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!!!
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?