2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 2: Kansas City

This is where I could have done a preview of the Mavericks’ second opponent, St. Mary’s from Minnesota, but they play in Division 3 and on top of that St. Mary’s lists the game as an exhibition.  What fun would that be?  It does feel good to actually have 100% confidence in these games though, it is not like in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 when you just were not really sure what UNO would do against these teams.

So we move on looking at the UMKC Kangaroos.

Last year I heavily debated of going to Kansas City to watch this game.  I do not recall why I did not go, but it was more than likely because I had no one that wanted to brave the exhausting three hour drive with me.  Seriously, you have to drive through Iowa for part of it.  I listened to the game on the radio, but found myself screaming like I was Krusty the Klown screaming at the Washington Generals for just watching the Harlem Globetrotters spin the ball on their fingers.

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The Mavs were getting Jake White back into the lineup after being injured in their home opener against Central Arkansas.  UMKC was playing without probably their best post player, former Bradley Brave, Shayok Shayok.  I was not feeling like it would be an easy win, but I was still expecting a win that day.  The Mavs ended up losing to the ‘Roos with a 20 point performance from CJ Carter and a 19 point and 8 rebound performance from Tre’Shawn Thurman.  You can pretty much completely attribute the loss to a season high 26 turnovers.  26!  That is scary!  That is sick, and not the good kind of sick that all the kids are throwing around now a days.  The kind of sick you feel when you find out that person you hate at work is getting their cubicle moved right next to you.  That Mavs even outrebounded UMKC by 14 on the day.  This is still the one game of the 2014-2015 season that I look back most and say, if they replayed that game, UNO wins the game.

This loss, in my opinion, was more embarrassing than any other Mav loss on the year.  More embarrassing than Chicago State.  Even though the Kangaroos beat Missouri earlier in the season, the Mavs were a superior team but could not handle the ball.  The game was right there.  UMKC took their decent back court and attacked UNO’s poor perimeter defense.  Martez Harrison, who became the first D-1 All American (Honorable Mention) that UMKC has ever had, dropped 25 on the Mavericks.  Frank Williams Jr, doubled his season average with 16, these 6’4″ to 6’6″ wing players always seemed to have out of body experiences against the Mavs last season.

Martez Harrison was also the 2015-2016 WAC player of the year.
Martez Harrison was also the 2014-2015 WAC player of the year.

The obvious hope this upcoming season is that this will not be a glaring issue anymore.  Tra-Deon Hollins is expected to help with this perimeter defensive issues, and in my opinion, Randy Reed should hopefully get a little more playing time to guard against those 6’4″ to 6’6″ wing players that gave the Mavs fits last season.

In that wing position, the ‘Roos have sophomore Darius Austin, who averaged 4.4 ppg and 4.2 rpg in 20 minutes per game.  He did have 9 points and 8 rebounds against the Mavs last season.  There is also junior Broderick Newbill, who averaged 4.2 ppg and 2.1 rebounds per game in about 12 minutes a game last season.  He had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals against the Mavericks last season.  UMKC will also be adding a 6’3″ junior college transfer, Deshawn King, who averaged about 12 points per game, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.  King was not a tremendous threat from long range being that he made 33% of his threes in in his sophomore season, but he only attempted about one three point shot a game.  He also only shot 60% from the field.

My perception (actually this blog is pretty much 100% about my perceptions) is that one of the Mavs top two strengths this upcoming season will be their post game.  The Mavs lost crazy inside force Mike Rostampour, and that will hurt, but how good can the post look with a hopefully healthy Jake White and a stronger and more experienced Tre’Shawn Thurman?  Not to mention, Daniel Meyer is sounding as if he has improved his game a tremendous amount, based on the Mavs Euroblog.  The Mavs have a good three headed monster down low, and maybe even a 4 headed monster if freshman Zach Pirog is ready to play.  But if the Mavs have 26 turnovers again, or hell, even 25 turnovers, it is not like they are going to have enough opportunities to get the ball down low to the triple dragon.

With that in mind, the Kangaroos do not have much of a post game.  Can Shayok play this year?  He is basically their entire post game, but only played in 8 games last season.  UMKC will also be adding former Youngstown State forward, 6’7″ Kyle Steward, to their post game.  Steward spent his sophomore season at Butler Community College, who is pretty much good all the time (they went 29-4 last season), where he averaged about 13 points per game and 5 rebounds per game.  Steward can also step out and hit the three, so he can really help open things up for UMKC.

UMKC is a team the Mavs are kind of used to.  The proximity and somewhat equal size which has made this a little bit of a rivalry, it seemed like UNO-UMKC was going to create a nice little rivalry as Summit League members.  It would make sense for UMKC to come back to the Summit League and make it an even 10 teams, especially since UMKC does not have one conference opponent in the WAC that they do not have to fly to play.  Until they man up and face the reality that they have to come back to the Summit League, it will probably be a regular thing to play UMKC once a year.

The Kangaroos were the first team that UNO got a Summit League regular season win over, and the first team that the Mavericks swept in the regular season.  Okay, maybe that is why they do not want to come back.

It is definitely a good thing that this game will be played in Omaha.  Last season, for their conference schedule, the Kangaroos were 6-1 at home and only 2-5 on the road, so they are not that great away from the state of Missouri…but they did pick up a win in double overtime at Indiana State in their non conference schedule.  The Mavericks will have two games under their shorts at the Baxter Arena, and things are starting to look pretty good in Mavtown as it is, so hopefully a good crowd can make it out to this Tuesday game.

One difference with the Mavs as compared to last season is that when the Mavericks traveled to Kansas City, they were really still trying to figure things out.  The team was already trying to figure out where the additions of Tre’Shawn Thurman, Randy Reed, Tim Smallwood, Rylan Murry, Daniel Meyer, Kyler Erickson, and Devin Newsome were going to fit into a rotation.  That is even with trying to figure out what to do with Jake White, who was coming back with an injury at that point.  This season, there is not going to be a lot of process trying to figure those things out, and the Mavs will be trying to figure out how to add just three or four players into the mix (Gibson, Hollins, Pirog, and Jackson).  The team has had a trip to Italy and more practice to figure out rotations, so it will not take as long for the Mavericks to figure out who everyone is.  The team is going to be slightly deeper this season, which makes since now that they are a full fledged member of division one now.

So how are the Mavs’ chances against the Kangaroos this November?  The Mavs can hopefully take better care of the ball and be able to edge out UMKC this season.  Really, how could they not take better care of the ball this time around?  This is not the same Kangaroos team that Omaha swept in their first year in the Summit, really either are the Mavericks…the only player they still have from that team is Marcus Tyus.  This game can still be as close as last season, but with better defense the Mavericks will look to better contain Martez Harrison.

 

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