you needed a comeback or a dagger three from Steffensmeier, he would give it to you.  All three of those guys would get you high percentage shots.

We know we are going to get a boat load of offensive rebounds from Jake White, but offensively he has been hard to figure out so far.  You are not really sure what you are going to get out of the bench on a consistent basis from anyone else on the bench.  He is only shooting 37% from the field, but that is with some nagging injuries.  Maybe Randy Reed can get us 10 and 7 this game, but then 2 and 1 the other game.  Tim Smallwood and Rylan Murry can get us a couple threes this game, but then both seem to be too shy from deep the next game.  This is why I wish Carter or Tyus could play the point, I think they are both capable of it, it just does not seem to happen often.  With one of them at the point, the Mavs could have 3 starters on the court with 2 bench players at any given time as opposed to 1 starter with 4 bench players, which seems to be leading to problems lately.

A general perception that I have right now is that the team loses a lot of defensive intensity when Mike Rostampour is on the bench.  Which it would probably be impossible to have the intensity go up with him on the bench, but it is quite noticeable how much the team is affected when Rostampour is on the bench resting or is in foul trouble.  Might I recommend a little more Daniel Meyer when Rostampour is in foul trouble?  Tre’Shawn Thurman is awesome, but he is not the definition down low banger like Rostampour, Jake White is also not exactly in that category either, but Meyer is really the only player that would fall into that category after Rostampour.  I do not see what is wrong with a Meyer-White-Thurman front court for a small stretch.  Maybe it is not the ideal lineup against Denver, but against a slightly bigger South Dakota State or IPFW, it seems pretty reasonable.

I do think we need to stop looking at this season as We Beat Marquette and we need to start look at it as We Lost to Seattle, UMKC, Chicago State, and IUPUI.

A little bit of preview for UNO versus Oral Roberts and IUPUI

After playing the two teams in the Summit League with the best defensive field goal percentage, the Mavs will now have to play Oral Roberts, who has the 4th best defensive field goal percentage (Western Illinois is 3rd).  Then they have to play wildcard IUPUI.

The Mavs came close to North Dakota State and not so close to South Dakota State last week.  They know they need to move on, but now they have a road test against, historically, one of the best teams in the Summit League.  The coaches and players know and feel that they were a couple plays away from starting out conference play at 3-0, and Mike Rostampour is just pissed, and the senior leader should be.  Nothing comes easy in any conference and after starting league play at 1-3, now is the time to make those plays that would have put the Mavs at 3-1 now.  It is not the time to press the panic button.  NO BODY PANIC!  Actually, I’m not really sure if there is a panic button.  Other than possible CBI and CIT seedings and births, there is not really much of a difference if the the Mavs finish this year in the Summit between placing 2nd and 9th in the standings.  If the Mavs win the regular season, they do get some hardware, but it is not like they are going to get a participation medal for coming in 9th in the conference.  Mom, this is literally a medal for sucking.  But morally, we want to prove ourselves, that we know we belong here.  We’re not quite at the point of trading away all of the assets and tanking for the draft.  I am sorry, I am a Celtics fan, so I am bitter about some NBA things at the moment…  


Oral Roberts

Okay, I am going to throw something at you here.  The Mavs are going to have to go deep into the bench in this game.  Why would the Mavs have to go deep into the bench on a team that has the worst field goal percentage in the entire Summit League?  The Golden Eagles get to the line more than any other team in the Summit League, they shoot nearly 26 free throws a game.  They have the second worst three point field goal percentage in the league at 32.5%, so they are a team that needs to get to the basket, and with two of the best wings in the Summit League, they get to the basket.  Mike Rostampour will pick up a foul in this game, maybe even two, or maybe even five…  So the Mavs may have to get Daniel Meyer, Rylan Murry, and Randy Reed on the court more than they usually get out there.  In case you are curious, when the Mavs win Murry shoots 57% from the field, 55% from downtown and in their losses he shoots 35% from the field and 25% from long range.  So he might actually be a little more of an X-Factor than you might think.  Just saying.

RPI wise, Oral Roberts had the best win of the season against Tulsa to open up their season.  Maybe similar to the Mavs, they realize this was a long time ago, and now that they are 8-8, they have something to prove themselves.  Maybe the Mavs should not run the typical Mavs pace in this one.  The Golden Eagles average 65 points per game (not including their win over Haskell).  When Oral Roberts gets above 65 points they are 7-1.  Maybe UNO does not need to slow down the pace, but clearly, they need to play strong defense for all 40 minutes.

Obviously the Mavs need to shoot better coming off their two worst shooting performances of the season.  Oral Roberts may be in the top half of the league as far as defensive field goal percentage goes, but they have had a few poor shooting nights themselves so far, so here is an incredibly generic thing to say.  The Mavs need to play better on offense and defense.  That’s simple.  Well we are done here.

Here are some other random Mav numbers for you (not counting Iowa Wesleyan):

  • The Mavs are 5-1 when they hit more threes than their opponent, only loss to North Dakota State
  • The Mavs are 1-6 when they hit less threes than their opponent, only win to South Dakota
  • The Mavs are 0-3 when they hit the same amount of threes than their opponent

Hey, remember how Oral Roberts has the 2nd worst three point field goal percentage in the League?  They have also made the 2nd least amount of threes in the Summit League.  But again, they get to the line, A LOT.

  • The Mavs are 0-4 when 40% or more of their field goals taken are three point field goals

So it’s not exactly like they should just start jacking up threes, especially after a 1 of 16 performance, but they need to hit the open shots that they found against South Dakota State but could not convert on.  Seriously, how generic sports talk can this get?

With the talent they have, I am not even sure if they could beat Kentucky right now.  Crap, I am thinking about the Celtics again.

The Mavs do need to contain the wings for Oral Roberts.  Obi Emegano in his last five games has averaged 23 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists,  3.6 steals, and he has shot 50% (36-72) from the field.  He has also made 10 threes overall in the last 5 games after going 9 games in a row without a three.  Korey Billbury in the last five games has averaged 17 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and shot 39% from the field.  Billburry also made a total of 9 threes in the last 5 games, after only hitting a total of 5 in the Golden Eagles’ first 11 games.

This game is a homecoming for Tim Smallwood, a Tulsa native, so maybe he will play better.  Is that dumb to think that?  Seems like guys play better in situations like that, or on their birthday.  Seriously, you should see my career averages on my birthdays.  I was a quadruple 2 guy my whole life, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals per game.  On my birthday, I averaged about 14 points and 5 rebounds a game.  Not to brag, okay I am bragging, but in intramurals at UNO, I had to guard a guy that had played at Midland University and he was about 5 inches taller than me, but I had 17 points with 5 threes that game.  It was literally my birthday.

Like Opponents?

Lost 72-66 to North Dakota State in Fargo.

Won 66-57 at Western Illinois


IUPUI 

Seriously everyone was sleeping on the IUPUI Jaguars before the start of the season, and many still are trying to wipe the morning fog out of their eyes.  They lost 6 in a row at one point, but now have gone on a win a game, lose a game pattern for their last 7 games.  If they continue the pattern, they would lose to South Dakota State and win at UNO.  That is how stats work, right?  They are 2-1 in the Summit with a wins over preseason league favorites IPFW and Denver, so this should have caught the attention of people…who pay attention.  They also took that team I was just talking about, Oral Roberts, to overtime.

There is not much size to the Jaguars, nor is there much experience, and their best players are currently sitting out due to transfer rules.  They do not make many threes, they have made the least amount of total threes in the conference, and they have the worst three point field goal percentage in the league.  They are just a little better than UNO at free throw percentage at 70% to UNO’s 69% but they do not get to the line nearly as much, UNO shoots 27 free throws a game, while IUPUI shoots 18 per game.  They average the second least amount of rebounds per game, after Denver who they defeated, but IUPUI has picked up more rebounds as of late.  The Jaguars also average the most turnovers in the league, so UNO who averages the most steals in the conference should be licking their chops.  Is licking chops still a saying?  What are chops?

None of their wins have been a beat down.  Of their 6 wins, the biggest amount of points they won by was 6 points to South Alabama.  One thing I have noticed about the Jaguars as compared to other Summit League teams, they have not played an opponent that was not division one.  So that whole thought process of In Order to Get Better You Have to Play the Best Competition might be coming together for IUPUI, as they are finally starting to pick up some wins.

One thing I notice while looking at all 6 of their wins, a low amount of threes taken.  Their three point attempts on wins, 10.6 attempts per game.  Their three point attempts on losses, 17.2.  Clearly, with the poor percentage and total number of made three point field goals, it is an area they struggle in, so they desperately need to get to the basket.  The Mavs need to keep them on the outside, just let them take threes.

UNO has yet to lose to IUPUI as Summit League opponents, and if the Jaguars pick up a win against the Mavericks this year, given how bad their roster is, I may just lose it.  They defeated IUPUI by 28 and 22 points last season.  CJ Carter has averaged 15.6 points, 4 assists, 2.3 steals, and has shot 19-30 in 3 career games against IUPUI.  In his sophomore season, Marcus Tyus averaged 15 points, 3.5 rebounds, and shot 12-22 against the Jaguars.  Mike Rostmapour has 18 and 9 in his first meeting against IUPUI and 9 and 8 in his second match up with IUPUI, and he also shot 9-13 on those two games.  Devin Patterson averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2.5 steals, and shot 9-18 versus IUPUI last season.

For real, why do they think tanking for the draft is a good idea?  Has it ever worked out for them before? Drafting players is not their thing, draft day trades is their specialty!  Aw crap, sorry, the Celtics, they are getting to me.


A suggestion from a guy that has no business giving suggestions to a college athletics program:

Bring Marcus Tyus off the bench.

Okay, I hate the idea of it too.  I think Marcus Tyus has been the Mavs most efficient player this season, and has been huge.  It is nothing personal against Marcus Tyus, in fact, I hope this is a compliment.  Really, it should not matter to a player if you start the game or come off the bench, as long as you are on the court at the end, or your team has won.  This team does need a high energy guard off the bench, and Marcus Tyus is definitely a high energy player who can bring a spark off the bench.

You can not really put Patterson on the bench because of his ball handling ability, and for his control of the offense.  No one wants to put Carter on the bench, who has started all but three games in his career, and is the teams’ top scorer.  So unfortunately, Tyus is the nomination.

The 2013-2014 season, the best season for the Mavs so far in division one, Marcus Tyus came off the bench for half of the season.  With injuries to Justin Simmons, Tyus got the nod to start, and he played great, there is no question of that.  Last season, UNO was 8-8 with Tyus coming off the bench and 7-7 with Tyus starting, so it’s not like any of this makes sense with that in mind.  Four of the losses that he came off the bench though:  @ Iowa by 8, @ UNLV by 3, @ IPFW by 4, vs. IPFW by 1.

Whether Jake White gets back into the starting line up or not, the Mavs will have either he or Tre’Shawn Thurman coming off the bench in the post for a key role, but the Mavs do not really have a guard to come off the bench that has produced enough for that second wave of energy and activity.  If Justin Simmons was starting last season, Tyus and Phillips were both coming off the bench.  If Simmons was hurt and Tyus was starting, Phillips was still providing some energy off the bench.  Matt Hagerbaumer was always providing defensive energy in the post off the bench.  Reed and Smallwood have not produced as advertised, Rylan Murry has slipped in the last month, and walk on/great guy Kyler Erickson has been the guy to step up off the bench.  I am not sure who to start between Reed, Smallwood, and Murry.  Reed or Murry would provide more height, and the Mavs could start the game contesting the shots other teams’ 6’4″ – 6’6″ wings a little better, then BAM, Marcus Tyus off the bench for 8 quick points.  I am not saying this is a big time solution to anything, it is just a thought.


Some milestone notes:

  • Marcus Tyus is 11 points away from 700 career points
  • Mike Rostampour is 18 rebounds away from having the 2nd most rebounds since transition
    1. Matt Hagerbaumer – 401
    2. John Karhoff – 384
    3. Mike Rostampour – 366
  • Marcus Tyus is 4 steals away from having the 3rd most steals since transition
    1. CJ Carter – 128
    2. Devin Patterson – 90
    3. Caleb Steffensmeier – 73
    4. Marcus Tyus – 69
    5. Justin Simmons – 69
  • Tre’Shawn Thurman is 22 points away from having the 2nd most points in a season by a freshman since transition
    1. CJ Carter – 303
    2. Marcus Tyus – 185
    3. Tre’Shawn Thurman – 163
  • Tre’Shawn Thurman is 3 rebounds away from having the most in a season by a freshman since transition
    1. CJ Carter – 105
    2. Tre’Shawn Thurman – 102

 

If you are not watching Tre’Shawn Thurman, you are doing it wrong

You are probably not keeping track, and that is cool, but the 11th post on this blog was about Rylan Murry, so it only makes sense to have the 15th post be about Tre’Shawn Thurman.


NebraskaHSHoops.com sends out a tweet.  Verbal Commits updates the information on their website.  The Omaha World Herald writes a short article.  Omaha Central Forward Tre’Shawn Thurman picked the up and coming UNO Mavericks.  I text a friend of mine, who coaches high school and middle school basketball in Omaha, “Thurman is going to UNO.”  Not even a minute later my friend replies, “Whoa!  He’s going to be an immediate impact.  He will instantly replace (Justin) Simmons.  Huge pick up for the Mavs”

It was late in the signing period when Tre’Shawn Thurman committed to UNO, but it was quite possibly the biggest grab the Mavericks ever got in men’s basketball.  I really had written Thurman off for coming to UNO.  I just thought he was too much of a talent for UNO.  He was either the best or the second best player in the state of Nebraska, alongside Benson’s Khryi Thomas, so I just did not imagine him coming to UNO.  His 2012-2013 Omaha Central team, with some enough practice hours put in, could have beat UNO’s 2012-2013 team.  The first time I saw a highlight video, I could see instantly that he was a special player.  Was he going to be at a Power 6 school?  Not sure, but I thought at least a Missouri Valley, Athletic 10, Mountain West type of guy.

We can admit it, there is no athlete growing up in Omaha with dreams of playing at UNO.  They did after all, just become division one a few years ago.  That is kind of student life for UNO when you think about it.  Many local kids grow up thinking they will go to Nebraska, Creighton, Iowa, Iowa State, or somewhere far away, but they learn more about UNO while they are in high school and see what the university has to offer.  It grows on you.  I had the choice of going to UNO or Creighton, due to financial reasons, I picked UNO, and I have never looked back at it as a poor decision.  I would probably be a different person if I went to Creighton.  Sometimes I think Creighton’s student recruitment slogan should be:  Why come to Creighton?  There is really no other place out there that you are going to become a bigger asshole…

For whatever reason, the bigger schools weren’t offering, but now for the best, Tre’Shawn is a Maverick.  He has the potential to be the greatest Maverick of all time.  Thurman can do a little bit of everything.  He can score from anywhere on the court, handle the ball, defend the perimeter, defend the post, post up on offense.  Through the first years of transition, UNO has never had a chance with a kid like this, and I can not really think of anyone they’ve ever had at his size that can do what he is capable of. 

My wife grew up on the West Coast, played division one softball, also played basketball in high school, so she has seen her fair share of star athletes, she played against Monica Abbott in college…  She’s seems to not get too impressed when she sees some local players in action.  She’s only been WOWed by a few UNO athletes that had her say “that player is really good” or something related.  Allie Matthewson in softball, CJ Carter, and now Tre’Shawn Thurman have really been the only players that have stuck out as players that have impressed her with their play.  By the way: my wife teaches a few courses at UNO so either way you look at it, it’s not a bad thing as a UNO person to impress her…

There has been some inconsistency for Thurman so far, but what college freshman doesn’t have that?  Many of the seniors around the Summit League have had a handful of bad games so far this season.  Some locals knew Thurman by name since he was a three time state champion at Omaha Central, but it’s never a guarantee that someone’s skills will transfer to the next level, so it is not like everyone knew right away what UNO had picked up in a player like Thurman.  Thurman came off the bench his first game.  He showed some promise with 7 points and 2 rebounds in the game and he never looked nervous in that first game like many freshmen can look.

An injury to Jake White in the opener opened the door for Thurman to become a starter.  No one was happy about White getting hurt, at least I hope not, but I felt happy that we as fans could get a real look at Thurman with his new responsibilities as a member of the starting five.  Ten points and eight rebounds in your first start isn’t bad, 4 of 13 isn’t ideal, but still, it was his first game as a starter and it was on the road in Seattle.  The Mavs lost that game by 24, so I don’t really think casual basketball fans really saw ten points and eight rebounds as a success.  Then in what was the program’s biggest win, he gets 12 points and 7 rebounds and shoots 6 of 7 in 21 minutes.  If people did not think that Thurman was for real after just his third game, I am not sure if they were paying any attention at all.

In his first home start, it was freaking crazy watching Thurman.  He had some new goggles, I commented that he looked like Invisible Boy from Mystery Men, and he did a little bit, but I had to go look it back up, Kel Mitchell has dyed blonde hair in that film.  Forgive me for not remembering every detail of an awful 1999 film.  Nevada had former Benson Bunny Tyron Criswell on the team, which drew in a crowd of 1723, UNO’s biggest home attendance on the season so far, and Thurman put on a show for everyone to see.  18 points, 6 of 9 from the floor, two threes, five blocks.  That five blocks is the most that any player has had in a game for UNO since the transition (Taijhe Kelly has had 8 blocks twice for the women).  Thurman had so many people in Ralston Arena asking – He’s really only a freshman?  How did they get him?  Do you remember when LeBron James’ Cavaliers were playing Stan Van Gundy’s Magic in the playoffs and Van Gundy kept saying that James was doing things in the series that were unbelievable?  That’s what I was saying about Thurman after that game.  Side note:  Every time Gary Sharp says “…if you’re keeping score at home…” I feel like it is a personal jab at me.  I’m probably just paranoid though.

Yeah, okay, maybe...
The original Invisible Boy

By the way, a weird stat:  In home games with an attendance of 1200+, Thurman shoots 59% from the floor, in home or away games with attendances less than 1200, he shoots 42% from the field.  In all games with an attendance for 1200+, Thurman shoots 51% from the floor, and he also shoots 60% from three.  In the five games that UNO has played with an attendance of less than 1200, he has shot 42%, and 25% from three.  Is any of this significant?  I am not sure, I can barely read, but what I do know is that we need to get more people to come see this kid.

If you read about my man crush on Rylan Murry, you would have seen that when UNO first took to division one I started following all the high school and junior college players that the Mavericks had on their recruiting radar.  I quickly found this was a poor action on my part because high school kids are incredibly immature, and following a bunch of 16 to 18 year olds on social media is pretty creepy when you are approaching thirty years old.  Most of these kids just seem so whiny, they don’t really want to work for things, and they want everything handed to them.  That’s kind of true for American culture in general, but I’ve never seen Thurman be whiny.

I see him on Twitter talking about putting in work to get better in school.  I saw him on Twitter talking about putting in work to get better on the basketball court.  Thurman puts in work.  Before the season, he took pride in being a division one athlete, and being a college student, frequently snapping pictures of his new UNO gear and post work out stuff.  Yeah, it is creepy to follow college kids on twitter.  Seriously kids, you need to learn to not put everything out there.  But after struggling at Chicago State, going 1 of 7 from the floor and 2 of 8 from the free throw line, what did he post?


 · Dec 29

I gotta work on FT it’s a must


By the way, the attendance at that Chicago State game:  342, the lowest of any game the Mavs played this season.

When you watch Thurman play, after a missed shot, or a turnover, or a missed opportunity at a rebound, you can see the pain in his eyes.  He’s not a player that just says “aww gee that sucks.”  He’s a young man that accepts ownership and responsibilities for things that don’t go right.  That is becoming a rare find now a days.  When you read about how Thurman asks questions and listens to everything that guys like Mike Rostampour have to tell him, you know he wants to get better and be the best that he can be.  He is not an eighteen or nineteen year old know it all who thinks he has it all figured out already, he accepts that he does not already know everything he needs to know.  That is also a rare find in young kids now a days.  If I were in the same shoes as Thurman, not literally, I know would be incredibly motivated to get better every day in front of my hometown fans.  Hey remember that time Creighton did not offer me a scholarship?  How about that instance Nebraska did not give me an offer?  You were wrong about me, I will show you.

#blackisthenewred
#blackisthenewred

If UNO never made the transition, Thurman would have never became a UNO Maverick.  Maybe he would have became a walk on at Creighton or Nebraska, or maybe a scholarship player at a mid-major in a city you have never heard of.  But Thurman is a Maverick, and just like the UNO athletic program, he is only going to get better.  UNO fans and Omahans that are not die hard Mav fans need to appreciate this while we have it.

 

Mavs take on Summit’s top defenses in three days

What a great freaking weekend for UNO Athletics for events.  A top 15 match up in Hockey versus Denver on Friday and Saturday nights.  UNO women basketball is at Denver on Thursday, and then they have a week to prepare for South Dakota State.  The UNO men have their first two home conference games against North Dakota State on Thursday and South Dakota State on Saturday, each of these two home games are on ESPN3.

The Red Army says I need to hate Denver.  I don’t know why, but if they need the support I am in on it.  I would still love it if UNO, Denver, the Summit League, and the NCHC could find a way to coordinate a weekend of UNO-Denver basketball & hockey in Denver.  It would be a lot of work, but I don’t know many Omahans that don’t like traveling to Denver.  I highly doubt there are too many Denverans that just love getting out to Omaha though.  So wait, yeah, screw Denver.

Okay, on to basketball.  Last year, Derrin Hansen mentioned that a goal of the men’s basketball program was to get to the same level as North Dakota State and South Dakota State.  Not a bad goal, they are consistently the two top teams in the league and we are all along I-29.  They have each made a name for themselves around the country and both come from the same division two background as UNO.

Much of the weekend’s success depends on the health of juniors Jake White and Devin Patterson.  White claimed to be feeling great before the Mavs took on Western Illinois but Patterson did not play.  Last week, White averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds in his first two games back, so hopefully he’s still feeling great because the Mavericks need that, especially against SDSU’s Cody Larson.  Patterson is especially needed for his perimeter defense, and the offense is completely different without him.  The Mavs do not seem to get out to the same pace that they like to play without Patterson in the line up.  It has been mentioned that Jake White will return to the starting line up at some point and I kind of expect him to be back in the starting five this weekend.


North Dakota State

I didn’t pick North Dakota State too high, but they have started conference play off at 2-0, so I feel and look like a stupid head.  They picked up their wins against two of the better, on paper, teams in the Summit League, South Dakota State and Oral Roberts in Fargo.  The Bison only won these two games by a combined total of 9 points, but a roll is a roll, a toll is a toll, and a win is a win.  That’s a Robin Hood: Men in Tights Reference.  If you do not enjoy that film, we would probably have communication issues.

Against Oral Roberts, senior guard Lawrence Alexander scored a career high 31 points, the team shot 11-22 on threes (to ORU’s 10-15),  and as a team they turned over the ball only 6 times.  They also shot 19-20 from the free throw line.  Alexander didn’t get much help from anyone else in the win, no one really shot that particularly well except for sophomore forward Dexter Werner who went 5-9 from the floor for 13 points.

Against South Dakota State, Alexander got more help from his teammates, junior guard Kory Brown led the Bison with 17 points on 8-13 shooting.  The Bison didn’t do as well from three on only 5-17, and they also only shot 17-27 from the free throw line.  But again, the Bison only had 6 turnovers.

As stated before, the Bison are not that deep.  They only play 7, maybe 8 players, when they have to.  Of those 8 players, Alexander is the only senior, two are juniors, two are sophomores, and three are freshmen.  They average the least amount of turnovers in the Summit League, they don’t even average 10, they average 9.2 turnovers a game.  How does such an inexperienced team average so little turnovers?  The Mavs do average nearly 9 steals a game, which is the highest in the Summit, so hopefully they can force the Bison to some turnovers and get them out of their usual rhythm.

I’ve had to listen to the last three UNO games on the radio.  I realized each game I would find myself muttering – why does this (opposing) team make so many threes?  And yes, there were some expletives mixed in.  Chicago State shot 8-16 on threes against UNO, South Dakota was 10-24 from downtown, and Western Illinois went 10-25 from deep.  Looking more into it, UNO has given up the most threes in the conference AND other than Western Illinois they have played the least amount of games at 14.  The Bison are tied at second with South Dakota in the conference in three point field goal percentage.  So this should be a point of worry I would think…

The Bison do not have much size down low, but they do have a lot of size on the wing.  Their main rotation:

F  Chris Kading                       6-8

F  AJ Jacobson                         6-6

G  Kory Brown                        6-4

G  Lawrence Alexander       6-3

G  Carlin Dupree                     6-3

G  Paul Miller                           6-4

F  Dexter Werner                   6-6

So Rostampour, White, Thurman, Murry, and Meyer hold a size advantage in the post.  The Bison have had success with this not being much of a problem, but when the Mavericks get the ball in the paint, they need to capitalize.  With the size of NDSU at the wing position, and lack of size in the post, maybe this means more playing time for Randy Reed this weekend.

UNO has not had much luck against the Bison in recent.  They are 0-5 against the Bison since transitioning and 0-4 in conference play.  The Mavericks have lost 98-65, 95-51, 84-57, 91-69, and 75-59 so it has not exactly been close.  There is no longer a guy named Taylor Braun who had 31 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists in the Bison’s last win against the Mavs.  Nor is there 6’8″ Marshall Bjorklund or 6’7″ TrayVonn Wright, so the Bison’s size that always gave the Mavs big problems is no longer their advantage.

Last season Alexander shot 7-24 in his two games against the Mavericks, so maybe the Mavericks have him figured out.  Alexander is also averaging 38+ minutes so far this season due to the lack of the depth for the Bison.  Not sure if the time is now, but that will eventually catch up with anyone.  Do you pay attention to Creighton?  Remember when Greg McDermott played Antoine Young a ridiculous amount of minutes his senior season?  It caught up to Young and it became difficult for him to close out games.  38+ minutes a game against the Mavs pace of play is not a good recipe for Lawrence Alexander.

CJ Carter averaged 14 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists and shot 8-18 in two games against the Bison last season.  Rostampour fouled out each game, and neither Patterson or Tyus did all that well against the Bison.  Patterson shot 4-19 from the field and 2-8 on threes in two games against the Bison, and Tyus shot 2 of 8 from the field in two games against the Bison last season.  Tyus has become a stud recently and Patterson has been hurt, but a bad recipe for the Mavs against the Bison would be if 2 of your top players can not score the ball, and your top rebounder is on the bench with foul trouble.


South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits are always a league favorite, but they have started conference play off at 0-2, with a loss at Denver and before mentioned North Dakota State.  The Jackrabbits were on a seven game winning streak before dropping four in a row, and will play Western Illinois on Wednesday.

Wisconsin transfer George Marshall did not play well against North Dakota State.  He shot 1 of 9 from the field, but he has hit a three in every single game he has played in so far.  At 5’11” he’s not exactly a pure point guard, he’s more a shooting guard, but I would assume that either CJ Carter or Devin Patterson would be assigned to Marshall.

South Dakota State does not really have much height with Cody Larson being the only player that is taller than 6’6″ that gets significant minutes, but the Jackrabbits still lead the Summit with over 4 blocks a game as a team.  They also have the best defensive field goal percentage in the Summit League with teams are only shooting 42% against SDSU.  Actually they are are 42.1% and North Dakota State is at 42.2%, so UNO is playing two of the best defenses in the League in three days.  So that’s fun.  Teams are also only shooting 33% on threes against the Jackrabbits.  In their current losing steak, the only team that has shot less than 33% on threes against them was North Dakota State, who again, doesn’t turn the ball over and defends well.  SDSU was also down by as many as 20 at one point in the first half and ended up only losing by 3.


Omaha!  Omaha!

The health of Devin Patterson and Jake White is obviously a huge key.  No team is going to do that great when you take two of their best players off the court.  Maybe SDSU is not the same away from Brookings, just about every team is better at home.  All seven of their losses have been away or at a neutral site.  But I think UNO will split this weekend, it is tough to pick up back to back wins against NDSU and SDSU.  I don’t believe any team did it last year when the two schools were travel partners.

Both NDSU and SDSU are larger at the wing positions, but both are smaller in the post, so UNO needs to out run and/or post and score in the paint.  I was listening to Jacob Padilla talk on 1620 the Zone Tuesday night and he spoke of how size was an issue for Creighton.  They are starting three guys at 6’2″ and under, and with teams having bigger wing players, opposing teams can shoot right over the top of Creighton’s wings.  UNO definitely has the same issue with Marcus Tyus, CJ Carter, and Patterson all under 6’2″.  When the NDSU and SDSU wings miss shots, UNO’s posts need to grab boards and get possessions.

Free throws have been an issue for the Mavericks recently:

20-38 vs. Chicago State – L

21-30 vs. South Dakota – W

25-39 vs. Western Illinois – L

There was a period of six minutes in the second half at Western Illinois where each team was fouling and it was a free throw contest for that span.  The Leathernecks would continuously go 2 of 2 on each trip to the line, where the Mavericks would only hit 1 of 2.  If both of the games against NDSU and SDSU remain close games in the second half, UNO can not continue with the same free throw issues.  Hopefully the Mavs can overcome this with their best free throw shooter, Devin Patterson, back in the line up.

Mike Rostampour said on 1620 the Zone on Tuesday night that this Mav team can beat anyone and lose to anyone.  That is entirely true.  The Mavs can either win with smart play or shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers, bad defensive possessions, and poor free throw shooting.  Hopefully with Devin Patterson and Jake White back in the line up, the Mavs can return to full strength and we can see just how good this 2014-2015 Maverick team is.

 

 

 

CJ Carter: One hundred starts later

Until Friday night, the UNO Mavericks men’s basketball team had never won an opening conference game in the Summit League, but this all changed when senior guard CJ Carter led a second half charge over the South Dakota Coyotes to help the Mavericks start the conference schedule on the top winning half of the league.  Could you have found a better way for CJ Carter to celebrate his 100th start as a Maverick?

When UNO made the transition to division one, they cut the wrestling and football programs, which clearly upset some people.  Many said they would never support UNO ever again. Several of those people saying that had never been to a UNO football game, or a wrestling match, it’s just fun to be whiny for most sports fans.  They sat around and just hoped UNO would never be good.  I love getting in a conversation with some dude that says it’s a travesty that UNO cut football and wrestling, and I agree it sucks, but I always ask those people, did you ever go see Zach Miller play quarterback?  No.  Or did you ever go see Greg Zuerlein split the uprights?  No.  Did you ever go see Jake Ellenberger wrestle? No.  Yeah, sounds like it’s really affected your life.  While Zach Miller was helping the Mavericks dominate, these fans were more vested in watching Bill Callahan screw up the Nebraska Cornhuskers so they could complain about it.

Some coaches left UNO and most coaches decided to ride out the storm and help their programs build.  Athletic teams were cut and athletic programs were born.  Student athletes transferred away from UNO, some just plain old quit college athletics, and others transferred into UNO just to say they were division one athletes.  Carter signed with the Mavs when UNO was still a division two team his senior year of high school.  When UNO announced that they would be transitioning to division one, they eliminated any chance that he had at playing in a conference tournament, he could have easily left the school and no one would have blamed him for it.  Many probably thought he would have went to Kearney and had a successful career there.  I think many students in his situation would have said screw it and left.

Carter’s story should remind locals something.  College athletics isn’t about championships.  It’s not about fans going to a Creighton game and seeing Cavel Witter dribble the ball out of bounds off of his shin and claiming he’s a dumb ass, or Kaleb Korver not being his brother, so he’s a waste.  It’s about giving kids an opportunity for a scholarship by doing something that they love and building skills off the court or off the field for a successful future.   Those NCAA commercials about how most college athletes will be going pro in something else don’t end with “because they actually kind of sucked at sports.”  Several conferences in different sports do not let all of their teams into their post season tournaments, some college athletes go all for years without making it to the post season.

Is Carter’s college basketball career the Omaha dream?  Yes it’s been a career filled with several ups and downs a long the way, but a Omaha guy playing his college career to build a program in his hometown.  Taking his program from being something no one cared about or gave credit to and into something people around town are talking about as something to get out and see, something on the rise.  He was given the opportunity to start right away.  He has been a part of Mavs first division one victory against Northern Illinois, got to play against Nebraska in Lincoln in both of their arenas, and scored 25 points in what has been UNO’s best program win at Marquette.  He was even a part of the team’s first post season win in the CIT.  Every first that UNO men’s basketball had in division one, CJ Carter was a part of it in a large way.

When UNO made the transition, local fans outside of the UNO family wrote the Mavericks off.  Assuming they would never be good, and giving the Mavericks no respect.  The locals thought, they’re not playing for the NCAA tournament, so what’s the point?  The Summit League is not the Big 10, or the Big East, or even the Missouri Valley, so who gives a damn?  Had UNO never made the transition, Carter would have played a career that had locals saying “yeah he can play at UNO, but would he be able to make it at the D1 level?”

Averaging double figures as a freshman had Mavnation wondering how his career would go.  Maybe his production would slip once the Mavs got division one guys around him on the roster, and it did slightly his sophomore season, but he was slowed by some injuries as well.  His junior season, when injuries affected Justin Simmons, Carter had to be the one to step up.  He was always kind of the third option up until that, but then he had to be the main guy on the outside, especially when he became a more consistent threat.

He’s the only men’s basketball player that played through all four years of the transition.  As the only guy who has played through all four years of the transition, no player has scored more points in division one than Carter.  No player has more assists, steals, or three pointers since the transition.  No UNO men’s basketball player will ever play as many disrespected minutes as CJ Carter, or as many minutes that “don’t matter” to the locals.  No one will ever fill up the start sheet with a bigger asterisk than CJ Carter has.

I’m not entirely sure if the team has a team MVP award that they give out each season, but if they do, they should call it the Carter Award for now on (and the women should call theirs the Kelly award).  Not many could have done what Carter did.  Several would have decommitted and just gone somewhere else. It’s actually surprisingly easy for most people to give up on stuff because it’s too hard to go through something.  Others that have come to UNO to feel like a division one player, but they could not out do Carter.  Carter came to UNO has a division two player and fought through it to become a division one player.  Many people around here who pretend to know what college basketball is have probably never even heard of CJ Carter.  There will be no statue of CJ Carter built outside of the new arena, nor will the new arena be named after him, but Carter will need to be remembered for what he has done and what he helped UNO build.

 

A pretty bias view of the Summit League

I think it’s pretty pointless to create preseason rankings and predictions before the non conference schedule.  They never really take transfers, junior college players, or freshmen into account.  Just:  This team has this returning, so screw it, we’ll pick them as number one. The non conference schedule is over now (well UNO has North Dakota at the end of the year), so maybe it’s time to start with some predictions?

There is not really a team that is far out ahead of the rest of the conference this year as compared to North Dakota State last year, or South Dakota State in 2012-2013.  There is not a Nate Wolters caliber player really, or even a Taylor Braun.  There isn’t really a large amount of great post players in the Summit this season, but there are a lot of great players at the wing position.  So how do I think it could end up?


1. South Dakota State  9-5  RPI:  141

Before the year started, I thought that South Dakota State would be the best team in league.  In my opinion, they have the league’s best post player Cody Larson, please don’t mistake me for thinking of him as the best post player in the league for me liking him as a person though.  Between watching on tv and in person, I’ve only seen Cody Larson play in five games, and he was kind of a whiny guy when I saw him in person…granted who knows what Mike Rostampour was doing on the floor to get him in a bad mood.  He sure is consistent though.  He averaged 13 points per game, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists last season, and he is doing the exact same thing through 14 games this season.

At the beginning of the year I wrote out some random and awful notes about each team’s roster and miscellaneous stuff.   My notes for SDSU:  Best post player, 2 seniors, 5 juniors, best coach in the league, big team, lots of size, Wisconsin transfer (George Marshall)…

Any time you have a former SEC and a former Big 10 player on the same team in a conference like the Summit League, you’re going to have some success.


2. IPFW  7-6  RPI: 262

The Summit League picked IPFW to win the conference, and it makes a lot of sense.  The Mastadons have size, experience, and really a good all around roster.

Steve Forbes missed 3 games due to an injury, but once he’s back to his regular Hulk like strength, the ‘dons will get on a roll going into conference play.  He returned against Cal Poly and picked up 12 points on 4-12 shooting and only had 2 rebounds.  He’s not going to stay at that poor shooting and that little amount of rebounds forever.  When you first see Forbes you instantly make fun of him.  How could that 300 pound guy run?  Does IPFW have a football team?  Then he starts posting up, and you realize it creates several problems for your teams post players.  It can create a lot of fouls on your team trying to keep him out of the paint.  Out of the 10 games that Forbes has played in, he has had 4 double-doubles, yeah one was against Michigan-Dearborn, but another was against Georgia Tech.

Alongside Forbes the ‘dons have Joe Reed at 6’8″ who is capable of getting 10 points a game.  IPFW also has Isaiah McCray, Mo Evans, and Joe Edwards who all score in double figures.  They have several weapons, it’s true.

Yet despite having a well balanced lineup, IPFW best win from an RPI stand point is over Miami (OH) at 297.  The ‘dons do beat the teams they are supposed to beat, so when they’re picked to win the Summit, maybe they will win the conference they are supposed to win.


3. Denver  6-7  RPI: 228

The Pioneers don’t score a lot of points, they don’t rebound the ball very well, but they play the Princeton offense and they do it well.  As a team the Pioneers shoot 49% from the field, 73% from the line, and 39% on threes, and they only turn the ball over 11 times a game.  Sure their games may be boring and no they haven’t won consecutive games yet this year, but they’re a tough play.  Only 3 of their losses have been rough.  The Pioneers lost by one to undefeated Colorado State, by two to Bryant, by six to Stanford in Palo Alto, and by ten to ranked Northern Iowa.

Denver only has 2 seniors and 4 juniors, but they’re all good and all essential to the operation of the team.  Senior wings Cam Griffin and Brett Olson lead the show and are enough for the Pioneers to pick up wins.  The Pioneers don’t really have much size with only two players that are 6’7″ or taller, but you don’t really need much of a post game when you’re running the Princeton offense.


4. Oral Roberts  6-7  RPI:  210

Coming back the Summit League, Oral Roberts had a tough non conference schedule, but Oral Roberts has always been cool with that.  They feel it makes them a better team by the time non conference comes, and that’s probably true.  They were able to pick up a win against city rival Tulsa who is currently sitting at 61 in RPI.

Scott Sutton is a good coach, he’ll have his team ready.  By the way when I started this I was mixing his name up with Sean Sutton…absolutely the wrong person to mix him up with.  Scott Sutton is rumored for a job at a bigger conference school every year and it never happens.  When ORU Athletic Director is contacted for a reference I find myself wondering if it’s like on The Office when Will Ferrell is giving Ed Helms a reference but is constantly referring to him as completely average.  If you want someone to go above and beyond, then yes, he’s probably not your guy.  Though if you want someone, who will do just enough to keep you happy, then yes Andy Bernard is the guy for you.

Oral Roberts is led by possibly the toughest 1-2 punch at the wing position in the Summit with junior wings Korey Billbury and Obi Emegano who lead the team in scoring and in rebounding.  Again not much size to this team with only 3 players at 6’7″ or taller, but Oral Roberts has a good history in the Summit.


5. Omaha  6-6  RPI:  309

So clearly a blog called “Omavs Blog” is going to have more details on the Omaha Mavericks, but I’ll try to not talk about it too much because much of it has already been talked about.  We thought the win over Marquette was the biggest non conference win by a Summit League team, and it’s the biggest name that a Summit League team beat, but Oral Roberts has the best RPI win with their win over Tulsa.  Omaha also has the worst loss to Chicago State, and in my completely bias opinion, the Mavericks would’ve won that game with Devin Patterson and Jake White in the lineup.  They’re both incredibly important to the team.

If the Mavs continue to have injury problems, they will not finish in the top half of the league, but that’s true with anyone really.  There are still a lot of new faces for the Mavs and trying to figure out a rotation with Jake White and now Devin Patterson out of the lineup has created some issues of getting into a flow with the Mavericks.  The Mavs have size and balance on their roster for the first time, they just need to get it all out on the court for once for a few consecutive games.  The biggest problem for the Mavs is turnovers, too many damn turnovers.


6. North Dakota State  8-5  RPI:  232

Yeah I went there.  I like North Dakota State, so it’s incredibly sad that I’m not entirely sold on them.  They lost a lot from their conference championship team last year.  Yes, they have the best player in the conference, Lawrence Alexander, and A.J. Jacobson is right up there with Tre’Shawn Thurman as contenders for Freshman of the Year, but they are quite young with only 3 upper classmen and have a new (but good) coach.  They don’t shoot all that well as a team at 40%, but they only turn the ball over 10 times a game.  NDSU also is quite big, their shortest player is only 6’2″.

There isn’t really a win that sticks out for the Bison as far as anything that should be shocking.  The Bison are another team that win the games they are supposed to win.  They did start the year out rough on the road against Texas and Iowa, losing both games by 30 plus.  The Mavs are 0-4 against North Dakota State since joining the Summit League, but could this be the year Omaha picks up a win against the Bison, or at least not get embarrassed?


7.  South Dakota  6-8  RPI:  284

Yes, I went there again.  Several people were down on the Coyotes before the season started, with good reason, but 6-8 in non conference for South Dakota is far above anyone’s expectations.  UNO beating Marquette was a big surprise for everyone, but South Dakota taking Creighton to two overtimes and only losing by 3?  That’s the biggest surprise in the Summit League in my opinion.

It’s been kind of a running theme that many of the teams around the conference are pretty young, but everyone in South Dakota’s rotation is a junior or senior, and they can shoot.  I probably sound like I am in love with experience or something, but in a conference like the Summit League, experience matters.  There was always that high school team that was never really had that great of a roster, but they were loaded with seniors, and those teams can surprise someone from time to time for an upset.

Has anyone noticed that 6’3″ Tyler Larson is averaging 16 points per game and 8 rebounds per game?  He’s also leading his team in assists with 3.6 per game.  Any team in the Summit would kill for that production.


8.  Western Illinois  5-6  RPI:  323

Garret Covington is a great player, but there is not much else going on with the Leathernecks.  As a team they only shoot 32% on threes, and 40% from the floor.  Ouch.  They have 5 wins, but two of them are against Anderson and Greenville, you probably haven’t heard of them… Another two of their wins were only by three points at home.

Junior College transfer JC Fuller has shown some promise and is starting to show some consistency scoring in double figures in their last 4 non conference games.  Fuller, to some extent, had some interest from Omaha.


9.  IUPUI  4-10  RPI:  293

Honestly, I’m surprised the Jaguars have four wins.  They don’t score many points, in fact, their leading scorer Marcellus Barksdale only averages 8.4 points per game.  They also don’t rebound that well, or shoot that well at 40% from the field.  Let’s just say this isn’t going to be their year.

But looking ahead, they have a brand new arena, and have you seen the dorms at IUPUI?  It’s like living in a 5 star hotel.  Matt O’Leary, Nick Osborne, Darell Combs, and Jordan Pickett are all sitting out due to transfer, and they’re all guys that would help this team out this year.  When you have a pretty young roster getting playing time and learning to play together, and then the next year you throw in some guys that have played and sat out a year to basically practice, you’re going to improve quickly when those transfer players get eligible next season.


All Summit League First Team

C  Steve Forbes  SR  IPFW

F  Cody Larson  SR  South Dakota State

G  Tyler Larson  SR  South Dakota

G  Lawrence Alexander  SR  North Dakota State

G  Devin Patterson  JR  Omaha

All Summit League Second Team  (Alphabetical Order)

G  Korey Billbury  JR  Oral Roberts

G  CJ Carter  SR  Omaha

G  Garret Covington  SO  Western Illinois

G  Obi Emegano  JR  Oral Roberts

G  Cam Griffin  SR  Denver

All Freshmen Team

G  Aaron Brennan  IUPUI

F  A.J. Jacobson  North Dakota State

G  Paul Miller  North Dakota State

G  Reed Tellinghuisen  South Dakota State

F  Tre’Shawn Thurman  Omaha