While a great game, senior night did not end the way we wanted, and Devin Patterson is the boss

It seems that the Mavericks have had the same story to each loss so far this season.  Mavs get off to a great start, Mavs turn the ball over a bit and let the other team into the game, game gets close, CJ Carter and/or Marcus Tyus do what they can to keep the game close, Mavs miss some key free throws while the other team becomes incapable of missing free throws, and then I leave home sad.  Even though last night’s game ended with a loss, it was refreshing to see a little bit of a different story.

The Mavs did not get off to the greatest start in this one.  There were some poor decisions in the beginning, bad turnovers, bad luck, bad shots, and a lot of fouls.  Then they fought to get back into the game a bit, kept it at a close game, got down by a few possessions, then cut it back down to a position, and even take a lead.  It became a back and forth game, rather than watching than a runaway bride game.  Jake White, Randy Reed, and Kyler Erickson all came off the bench to give the team a much needed jump start.  Each played with great energy that has been needed of the Mavs bench all season, we saw a few lineups that we had not seen all year due to Tyus being out, Mike Rostampour in foul trouble, and CJ getting stitched up.

I brought my wife to the game, my wife does not get to many games due to a busy work and school schedule, but it is like having the world’s most critical commentator next to you.  I have gone to sporting events with women in the past and they point out the things that you do not typically see as a dude, like, hey that player has stupid hair, he should cut his hair.  My wife on the other hand played basketball for several years and is also coaches high school, so yes it can be emasculating at times.

Anyway, at her first game my wife sits down and asks “who is their best player”?  I tell her that each of the key players brings something different that puts them in as the best at something on the team.  Mike Rostampour is the best post defender and rebounder, Marcus Tyus is the best shooter, CJ Carter is the best slasher at getting to the basket, and Devin Patterson is probably just the most important player.  If he has a 2-7 shooting performance, the Mavs are not going to have a good time.  If he gets into foul trouble or rolls his ankle, the Mavs are not going to have a good time.  26 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists at Marquette, the Mavs had a good time.  2 of 8 with 7 points and 7 turnover against Kansas State, the Mavs did not have a good time.  MmmmK.  Things got bad for the Mavs this season when Patterson basically had to sit for 2 and a half games due to injuries, and you could tell he was still at least a little bit slowed down after that for a number of games.

My wife was a point guard, and her number in high school and in college was 3, so she has an instant respect for the junior point guard.  The coach in my wife points out every miscue by the Mavericks:  they are not moving, that was not the best shot available on that play, that player needs to figure out how to box out, that asshole does not want to play defense, I hate players who cannot catch the ball, but not as much as I hate players who pass an uncatchable pass, that idiot keeps dribbling the ball into traffic and he has three turnovers because of it.

So a lot of that was from the South Dakota loss, my wife did not have all of those complaints on Thursday against Oral Roberts.  Mike Rostampour picked up three quick fouls and you can tell some energy is taken out of the crowd.  Rostampour is the energy provider, best post defender, and it is also his senior day and he has to go sit down for 16+ minutes, so yeah there was some energy taken out of the crowd.  Jake White comes in and provides some energy, but Randy Reed really brought it last night.  My wife asks, we did not see him against South Dakota, why does this guy not play more?  I have no answer, I do not know why really, I have felt he has needed more minutes all year.

With Rostampour limited with foul trouble, and already with no Marcus Tyus, and with CJ Carter only having 4 points at half time, many of the fans around me felt like the game was over.  If you have watched the Mavs all season and seen that the story is much of the same game after game, I could see people feeling that, but this was not the typical game.  The game never got so out of hand that you could see the players giving up, they fought through everything, even though the game did not end the way the Mavs wanted to, you have to proud of the effort and the fight.

I think the most frustrating thing as a player in a close loss like that is after the game you will find yourself sitting there thinking, if I would have just not turned it over on that one play, or missed that one shot, or driven right instead of left on that play with a few minutes to go in first half, we could have won that game.  I can think of one play that me thinking, had that gone down differently, maybe they could have won that game.  With much of the team returning for next season, the team can learn from these moments and fix a lot of the mistakes.

I never like to the blame the officials for a loss, and I still do not blame them for last night’s loss, but they were confusing and knit picky at times last night.  Mid-major officials being inconsistent?  Get out of here, that never happens… The Summit League officials seem to always want to keep Mike Rostampour in check, which they should do with any player, but at times it seems like they are singling him out.  A double technical foul in the game AND a double foul of a block on the defender and charge on the offensive player tells you that the refs are afraid to look like bad guys.  I officiated basketball for a few years, you can tell the refs that do not want to be the bad guy and the guys who do not care what you think about them.  The refs that don’t want to be the bad guy call make up calls, and it makes people want to punch them in the face.

Refs are people too, they typically do not like being yelled at, and it is not like they get to explain themselves like an annoying Customer Service agent with some BS lingo.   You want the refs who forget about what a player did five games ago, the Summit League has officials who want to make sure the players know they have things in check.  Take Garth Algar’s advice on wanting expensive guitars, LIVE IN THE NOW!  They do not look at it play by play, they look at is as Well This Guy Was a Jerk Last Month, I Will Give Him a Foul For Rolling His Eyes at Another Player.  Don’t get me wrong, if some player caused a huge fight a month ago, yeah you want to make sure that guy does not do that again.  Rostampour has not been out there punching dudes, there is no reason to “keep him in check” just because he plays like he cares.  You want the refs that take thirty seconds of their life to proactively tell a player that they will call a foul if do that one bad thing again,  there is a reason why Karl Hess is now only officiating basketball games at Nazi Summer Camp.  Watch an Atlantic 10 game some time, ALL of their refs are Look at Me and I’ll Cut You refs, their players are basically not allowed to play with emotion, a guy like Mike Rostampour would only play 5 minutes a game and average 5 fouls a game in the Atlantic 10.

Mickey Gordon wanted to be the first to say farewell.
Mickey Gordon wanted to be the first to say farewell.

My wife and I were in Kansas City for a UNO at UMKC game in 2012-2013 and we sat directly behind the UMKC bench…we were even seen in the picture that UMKC used as the photo for the presser of the firing of Matt Brown.  Anyway, there was one ref, and Matt Brown would have a complaint and try and talk to the guy, and the guy would come over and make some stupid joke and have a stupid shit eating grin on his face every time and laugh like it was the appropriate time for his failure of a comedy routine.  I wanted to yell at this ref for Matt Brown.  How much would that mess up that ref?  He’s incompetent and trying to be a comedian for a pissed off coach, and the guy sitting behind the bench with the opposing team’s shirt gets up and calls him out as an idiot?  I have not seen that ref work a Summit League game since that year, and I watch a lot of them thanks to ESPN3 replay options.  If he got promoted I will be really upset.  Mild mannered Derrin Hansen was even out at center court yelling at the refs that game because they were unorganized and messing things up.  Comedy Ref stood there with incompetence the entire time, he just wanted to be everyone’s buddy.  The Mavs won that game, I think it was their first Summit League road win, but they won that game partly with learning to deal with incompetent refs.  This reminds me, why the hell is UMKC in the WAC?

A three paragraph tangent about refs might be a new record for myself.  Where was I?  Last night, yeah that’s right.  It was a frustrating loss, but what loss is not frustrating?  The most frustrating are the ones where you realize you deserved that loss due to not working hard.  The ones like last night, you can actually learn something and move one, so we will do that, we will move on.  We will lose two great seniors that helped set the ground work for division one, and who will not be forgotten.  Last night when both were sidelined, we were shown that we will be in great hands in the future.  The seniors to be, and sophomore Tre’Shawn Thurman, showed great energy and that they are ready for next year.  We are in great shape because of what the two of them provided.

I say that Devin Patterson is the most important piece of the team, and that is because he keeps things moving (among other factors).   Not only on offense, but on defense he can great so many bad situations for the other team.  My wife averaged 4+ steals a game as a freshman in high school, and her favorite thing about basketball was being “the little girl” but also being able to install so much fear into her opponents that they would shit their pants.  I have not verified if she made anyone literally shit their pants, but those were her words.  Devin Patterson does that for the Mavericks, he creates fear for the opposing team and they try to keep the ball away from him, but they cannot do it.  We can see that Mike Rostampour brings energy and gave the Mavs heart when they desperately needed it, and Devin Patterson brought that too when he came to Omaha.

At one point the Mavs were literally not moving, just four dudes standing around (while one picked up his dribble) like they were in a Jurassic Park film trying to not be seen by the T-Rex.  You could see Patterson yell at them after that.  I am not sure if he was scolding them for not moving, but they started moving around more and more after that.  I have seen him yell at players before for making poor choices, and they typically listen and respond, or end up on the bench for not listening to what he had to say.  He had this just ridiculous array of moves for the Mavs first basket last night, most NBA players would not have been able to defend it.  My wife who was frustrated by the first few minutes of the game, instantly put down her drink and clapped for him with respect.  Post game, she said “I can completely see what you mean by saying he is the most important player on the team.”  When things got bad, he made things happen for the team last night.

So after last night’s performance, even though it did not end up as a win, I hope that Carter and Rostampour can feel confident about Patterson, White, Tyus, and the rest of the crew to carry on what they worked hard to help build as a positive future for the Mavericks basketball team.

Don’t forget though, they still have three games left.  One game is even on ESPN3

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Hey, are you going to UNO Mavericks senior night?

So Thursday against Oral Roberts is Senior Night for CJ Carter and Mike Rostampour…it’s also CJ Carter’s birthday.  So I am just going to suggest that the student section bring confetti and toss it up in the air after Carter’s first field goal.

Remember that time I bragged about my wife being a division one athlete?  Okay, I will do it again.  My wife is and was a tough competitor, one who never played with a smile on her face and never let her opponent see any fear.  She claims to have never cried over anything, except for her senior day.  It was a culmination of a career that she never expected to have and that never prepared her for the emotions of her senior day.  My wife was recruited by bigger schools for softball, but academics were more important her than going to a bigger conference school as she wanted to be a college professor after her college playing days were over, not a professional softball player.  As a softball player though, she dreamed and hoped of going to a program not known for excellence and helping turn them into a dominant team, but the dream never materialized for a various number of factors.

If both of you that read this are curious, my wife had a scholarship offer to play softball at Creighton but turned it down.  It was partly because Omaha was too cold for her (even though she would end up here 5 years later), and because they did not have a good enough of an academic program for her.  Yes Creighton homers, someone said that about your educational program.

Perhaps I see a similar thing with Carter and Rostampour.  Both players knew there was not a shot of upsetting anyone in the conference tournament, or the NCAA tournament, but they knew they were going to help build a program.  Both are here to help set traditions for a program that has no Division 1 tradition as it is still just a baby in terms of being division one.  Their careers became examples of how to play on the court for future Mavericks and that college athletics is actually more about getting an education than winning conference tournaments.

They certainly do have a good cop-bad cop routine going.  CJ Carter always has a smile on his face through the good times and bad times.  His smile reminds you of all the blackjack dealers at Indian casinos that smile, dance, and celebrate every time they screw you over with a 21 to your 20.  I will beat you one day WinnaVegas!  I was not sure if Rostampour had the proper muscles in his face to pull of a smile until I saw the team’s photo on their website.  He constantly has a facial expression like he is auditioning for a part in the next Batman movie as the dead faced Mr. Freeze.  You would take him as Mr. Freeze over Arnold any day.

Seriously, look at Rostampour's smile.  I am uncomfortable.
Seriously, look at Rostampour’s smile. I am uncomfortable.

CJ Carter was here for four years, the program’s first 4 year starter.  Much of the Omaha community that measures a college basketball program’s success with attendance ratings and corporate sponsor ships has not given much respect to the non-hockey sports at UNO.  Seriously, I talk to some people that still are not aware that they moved to division one.  So with that, no one has played or will play more “meaningless” minutes than CJ Carter, or scored more disrespected points, dished out more assists to field goals that went unnoticed, snatched more steals that went to possessions that led to fast breaks that people automatically discredit around here.  He’s also hit a lot of threes, but I ran out of ways to say things.

Mike Rostampour added a much needed toughness to a UNO front court that lacked size, rebounding, and heart at times.  I mean no disrespect to John Karhoff, Matt Hagerbaumer, or Alex Welhouse, they played with everything that they could, but they were in several mismatches as the team was transitioning in the beginning.  Rostampour added toughness to that group, another body to box out, and as a big time rebounder he was the missing piece in the front court.  Even though he has an unsmiley face, no one during the transition played with as much emotion and intensity during the run, for the UNO Mavericks or for the Summit League.  Rostampour has really set a high bar for performance at UNO.  Before Rostampour, UNO players had the body language of guys that expected loss, Rostampour changed the atmosphere to a group of guys that expected success.  He knew that UNO had no chance for a post season when he got here, he could have state at St. Cloud State, but he came anyway, and it appears that he has embraced every moment of it.

Something that really surprised me about Rostampour, okay a lot of things have surprised me about Rostampour, but recently in an Omaha World Herald article, it was mentioned that he did not like the junior college that he played for because it was a basketball prison.  They cared very little for academics and just wanted the team to play basketball.  I did not except that from Rostampour.  As a fan, I do not follow him around from class to class and take notice of the hard work that he puts into that aspect of his life.  As a fan, I just see the love that he puts into the game and notice the hard work that he puts into the sport.  It was refreshing to take notice of an athlete that can appreciate the sport and the classroom.  I have met several athletes that thought class was just a pain or an inconvenience.

So senior day.  My wife cried because it was the end, the end of an era of her life that she could never relive.  She worked hard to help build that team for four year and it never materialized, it did not entirely work out the way she wanted.  Her Belmont team was not able to make the conference tournament.  She and her team did not have much support in the beginning, many players did not give a damn in the beginning, and her junior and senior years she finally had a competent coach but would never get to be on a team that the coach could have as a final product.  If you are curious that is coach Amy Tudor, who left Belmont for Summit League IPFW and left IPFW to go to her home of Western Kentucky.  Belmont and IPFW are currently poor at softball, Western Kentucky is doing quite well (they beat Nebraska this last weekend).

So I ask this, my wife did not have the exact same experience at Belmont that Carter and Rostampour have had in Omaha, but there are some similarities.  Will we see tears from CJ Carter, who gave everything he could to UNO, his hometown, the same place that did not fully recognize his efforts for all four years?  Will we see tears from the fearless Mike Rostampour, who knew what he was getting himself into, that had a goal of toughening up this Maverick team?  It is not that I like seeing guys in their early 20s brought to tears, but as a fans, I think it shows us that we did our part to let them know that we cared about them as much as they cared about us.  It shows us that they do not want to leave Mavnation and that this was all worth it.  As fans our tears could not be enough to repay them for their efforts, sad to see them go, we repay them by showing up to every game in the future that we can to support the team and the program that they helped grow.  We do what we can to get this team to where guys like Carter and Rostampour envisioned it to be.  Let’s not have the program turn into a Nicolas Cage film.

The growing (and crazy) student section, that is a great start.

Okay, so who are the Mavs playing on Thursday?

 

References from Space Jam to Bill Brasky can only mean one thing, South Dakota is coming to town

Okay, you’re Lebowski, I’m a Lebowski, you’re along I-29, I’m along I-29, you used to be D-2, I used to be D-2, you’ve lost four of your last five, I’ve lost four of my last five, now get on with it.

Ever since joining the Summit League, I have always thought that the UNO Mavericks were on an even plain as the South Dakota Coyotes.  They are both former NCC members, both schools seem to be going after some of the same recruits, they are in the shadow of South Dakota State, and the Mavs kind of are too.  Since joining division one, UNO has gone 3-3 against the Coyotes, they split games in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, and UNO was able to pick up a come from behind win in Vermillion earlier this season.

Fact, Vermillion is a dumb name for a town.

The Coyotes field a squad that is mostly juniors and seniors on their roster, they have 9 freaking juniors on the roster.  There is not much height to the team, but they do have 6’10” James Hunter who transferred from Pac-12 powerhouse Washington State.  If you have an allegiance to the pacific northwest, you would know that was sarcasm.  With little height on the team, there is not much of a post game for the Coyotes.  UNO posts Mike Rostampour, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and Jake White were able to combine for 29 points, 26 rebounds, and shoot a combined 9-18 from the field in the first meeting between the two teams.  That is not to say that the Coyotes are a terrible rebounding team.  They matched UNO’s 38 rebounds in their game earlier this season, and 6’3″ Tyler Larson averages just under 8 rebounds a game.

Fact, South Dakota fans are weird.

I say these programs have similarities, but their fans confuse me.  I attended last year’s game in Omaha between the two teams.  A decent number of South Dakota fans showed up, which makes sense as they are the closest Summit League school to Omaha, and every fan was the same.  They looked as if they took a break from fixing their tractors, like they came down to Omaha and hit up an Applebee’s before the game, drank too much beer in Ralston Arena, and acted as if the Coyotes were the representing the Tune Land Tune Squad.  Have you ever seen those sketches from Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin and John Goodman drinking too much and shouting ridiculous stuff about a magical man named Bill Brasky?  Put South Dakota Coyote shirts on those two characters, and that’s what I saw in these people.  Always talking as if the Caps Lock button is stuck, or like they cannot take the Caps Lock off because there is a drink in that hand.

BRANDON BOS ONCE HIT A THREE POINTER WITH HIS HANDS TIED BEHIND HIS BACK AND HAD TO SHOOT THE BALL WITH HIS NOSE LIKE HE WAS AIR BUD.  TO BRANDON BOS!!!

TYLER LARSON ONCE DUNKED THE BALL SO HARD THAT HE PULLED OFF THE RIM AND HE FLEW OFF THE RIM INTO SUPER MARIO WORLD.  TO TYLER LARSON!!!

CASEY KASPERBAUER CAN HIT A THREE POINTER FROM SO FAR AWAY HE FLEW TO SUPER MARIO WORLD TO SAVE TYLER LARSON AND THEN SHOT A THREE FROM BOWSER’S CASTLE TO VERMILLION TO WIN A GAME OVER SOUTH DAKOTA STATE.  TO CASEY KASPERBAUER!!!

Watch out for characters like this when South Dakota comes to Omaha.
Watch out for characters like this when South Dakota comes to Omaha.

South Dakota takes a lot of threes, and they hit a lot of threes.  Overall they are 4th in the Summit in 3 point field goal percentage, but the numbers have dipped a bit recently and overall they have the 2nd worst field goal percentage in the league.  The game in Vermillion was the first game of the year in which UNO’s opponent hit more 3s than Omaha and Omaha still won the game.  So the post play for UNO is important here, as South Dakota has very little of it.

Much about the threes is the same for Omaha.  The Mavs have shooters, but they have not really put up a lot in a game in the last 5 games.  What do you define as “a lot of threes”?  I would probably say seven.  Seven sounds good.  Seven minute abs.  Seven little dwarfs.  Seven miles an hour.  Seven Costanza.  The Mavs have not hit more than 6 threes since January 14th and 18th.  They also have given up a lot of threes recently, as the perimeter defense seems to be facing a new challenge game after game.  The Mavs have given up 6 or more threes in each of the last 5 games, in fact there has only been one game this season in which the Mavs have given up less than 5 threes.  Yeah, take that Nevada.

These last 6 games for UNO are important.  You do not want to see the Mavs get any worse as they are trying to grow as a program, but with their current record they cannot finish above .500.  If they go 3-3 in their last 6 games they will match their 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 win totals of 11, which 2011-2012 is kind of skewed because the schedule was a mix of D-1, D-2, NAIA, and whatever else is out there.  They only had one win that year against a D-1 opponent, take that Northern Illinois.  Three wins is doable against South Dakota, Oral Roberts, Western Illinois, North Dakota, IUPUI, and IPFW.

These last three home games are the last home games we will see of seniors CJ Carter and Mike Rostampour.  Would you expect them to not go out with a bang?  They both bring it every single game, with the last three home games on the horizon, I cannot imagine them just taking a backseat, like, hey, let the guys that are going to be here next year get some time.  No, no, no, no.

In six career games against South Dakota, CJ Carter has only not made double figures once.  His sophomore season, the Mavs lost 95-72, and Carter only had 4 points.  Overall, in the 6 career games he has averaged 16 points per game and shot 43% from the field.

In three career games against South Dakota, Mike Rostampour has not scored less than 10.  He has averaged 12.6 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, shot 48% from the field, and shot 83% from the line.  Safe to say South Dakota’s front line is no match for Mike Rostampour?

How about Marcus Tyus?  In 5 career games he has shot 55% from the field and scored 11.2 points per game against South Dakota.  Tyus has turned into the most consistent scorer for the Mavs this season.

But does anyone else feel like we are due for a big time performance from Devin Patterson?  I would place a bet on that, but not like Krusty the Klown betting against the Harlem Globetrotters because he thought the Generals were due.

At one time, I thought that Patterson was the best pure point guard in the Summit League.  I still think that, but ever since his ankle injury he has not been the same.  The quickness is not there like it was earlier in the season.  I was told prior to the beginning of the year that he broke his toe and is letting it heal on its own, which may or may not be the best course of action.  Patterson’s game against Marquette of 26 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 11-12 free throws may be the best performance by a Mav ever considering the stage.  Patterson really is the biggest x-factor for this team.  He and Rostampour added toughness to this squad when they entered the starting lineup in 2013-2014, he may not be the scorer that Carter or Tyus are, but when Patterson runs the offense, and when he does well, the team does well.  I want my Patterson back.  It is just a lot of ground to make up when you take the best point guard in the league, give him an ankle injury, and slow him down given how important he is to the Mavericks.

There are some Omaha ties to this South Dakota team.  I do not have this 100% verified but I am pretty sure Casey Kasperbauer’s brother played at Nebraska and currently lives and works in Omaha, even went to graduate school at UNO.  Kasperbauer is from Carroll, Iowa, which has produced some decent basketball talent in past.  Junior Duol Mayot is a Omaha south grad, he was a great rebounder at the JuCo level, but he really has not gotten a bunch of playing time at South Dakota yet.  There was apparently some interest in Mayot to come to UNO, but I do not think that a scholarship was ever offered.  Freshman Dejon Davis is from Minnesota, an area that UNO likes to recruit out of, and he also had some interest from UNO, but I am also not sure if a scholarship was ever offered by the UNO staff.

Head coach Craig Smith is a former assistant of Nebraska’s Tim Miles, like Tim Miles he is known for improving teams.  He did it at the NAIA level, he was the national NAIA Coach of the Year in 2007, and he also helped Tim Miles improve North Dakota State, Colorado State, and Nebraska.  He gets to Nebraska and recruits, I am not sure how much of an influence he had on it, but at Colorado State they had 4 native Nebraskans on the team when they reached the NCAA tournament.  Along with Mayot, he has Logan Power from Lincoln as a walk on, and he also picked up a commitment from Norfolk’s Tyler Hagedorn, who also held an offer from UNO.  Smith has already led his squad into Omaha once already and almost came up with a win at Creighton, which makes Mav fans happy and mad at the same time.

Given the circumstances this kind of seems like a must win game for the Mavs.

By the way, am I the only one that wants South Dakota-UNO to be a big time rivalry?

 

Meet future Maverick J.T. Gibson

With just a few weeks left in the basketball season, and with an 8-15 record, Mav fans may begin looking to UNO’s first full fledged season as a Division 1 institution.  It’s okay to admit it, we have been looking forward to the 2015-2016 season for quite some time now.

Let’s add some more hype to next season by taking a minute to discuss future guard J.T. Gibson.  I have stated before that it seems somewhat pointless to talk about recruiting, you do not really know what you have in a player until he is actually in a uniform on the court in a game.  But hey, let’s try it.

Just looking at a few things, the commitment of Gibson already seems like a win for the Mavericks.  The Mavs have wanted to recruit out of the state of Minnesota for a while now, even before transition, it was a great place to go on recruiting trips.  With only one division one basketball team in the state of Minnesota, which is a Power 5 team that can recruit nationally, it leaves a lot of room open for “the other guy” to come and try and sell brake pads.  That’s a Tommy Boy reference, a poor one, but still a Tommy Boy reference.

studentathletes
J.T. Gibson signed with the University of Nebraska at Omaha for basketball.

 

If you look at Gibson’s Yahoo profile, he held offers from Illinois State, La Salle, North Dakota, Northern Colorado, South Dakota, Western Kentucky, and the top dogs of the Summit League North Dakota State and South Dakota State.  He also visited NDSU and SDSU.  UNO has not gotten a commitment out of a guy yet that has had that many offers.  A goal of the basketball program was to grow into the next North Dakota State and South Dakota State, so to pick up a commitment from a guy that visited those two schools, shows us that UNO picked up a win.

Let’s not get crazy though, he still has to get on campus and play.  By that I mean, please don’t jinx it and go get in a fight with a Bison or Jackrabbit fan about how we’re better than them now, don’t be that dude.  Players have committed to UNO and vanished before, so let’s just appreciate what it’s worth for now.  The Minnesota High School Basketball bloggers and writers have referred to UNO picking up JT Gibson as a “steal”.  Some of them seem to think he could be at a bigger school, maybe not as an immediate impact like he would be in the Summit League, but an impact for sure at some point down the road.

Assuming and praying that Gibson is in uniform next season for UNO, he has the chance to contribute right away. UNO still has room for one more commitment and current players could still potentially transfer out, so there is still time for a lot of things to happen.  I have seen Gibson listed anywhere between 6’2″ and 6’4″, and he’s been scouted as being able to play the point guard or shooting guard.  So on paper it sounds like we have a special wing player that can do a lot.

One thing I would like to put a random disclaimer on.  I mention this kid’s height like it is an awesome thing, but height and athletic frame do not automatically equate to success.  I never want to refer to a player as “a kid with a great body.”  I was watching a Creighton game with some friends one time.  It was P’Allen Stinnett’ s first game at Creighton, also the first game for Kaleb Korver and Casey Harriman (among several others).  Biggest Douche in the Universe Nominee Travis Justice, that’s a South Park reference, kept referring to Casey Harriman as having a great body to the point that it became creepy.  It created four years of my friends and I passing jokes on Casey “the body” Harriman.  “The Body” faced many injuries over his career, and he was a classy dude, it was tough to watch him not turn into much at Creighton by his senior year.  I do not think we should ever tout someone as a great player because their body looks awesome.  The last thing I want to hear Gary Sharp say is “look at the body on Daniel Meyer.”  Just say it out loud, it’s seriously creepy.  The one take away you should take away from this is that Travis Justice is a freakin’ loser.  I met the guy once when I was in high school, I tried to be nice to him because hey, it was Mr. Channel 10.  Now I would just be a jerk to him.  Hey Travis, I am really sorry you lost out to John Edward.  The committee should have really given the award to you.  That’s back to the South Park reference.

Gibson’s high school team is undefeated (as of the 7th) and he has the most points in school history.  He is even up for Mr. Basketball in the state of Minnesota.  You are thinking of him on the floor with Tre’Shawn Thurman right now, aren’t you?  Gibson also comes from the same AAU team that some guy named Doug McDermott spent time on.

Here is a little video of him:

It looks as if he can shoot, and shoot well.  He also appears to be a good ball handler and passer, but I believe those skills get a little harder to showcase in the next level when you are facing tougher defenses, so we have to obviously wait and see if those skills will translate.  Would you compare him to any current and former Mavs?  Maybe the height of Justin Simmons, the shooting and ball handling of Marcus Tyus, the speed and penetration of CJ Carter?  Mavenstein!

Looking at the Mavs future, there will be J.T. Gibson along with (assuming these guys do not leave) Daniel Meyer, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Rylan Murry, and Devin Newsome as well as other signees C Zach Pirog and G Zach Jackson.  A decent crew it seems.  It certainly does seem attractive to think of those guys as a seniors with J.T. Gibson in the mix as a junior (along with the Zachs).

North Dakota State is a young team this year, they only lose Lawrence Alexander, who is the best player in the conference in my opinion.  They also have four decent commitments coming in, which includes a JuCo player named Malik Clements who once held a scholarship offer from UNO and they also have native Nebraskan Spencer Eliason, brother of Minnesota Gopher Elliott Eliason.

Oh, look who wanted this kid...
Oh, look who wanted this kid…

The other head honcho in the conference, South Dakota State, does not have any commitments yet, but they are also a somewhat young team that only loses two players to graduation.  South Dakota State could also land a transfer from a bigger school, or a juco player, they just have the power to do that.  They also have Nebraskan native Michael Daum, who also held a scholarship offer from UNO at one point, redshirting this season.

That’s not to say no one else in the conference has anything else sitting there for future purposes.  South Dakota picked up a commitment from Norfolk’s Tyler Hagedorn, another player UNO offered a scholarship.  You are also just sitting there thinking that Craig Smith is going to do something.  He’s waiting, he’s a sleeping giant that has already made South Dakota better, and will continue to make them better, until he probably gets a bigger and better job.  Denver picked up a commitment from a 6’5″ McDonald’s All American nominee (Rylan Murry was also a nominee, just sayin’).

On paper, it seems that the Mavs are inching closer to being comparable to North Dakota State and South Dakota State, and Gibson is one of the puzzle pieces to hopefully get us there.