Near campus restaurant review: Three Happiness Express

The UNO Mavericks are headed to the Frozen Four!  I also have no idea how to talk about hockey.  It is fun, I love the Mavericks hockey program, I have been to a couple NHL games, I know all of the rules and I reffed floor hockey and was pretty good at it (yes I know they are two different things), but in the end I do not know what makes a good play a good play unless the puck goes in the net or the UNO goalie stops the puck from going in the net.  The first hockey game I ever went to, the student section friended the opposing players on Facebook and found pictures of them drinking at a toga party, and the UNO students printed off giant posters of the pictures and held them up at the game.  It was brilliant.  There is a Wisconsin native and Badger sport fan that I work with that was going on and on about the Final Four, and I said “big deal, is Wisconsin going to the Frozen Four?  Nope.”  He then shut up and went away, it felt great.  He also did not seem to thrilled when I talked up UNOs win over Marquette in basketball, or the women’s win in Milwaukee.

Okay, so that is about all I can say about hockey, and since only about 6 of you are regularly reading this anyway, I thought I would take a different route, a restaurant review!

Many UNO students know about what Aksarben has to offer from DJ Dugout to Voodoo Taco, they know all the great spots down there.  There is one fine little restaurant near campus that I feel gets overlooked, and that is Three Happiness Express, just on the other side of Elmwood Park on Leavenworth.  The name is weird, and it is small, but the service is great and the food is delicious.

When you sit down you feel like you are in a small cafeteria, and the staff will find you within a minute and welcome you and ask you what you want to drink.  They will hand you a menu and then you have a little time to answer three basic questions:  What entree would you like?  Hot and sour soup, wonton soup, or egg drop soup?  Crab rangoon or eggroll?  If you answer the questions before even being asked, you will instantly feel a bit of confidence about yourself, which is good because you are about to fill yourself with a bunch of carbs and calories.  Calories are energy or something like that.

If you are like me, you live by a simple rule when going to Chinese restaurants.  That rule is:  you always order sweet and sour chicken with sauce on the side for your first time at a Chinese restaurant.  Why have this rule?  It is the most American thing on the menu and you will feel like a 6 year old eating chicken nuggets while your parents eat a real meal.  The reason I do it though is that I feel that is the audition for Chinese restaurants.  If you screw up this simple meal, then what good are you?  If you can impress me with this meal, then I will come back.  There is a small Chinese restaurant at about 108th & Q streets, they failed the audition, the grossest I sweet and sour chicken that I have ever had.  Three Happiness nailed it though.

The soup is great too, I always order the Sweet and Sour Soup, I just wanted to let you know a little more about me.  My friends all seem to prefer the egg drop soup, I have a couple that always throw in ice because they cannot handle the heat of the egg drop.  So basic… but it is cool because I can make fun of them for the duration of the meal.  My friends and I have never had any complaints about Three Happiness.  None of us really live near UNO anymore, so after a while of not talking as much as we should, someone will send out a group text of “Three Happy?” and then we are all on board to meet there.  You can even get a cute little card that says you will get a free meal after you have eaten 10 meals there, which is a reward in itself.  Elaine Benes knows what it is like to get that food that you earned.

I have a friend that went to college at UNL and I took him to Three Happiness, and he said that he thought this should be a popular place for the UNO students.  It definitely should be.  One semester for Finals week, I took my books there and ate Chinese food by myself and studied my material.  The staff was incredibly supportive, and they would try and keep my food away from my books.  They even whispered to me, which was not helpful really, but it was still a nice thought, they were just looking out for me.

Once you they have passed the Sweet and Sour chicken audition, there are many more dishes that are satisfying.  The sesame chicken is my favorite, it is just perfect and I have yet to find a place in town that compares.  The chicken fried rice is superb, but how many restaurants can honestly mess that up?  But if you want a Chinese meal without a bunch of sauce, that is always the perfect way to go.  Anything with shrimp is pretty good too, I am a big fan of shrimp, but I normally do not trust Chinese or Mexican restaurants with shrimp, and by Mexican restaurants I mostly just mean Taco Bell.  I once ordered the orange chicken at Three Happiness,  I meant to say sesame chicken but for some reason the word “orange” came out of my mouth, and I am not one for orange chicken but I still thought it was fantastic.

Seriously, like, how are you still here?
Seriously, like, how are you still here?

On a scale from Creighton to UNO (Creighton being the worst and UNO being the best) I definitely give Three Happiness an 8.  The scale is also -2 to 10.  I am pretty sure they have won a Best of Omaha award too, but I could be making that up.

https://www.facebook.com/threehappinessexpress?fref=ts

 

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With Allie Mathewson and a solid foundation, the UNO softball team continues its success in D-1

I do not know my capability of talking about college softball, but I will take a shot at it here.

I have learned a bit about college softball over the last few years, I did after all marry into it.  The sport though has grown in popularity over the last decade, partially because of more exposure from ESPN, who tends to go on lazy mode from the NFL Draft to the NFL training camp.  When the NBA dwindles down in games from the playoffs, and MLB is not in crunch time, college softball (and baseball) gets its shot on national television stage.  More respect has been given to the softball athletes  with segments being posted about how it is actually more difficult to hit an incoming softball pitch versus a baseball pitch, and other stuff.  It has become more than just a Hey, That School Needs That For Title 9 thing, so for UNO going division one, and having softball as probably their most successful female sport, it is a great thing for the athletic program.

Anyway, here is a little background on my wife:  She grew up in Washington state, played on travel softball teams with girls that went on to play at Arizona, Alabama, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State, Louisiana Tech, and others, some even went on to team USA.  She played middle infield for much of her softball career, except for one travel team where she was moved to the outfield, but there was a future Olympian at shortstop, so she was cool with it. She valued her education more than sports, so she picked Belmont, a private university, over the likes of Kentucky, Columbia, and other various schools, oh and my wife also picked Belmont over Creighton.  She often claims that her first coach in college at Belmont was “a dumb ass.”  My wife has A LOT of speed, and her college coach tried to make her a slapper, but my wife claimed she did not see the ball as well as a slapper.  She wanted to hit away, but was not given too many opportunities to do so under that coach.

Finally that coach was let go, and Amy Tudor became her head coach.  You may know Tudor as the former coach of IPFW, who had the program in really good shape but had difficulty getting over North Dakota State, and she is now the head coach of Western Kentucky who has picked up wins over Nebraska and Tennessee so far this season.  She took five players from IPFW with her and now the Mastadons are 0-23 so far this season.  Anyway, at first, Tudor wanted to keep my wife as a slapper, but halfway through my wife’s junior season, she started to let her hit away and still tried to utilize her as a slapper a bit, but my wife started to take off and raised her hitting average by 30 percentage points.

Tudor brought new life to my wife’s college career, she won conference player of the week awards, became an All Academic player, and was chosen as the team captain.  My wife needed the new spark, you see picking the education over a big name program came at a small price.  The players on her team were not strongly committed to softball, and Nashville (and the south in general) is filled with a different type of casual female that is only going to college so they can meet their future husband and become a stay at home wife.  The older players would discourage my wife for “caring too much” or being “too competitive,” and make other degrading remarks, trying to get her to not try as hard, and fit in with them and not be as good.  They were like The Joker trying to bring Harvey Dent down to his and Batman’s level.  Something my wife was not used to with growing up with highly competitive softball players, she did not understand how someone could call themselves a division one athlete and not be competitive.  Even though my wife had a softball team around her, she felt completely isolated and alone while she was at Belmont.  It is not like my wife hated or was hated by every single one of her teammates, there were some girls that tried and were competitive and some that she became great friends with and still maintains close friendships with.  My wife at one point was in talks to transfer to some better programs,  but Tudor came in and convinced her to stay, and at the end of the day Belmont was providing a fantastic education, and my wife wanted to think big picture.  My wife’s senior year was the best year that Belmont ever had in softball, from a wins standpoint.  Tudor would later have my wife as a volunteer assistant for one season at Belmont, and later highly recommended that she apply to be her assistant coach at IPFW, which was incredibly difficult for my wife to pass up.  Do not worry, I would have never loved IPFW as if it were my own.  Tudor provided some support for my wife’s college experience, something she did not necessarily have a lot of in her first two years.  My wife also now coaches high school, just as a FYI.  My wife watches every single Women’s College World Series game every single year, no matter how late the games go and no matter how early she has stuff to do in the morning.  She watches every moment.

How does any of this relate to Allie Mathewson and UNO softball?  Okay, part of that is to provide a frame of reference that it is not like I just thought, hey what the hell I will try to take up talking about softball for shits, but that I have grown to love the sport through the passion that my wife has for softball.

So one day I am looking in the Omaha World Herald, and I read an article to my wife about how a Creighton player is transferring to UNO.  Oh neat!  At the time I did not know a bunch about softball, just that my wife is far superior than me at it, but I was recognizing that Creighton was a better softball program at the time as far as division one history goes, I mean, it was after just one division one season from UNO.  So for UNO to get a transfer from a slightly better program, was probably a big deal given their status at the time.  My wife told me that Jeanne Scarpello is a quality coach, she has the tools and knowledge to build a successful program at the division one level.  Before Tudor left IPFW, my wife was certain that North Dakota State, IPFW, and UNO were going to make for a very competitive threesome in the Summit League tournament in the future.

My wife is eventually asked to teach Softball Coaching Theories at UNO, and guess who is in one of her first classes… My wife comes to respect Mathewson as a student, learns more and more about her as a player too, my wife recognizes her as a leader as well.  The World Herald comes out with a few more Mathewson articles over time, but there was one that caught our eyes, why she left Creighton, mostly on how the girls at Creighton were not committed to softball, did not take it seriously, basically took all the fun out of it for her, and how she felt isolated and alone.  It is possible I have that wrong, I could not find the particular article again as a reference for the specifics.  I think this literally brought my wife to pain, it sounded incredibly similar to her experience at Belmont, and from the sounds of it, Mathewson got out of the situation for a much better experience at UNO, my wife could feel Mathewson’s pain, and it was difficult for my wife to get through the article as it brought back her memories, and she felt completely happy for Mathewson and believed Mathewson made the right decision.  After getting to know Mathewson better from a teacher-student standpoint, my wife was happy that Mathewson could find that support from the UNO program.

 

My wife and I went to  attend Nebraska at UNO softball in the 2014 season.  It was cold and super windy, but there was over 400 people in attendance.  Sure most of them are there to see Nebraska softball, but people wanted to see what Mathewson, Campbell Ditto, and Amber Lutmer and the rest of the Mavs could do against the Husker ace Tatum Edwards, but none of them had great luck against Edwards that day, I remember a lot of first pitch swings from the Mavs.  The Mavs only had one hit, and the Huskers figured out Dana Elsasser as the game went on.

When watching softball with my wife, the coach in her has a lot of “what were you thinking there”, “why swing at the pitch”, “the infielder did not go after that ball correctly,” she also recognizes the great plays and says things like “way to go getting that ball”, “that is a tough pitch to lay off of, get after it next time.”  When watching UNO events that have her students playing my wife turns into a defensive soccer mom, “how dare the opposing player do something bad toward (student’s name)”, and her student can usually do no wrong in her eyes.  Granted, this has mostly been in Hockey where she knows less about the sport, so when she sees someone try to fight her student, she pretty much stands up and gets in a defensive stance, like if the refs do not stop the fight, she will.  So with Mathewson, I was curious if my wife the coach or if my wife the teacher/soccer mom would come out.

Mathewson steps up the box, and this is instantly where things got interesting.  The crowd would shout to Husker players that batted in the top of the inning against Elsasser, positive and negative things, but no one talked for Mathewson’s first at bat, it was like everyone was giving respect to a golfer trying to focus in.  They all read the World Herald stories, they all have an idea what Mathewson has gone through, and they all know of her .365 batting average.  My wife even quietly says “oh, she has the same batting stance as me.”  Her teammates go after her and the volume starts back up, people carrying on their casual conversation and cheers, but still paying attention to the game, young softball girls there to cheer on both the Mavericks and Huskers.  Mathewson’s second at bat, the young softball girls that had seemed to lose a little interest in the game because of the weather tell each other to “shut up, Allie is up to bat!”  Through the transition, has there been a player in any sport where the young kids would tell each other to shut up and watch?

I am still not sure if the coach or the teacher came out in my wife when Mathewson was up to bat.  When Mathewson came up to bat or would track down a ball in the outfield for an out, my wife just said nothing.  I think it was just respect, the coach in her had no critique.  The teacher in her had the trust and confidence that she could handle herself.

Is Mathewson the best college softball player in the state of Nebraska?  Maybe, maybe not, Liz Dike of Creighton is hitting .484 over 20 games so far…holy crap.  And Kiki Stokes, Alicia Armstrong, and a few more Huskers are having solid years so far.  With no Tatum Edwards, and basically Creighton fans not caring about sports after basketball season (they care when the CWS starts, because you know, their season tickets they never use become useful for once), Mathewson is definitely the most talked about college softball player in the state this season.  For a transitioning program to have a player like that, is kind of a big deal.  Her story is unique and she is a player people that know about softball want to see.  The discussion that will come up with any star Mav athlete of Would She be that Good at Creighton is off the table because we have seen what she can do as a Bluejay, and that was apparently when she was not the same player off the field.

It appears that the Creighton softball program has picked up a little this season, after losing their momentum for a few years.  But something I found interesting is the RPI of Creighton and UNO since the transition.  2012:  CU-135, UNO-234, then Mathewson transfers and UNO gets a good recruiting class…2013: CU-87, UNO-71, 2014: CU- 117, UNO-69.  That right there should start some conversation with local softball fans.  Should I have opened with that?  I think the Mathewson transfer hurt Creighton in a way, it shows that Creighton is not the bigger dog of the two programs to the local girls that are looking to stay local, that the two programs are an equal playing field.  Did I just make Mathewson the Mockingjay?  Or the Mockingmav? Or the…okay I will shut up.

I do not want this to be a Creighton against UNO thing, yeah they will both go after some of the same recruits, but they still have to turn those recruits into great players and great women for the future.  Creighton (and Nebraska, North Dakota State, and others) can be a measuring stick for the growth of the Mavericks softball program.  With a great coach in Jeanne Scarpello (I have seen her refer to herself as an average coach), who has a Division 2 National Title under her belt, and players like Mathewson, the program definitely has a solid foundation to build off going into a fully fledged D-1 member.

With just 2 2/3 years so far at UNO, Mathewson has impressed us all, and already ranks in the top 25 in a number of statistical categories for the history of the Mavericks, but just because Mathewson is the most talked about player in the state of Nebraska, it does not mean the Mavericks live and die off of her.  Softball is a true team sport, it takes commitment and team work from all the players on the field.  The fellow members of her senior class Kat Borrow and Tonya Peterson have been great for the Mavericks throughout their careers.  It seems like Campbell Ditto is one of the best clutch hitters in the Summit League.  Lia Mancuso has been great, she leads the team with a .329 batting average this season.  Freshmen Kelly Pattison seems to be knocking down some clutch hits, and Jaylee Hinrichs already has a couple pitcher of the week awards in her young career.

From the sounds of it as well, UNO has a great 2015 recruiting class.  I know that much of the talent in softball comes from the west coast and that is where many of the bigger programs go to recruit players.  Look at any SEC roster, it is generally made up of west coast girls.  The top team in the Summit, North Dakota State, 11 of the 17 girls on their softball roster are from the west coast.  None of that means that there is not talent in the Midwest though, the best players in the area are certainly going to hear from Nebraska, Creighton, and UNO for sure among others, but rarely do you see a Pac 12 school come to Nebraska to recruit some softball talent.  It does happen though, Oregon has Karissa Hovinga who played at Papillion.  So UNO definitely has a chance at the top players in the area, every single year.  In a different sport like basketball or volleyball, I think it would be difficult for UNO at this point to go up against Nebraska and Creighton for a top level athlete from the area.  Softball though, with the rich Division 2 History UNO had, Jeanne Scarpello, and players like Mathewson, Elsasser, Lutmer, Mancuso, Carly Nielsen who transferred from Michigan State and others, if there is a top level athlete from the area, UNO has just as much of a chance to get that player as the two bigger names.  In some cases, the Mavs have a much better chance, they already have gotten some of those players.

When UNO first made the transition, I needed a minute, or a week, to process it.  A friend of mine asked me, is UNO going to be any good and which of their programs will be the quickest to a conference championship/NCAA tournament bid.  I immediately and uncontrollably came out with baseball for the men and softball for the women…Men’s soccer and Golf were kind of wild cards though being that they were not even implemented yet though.  The softball team was the first UNO team to pick up a win over Nebraska, they have had more opportunities, and that is not exactly how a program should measure success, but still…  In the fall, my wife and I were playing co-rec slow pitch and I checked Twitter before the game and informed her that Mav softball beat the Huskers twice in fall ball.  My wife’s response, which I am sure is shared by many Mav fans, “it is a damn shame that team is not eligible for post season yet.”

I bring up my wife’s reactions to the stories we read in the Omaha World Herald on Mathewson’s transfer because they are somewhat similar stories, but also because I think it is easy for sports fans to immediately get ignorant when a player transfers and automatically go to “oh they could not cut it at the bigger school.”  Some fans think that sports should be everything to these kids.  There are several different reasons why student athletes transfer, and some players never transfer and never get out of their bad situation.  Mathewson could play at the level of Creighton, which at the time, was bigger than UNO’s level.  I may sound like a broken record here with things I have mentioned about the basketball team, but can you think of a better player, and even combined with her teammates, to help build the foundation for a transitioning program moving forward?  I find it unfortunate that things could not work out for her at Creighton, but as a UNO alumni and sports fan I am proud that UNO could take in such a quality athlete, and who sounds to be a great quality person and athlete, and provide a good quality softball home for her.

 

 

Meet future Mav Tra-Deon Hollins

So March Madness has officially began, the Mavs still cannot attend the dance, so it is not too early to look at what the Mavs will have for next season.  I am already convinced that my bracket is ruined.

You should have finally accepted the fact that the NCAA will not just let CJ Carter and Mike Rostampour get another year of eligibility for the chance to play in the Summit League and NCAA Tournaments, but hey wouldn’t be cool if Jason Mims just kind of let Carter play on the soccer team for the opportunity for post season?  Or if Bob Herold let Carter play as a pinch runner for the baseball team for his 5th year of eligibility?  I have no idea if Carter is even capable of doing those things, but you would be interested to see what it would be like.

So Tra-Deon Hollins, a 6’2″ guard coming to UNO from the Junior College ranks, played high school basketball at Omaha Central, where he was a part of four state titles, with the likes of Tre’Shawn Thurman and Georgetown/Louisville forward Akoy Agau.  Is it Tra-Deon, or is it TraDeon?  I have seen both.  I am going to need help from Dale Doback on this whole Pan/Pam situation.  That is a Step Brothers reference.  Anyway, Hollins has the chance to be an immediate impact on this basketball team, as most junior college transfers do coming into mid-major teams.

Whenever I present my wife with a good news/bad news situation she always wants the bad news first, so I will throw the bad at you before the good.  It is not really all that bad, but as a sports fan you have the have a small amount of worry.  Hollins only played 9 games at Chipola College this past season before he was dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons.

That raises your eyebrow with a small amount of concern as a sports fan.  You see it a lot in college sports, or even in professional sports, of someone getting in a small amount of trouble, but it keeps escalating into more and more until that player never plays.  You obviously hope it is nothing, and it is something that the player can learn from and become a stronger person and player.  Sports give that opportunity for some people to find redemption a little faster.

Here is a quote from the Omaha World Herald from Hollins:  It just made me a better man today.  It opened my eyes and made me more wise, and it taught me a lot about decisions and how much that can take a toll on you.

I do not know what happened with Hollins, nor do I really care as it is not really any of my business, but I think that is a great quote from him.  Someone gets in a little trouble and you ask for them to own up to it.  I hate when I hear someone get in trouble and their immediate go to comment it “yeah, but it was all some bullshit.”  Sports (and life) is all about decision making, you know aside from athleticism and whatnot, so to have that character on the team that knows how important decision making is, that is a great addition to the team.  If you had a “yeah, but it was all some bullshit” guy on the team, you would need to worry a little more.  He could become a distraction by doing stupid crap, like accidentally stealing seafood from a supermarket.  I know a guy was a “yeah, but was all some bullshit” guy.  He got in trouble, went on to play junior college basketball, quit basketball after getting in trouble a few more times, and the last I heard he is a drug dealer.  So yeah, do not be that guy, learn, move on, and grow.

Okay, so now onto the good.  13.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg (that is not role playing games), 6.6 apg, 61.5 FG%, 42.9 3pt%, 75 FT%, and 4.6 steals per game in those 9 games.  The season before at Central Community College:  17.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 47.8 FG%, 37.2 3pt%, 69.9 FT%, and 4.1 steals per game.  Certainly sounds like a guy that can do a little bit of everything.

What is more shocking is that in the Omaha World Herald, he said that he was a defensive player.  Okay, yeah, now I do not know what to do with myself.  UNO’s defense was not very good last year, last in the league in points allowed, and near the bottom in defensive shooting percentage.  The offense was like Oregon football, but the defense was like Omaha Northwest football.  Are they still bad?  There were not very good when I was in high school.  So when you have a guy that sounds like a great scorer on paper, but out loud is completely committed to defense, you are completely freaking excited.  I am just imagining a team coming down the court and trying to get the ball past Hollins and Devin Patterson.  Then when they do, they have to deal with Thurman’s length and shot blocking ability, and then if they can get a shot up they have to deal with Jake White’s rebounding ability.  You just got like super pumped about that, right?

One thing that worries me though is the dying of the hair to blonde?  I remember seeing a bunch of pictures in the Omaha World Herald in 2013 of the Omaha Central basketball team and it seemed like a bulk of the team dyed their hair blonde.  It is cool to have a little unity like that.  Like when a football team all shaves their heads, or when the Boston Celtics starters in 2007-2008 all shaved their heads at the beginning of the season.  But I hope this blonde head thing does not catch on for the UNO Mavericks basketball team.  I do not know if I could concentrate on a game if Jake White, Rylan Murry, and Kyler Erickson went all Slim Shady.

So we are going to add Hollins to a back court of Patterson, Marcus Tyus, Tim Smallwood, Kyler Erickson, Devin Newsome, and incoming freshman JT Gibson.  Sounds like a good back court committee.  The back court is going to need to come up huge with South Dakota State returning Deondre Parks, Jake Bittle, and George Marshall.  That is a back court that is going to be dangerous.

I remember watching the 2013 Nebraska high school state championship game on television.  I was watching to see what Nick Billingsley was like, who was at the time committed to UNO.  I remember thinking that Hollins was incredibly fast and a big piece of energy for the Eagles.  Was he the best player?  I do not know, that team was freaking stacked.  I said a few times throughout the 2014-2015 season that the Mavericks lacked a high energy guard off the bench.  Tyus was that high energy guy off the bench in 2013-2014, and Alex Phillips and Caleb Steffensmeier both had their moments in that role, but no one was really doing that for the Mavs this past season.  Not saying that Tim Smallwood, Devin Newsome, or Kyler Erickson were bad, but not of them were that unstoppable piece of energy off the bench.  Erickson became that toward the end of the season, but none of them were that Nate Robinson or Jamal Crawford type of energy.  Hollins seems to have what it takes to be that much needed chess piece.

Hollins is (clearly) an Omaha guy, and he seems to have a sense of pride to represent the city.  You want those guys mixed in on your team.  Even Kansas finds a few dudes from Lawrence for that representation.  I was reading something yesterday, I already forgot the subject of the article, but it was basically stating that teams cannot get by with the one trick ponies anymore.  The guys who just stand in the corner and take threes are not very important.  Teams need the guys that can do a little bit of everything, and we totally got that in Hollins.

Welcome to MavNation.

How to schedule the Mavericks and the Bluejays: PART II

How to schedule the Mavericks and the Bluejays: PART I

Okay, so you may be asking yourself, what does profiling all of the Creighton fans have to do with scheduling the Mavericks and the Bluejays?  That is a totally fair question, so let’s move on here.

You have to understand your enemy before going after them…


Richard Creighton Fan watches the second half of the game

So Dick goes on ignoring me while his version of the Justice League is trying to save the planet from a Big East team taking over.  This is all after he established that Creighton and UNO have no room to be on the same basketball court playing against each other.  A Creighton guard misses a wide open shot.  I tell him that CJ Carter would have made that shot, Dick becomes agitated, not saying anything, he is just upset at the game and more and more at me.

An opposing player knocks down an uncontested shot in the lane, with the Creighton post player up near the free throw line for some reason, and not anywhere near the basket to protect it.  I tell Dick that Mike Rostampour would have contested that shot, he would have either fouled him to make it difficult and force him to the line, or forced that player to pass out of the lane.  Dick is now disgusted and takes a drink of his Bud Light to ease the pain.

An opposing player puts some pressure on a Creighton guard and strips the ball from the Creighton guard, so of course Dick calls the opposing player a homophobic slur.  The opposing player takes the ball that is now in his possession and sprints down the court for an uncontested layup, with none of the dejected Creighton player in sight.  I tell Dick that Devin Patterson would not have allowed himself to get in that position to give up the ball to the opposing player, and even if he did, he would sprinted down the court with the opposing player to contest the shot.  Patterson would not have just laid down showing no competitive edge.

A Creighton post player attempts and rushes a real lazy hook shot which clanks off the front of the rim.  I tell Dick that Tre’Shawn Thurman would not have done that, in fact no UNO player would have just gone for the lazy hook there.  Since they had an opposing player with their hand up they would have tried a post move or passed out of it.  Thurman has this vintage Kobe Bryant/Vince Carter post move, where he jukes to the left and then goes right for a turn around fade away, and it is a much higher percentage shot then whatever the hell we just watched that Creighton player try.

Creighton is now down by 20 at this point with not much time left, the players are somehow playing with less energy than they already have this entire soulless game of theirs.  I tell Dick that UNO has not given up in a game like that all year, even when down by 15 or so with a few minutes to go, they still tried to make a game out of it.  At this point, Dick wants to punch someone and I am in the front of the line.  He slams down his drink and throws out some notes as to why the UNO-Creighton game will never happen, but now he hopes that it will happen just to shut people like me up.

By the way, a side note:  The Creighton fan I have based Dick Creighton Fan off of looks exactly like Jake White.  If Jake White got done with college and stopped working out and let himself go a bit, and was 7 inches shorter, but still looks exactly like Jake White in the face.  He cannot stand Jake White because of his Wichita State past.  Every time Jake White does something cool I will text Dick with “hey, your cousin had 10 and 8 tonight, good for the fam!”  Then he will text mean things back about Jake White, would you expect anything less from a Dick Creighton Fan?  Dick also has season tickets for Creighton basketball, the people in his section are the people that usually bring a book to read, so you know, the real supporters and the people that make you wonder why they even came.  Dick also plays basketball like you would expect a Creighton fan would…selfishly.  Takes 15 threes during a 40 minute game and only makes about 4 of them at best.  Also does not recognize you sprinting down the court and hustling to get open, so just jacks up threes.


Why it may not be happening.

I have no absolutely positive reason as to why UNO-Creighton may not be happening as of right now.  Maybe it is money, maybe McDermott and Hansen, or the two athletic administrations cannot agree on stuff, I am not sure why.  Maybe McDermott is just a really really really nice guy and does not want to beat the Mavs and cause an inner city riot.  I do not think McDermott has a mean bone in his entire body.

I find myself wondering this though, could the reason be because of the JaySkers?  The JaySkers that just root for anyone local, they like the Mavericks enough to take notice, but maybe not enough to go to their games yet.  If UNO-Creighton happens, the JaySkers will take a little more notice and be more aware of what the Mavericks have, and that they are at least entertaining.

If the Mavericks and Creighton play, and UNO comes close or even beats the Bluejays, what would the JaySkers do with their money?  They will buy a UNO shirt or two, maybe some tickets to a few games, and maybe even classify themselves as JayMavSkers, or maybe they even sift through Bull Shit Mountain enough and just become MavSkers.  If they spent 50 bucks from their annual Going Out Budget on UNO stuff, that is 50 bucks less that they will spend on beer and food at the CenturyLink Center.

If a JaySker were more aware of the Mavericks and entertained by them, would they be more inclined to go to a UNO event over a Creighton event?  If they could go to Aksarben, which is more centrally located than the CenturyLink Center (and Ralston Arena), pay less for parking, and walk just a little bit closer to DJs Dugout and other restaurants, do you think they would go for it?  Would they rather see UNO have a shot against Oral Roberts over seeing Creighton getting dominated by a overrated Georgetown team?  Seriously, Georgetown has been overrated for the past 10 years.

When the JaySker goes to a UNO hockey game, they see the Creighton University advertisement on the scoreboard, they still get that Bluejay taste in their mouth.  Typically the JaySkers will make it out to UNO-North Dakota hockey, or UNO-Ohio State in the old days, the JaySkers just like the events they can brag about seeing really.  There is no University of Nebraska at Omaha advertisement when the JaySker goes to a Creighton Basketball game, not even sure if it is allowed.  So if UNO men’s basketball was put right in front of their faces, could the JaySker sway a little bit?

UNO and Creighton have played in a few sports, and when you go the atmosphere is a little weird.  Creighton fans always have this feeling of We Will Beat the Crap Out of Our Opponent, but they have been a little more quiet when Creighton plays the inner city rival.  Their attitude changes to Oh Crap We Better Not Lose to This Team.  When I moved back to Omaha from Utah, one of the first things I did was get tickets UNO vs. Creighton baseball, I was pretty damn pumped for the game.  I think I was scared that game was going to be a sell out, being away from Omaha for about a year I just kind of imagined that everyone in Omaha would be jacked for that match up.  What a perfect gift for my return to Omaha though.  The game was a little slow, Creighton players seemed to lack a little energy and it was almost as if the Bluejay fans did not want to do smack talk, especially since the people in red and black out numbered the people in blue and white.  It is also hard to smack talk when your baseball team in the last few years has just become a team of Hey Let’s Just Hit the Ball to the Outfield and Hope for the Best.  UNO won the game 3-2, the Creighton players looked like they were on suicide watch after the game, they did not appear to want to come out and shake the UNO players hands, and they probably knew that Ed Servais was going to have them run a marathon after losing to that reclassifying team.  The Creighton fans walked out of there confused and as quiet as you exit a funeral.

How would you rank Creighton sports teams in terms of how prideful their fans are toward the team.  1. Men’s Basketball, 2. Men’s Soccer, 3. Baseball?  That is their fans’ third favorite sport, and UNO showed that they can hang with them.  Men’s Soccer showed that they can hang in exhibition play as well.  Women’s soccer needed two overtimes to beat UNO this last season.  Oh this reminds me, UNO-Creighton softball happening any time soon is probably less likely than men’s basketball happening anytime soon, but hey, that is another conversation.

When UNO can make the big dance and possibly pull of an upset, the JaySkers will come crawling.  The 14 seed beating the 3 seed prestige is far more powerful then the BIG EAST team beating a SWAC team in the first/second round or whatever the hell it is anymore.  That is when the prestige factor will come into play for Creighton to play UNO, the game will need to be played after that.  That will make UNO men’s basketball the even that they will want to go see and Creighton will have the need to play at beat the Mavericks to show everyone who is still the boss of this town.  And it is not like UNO is wanting Creighton every single season, although that would be swell, it is not necessary, UNO fans just want the acknowledgement from the Creighton fans, so once in a few years is fine.  City rivalries do not necessarily happen every season, especially when the schools are not at the same level.  UNO fans understand that The BIG EAST is on a different level than the Summit League, they are not psychotic.

Creighton fans also do not like to share attention.  For 12 years they got to share a market with Barry Collier and Doc Sadler coached Nebraska teams that would bore and frustrate the hell out of Husker basketball fans in Omaha, so many of those fans would go watch Creighton.  Even the end of the Danny Nee era at Nebraska was painful to watch.  Now, the kid up the street thinks they can join the party.  They are building a new arena, new dorms, new buildings on campus, but they still have shitty parking.  None of this can make the Creighton fan happy.  Greg McDermott is not an attention grabbing coach, his press conferences will put you right to sleep**.  If you throw him Dana Altman, Tim Miles, Derrin Hansen, and Doc Sadler into a charity poker event, you are going to forget he is there.  Miles would be the guy that never shuts up and annoys all the other players, but the crowd wants to keep watching.  Hansen will do the same, but not as many jokes, he will feed off of the Miles jokes a little bit.  Sadler would be the one accusing Miles and Hansen of having too much fun, probably folding his cards every single time.  Altman would be the guy who never says anything, still betting on what he thought was a good bet, everything would be a calculated decision.  You root for those guys in poker tournaments, mainly because you are dying to see what their hand is as 99% of the time they are in a hand, it is because they have a good hand.  McDermott would just there, drinking his water, you would forget McDermott was even in the poker tournament, he would never grab your attention to make you wonder what he is scheming.  You would just expect him to be out at some point, but not as quickly as Sadler who you assume would just get frustrated and make a bad bet so he could go home.

**That is not to say that McDermott is a bad coach.  Attention Grabbing ability does not make one a good or bad coach.  Nor does poker playing ability.  I am now curious though if anyone has done a qualitative study of this.


Why do we want it to happen?

So the hardcore UNO fans do not really like Creighton fans, they want the opportunity to beat Creighton.  They do not necessarily expect a win, but they want the chance to go to the game and maybe talk a little trash, poke fun at Creighton, and hopefully be on the winning side.  UNO fans have to live in the shadow of Creighton, which is fair since Creighton has been fully division one much longer.  In a way, UNO fans feel disrespected by Creighton fans.  Bluejay nation still does not see UNO as division one, this is partially because a majority of Creighton fans do not know what is happening outside of Creighton basketball.  A while back when Creighton was in the NIT, I had a few friends that wanted to go their game against Bowling Green, so I went down to the Qwest Center to buy the tickets, and the guy in front of me who was decked out in all Creighton gear like he was a life long fan asked as many questions as he could possible ask:

  • So this is the NIT?
  • What is the NIT?
  • What would have Creighton had to do to make the NCAA tournament?
  • Who are they playing?
  • Bowling Green is in what conference?
  • What was Bowling Green’s record this year?
  • What was Creighton’s record this year?
  • Is it a white out?
  • Is it a blue out?
  • How many fans do you expect to come?
  • Will Lawlor’s be selling any gear centered around the NIT?
  • Who does Creighton play after they win this game?
  • When is the next game?
  • Who leads the team in scoring?
  • They sell beer for the NIT, right?

I am pretty sure the ticket person wanted to just scream out “IT’S ON THE FREAKING INTERNET” the whole time.  But that is Creighton fan hood, they want to support Creighton, and they want the event.  For some reason they do not think Creighton-UNO is an event.  So we need to make it an event for them.

Would inviting Tim Miles make it an event?  Like, he could do the starting lineups.  He could come out in a tuxedo and grab the microphone and read off the starting lineups like he is doing the intros for a famous boxing match, he could read off each player’s name with some Will Ferrell like jokes, and then he could ring the starting bell.  Since there is apparently some rule that college coaches cannot attend games of their opponents, he will have to leave, and all the Creighton fans can boo him out of the building.  It might be better than Christmas for Tim Miles, and Creighton fans.


How about we shoot a few things down

Dick brought up the points that any Creighton fan that thinks they pay attention will bring up, so let’s take a look at these things.

  • It is tough enough to schedule in college basketball as is…

Yeah, okay, I can agree with that.  With the non-conference schedule taken up by early season tournaments, a rivalry game (Nebraska in this case), return games, and maybe a conference versus conference challenge, it can be a little difficult to fit a few more games in there for some teams.

It also has to be super stressful and challenging to set something up when your coaches and athletic admin attend the same charity events, local organization’s outings, AAU tournaments, and high school games.  That could require talking to each other in person.  Much more simple to get back and forth emails and phone calls with Tulsa and North Texas.  Creighton and UNO baseball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer (in exhibitions), and other sports meeting up was defying all the odds in the last few years.

  • Playing UNO would not do much for Creighton

North Carolina A & T, Chicago State (3 times), Campbell, Houston Baptist, Presbyterian, Longwood, Alcorn State, UMKC, Long Beach State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Central Arkansas, North Carolina Central, Eastern Illinois, South Dakota, and Texas Pan-American have all played Creigthon since UNO’s transition.

Screw you.

You ever watch a city rivalry game?  You can not give two craps about either team and still enjoy the hell out of it.  A few years ago I watched Cincinnatti-Xavier on television, and this was post Sean Miller.  I do not care for either team and I do not even know any player on either team.  The rivalry was so intense, you could just feel the energy in the crowd and in the players in how important that game was to everyone there.

The UNO-Creighton men’s soccer exhibition last year was incredibly intense.  I thought someone was going to get killed.  It was an exhibition game…exhibition…  I said exhibition, right?

  • Creighton would have beaten UNO by 50 (last year)

Prove it…

I think what Creighton (and Iowa) fans hate more than anything are the personality-less Nebraska football fans who think at the beginning of the every year that the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team will win the national championship solely based on the fact that the 94 and 95 ‘skers were the greatest college football teams ever.  Those teams were then, and they were great, but this now.  So just because Creighton had Doug McDermott a couple years ago, it does not mean that the Bluejays are still at that level of greatness.  The Bluejays also do not have the same perimeter defense without Grant Gibbs.  Their team has changed greatly.  Yes there are a few years that Creighton would have beaten UNO by 30+, but that is not an every year thing, there are a few years that UNO could upset Creighton, and this year could have been one of them…maybe depending on when the game was played, Creighton was doing pretty well until they played North Texas.  Hell I am pretty sure there were years in the D2 era that UNO could have upset the Huskers in basketball.

We are now at a point where UNO beat a team that beat Creighton (Marquette) and Creighton beat a team that beat UNO (Chicago State), so we can have these arguments, which if the two teams do not meet, it is going to add to some frustration for the few that want the game to happen.  Creighton’s skill level is not as high as it was a few years ago.

I have a friend, he is a JaySker, the good kind of JaySker though, he wants them to both win, and he even roots for UNO a little bit (though he has yet to attend a basketball game).  He is really just one of those guys who roots for anything local, but he owns more Creighton stuff then he does Husker and UNO stuff.  He admits one thing, even though in the past they were exhibition games, UNO always played Creighton (and Nebraska) tough and close.  It was the Mavericks’ one chance for a showcase back then.  They watch more Creighton and Nebraska games on local television all year then they do any of their opponents, so the Mavericks have a constant recruiting tape loop on watch.  They get to sit in their dorms and watch Creighton play and think to themselves, if I had to stop that guy, this is what I would do.

So this whole Creighton would beat UNO by 50 BS can stop.  I am not saying it is an automatic close game, or even a win by UNO, I am just saying that it would at least be entertaining.  Was Nebraska-UNO early in the season not entertaining?  When it is a local rivalry, the game is more about the intangibles, not about who looks better on paper, and honestly Creighton did not look all that great on paper this season.


Tim Miles: The Inspiration

Whether it was on accident or not, Tim Miles proved something.  He was interviewed on the sideline at what I think was his first Husker football game, and he answered questions with a few jokes as his charismatic self, and he finished with an infamous line, only show in the state.

Miles claims he meant that there is no Nebraska State, as he was involved in the Colorado State to Colorado relationship.  He claimed to not be thinking of Creighton at this juncture, and we will never know if it was intentional not, but this caused so many Creighton fans to just lose their freaking minds.  Tim Miles had not even been involved with a Nebraska-Creighton game yet and the Creighton fan base wanted his head.  Creighton fans get pumped up for that Nebraska-Creighton game each and every year.  In the Missouri Valley days, it was their chance to show they were better than “the big boys.”  Now, beating that Tim Miles jerk is the motivation.

Now Tim Miles just loves poking fun at Creighton.  He does it every chance he gets.  He scheduled UNO and he took some jabs at Creighton for not doing the same thing.  Creighton fans want that win over Nebraska more and more now.  With Doc Sadler, Creighton lived in local basketball bliss.  Sadler did not really care too much for the local thing, he held not merit to winning or losing to Creighton.  He did not even really go after too many local recruits, I know someone related to Iowa’s Mike Gesell, and they told me that Sadler and Nebraska never once contacted him.  Sadler did not bring much media hype to Nebraska basketball, and they were as boring to watch as it was to listen to him talk.  Miles, with the help of a new arena, practice facilities, and commitment from the university has turned all of that around.  Neighboring Creighton is cranky that Tim Miles is now the main character in all of this and Creighton needs a bottle of juice.

I wish there was a way to hit Creighton where it really hurts and convince Tim Miles to stop the annual Nebraska-Creighton game and start a Nebraska-UNO annual game, but I highly doubt that is an option.  Creighton fans would riot in the streets of downtown Omaha.  To hurt them even more, the game could be played at the CenturyLink Center, both teams could wear one of those In Memory patches during the games, and no blue would be allowed in the arena.  Nebraska could even bring their floor, like they did when they played Oregon in Omaha.  After the games, Tim Miles and Derrin Hansen could go out downtown to all the Creighton hang outs, put as much money as they can into the juke boxes and play the worst music possible, and just be laughing the whole time.  They can even go to The Blue Jay Bar & Grill (is that place still open), and call out the bar for letting in a bunch of 19 year olds and letting them drink.  Again though, highly unlikely, but I feel like Tim Miles could still jokingly bring it up as an idle threat once in a while.

So anyway, Tim Miles and his Only Show in the State comment, it charged things up for Creighton against Nebraska.  With Sadler, Creighton was getting into this Oh La La attitude toward Nebraska basketball.  They wanted the victory over Nebraska for sure, but they were not getting pumped for it like they used to.  After Miles said that, all hell broke out, Creighton fans were pumped, they circled the game on their calendar, the ticket prices on Ticketmaster jumped up to almost $300.  Creighton fans needed new shirts from Lawlor’s to show their dominance and commitment.  So Tim Miles showed us one thing, to build up demand for Creighton fans, you just piss them right off.


Yes, let’s just piss off Creighton fans

It sounds so simple, and so fun.  At this point you have to assume that Greg McDermott (and probably Derrin Hansen) has some objections about this game happening, and McDermott is definitely not going to do it without demand from the fans.  So let’s just piss off the Creighton fans and force them to demand the game to happen.  Let’s make the Creighton fans the one calling the athletic admin to ask why it is not happening.

The Senseless, The Attitude, The Coast, and the Entitled all have one thing in common.  Their presentation of self suggests that they are incredibly confident and have high self esteems.  In reality, their confident persona and self esteem is the front stage, in the back stage, they realize they have not proven anything and need validation, they are actually quite insecure and defensive.  After all, the typical Omaha born Creighton student is the kid that you went to high school with a $30,000 car, no job, and presented it as if he bought the car on his own from all the hard work he has done.  If you ever called that kid out though, he would so make sure that dumb high school girls did not think you were hot.  Creighton men’s basketball somehow validates that they made the right choice in life.  The basketball team is really good, so I must have picked the right school!  With these people we need to attack and break down that confidence, until they want to see Creighton-UNO happen to in some way prove their oddly placed dominance.

Here are a few buttons to push:

  • Your school lacks innovation and looks like a sick Mongolian Hun coughed it up

When I went to school and worked at UNO they were constructing the new HPER building.  I was also on student government and sat through a bunch of presentations on ways to grow the University of Nebraska of Omaha.  Most of these presentations centered around facilities.  The same thing happened while I was working at Weber State, consultants would come in and discuss how prospective students care most about facilities and work out facilities were always the most important.  Where else are the homeboys supposed to pick up chicks other than the gym?

Anyway, UNO reconstructs HPER, and HPER is freaking awesome.  It has everything a student could ask for.  The student population grows from it, and continues to grow.  HPER has been rated one of the top gyms in the country, the Outdoor Venture Center is also nationally ranked, and believe me, considering its location, that is a huge accomplishment.  A few months after the student numbers get a jump, Nebraska-Lincoln gets a new Outdoor Venture Center, so who tilts their head like a confused puppy?  Creighton opens up the Rasmussen Fitness and Sports Center a few years later, which is similar to UNO’s HPER, but considering Creighton’s student population versus UNOs, it is completely ridiculous.  Creighton did not want to believe the facilities argument at first, I mean it was probably based on studies from MSNBC or something anyway.  The younger cousin got a new shiny toy and they had to have one.  They do not even have their own logo, they had to steal it from the Toronto Bluejays.  The first thing you see in the About Us section of their website is the phrase There’s No Place Like Creighton.  I feel like I have heard There Is No Place Like…but I cannot remember how the rest of it goes.

You drive by campus on Cuming Street and you look at it.  While you look at it, do you see the resemblance to the exterior to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or is that just me?  Can you guys not hire a cleaning lady for that thing?

  • You do not actually care about the education

Nebraska basketball gets a brand new practice facility, so the Creighton moneybaggers and Monopoly players get all whiny and throw down some money for the Creighton Championship Center.  That is the thing, Nebraska gets an advantage and that is all those people want to fix.  This whole foundation of We Support the Jesuit Education from the boosters with more money than God is BS.  If the education is what they really valued, then their students would not be sitting in the UNO library studying because it is  a superior library.  I am sure that The Entitled and The Attitude could not even tell you where the Creighton library is located, or what the purpose of it is.  The Creighton senior days, when the players make speeches, how many of those players have you questioned if they could read or not?  Have the boosters sat through those?

  • Your student section sucks

Oh they will show up big for Nebraska, Georgetown, or Villanova, they will come get in the front rows for the games on national television, but other than that they suck.  It is after all pretty difficult to pretend that you go to Duke when your team is in 2nd to last place in something.  You go to the games and you see that a majority of the student section is disinterested, they might as well be at a Rob Schneider film.  Yes your team sucks at times, but that is still your team, and it is free for you, so why not go?

The UNO student section is far superior, yes I am a homer here, but it is true.  The main figure for Creighton sports is men’s basketball, the main character for UNO sports is hockey, and if you go to both of these events then you already know.  Even when UNO hockey is not as strong of a team as the students want to be, they still show up, because it is their team and they support it.  The Creighton students do not go if the Bluejays suck in their minds.

When I was on Student Government at UNO, this was in the Division 2 days, Trev Alberts came and talked to us and asked how to engage the students into athletics.  Alberts said one of the challenges was to get people to support UNO with one of the biggest athletic programs in the country just 45 minutes down the road, and while UNO was getting support for hockey there were not a lot of people there to support the Mavericks, there were more people who were just there for their love of hockey.  Alberts wanted to figure out how to get people behind UNO, not just the sport of hockey.  He also had the general feel that for other sports, students did not want to come to division 2 events because of the “high school” feel that it gave.  I think the high school feel is gone, students are there to support UNO now, the momentum is building, and the support is growing.  When the Mavs can play for post season, the crowd will become more supportive too, and the support was pretty high this last season of transition.

The Nebraska basketball student section did not want to go for a number of years, there was not much excitement in that program.  Tim Miles and a new arena rejuvenated them, now they are loud and crazy, no matter the opponent.  They are there to support the team now, good record or bad record, Big Ten opponent or Sun Belt opponent, they are there now.  They do not even need beer.

  • Tre’Shawn knows Omaha

It is not just Tre’Shawn Thurman, but any current and future Maverick that in an Omaha guy.  A marketing campaign we really need to start to take over JaySkers market.  You can assume most JaySkers are from Omaha and support the city of Omaha in one way or another.  With none of the Big East opponents really that close, and no Nebraska born scholarship players for Creighton (next year they will have Omaha North’s Justin Patton and Benson’s Khyri Thomas), it will be more difficult for these people to really connect with the Creighton program.  They wont have that Omaha supportive feel as they did with 8 years of Josh Dotzler-Antoine Young-Josh Jones Local From the Area back courts leading as the faces of the program and as that connection to the Omaha fans.

UNO has that connection now with Tre’Shawn Thurman, the player that the JaySkers will recognize.  We can get in Creighton’s front yard and throw a University of Nebraska at Omaha advertisement in a media timeout of a Creighton basketball game, and the video can end with the best Thurman dunk we can find.  It will get the Jayskers to think, We Need to Go See That Kid.  The guy they will want to see and sit around talking about his play at UNO and debating what he could have been at Creighton or Nebraska.  Can we post a bunch of Tre’Shawn Knows Omaha posters all around town, even on Creighton’s campus?  Is that against some rule?  Can we post a picture of him standing over an aerial portrait of Omaha, with his foot over the Creighton campus?  A subliminal message of, Everyone Will Get Behind This Guy and Not See You Anymore!

I am not even sure if this is totally legit.  I do see a bunch of women’s athletics programs just using girls that they see as the most attractive girl on the roster for their advertisements, even if they are not that much of an athlete in comparison to their teammates, so why not this?  It will not do much to anger The Attitude or The Coast, they barely care about Omaha as is.  The Entitled and The Senseless though, this will screw them up a bit.  The Entitled has a weird love of Omaha, mainly because they know they cannot leave it without Daddy’s permission, but they love it as if they are Batman loving Gotham City.  You know if Bruce Wayne’s parents did not die, and they just spoiled the crap out of him to the point of making him a waste of talent.

  • We beat Marquette…

Okay, so this can get to Creighton fans just a little bit, and they will typically come back with the You Lost to Chicago State argument, and that is fair.  But this still gets in their head enough to get them thinking.  If you keep poking at The Attitude, they are going to get pissy, they will absolutely need Creighton-UNO basketball to happen just to shut you up.  Remember, the idea is to get the fans to demand the game to happen, you want to get their reasons as to why the game is not happening out of their heads.

  • You are afraid to schedule us

I do not think this will work, but if you want to try it, what the the hell.  The fans are not afraid to schedule UNO, they just fall into the game of We Would Beat You by 50 and Playing UNO Would Do Nothing For Creighton.  The coaches and admin might be afraid, not in terms of picking up a loss on the  schedule, but more so for losing the fair weathered fans that they know “support” their program.

A mass of their fans care more about the beer at the arena, and the last time I checked the new UNO arena will sell beer.  My brother got me tickets to a Creighton game this year.  I went to the game, sat in literally the very back row, and I sat behind these three dudes who may have been the dumbest dudes I have ever found.  They hardly paid attention to the game, drank more beer than I have drank in the last 6 months, and talked about going to the casino the whole time, but this is after they discussed how dedicated they were as Creighton fans when they first sat down.  If UNO had a casino near campus, those fans would come and “support” UNO too, but I do not think these were people Trev Alberts was trying to recruit to be the supporters of UNO.

Creighton though, they love these people, and they cannot possibly take the risk of scheduling UNO for these idiots.  If Creighton-UNO plays, they may actually do a little more than pretend to care about the game.  They may stay seated, watch, be into it, and they may spend a few less dollars on beer.  OH NO!  Admit it though, you love going to their games or watching them on television and seeing 1/5 of the arena not into it, just in the hallways or at the concessions not actually rooting on the team.  Creighton might actually be afraid of scheduling UNO for the sake of these people.  So much integrity and excellence.

Have you ever heard a Creighton fan talk about Kansas basketball?  That is the team they want to play more than any but it wont get scheduled.  They want Kansas to come to Omaha and slap some dumb boring tag line of Come See the Bird Fight!  They want to show they belong with Kansas for some reason.  Kansas is on their own scale of good.  Creighton fans love to sit around and say “Kansas is afraid to schedule us”.  No, Kansas is not afraid to schedule you.  From what I could gather over years of listening to Creighton assistant coaches on the radio, it was Dana Altman who was afraid to schedule Kansas, for whatever reason.

  • Aksarben > Old Market

Creighton fans love their shiny things, and they love the downtown bars.  Apparently the Jesuit foundation means sneak into every bar in the Old Market and drink so much until you pass out in the back of a 5 minute cab ride.  Aksarben is now growing and it growing because of UNO, downtown does not NEED Creighton.  Aksarben also does not have that 42 year old dudes hitting on 22 year old chicks feel to it, bragging up his 36k a year lifestyle to some girl in college who has never worked more than 15 hours a week.  The restaurants in Aksarben are newer, the buildings are newer, and it has Amato’s.  Aksarben is not even close to being done either, not that downtown ever will be, but this has to enrage the from Omaha Creightoners.  I have not been to Aksarben much, just to DJs Dugout to catch a UNO hockey game or two, and a few other places, but I did notice that there are also not any douche bags that want to start a fight just for the sake of feeling tough like the Old Market.  Insecure people needing validation, that is the Creighton way.

  • I cannot stop laughing when you tell me that Creighton is as athletic as Georgetown or Villanova

Just stop saying it!  You are killing me!  I cannot even feel my side anymore!  Oh my God, you really think that?!  You really are that delusional!  How many beers did you have before half time?!?!  Is there a country for people like you to get deported to?!?!?!  Is it called the Republic of Dumb Shits?!?!

I had Archer on in the back ground during that…


So pissing off Creighton will be fun, and most of UNO fans probably already try it anyway, but at least now they should know that it can be productive too.  It is important to know that UNO fans need the Creighton fans to want this as much as the UNO fans.  As the JaySkers catch on, the UNO fans need to be welcoming of them, welcome them into a few watch parties for games at DJs Dugout maybe, let them see that Mavnation is not filled up with a bunch of arrogance like its neighbor.  Go to the Creighton-UNO and Nebraska-UNO events that are happening, which I am sure you already do, and find the good kind of JaySkers, friend them up and work on getting them to be MavSkers.

How to schedule the Mavericks and the Bluejays: Part I

Richard Creighton Fan walks into a bar

Okay, his name is actually Dick Creighton Fan*, but he walks into a bar about a half hour before the tip off of a men’s Creighton basketball game.  The first thing you need to know is that the bar belongs to him.  He will spend about 40 dollars on beer and food throughout the duration of this basketball game, and that is the most important 40 dollars that this bar will ever receive.  Dick grabs his seat at the end of the bar, right next to the tv, and so when you walk in you will have to walk by him and acknowledge his fan hood to the Creighton Bluejays.  For crying out loud, he has the new Bluejays logo on his shirt and the old logo on his hat, so you know he is freaking serious, super serious, he is Batman Taking Down the Joker serious.  It is a Saturday, so there are other basketball games on, and other sports on television, but none of those matter while Dick is ready to spend 40 bucks.  Dick is incapable of watching the game at home, no one is entirely sure of the reason, but does it really count as watching a sports match if you do not spend at least 20 bucks on beer?  If you went to a Creighton game with Dick, you would see how many trips he makes to the concession stand for a 8 dollar beer, it is a minimum of 3 times.

*Dick Creighton Fan is a pseudonym for a combination of every fair weathered Creighton fan you have ever met.  We all know a Dick Creighton Fan, they are all over Omaha, you have had several interactions with many of them, and you are even close friends with a few of them.  Most of this is based on an actual Dick Creighton Fan that I am good friends with.  Please do not take me poking fun at Creighton basketball as me not respecting the program, I have a good deal of respect for the actual program itself.

Fans of other teams begin to pile into the bar, none of them have a Creighton shirt on, but that does not matter to Dick, because you are the one who is a douche, and you need to respect what he brings to the world of sports, you came to his bar, he did not come to your bar.  A fan with a Nebraska Cornhuskers shirt walks in to watch a game, Dick tells him he is an idiot, Nebraska is stupid.  Dick loves the Huskers from late August to the beginning of January, but damn it, this is the winter, and Dick is 99% positive that the other sports at the University of Nebraska folded about 15 years ago.  A UNO hockey fan walks into the bar in hopes of catching the team’s away game, Dick does not care for UNO, you see in Dick’s mind, Creighton is in the Big East and has never been in a mid major.  Creighton has been a part of the big boys since the beginning of sports, so liking UNO is for the poor.  It is amazing how Creighton fans have already forgotten that they were actually in the Missouri Valley, and it can also be amazing that the ones who do remember that they played in the Valley forget that Wichita State and Northern Iowa were not always powerhouses.  An Iowa fan walks into the bar, what a loser, get creative, Creighton is all about innovation, Dick wants to ask the Iowa fan what it is like living in a trailer park.  A Kansas basketball fan walks into the bar, and this just enrages Dick.  Dick cannot handle it, this will cause Dick’s budget of 40 dollars at the bar go up to 50 dollars.  Who the hell does this Kansas fan think he is?  He is a punk, Kansas will not schedule Creighton, and the only logical reason is because Kansas is just afraid of Creighton, too scared to schedule them.

I walk into the bar right before tip off to watch the Creighton game with Dick.  Dick chastises me for showing up late, five minutes before the tip for a Creighton game is late to Dick.  The tip comes, Dick is so into it that he can only talk to me during commercials, and even then it is mostly about how the fifteen steps he has to take to the bathroom are completely stupid.  The referees make a legit call against the Bluejays and Dick calls the referees a bunch of (homophobic slurs), because Dick is super classy if you cannot tell.  An opposing player hits a wide open shot because the Bluejays are pretty terrible at defense, and that opposing player according to Dick is the biggest thug that ever existed in Dick’s mind.  That player belongs behind bars for hitting that shot.  A Creighton post player misses an uncontested layup and the opposing team grabs the rebound and runs down the court to score a transition basket.  “He was fouled!  These are the worst refs I have ever seen,” Dick screams out.  That player comes out of the game because he just a layup missed with no one or a ghost in the arena hit him on the arm, and another post player comes into the game.  The new post player gets the ball deep in the post, and with his awful footwork travels and turns over the ball.  “What kind of call is that?!  These refs are out to get us,” Dick objectively examines.  He claps hard for everything the Creighton starters do, as if they are the 5 greatest human beings on the face of the planet.  Essentially, Dick thinks of the Creighton starting 5 as the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers.

So half time comes and Dick can finally talk to me, and thank God!  Dick graduated from Creighton, but is now working toward his Master’s degree at UNO, as that is becoming the typical route for Creighton grads that stay in Omaha.  So the UNO fan in me is curious, I ask Dick if and when the Bluejays and the Mavericks ever play, who will he root for since he is now a part of the UNO family (though I already know the answer).  Dick sets down his Bud Light (Dick ALWAYS has Bud Light, it is the classy man beer after all), he then looks at me in disapproval as if I had just admitted to him that I slept with his mother, AND ON MOTHER’S DAY!

“I will never root for that dog shit program,” he says in my direction with a soul less Terminator-like expression on his face.  Dick then goes on to tell me the history of the Creighton basketball program, which I am already familiar with, and points out reasons how the two will never ever be on the same playing field.  To bring them into the same arena is a disgrace to the fine culture and the existence of a basketball program with such excellence.


What is that you say?

So the transition for UNO athletics is over for all but the Spring sports at this point, and while many UNO fans are looking forward to the added respect of the glory that comes with being fully division one, they want to know if the UNO Mavericks will ever play the Creighton Bluejays in men’s basketball.

As an Omaha kid, I grew up really liking Creighton basketball.  A majority of the games were on KMTV and I watched every single one that I could, I had to mute the games due to the anger that would be inflicted on myself at the sound of Travis Justice’s voice, but I did watch most of the games.  Kyle Korver, Larry House, Nate Funk, Anthony Tolliver, those are names you can throw at any Omahan and they will have some sort of respect for them as athletes.  I grew up liking Nebraska as well, but it was a little more difficult to find their games on television.  They were so awful, they would never get picked up anywhere, but once in a while you might get lucky with one of the Big 12 games on KXVO.  I rooted for Nebraska, and I still do, but Creighton, I do not root for anymore really.

You know what achieved status I did not have as a child?  I was not a college student or graduate yet, and I had never been to a college party that involved Creighton students.  UNO and UNL students can get along on the basis of At Least You Do Not Go To Creighton bond, and I am pretty sure that a bulk of UNO students wanted to go to UNL at some point in their life, but for whatever reason they ended up at UNO.  I had friends in high school that ended up at Creighton (and UNL), and their parties always involved a bunch of dill holes.  Every UNO student has had this happen to them, they get to a party and mingle around a little bit, they start a conversation with a Creighton student and the CU student brings something up about campus, and you inform them that you do not go to Creighton.  They find out that you go to UNO and all of a sudden, the conversation is basically over.  How the hell did this peasant get into this royal gathering?  The royal court cannot be seen with the UNO jesters, so this person who seemed decent enough suddenly vanishes and relocates to a new group that is worthy of their commentary on life.

So after a number of run ins with Creighton students like this, the love of their athletics program died.  I cheered for them for a while, I watched their games on television, but I do not care the same way I did as a child.  Even with Doug McDermott, I never really cared if they won or lost, the Creighton students ruined it for me, and I am sure they have ruined it for many non-Creighton students all around the eastern part of the state of Nebraska.  If Creighton athletics wins at this point, good for them, if they lose, oh well, it does not affect my life in any way.

Not all Creighton students are bad though.  There are a few different types of Creighton students and fans that you should be made aware of.


The Entitled:

This is quite possibly the worst kind of Creighton student.  The Entitled Creighton Fan did not have a job in high school, their daddy has a good job, a great job that most of us are jealous of.  Daddy does not make The Entitled work too hard for anything.  Those “Why go to Creighton ads” should be followed with “because Daddy did not make you get a job in high school and you have no useful skills” if they need to get The Entitled to pick them over…okay The Entitled are going to go there no matter what if they are from Omaha.

The Entitled worked hard enough to be okay in high school, they got decent grades, stayed out of trouble, and did okay on the ACT.  Daddy makes enough money for The Entitled to get into Creighton with no serious issues.  Daddy pays the way for The Entitled to go to Creighton, so they will not have $100,000+ dollars of student loan debt by the end of college.  Daddy just wants to be sure that The Entitled can get into a fraternity so he has some students to study with (or cheat off of).  I know Creighton is supposed to be really hard to get into, but as Omahans we have all heard the stories of some entitled asshole getting through high school with a 2.2 GPA and a “26” on their ACT, but somehow they got into Creighton.  Daddy figured out a way.

Daddy will get The Entitled a job right away out of college no matter what, they just need a degree, and they need the Creighton name on the degree, not because it will help in the job market really, but for the glory of it.  The Entitled goes to every home game, because it is not like they need to work anyway, the Entitled goes to each and every game and pretends he goes to Duke, oh and if the Entitled does not get a free t-shirt at the game, it was a shitty game.  The Entitled will also be a total dick about a Creighton win over Nebraska, UNO, or any opponent.  The Entitled has not had a bunch of personal success as far as awards and accomplishments or what have you, so they have to ride the shit out of the athletics team that they started following when they were 18 years old.

The Entitled does not get disciplined by Daddy, just supported.  It is surprisingly easy to skate through life with your parents having the resources.  I know a Creighton grad, we went to high school together, let’s just say that Daddy and Mommy both have a ton of money.  The Entitled got some bad grades in their first semester at Creighton, and they printed off a bogus report card to give to their parents.  Somehow Mommy and Daddy found out, they got mad for five entire minutes, and The Entitled cried.  Mommy and Daddy felt bad for the tears, and for their actions of being the shittiest of parents in the world so Mommy and Daddy bought The Entitled a brand new $25,000 car.  Tough life, right?  The Entitled could have gone to college just about anywhere, they could have just gotten an online degree really, because if Mommy and Daddy can get them a $25,000 car for existing, they can get them a full time job just about anywhere in Omaha.  Creighton on the degree was just for Mommy and Daddy to have something to brag about.

Trust me when I say the words Creighton University do not really matter once you actually hit the job market.  The words may help them get a job straight out of college a few months faster, but after time the degree does not really matter to the employer.  What matters is what you did in your last job and how you did it.  The Entitled can use Creighton to get them into the door, but advancement is an entirely different story.


The West/East Coasting Douche:

So did you know that Creighton has one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Hawaiian student populations in the US, on the mainland?  I found this out a few years ago, and it $urprised me.  There are a decent number of people that come from one of the coasts, it is usually the third school on their list, but they came to Omaha to visit the campus and “fell in love” with the campus.  They did not actually fall in love with the campus though, they fell in love with the Midwest feel of it being five years behind in terms of culture for where they are from.  They feel a little more cultured by coming here.  Downtown Omaha provides a bigger city feel, but with a small town splash mixed in for a little flavor, but not too much flavor.

The West/East Coasting Douche comes to Omaha, they like it, but they never really leave downtown for a few years.  Do not go to Dundee, that is where crime happens.  They come with the intention of coming to Omaha and getting the hell out after 4 years, which most of them are successful with.  This type of fan can be a bit of a prick.  To them, all of the locals are fools, you can never be as cool as someone from some a small town in California wine country after all.  They go to the sporting events and raise hell, because with a plan of getting out after 4 years, who cares what people around here think of them?

The West/East Coasting Douche more than likely comes from a similar economic class as The Entitled, but they have a different attitude and usually are not much of a factor after they graduate because they skip town immediately after graduation.  They go back home after Creighton life and just pay attention to the pro sports in the end.  They typically do not educate themselves on Creighton’s opponents, because it is just about a Creighton win, which is respectable in a way, but they do not care if it is Georgetown that Creighton beats of it is Arkansas State.  All Creighton wins are cool to these people, which is also respectable in a way, but when they talk up beating Arkansas State like it was the game of the century, you kind of want to smack them around a little bit.

So I grew up liking Creighton, right?  I have a Creighton Bluejays rain jacket, if I could find a Huskers rain jacket or a Mavericks rain jacket that fit as comfortably in the rain when it is warmer out, I would replace it.  Anyway, my wife and I went to Portland for her 10 year high school reunion.  Have you ever been to the Pacific Northwest?  It rains a lot, so I brought the rain jacket.  I worked out of my company’s Portland office for a few days, and my wife met me in downtown Portland after work for her to go shopping for a dress for the reunion, and to torture me with boredom.  Anyway, while sitting there in pain for an hour or two waiting for her to try on dresses, a guy comes up to me and asks me about my Creighton jacket.  He is clearly pumped to find a fellow Creighton buddy so far away from Creighton, he treats me like we are about to be best friends, but then he asks me what year I graduated from Creighton.  I disappoint him with telling him that I went to UNO, then his head drops and the conversation just turns into one word exchanges.

I did not live up to par with him, I was a local Nebraskan, not a fellow West/East Coasting Douche.  The West/East Coasting Douche is never overly mean or anything (other than at sporting events), they just simply do not care about the locals.  They are in college to get their education, which is important and honorable, the sports thing is cool to them, but not typically hugely important.  These are usually the students that you will look down into the student section and see them sitting down, drinking a beer, and playing games on their phones.  So the people that want to make you shout WHY DID YOU EVEN COME TO THIS GAME!?  They usually leave with about 10 minutes to go in the game though, no matter the score, because who really cares?  You cannot buy a beer at that point in the game, so that is when it stops being fun to the coaster.


The Attitude:

With similar backgrounds to The Entitled and The West/East Coasting Douche, The Attitude is just a prick for the sake of being a prick.  The Attitude cares about Creighton athletics winning, because they need to be better than you, and apparently their sports team beating your sports team is what confirms that.  Maybe the fundamental difference between The Attitude and The Entitled is that Daddy made The Attitude get a job in high school, maybe even one in college, just to teach The Attitude to please for the love of God just do not have an attitude.  The Attitude gets to Creighton though, and they have to deal with the Entitled and the West/East Coast Doucher, they need to compete for spoiled bitch hood.

Usually The Attitude is nothing physically great.  Their life has been spent with Daddy trying to give them life lessons by making them work and try to be a little hard on them to get them to grow up, but damn it, they went to a high school where all the kids got BMWs and The Attitude was stuck with a newer, but still slightly used, Honda Accord.  Why is life so freaking unfair?!?!  So The Attitude has let themselves go just a little bit to test Daddy’s love.

This same trip I spoke of for going to Portland for my wife’s 10 year reunion, before leaving Omaha we were sitting in the airport, and of freaking course I accidentally put my headphones in my checked baggage.  We were sitting next to The Attitude and a future Creighton student who could possibly turn into the West/East Coast Douche, but she seemed like a decent person really.  The Attitude knew everything there was to know about life, she had all of the right answers to everything.  She tried to teach the future Creighton student what real student life was going to be like.  The Attitude made fun of the locals and taught real import stuff like what professors you should take based on how hot they were or how easy they were as a teacher.  Do not even try to challenge The Attitude into adulthood, you will get nowhere.  The Attitude then talked about which fraternity had the hotter boys and where they hung out, who had the better parties, and which one you would definitely get lucky at…The Attitude was about 30 pounds over weight and wore glasses that made it look like she was trying to crack a safe, there was nothing really attractive about her on the outside or the inside, and you could tell that she never really had anyone in her life tell her “you know, you are not really God’s gift to man, you should try to nicen up just a little bit.”

The entire time she talked, my wife and I just had our heads down wishing it would just stop.  We both wanted to tell her off, but we both knew and probably just hoped that five years down the road she would grow up and look back at everything and realize her stupidity.

The Attitude is usually the one at Creighton games who do not know what a foul or a travel is.  How could Creighton make infractions in the game, they are too smart to not know the rules?   The Attitude is typically in college for the ride and to say that they went to college, not to actually get anything out of it.


The Senseless:

No one knows how The Senseless got into college, and in fairness they are at every college.  I am pretty sure they are just created like cartoon characters and never truly age.  They live the Van Wilder experience and have been a Senior a semester away from graduating for the last couple of years.

The Senseless loves Nebraska football probably more than anything, but hates Nebraska in everything else, especially basketball.  I believe the term for that is JaySker.  My friends and I think there are couple different types of JaySkers.  The acceptable ones who love the Bluejays, but also love the Huskers as well.  They support both programs equally as they the two biggest and local products, and they probably have ties to both of them.  These JaySkers can also love the Mavericks, even the Lopers, and whatever the hell else is out there in Nebraska.  Then there is the other type of JaySker, the ones who love Nebraska football as if it is their first born child, but hate Nebraska in everything else and just support the hell out of Creighton.  These people make up The Senseless.

The PA in the CenturyLink Center may announce the Nebraska basketball score from time to time, and The Senseless will boo the crap out of that.  They hate Tim Miles so damn much, probably because he is a coach with a personality, and he could threaten the ideal that Creighton has a dominating advantage over a Big 10 school on the court and in recruiting.  Tim Miles and Nebraska will beat Creighton someday, and it will be the worst day in the life of The Senseless.

The Senseless supports Creighton athletics no matter what, which is good for them, but to them the athletes walk on water.  The stories of students getting into Creighton with bad grades is impossible for them to understand.  To The Senseless ALL Creighton students got a 4.0 or better in high school and a perfect score on the ACT or SAT.


The Good Ole Folks:

The Good Ole Folks are good people.  They go to Creighton, because they want the quality education, and they want the challenge that is supposed to come along with Creighton.  They do not get to every Creighton event, just the ones they have time for.  These folks cheer on the Bluejays because it is their school, you can respect these people, you want to hang out with these people.

The Folks usually have taken out a decent number of student loans to take on the Creighton challenge.  They hear The Attitude talk about taking classes with the easy professors and they thank them for letting them know what classes to not take.  The Folks may have a father that works three jobs just to help their child go to school, and I really do not think there is anything more respectable than that.  You may meet the Folks at a party and they can carry a conversation with you most of the time, unless some peer pressures come from their Creighton associates, but later in life they will hold a small amount of regret for that.

The Folks can typically get along with anyone who is a good decent person, as they are a good decent person themselves.  They realize that sports are just an escape vehicle for most people.  Something to get away from the normal pressures and stresses of life.  The Folks do not need to wish the deaths of college kids of opposing schools, in order to take some form of comfort in a Creighton loss.  The Folks are at every school, and they are needed in to keep the rest of fans fair and balanced.


 

Where are you going with this?

So that is the main core of Creighton fans/students, when you get to know them, you hate them.  They have taken something that you could once enjoy and they make you borderline hate the athletic program.   Dick Creighton Fan, he takes on the characteristics of all the main core except for The Folks. but Dick is going to be essential for the success of the UNO men’s basketball team.

What does profiling Creighton athletics fans into something as if they are marketing profiles have to do with scheduling Creighton and UNO men’s basketball?  Just wait, I will explain that…

To be continued…

A little recap of the bumps and bruises along the way in the last year of transition

So the season is over for the UNO men’s basketball team, as well as this long transition period, so how would you rate the transition and the 2014-2015 season?

As for the entire transition, it was obviously a learning process.  Not just for the players, but for the coaching staff as well.  In the first year of transition, yes they won 11 games, but only one game against a division one opponent (Northern Illinois).  In the second season, the team still won 11 games, but even after a few players transferred out, and the team graduated their stop scorer, Mitch Albers, they were able to win 9 games against division one opponents.  In year 3, the Mavs were able to win 15 games against division one opponents.  That team had a solid core of talent, and everyone knew each other.  Karhoff, Hagerbaumer, Simmons, Carter, Steffensmeier, and Phillips had established what they could do, then you got to add incredibly tough and competitive Rostampour and Patterson to that team.  You have to figure 15 wins over division one teams and a post season win in the CIT was a tremendous success, considering the transition and that most of the roster was not recruited for the division one level.

From a wins perspective and conference standings point of view, you would probably want to give this season a D-, but was it really that bad?  Okay, I will admit that I am a homer, but consider a few things.  The Mavericks lost 5 conference games by one possession.  The Mavericks were able to beat Marquette in Milwaukee without Jake White (who before the start of the season was thought to be the best player on the team).  The Mavericks were affected by significant injuries to key players Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, and Jake White (who I already mentioned), not only to mention that a few other players got sidelined by a sickness or two throughout the season.  I am still a firm believer that if the Mavs had White and Patterson against Chicago State that they would have won that game.  The Mavericks were also playing with 8 guys that had never played a game as a Maverick.  So with these factors thrown at you, do you upgrade that D- to a C maybe?

We knew that Jake White suffered an injury last season while he was sitting out due to transfer rules, so you had to wonder about how much he got to actually practice and get ready for his first season as a Mav.  It seemed like he was a little out of funk for much of the season, partially because of injuries to his foot, and I assume just about every body part you can name in 30 seconds.  Can that be a game at the new arena next year?  Name more muscles than Jake White in 30 seconds, and go… We were a little teased with White at first.  Not including Koang Dulouny, who only played 7 games at UNO, he was the first transfer that the Mavericks were able to pick up that came from a bigger program.  So there was some excitement to see how much he could help.  His first game he nearly had a double-double until he had to leave the game with a foot injury.  The newspaper said it should not affect him for too long, but he missed the first road game at Seattle, then at Marquette, then at Nebraska, and so on.  We were teased with this Well He Is Pretty Likely Next Game thing for a string of games.  The Mavericks even had him suiting up, like the Boston Celtics did in 2008-2009 in the playoffs with Kevin Garnett who was suffering an abdomen injury, which just had you wondering as a fan WHY ARE YOU NOT PUTTING HIM IN THE DAMN GAME, DO YOU NOT RESPECT THE OTHER TEAM?!?!?!?!?!?!

Then White came back, then sat down for a few more games, and we found ourselves wondering if this was a bust.  A bust in the terms of, did not live up to the hype because of injuries, not because of lack of talent.  It turns out, it was NOT a bust!  Admit it, a healthy Jake White versus Mike Rostampour, you have a hard time figuring out which one is the better rebounder.  There was not a ton of consistency to Jake White this season, but how could anyone be with that many injuries?  There were many missed “bunnies” by White, but with a constant string of injuries are you going to get mad at him for that?  Did you see how extremely pissed off he was after each of those misses?  He knows that is not a normal thing and that those easy shots will drop next season after he has had more time to work on things with the Mavs.  There were a few plays throughout the year, where he would get bumped the wrong way, and he could not get down the court and back on defense, which was unfortunate, but that is not something that will last.  Not the guy we saw grab 10 rebounds in a half, nope, that healthy guy, will be up and down the court.  The (barely) less than 40% shooting for a post player, that will not be forever.  If White can stay healthy, bring that shooting percentage up to the high 40s/lower 50s, and run the floor better next season, the Mavs will win more games with that.

Then the injuries to Devin Patterson and Marcus Tyus.  The team runs on Patterson, he is the floor general, he gets shit done.  Without him, the team’s flow is completely off.  You could tell that there were a few games that he was affected by his feet and ankles, he just did not run the same.  This is no diss to Kyler Erickson or Devin Newsome, but the team is just entirely different with either of them playing the point, the team does not get out and run as much, the team do noes not do all of the things that the Mavs like to do.  The team does need those stretches though where they are not running nearly as much, this is not Oregon football, where the offense can score in a minute and then go sit down for 10-15 minutes of actual time, nope, this is constant back and forth stuff here.  The team needs Erickson or Newsome to come in and slow it down for a stretch of time, the players do not play like a video game where it has a mathematical formula to determine how tired they are, although that would be pretty awesome.  Patterson is right up there to be the best point guard in the Summit League, the best point guard is too big of a piece to have go down in order for your team to keep their rhythm and success.  But this is athletics, players have to play through injuries, and teams have to figure out how to play around those injuries.  I think Chip Kelly said that.  Two Oregon football mentions in one paragraph?  Oh man, I really have married into Oregon fanhood.  I really need to check myself in somewhere, like a bar.

Then a loss of Marcus Tyus, so you end the season without your best shooter for 6 games.  An awful person may say that the Mavericks were a better team without Tyus since they went 4-2 without him, but screw that person.  You are never a better team when you take away your most consistent player and best three point shooter.  The team’s three point shooting fell without Tyus at first.  5-18 versus South Dakota (loss), 4-19 versus Western Illinois (win), 4-19 versus Oral Roberts (loss), 3-14 versus IPFW (win), then they needed Tim Smallwood to basically do a Marcus Tyus impersonation and hit a season high 5 threes against IUPUI.  If Smallwood did not have that type of game, the Mavericks more than likely do not win that game.  I sometimes think that when a key scorer gets injured mid or late season, it can turn out better for a team’s win percentage.

Why?  When a key scorer on the team have to think about things more and process out game as a team, and be more creative to find baskets, not just throw the ball to one player for a certain percentage of the time.  Not that I think Tyus was a ball hog, not at all, not saying that.  The Mavs were just forced to figure it out, after already once trying to figure it out without Jake White and/or Devin Patterson.  When the Mavs lost White, the entire team was pretty new as it was, so they had to figure out playing together already, when they lost Patterson, they lost their flow.  Tyus going out created a different situation, but this time it was after the mix of returners and newer players got a chance to ball and gel together already for most of the season.  As a point guard, Patterson only really plays one position, so his injury basically only created more minutes for Kyler Erickson and Devin Newsome.  As a post player, Jake White’s injury basically created more minutes and opportunities for Tre’Shawn Thurman and Rylan Murry.  By the way, I am still going with Thurman and Murry sounds like the worst cop buddy show on USA or TNT.  Tyus’ injury creates a little more opportunity, playing two positions, it created more minutes for Randy Reed, Tim Smallwood, and Kyler Erickson, as well as creating more situations for Derrin Hansen to try a bunch of different lineups.  The Reed, Smallwood, Erickson combo also knew they had to bring some more energy with Tyus out, they hopefully knew and understood this was a big chance for them.  With Tyus out, they all played key moments and came up huge to help the success of the Mavericks.  It created a learning situation late in the year, and the players had to develop and work it out.  PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY OF THIS AS ME BEING HAPPY AS MARCUS TYUS BEING INJURED, INJURIES ARE NEVER GOOD, ESPECIALLY FOR ANYTHING IN THE KNEES.

Playing with 8 new faces is kind of fun, but also pretty frustrating.  The first job I ever had was in a restaurant.  There was this kid that worked with me, and we were both new at about the same time, the restaurant closed at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and the two of us pretty much closed every single Friday.  At first, it would take us 45 minutes to get all of the closing duties done, but after a while we both figured out what the other was better at, we both knew what the other was going to do before even doing it.  After a while, we could get out of that shit hole in about 15 minutes after closing.  The same thing kind of works in sports.  Yes, by this time Patterson, Carter, Tyus, and Rostampour should of had that same functioning relationship on the court, but it is not like they all play every single minute of every single game.  White, Reed, Smallwood, Murry, Meyer, Erickson, Newsome, and Thurman do not all have that same relationship with each other or the returning 4, and hopefully they can all return for next season to develop those on the court relationships.  They will know what everyone else is doing before they even start doing it.  Once the Mavs get on this trip to Europe and play together more, have a summer of working out together, all get together and practice, they are going to get better at that closing shift. So you have to be feeling good about the start of full fledged D-1 life, right?  You also have to think, there is not (as of right now at least) no division one team in Nebraska with a winning record.  Tim Miles has stated that his team has not improved as the season as gone on, it does not look like Creighton has improved toward the end of the year, but the Mavs did get better toward the end of rht year.

So is this similar to when the Mavs had the returning core from 2012-2013 and got to add Rostampour and Patterson to the mix?   Several Summit League teams have a good deal of players returning players, as there are not many graduating seniors in men’s basketball, so we will have to wait and see if the growing chemistry is a factor for the team’s success.  That is kind of obvious, right?  That we would have to wait…I mean the schedule has not even come out yet.  How dumb was it of me to say that?

Aside from the record that did not live up to expectations, we did see some great things this year.  Okay, we won a game yesterday.  If we win today it’s called “two in a row”.  And if we win again tomorrow that’s called “a winning streak.”  It has happened before.  That is a Major League reference.  If you have not seen Major League, you probably need to reevaluate your entire life.  The Mavs were able to finish on a 3 game winning streak on the road.  You have to be optimistic with that if the Mavs were able to make the Summit League tournament this year, that they would at least be hot going into the tournament, even as an 8 seed.  A team on a 3 game road winning streak, and 4 of their last 6 overall. with the 2 losses by a total of 4 points in the final possessions, is not your typical 8 seed.  But an 8 seed still has to play the 1 seed, and the Mavs did not have a good time this season against South Dakota State.  Okay, I went back and looked, that is actually a Major League 2 reference.  It is okay if you have not seen Major League 2, that is cool.

We also saw the ending of two fine careers, and the beginning of a few more.  CJ Carter finished his career with just a couple more than 1500 points, the 5th most in school history, Mike Rostampour finished his two year career teaching the Mavericks about rebounding and toughness.  The Mavs got to show off the beginning of freshman Tre’Shawn Thurman who showed a tremendous freaking upside, and Murry, Meyer, and Newsome showed glimpses of what they will be capable of.  Murry a three point specialist and good ball handler for his size, Meyer a good rebounder and defender, even showed some post moves when given the chance, and Newsome showed his ability to be a floor general.

Mav fans who paid attention this year, they know that this season was more than just the season that the Mavs beat a Big East team.  The Creighton Bluejays had a similar season a little while back, yes I know they were not in transition, but the last few years of Dana Altman the Jays would get ahead and build decent leads.  They would lose those leads on getting tired, missing shots, and not playing quality defensive possessions down the stretch.  Those teams (with Kenny Lawson, P’Allen Stinnett, Kaleb Korver, Booker Woodfox, Cavel Witter, and others) were supposed to be “the most athletic teams Creighton had in a while and supposed to run and shoot teams out of the gym, even with a bunch of new faces on the roster.  Sound a little familiar?  Creighton moved on from that, got better, made the NIT (almost beat Kentucky), eventually climbed the conference standings, found a stroke of accidental luck with Doug McDermott, had famous battles with Wichita State and Northern Iowa.  UNO will continue to grow just like Creighton did.

Another great success was how supportive the student section became this season.  This is partly because of the Pike fraternity growing a collective man crush on Derrin Hansen, and trust me, I get it.  The first three years of transition, you wondered where the students were and you really just hoped that they were not at a Nebraska or Creighton game.  Now they are taking notice, they knew how important it was to show guys like Carter and Rostampour their support.  The energy of the crowd in college basketball is an extremely valued variable.  Think of those moments the players are just exhausted and they need that reminder of who they are playing for (other than themselves, their teammates, coaches, and families).  They get that extra needed jolt and ride it.  The crowds at UNO hockey are extremely important, and not it is time that the other sports are getting the support.  I know during division 2, UNO would invite potential new hires to UNO athletics and the candidates would ask Where are the Students?  You have no idea how much of a ripple effect the student can create.  It is also extremely satisfying to go to a UNO game and see that the students are into the game the entire time, it is not like when they go to that other Omaha school and the students are sitting down, drinking a beer, checking their phones constantly, and not caring about their team.  They are just there for the hopes of a free t-shirt.

This reminds me.  Next post on how we schedule those Creighton guys?

 

 

A hopefully decent attempt talking about Lady Mavs basketball

Before moving forward, I would like to point out to you that I worked 40 hours over the course of 3 days and got very little sleep while trying to write this in the little free time I had, so I was probably a little delirious, and noticed several errors and typos while skimming over this and I fixed as much as I could, so if there is a problem, see my assistant.  I do not have an assistant, so good luck with that.  There were many stretches where I just sat at my computer, wondering where the heck I was.

So I now have been to a few UNO women’s basketball games.  It is not my lack of interest or lack of support as to why I have only been to a few games.  During my time as a student at UNO, I would have night classes or work during most of the home games.  After the transition, I lived in Utah which was close to no fun, and after moving back it has seemed like I would always have a scheduling conflict with the women’s teams home games.  I listen to most of the games on the radio while I am working out, or doing other stuff.  But I was able to make it Thursday night, and I got to tell you I feel pretty good about this team moving forward.

Let’s think about the lady Mavs’ division one life.  First thing, they lose their coach.  They find a new coach in Chance Lindley, who was an assistant at Arizona.  Lindley would guide the Mavs to wins over three division one opponents in their first year:  Western Illinois, Texas-Arlington, and UNO (holy crap they beat themselves! – no, no, that is New Orleans).  In his second season, Lindley and his staff were able to pick up Carolyn Blair-Mobley, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State, who made an immediate impact to help seniors Paige Frauendorfer and Jamie Nash create a big time Big 3.  The lady Mavs were able to go 17-11 overall in their second year of transition.

Then, in a way, the whole thing comes crumbling down.  The seniors graduate, which is kind of a given, and on top of that 4 other players leave the team, Cathleen Cox is injured, players decommit, and Lindley unexpectedly leaves the school.  Brittany Lange is given the opportunity to fix the situation, which it appears she is becoming more and more comfortable dealing with day by day.  To top things off, Cox is injured again, Brianna Bogard injures herself as well early in the season, who seemed to be expected to be a big piece of the offense, which the injuries and transfers leaves the team with one senior, 3 juniors, and 5 freshmen to be the players night in and night out.  If you do not know anything about basketball rosters, that is not a lot, and why are you here?  This year, Lange was given the chance to have a little more depth on the team, really just one more player added to last year’s roster would have seemed like a ton more depth, but it is a full roster now for sure.

 

It is incredibly difficult to rebuild a women’s basketball team.  First of all there is very little parody in women’s basketball.  My wife and I have discussed this on a number of occasions.  On the men’s side, there are a million six foot tall shooting guards to knock down threes, and their dream is to play college basketball.  There just are not as many girls that have that same love of basketball that can play at a highly competitive level.  You also have to consider how many girls in high school basketball are playing it as their second sport, many go on to play volleyball, or soccer, or softball at the collegiate level.  Combine that with a bunch of high school coaches that do not know what they are doing and go with a Hey This Volleyball Girl is Tall so Let’s Just Keep Feeding Her the Ball Even Though She Has no Hands approach. Basketball is just kind of the side job for many of them.  I mean no disrespect to women in college basketball, I hope this should show as a sign of respect really to the ones who do play and have quality careers who put their love of the game and carry out for success.  My wife mentioned at her high school, the basketball team had 7 players (throughout 3 different classes) go play division one, but none of them went on to play basketball.  It was a second thing for all of them.  My wife averaged 5 steals a game as a freshmen on varsity, and ended up playing college softball over basketball (although Belmont tried to get her to play her 5th year of eligibility for the basketball team, she beat the team in a scrimmage three point competition, Remy Davenport also has the same form on her shot as my wife as a FYI)  With no parody in the sport, it creates situations in which the # 5 team in the country cruises past the # 15 team in the country by 30 points.  So yes, rebuilding, especially in transition, is no easy situation in women’s basketball.  It takes a committed coaching staff and patient athletic administration to get through the tough times, two things that UNO seems to have.

By the way, my wife is in her high school’s athletic all of fame for softball and basketball.  The high school athletics program has apparently gone down hill in the last couple of years with some new high schools opening up and taking away some of the high level athletes.  We went to her award ceremony which was at half time of the boy’s basketball game.  We sat through girl’s game which was before the boy’s game.  One of the teams scored a total of one point in the third quarter.  It was the 6th layer of hell for me.  If any coach is ever reading this, I urge you to not go recruit for girl’s basketball in the Vancouver, Washington area (Vancouver is the Council Bluffs of Portland, Oregon).

It did seem to take a little while to find a consistent lineup this season, but after finally settling in with a lineup, the Mavs seemed to pick things up, along with improving some fundamentals and especially their free throw shooting.  Before the month of February the Mavs went 6-15, but were able to get to double degit wins by going 4-3 in the month of February.  The Mavs were able to pick up wins against Western Illinois (finished 3rd in Summit League), North Dakota State (6th), Fort Wayne (9th), and Denver (T-7th with UNO) in the month of February, they also play competitively against the two top teams in the conference South Dakota and South Dakota State.  So yes, the lady Mavs were able to end transition on a positive note.

With a more consistent lineup, the Mavs were able to get going, but the Mavs were able to move through the month by huge performances from sophomore Mikaela Shaw.  How big?  23.1 points per game and 8.7 rebounds throughout the month of February big.  Those are superstar numbers, like Other Teams Are Going to Stick Their Hands in Their Armpits and Then Smell Their Hands When Shaw Comes to Town, Because They Are Going to Be So Nervous type of superstar.

Looking ahead to the future, it may be comforting knowing that Mikaela Shaw (as of before the start of post season) led all sophomores in the Summit League in scoring, as well as rebounding.  The only player that averaged more points than her that will be returning for next season will be Western Illinois’ Ashley Luke (assuming neither of these players leave for some reason).  I would also like to extend this and point out that Madi Robson led all sophomores in assists.  And yes, teams can pick up some stellar junior college players, and transfers from Florida that can just dominate the conference.

So the Mavs had their best season during transition with Frauendorfer and Nash leading the show.  Having your power forward and point guard as your main characters is never a bad thing.  Yes, I know Shaw is listed as a guard, but seriously, come on, she plays the 4.  When your 4 and your guard are your main characters, you can utilize the pick and roll game a ton, look at any team that had Jerry Sloan as their coach.

Mikaela Shaw’s Twitter handle is shawesome_43, and I do not think I have ever seen a more appropriate twitter handle for a young college person, she is freaking awesome.  She can score in a variety of ways, she can drive left, drive right, score on the baseline, knock down a 15 footer, knock down a three, I would not be shocked if she could dunk.

Shaw has easily become a star over the last two years.  Let me just throw a few numbers out at you.

  • I mentioned that she led all sophomores in points and rebounds this season, right?
  • Her 38 points is the most by any lady Mav since transition, it was also the most by any woman in the Summit League this season
  • Her 721 is the most career points in the transition period, Frauendorfer had 755 and Ericka House had 732, Shaw did that in her freshman and sophomore seasons, Frauendorfer and House scored their points as juniors and seniors
  • After her sophomore year she already ranks 38th on the career overall scoring chart
  • After her sophomore year she ranks 27th on the career rebounding chart

And that is just the scoring, she can rebound, pass the ball, block shots, defend the post, defend the perimeter, and her three point shooting has gotten better and better.  I watched a play where she was on defense and went up to contest a shot, and she did not even block the shot, she literally just grabbed the shot out of the air and started a break down the floor.  Is Grab Shot Out of Freaking Air a statistic?  If it is, she at least averaged 0.1 this last season.

Like I said, rebuilding anywhere is difficult, especially for a women’s team in transition, by the way, have we praised Brittany Lange for taking this job over?  Rebuilding a team in the middle of transition, that has to be a coach’s worst nightmare, especially taking the risk of starting your career with that.  With basically an entirely new roster in her first season, Lange essentially got a job at one of those start up companies.  Anyway, it is difficult to rebuild a team, and someone like Mikaela Shaw is a great marketing tool…no, no, no I am not saying we use her, it will just come naturally.

The smaller schools have to rely on that one above the rest of the conference player to market their program.  The outsiders who essentially know nothing about the the smaller teams, they need to hear something is interesting is happen to pay attention.  At this level, people want to hear about someone like Mikaela Shaw doing great things and they want to go see it for themselves.  They want to sit around and talk shop afterwards and feel better about themselves and ponder real philosophical stuff like “yeah, she can score at UNO, but could score at a bigger school?”  The high school kids want to learn from that player.  If you went to high school in Omaha from 2001-2003, you would have seen every high school kid wearing their socks real high, growing their hair out (high school kids tend to grow their hair out anyway), trying to become a knock down three point shooter trying to be Creighton’s Kyle Korver.  Go to a UNO softball game.  If you went and saw UNO take on the Huskers last year, the middle school girls were there to watch Nebraska’s Tatum Edwards pitch, and they were there to learn from UNO’s Allie Mathewson.  Every time Mathewson stepped up to the plate, the younger kids were up at the fence, studying her batting stance, wanting to be the next Allie Mathewson.  The younger kids see the Mathewsons and the Shaws as the heros.  The Nebraska girls that go in and dominate.  The Nebraska Cornhuskers did not exist to those girls in those games between the Mavericks and Huskers.

Should it be amazing that she even came to UNO?  I do not know.  Per press releases from athletics and the Omaha World Herald, I have not seen any other offers she picked up other than a walk on role at Nebraska, but I have to tell you, a walk on offer to a small town Nebraska kid might be a better thing than a full ride some place else from a sports stand point.  I do not know for sure if Deweese, Nebraska is a small town, but I am just just going to go with my Omaha instincts on this one and say yes it is a small town.

Let’s not look at this like it is the Omaha Shaws, it is still the Omaha Mavericks.  If you would have gone to a women’s game, you could have seen the other pieces of the future.

I am going to take a side step before moving on.  The players who never got to play after transition, should not be forgotten.  Taijhe Kelly’s blocks, Nash’s ridiculous amount of steals and assists, House’s threes, Bough’s ability to do a little bit of everything, Frauendorfer’s…just Frauendorferness, and everyone else.  They all helped the UNO program move on, I am simply just looking at what we have moving forward.  If anything the players moving forward have a little bit of the past in them.  Barajas has signs of playing like Kelly, Shaw has similarities to Frauendorfer, Robson to Nash, and so on.

So it is not just Mikaela Shaw that we have to look forward to.  Madi Robson, if you are a point guard, you will have nothing but respect for her.  If you love a score first point guard, then I always think there is something wrong with you, and her career average of 5 points per game will not impress you.  If you watch her though, you will take notice of what she does for the Mavericks.  She keeps the team moving, keeps communication up, finds players in their spots, sets screens on bigger players to get her teammates in a better position to make a play.

I have not seen if UNO has a +/- stat for games, I know North Dakota State does (just sayin’), but the second to last home game of the year against IPFW, I cannot stress to you how important she was in that game.  If there was a +/- stat, I am pretty sure the Mavs would have been up 15 points whenever she was on the court.  There was a stretch in the second half when she was on the bench where IPFW had dwindled down UNO’s lead to one possession, and I was thinking to myself – Where the Heck is Robson?  Then what do you know, Robson comes into the game, and controls everything to a point to where the Mavs get back up by a few possessions.

She scored 15 points that game, and most of it were free throws as IPFW was fouling to try and get back into the game, but I swear she was capable of scoring much more.  No matter what guard got on Robson, she would break that player down, IPFW could not stay in front of her.  I was sitting next to some older gentlemen, who I assume were former UNO players, and every time Robson would break down their defender they would just laugh and cry out, “they have no chance at guarding her.”  She would get by, and find the open player, or bring it back up to the top of the key so the Mavs could set something else up.  You could tell that she had that game completely under control.  While on the bench, the team was talking less, the defense was breaking down.  It is not like they just muted themselves, I am just saying that while Robson was on the court, you could clearly hear the players better and more frequently.  Taijhe Kelly was probably the second most talkative on defense, calling out whatever she saw.  Not saying no one else was talking, those were just the two players that were clearly keeping up the talk.  When Robson was on the bench, she was like a undergraduate coach, yelling whatever she could out to players, scolding them for mistakes.  Scolding may be the wrong word, from everything I have seen, Robson does not have a mean bone in her body.  I have not seen a college player (in person) take over an entire game without the need of scoring since Tyler McKinney at Creighton.  Also, just a little bit ago when I shot out some numbers about Shaw, after Robson’s sophomore year, she is 16th in program history in assists.

So you take Robson and Shaw, you have Davenport coming off screens as the three point specialist, Vanessa Barajas as the rim protector, add transfer Marissa Preston to the crew, as well as incoming freshman Caroline Hogue, who is apparently a block specialist herself, and you have the recipe for a quality basketball team.  So there is some hope for this improving basketball team that showed promise down the stretch of transition, and we know anything could happen, like (this is where some hypothetical situation is mentioned, something so horrifying, you vomit and crap yourself and cry out “no player deserves that”).  Add that in with a committed coaching staff, and athletic administration that wants to put in their support, and you have a girls team that can climb the standings in the conference. and who knows what the limits are.