2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 7, Montana State Bobcats

Montana State

2014-2015 Record: 7-23

2014-2015 Home Record:  5-9

Final 2014-2015 RPI:  323

Big Win in 2014-2015:  vs UT-Arlington (180 RPI) 104-81

Random Stat:  UNO and Montana State both won at North Dakota last season by the exact same score of 80 to 78.


When you first hear of Montana State, you assume this could be an easy road win.  I mean, it is Montana State of all schools.

Okay, this has been getting a little stale talking about who is returning, and what new players might be good, but now we get to add a new ingredient to the recipe.  Some fish.

Brian Gosh Darn Fish.  I really do not think that his is full legal name, but it could be.  The Mavs may not have a shot at playing Creighton, but they do have a shot at former Creighton/Oregon/San Diego/Marshall Assistant Coach, Brian Fish.  Trying to get his program going, Fish will take on the Mavericks in their first full year of division one.  This seems like it should be a home and home series.  I feel like we should be able to expect the Bobcats in Omaha in 2016.

I cannot really think of many press conferences that introduced a new basketball coach that required him to wear a hat. So this must be serious, right?

I felt pretty confident in Fish’s ability to recruit a good team and make a positive impact on Montana State right from the second he got hired.  He appeared to be Dana Altman’s number one guy after Kevin McKenna left Creighton.  Fish was responsible for recruiting some great players to the Bluejays.  Every time Creighton played a team that had a coach in the hot seat, Fish appeared super into the game, like he wanted the opportunity to be a head coach.  It was always in him.  He had been rumored for a number of head coaching jobs before, one in particular was hearing his name being floated around when Western Illinois needed a new head coach…twice that came up actually.

We are going to throw in a pinch of another ingredient though.  Fish was able go all the way to Rock Island, Illinois to go after a recruit named Tyler Hall.  Why is this an item of interest?  Tyler Hall was rated a 3 star recruit by ESPN, but ESPN’s recruiting website is not all that great at rating players so it might not be that big of a deal in the long run.  However, Hall was given a scholarship offer by the Mavericks as well; and on top of that he saw offers from South Dakota, South Dakota State, Ohio (Saul Phillips), and Western Michigan.  So yes, Fish came into Omaha’s backyard and stole one from us.  It could be a big deal, it could not be.  The Bobcats are advertising Hall as a player that will be competing for a starting spot, but they won 7 games last season, so I assume every new guy is competing for a starting spot.  Fish was also able to get a commitment from Minnesota native, Sam Neumann.  The Mavericks did not offer Neumann, but Minnesota is an area the Mavericks like to get into for recruiting…Neumann did receive an offer from South Dakota State.

Actually kind of stoked to see JT Gibson and Hall go head-to-head.

This could give Omaha fans an indication of what kind of guys the Mavericks are losing out on and what type of guys we are going after, other than the obvious list of players that are currently on the roster.  As a fan, you like to know your team is offering guys that are capable players.  I hate it when Nebrasketball fans lose out on some recruit to Auburn and that player turns out to not be competent enough to player in a power conference, and the Husker fans get all giddy that the player “sucks”.  Shouldn’t you be upset that this dude was almost on your roster, but he did not think your team was good enough for his abilities?  Am I right?

How else has Fish done in recruiting?  Like many coaches trying to turn their team around quickly, Fish went after junior college players to add experience to his team.  He signed 5, that is right, 5 junior college transfers to his team.  3 of those junior college players are 6’8″ or taller.  I’m just going to do some quick math here.  5 junior college players, 4 freshman…that is 9 new players to work into the mix.  With 9 new players, it feels kind of worthless to bring up many teams stats from 2014-2015.


Key losses for the Bobcats.

Michael Dinson – 5’9″ G: 14.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 41 FG% 39 3ptFG%

You can average 4 rebounds a game at 5 foot 9?

Eric Norman – 6’9″ C:  6.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.7 bpg, 31 FG%, 27 3ptFG %

Blake Brumewell – 6’7″ C: 2.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 51 FG%

Montana State also had 3 players transfer away from the program, who all according to a Big Sky blog were “non-contributors” and should not be a big deal to lose.


Key returns for the Bobcats

Marcus Colbert – 5’11” G, SR: 13.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.7 apg, 43 FG%, 42 3ptFG%, 50 3ptM

The Mavericks were 2-0 against non-conference opponents in 2014-2015 that had a player that ended up averaging more than 4 assists per game.  Those wins were against Central Arkansas and North Dakota.

Stephan Holm – 6’3″ G, JR: 9.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 39 FG%, 34 FG%, 50 3ptM

Danny Robison – 6’8″ F, SR:  9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 45 FG%, 37FG%, 34 3ptM


 

Omaha is 4-0 against the Big Sky since becoming Division 1, but in reality, 3 of those wins are against North Dakota.  This will be the second game of 2015-2016 that the Mavericks go up against the Big Sky after playing at Northern Colorado.

This should be a difficult game for the Mavericks.  Road game, on Sunday, in a place like Bozeman, Montana.  With so many new faces for the Bobcats, it could be difficult to scout Montana State, but the Bobcats could still be trying to figure each other out at this point.  Brian Fish is not going to be surprised by the Mavericks either, he should be pretty knowledgeable of the program and have a plan for this game.

 

 

 

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Who has the best Big 3 in the Summit League?

Basketball, meh, mainly the NBA has entered into an era of looking at teams by asking the question: Who has the best Big 3?  Having a Big 3 certainly is key, but really I think it’s just as important to follow up with who has better role players to back up Big 3?  Could the 2008 Boston Celtics have won an NBA championship without their young starters Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and older bench players of PJ Brown, Sam Cassell, and James Posey?  But while we are on the subject, that I brought up, let’s take a look at who could have the best Big 3 in the Summit League in the 2015-2016 season.


 

SDSU:

Jake Bittle, George Marshall, Deondre Parks

There is little doubt that the Jackrabbits will have the best guard trio in the league.  Each averaged double figures in scoring, and all three can defend the perimeter.  Each averaged double figure scoring, and Bittle has the highest field goal percentage of any returning player to the Summit league at 53.4 %.  The Jackrabbits also have 3 of the top 5 returning players in 3 point field goals made, Marshall made 64 threes in 2014-2015 and he did not even play the entire season.  The big question mark is; with Cody Larson graduating, who is going to rebound and defend in the post for them?

The Jackrabbits are returning 74% of their scoring from 2014-2015.
The Jackrabbits are returning 74% of their scoring from 2014-2015.

Role Players:

Reed Tellinghuisen, 6-6 SO:  If you look at the Jackrabbits fan forum, someone posted pictures of Tellinghuisen lifting weights, which is not weird at all.  He does appear as if he has added some weight onto his frame, which is great as he will be used more at the 4 position in his second year as a Jackrabbit.  The Summit League has Tellinghuisen, AJ Jacobson, and Tre’Shawn Thurman all in the same class at the forward position.  How excited are you for 2017-2018?

Connor Devine/Ian Theisen:  These two split time and basically taking turns of who was backing up All Conference player Cody Larson.  These two combined for for almost 5 points and 4 rebounds per game.  With a young front court, these two will be counted on more in the 2015-2016 season to step up.

Skyler Flatten, 6-6 SO: Flatten was actually getting a decent amount of minutes, but then something happened.  George Marshall happened.

Keaton Moffitt, 6-5 SR:  Keaton Moffitt also happened.  The transfer, from Division 2 Sioux Falls, made quite the impact on his team with his leadership and hustle, routinely making big plays when it was needed most.


 

Omaha:

Devin Patterson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Marcus Tyus, (Jake White)

The Mavericks could have a Big 4 if Jake White is healthy, with as many injuries as he had in his junior season, it is going to be like getting an entirely new player in the line up.  It seemed as if the entire team faced injuries issues last season, so if the Mavs can stay healthy, they can be a very dangerous team in the Summit League with their senior back court of Patterson and Tyus to go along with their rising sophomore star Tre’Shawn Thurman.

Random stat:  The Mavericks have the most experienced roster with the average eligible player being 2/3 of the way through their sophomore season, but they have the smallest roster with an average height of 6’4″.  If Zach Jackson, Ben Kositizke, and Zach Pirog all redshirt, the roster gets even smaller, but more experienced.  It is still up for debate if this is one of the meaningless things I have ever posted here.

The Mavericks are looking to make a big jump with a new arena and new era.
The Mavericks are looking to make a big jump with a new arena and new era.

Role Players:

Tra-Deon Hollins, 6-2 JR:  Averaged 17 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 5.3 apg his freshman season of junior college, he appears to be a little bit of everything, and can really help the Mavericks improve their perimeter defense.

Daniel Meyer, 6-9 SO:  Only averaged four and a half minutes a game in 2014-2015, but he is likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Mike Rostampour and the departure of fellow redshirt freshman Rylan Murry.  Meyer appeared to play with a lot of activity on the team’s trip to Italy.

Randy Reed, 6-6 SR:  I’d like to see Reed’s shot chart, I cannot think of many jump shots Reed made, or took.  He really can slash and get to the basket though.  When Marcus Tyus missed the last 6 games of the season, Reed really did a decent job of bringing energy off the bench.  There were many instances in the Mavericks’ home game against Oral Roberts that he made a play to keep Omaha in the game.  I would think with not a ton of post players around the Summit League that Reed will be used as a backup 4.


 

NDSU:

Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, AJ Jacobson

After losing the Summit League player of the year, Lawrence Alexander, the Bison will look to replace that offense in their back court.  AJ Jacobson said in a Q&A that the Bison are all about a team effort, and know that there is a next one up to take Alexander’s place.  It will probably actually be two up with Kory Brown and Carlin Dupree to take the load on offense over.  Seriously, this team is starting to become the HYDRA of the Summit League.

While this team is still relatively young, they seem to have completely bought into Dave Richman’s schemes.  A Big 3 probably does not really matter to the Bison, they appear to be ready for anything.  Looking at their roster, they probably have the most complete roster in the Summit League.  It is also probably worth nothing; that while the Bison are a young team, their roster has the most division one starts on the active roster for 2015-2016 with 197 starts.  Kory Brown is after all a 4 year starter…assuming he is going to start this season.

The Bison will continue to work as a team after the loss of Lawrence Alexander.
The Bison will continue to work as a team after the loss of Lawrence Alexander.

Role Players:

Chris Kading, 6-8 SR:  Kading averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2014-2015.  He is not much of a threat on offense, but he does rarely make mistakes.  Actually the Bison rarely make mistakes as a team.  Kading led the Summit League in blocks per game.

Paul Miller, 6’4 SO:  Miller averaged 6.7 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game, while making 37 threes in his freshman campaign, which is all impressive considering he was sharing the back court with the likes of Lawrence Alexander, Kory Brown, and Carlin Dupree.  He also had 10 games in which he scored in double figures.

Dexter Werner, 6-6 JR:  Had a massive jump from his sophomore to his junior season going from 2.8 points per game to 8.4 points per game.  He also only averaged under 20 minutes per game in 2014-2015.  With Werner coming off the bench, he and Jacobson allow the Bison to be extremely tough at the 4 position for 40 minutes.  It also allows Jacobson to move over to the 3 and play more outside, which is not a bad thing for them.  Werner was second on the team in blocks per game, and is tied with Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading shot blocker returning to the league.


 

IUPUI:

Marcellus Barksdale, Darrell Combs, Nick Osborne

A bunch of new faces for IUPUI, which is not a terrible thing.  Marcellus Barksdale is the team’s returning leading scorer, but he can easily fall to the team’s 2nd or 3rd best scorer on the team.  Eastern Michigan transfer Darrell Combs is ready to go and has shown he can get buckets.  I cannot wait for the “combing the court” puns from terrible ESPN3 commentators.  Loyola-Illinois transfer Nick Osborne is expected to make a big impact on this team as well, and will more than likely serve as the team’s primary post presence, as he and other Loyola-Illinois transfer Matt O’Leary are the only upperclassmen post players on the team.  Osborne was known for getting into lots of foul trouble when he was a post player for Loyola.  The Jaguars are going to look entirely different this season.

The Jaguars exceeded expectations in 2014-2015, what can they do with a group of new and improved players?
The Jaguars exceeded expectations in 2014-2015, what can they do with a group of new and improved players?

Role Players:

Seriously, how many 6’5″ guards do the Jaguars need?

Aaron Brennan, 6-6 SO:  Averaged 6.4 points per game in 2014-15 and started in 24 games, but could be moved to the bench with the additions of Osborne and O’Leary.  Not a bad thing for your team to have a guy on your bench with 24 career starts as a freshman.

DJ McCall, 6-5 SO:  Averaged a shade under 5 points per game and had 15 starts on the year.  Could also see an increase of minutes with the graduations of Elijah Ray and Khufu Najee.

The further I get into this, I realize that the entire team is a group of role players.

 


 

South Dakota

Tre Burnette, Tyler Flack, Casey Kasperbauer

I admit that throwing Flack’s name into the mix is a risk.  Due to an injury, he has yet to play under Craig Smith, but Craig is probably going to like using a 6’7″ guy who shot 45% on threes in his sophomore season.  Combine that with Casey Kasperbauer ranking 95th in the nation last season in threes made, and South Dakota will rely on the three ball a lot this season, again.  The trio can really make up for the losses of Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos from last season.

Tre Burnette is the Summit League’s leading returning rebounder from 2014-2015, and Kasperbauer has the most three point field goals made of any returning player to the League, he also has the 3rd highest three point field goal percentage of any returning player.

South Dakota lost 56% of their scoring, that is the most in the Summit League.
South Dakota lost 56% of their scoring, that is the most in the Summit League.

Role Players:

Trey Norris, 6-0 Sr:  Came off the bench in his junior year after being a starter in his sophomore season, but will compete for the starting point guard position with incoming JuCo player, Shy McClelland.  Norris had a drop off in production from his sophomore season under coach Smith, but he can still be a capable part of the offense for the Coyotes.

Eric Robertson, 6-8 Sr:  He made the game winning shot over the Mavericks in Omaha, right?  I just remember the beard, and being incredibly angry.  I do not completely blame him for the Mavericks’ loss, it is just the final image I have in my mind of that game.  Perhaps an increased role in his senior season with the departure of James Hunter, but Craig Smith did a decent job recruiting two 6’9″ freshman (Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech) that he may be intrigued to get to the top of the rotation immediately.


 

IPFW

Mo Evans, Max Landis, Joe Reed

I continuously forget about the existence of Max Landis, but he is on the team, I swear it, and he was 4th on the team in scoring last season.  The ‘Dons lost a lot of their post game, and they do not appear to have much replacing what they lost, so the team could rely a lot on Mo Evans to be a star.  Landis will be there to shoot the three, and Joe Reed will need to be counted on even more to be a stretch 4 than he has before.  Seriously, this is the first time we have seen the ‘Dons without a serious threat of a stretch 4.  Yep, first time in 5 years?  Reed did shoot 36% from behind the line last year, but did not take many as he only made ten on the year.  The team will be counting on two junior college transfers to fill the void of what they lost from last season, and will need them to adjust and contribute quickly.

Side note:  The ‘Dons will have transfers from Louisiana Tech, Purdue, and Bradley all eligible to play in 2016-2017.

The 'Dons have the fewest number of Division 1 starts by players on their roster.
The ‘Dons have the fewest number of Division 1 starts by players on their roster.

Role Players:

Andrew Poulter, 6-11 JR: Played in seven games his redshirt freshman year at Arkansas-Little Rock before transferring to Western Texas for his sophomore season, where he averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds per game.

DeAngelo Stewart, 6-6 JR:  Played his freshman season at Alabama State before transferring to Northwest Tech in Kansas for his sophomore season.  Averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg, and shot 47% from the field in his sophomore season.  A few people have already tabbed Stewart as the Newcomer of the Year in the Summit League.

 


 

Western Illinois:

Garret Covington, JC Fuller, and Jabari Sandifer

It is hard to determine who the Leathernecks’ third best player is behind Covington and Fuller.  Sandifer was the third leading scorer on the team with 7.4 points per game, and he also led the Summit League in assists with 4.3 per game.  He even had a great opening weekend in the Summit with 22 points and 4 assists against IPFW and 20 points and 6 assists against Omaha, but then he was basically never heard from again only scoring in double figures one more time through the season.

Western Illinois actually has a lot of experience on their team, but how much faith can you put in a team that has gone 1-27 on the road in the last two seasons.  The last time they won a road game was January 30th, 2014 against IPFW.

The Leathernecks return 89% of their scoring, can they see improvement if they stay healthy?
The Leathernecks return 89% of their scoring, can they see improvement if they stay healthy?

Role Players:

Mike Miklusak, 6-6 JR:  Played in 15 games because of a season ending injury  He had 21 points and 7 rebounds against Omaha.  I am putting my head down right now.

Jamie Batish, 6-4, SR:  A bit of an inconsistent guard, but gives the Leathernecks an option on offense after averaging 6.4 points per game in his first season with the team.  He had 15 points in a win against Omaha.  Seriously, I am going to punch myself in the face right now.

Tate Stensgaard, 6-8 SR:  Played in 20 games before facing a season ending injury.  Has shot over 56% on his career as a Leatherneck.


 

Denver:

Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, Bryant Rucker

Honestly it is pretty difficult to analyze a team’s Big 3 when they run the Princeton offense.  Excuse me, I have to take a break, I just had a random memory of Barry Collier being a terrible basketball coach.

Okay, I am back… With their offense you need guys that take high percentage shots.  These three seniors-to-be had a combined shooting percentage of nearly 50% from the field and 42% on threes.  Marcus Byrd has the highest three point field goal percentage for any player returning to the Summit League.  The Summit League has been more difficult for Joe Scott and the Pioneers than it was for them against the Sun Belt and WAC, which hopefully is not all that surprising.  The Pioneers have gotten worse each of the last three seasons going from 22 wins to 16 wins to 12 wins, can they go for 10 this year?  With their high shooting percentage, the Pioneers can always be in a game, but with the Summit League having so many good shooters, teams have been able to take over games down the stretch.  It is pretty difficult to beat at home as they are 32-13 at home over the last 3 years, and last year they lost 7 games at home by a combined total of 39 points…one of those games was a 16 point loss to IPFW as an outlier.

Denver does not care about a Big 3.
Denver does not care about a Big 3.

Role Players:

Daniel Amigo, 6-10 SO:  5.7 ppg, 46 FG%

Jake Pemberton, 6-3 SO: Likely to see an increased role with the graduation of Brett Olson and Cam Griffin.


 

Oral Roberts:

Obi Emegano, Brandon Conley, Scott Sutton

With Korey Billbury and Bobby Word departing from the team, I really cannot come up with who is going to make up a Big 3 for the Golden Eagles.  On paper, it looks kind of rough for Oral Roberts and coach Sutton, but Sutton is probably one of the top coaches in the Summit League and entering his 17th season as the head coach of the Golden Eagles, so they cannot really be counted out, especially if they arguably the best player in the conference.  You want to talk about new faces?  Oral Roberts is going to be like trying to figure out who is joining the cast of another Expendables film.

Obi Emegano is a popular choice of Preseason Player of the Year.
Obi Emegano is a popular choice of Preseason Player of the Year.

Role Players:

Seriously have no idea what will be happening with this team.  Perhaps this is what happens to a team when they change conferences so often…naw what I mean Denver?  Brandon Conley is probably the only for sure thing on the team, everyone else seems to be the mystery man with his trigger on the finger.  The Golden Eagles can probably get above .500 in the conference with Emegano and Sutton though.

 

 

 

2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 6: Eastern Michigan

The Rundown

The Eagles do not have a very experienced roster, and they only have two seniors who combine for returning 5 points per game.  They add two junior college transfer guards to their roster; Ty Toney who averaged 18 points per game; and Willie Magnum who averaged 20 points per game in his sophomore season.

The Eagles have size, but they are not incredibly talented in the post.  Seriously, how does a 6’8″ man shoot 27 % from the field?

The Mavericks will need this win.  Really, you need every win, but the Mavericks will meet the Eagles after a 3 game road trip and right before another three game road trip.  The next home game the Mavericks will play will be against Simpson College, so I am guessing most fans are pretending it is not a real game.  After Simpson, the Mavericks have another three games on the road before starting another three game road swing.  The Mavericks have two home games in the month of December, the Eagles and Simpson College…when they come back, Omaha will start the Summit League.

Prior to playing the Mavericks, the Eagles will take on Vermont, Oakland, Michigan State, and 3 non-division one teams.  They have 4 non-division one teams on their schedule, I get annoyed with the Mavericks having 2 non-division one teams on the schedule, I cannot imagine 4.


Eastern Michigan

2014-2015 Record: 21-14 (but they went 18-14 vs D-1 opponents)

2014-2015 Road Record: 4-10

Final RPI in 2014-2015: 148

2014-2015 Post Season:  Lost to Louisiana Monroe in CBI 71-67

Big win in 2014-2015:  @ Michigan 45-42

Random Stat:  Eastern Michigan ranked 280th in the nation in field goal percentage in 2014-2015


Key losses:

Karrington Ward, 6’7″ F

12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 44 FG%, 38 3ptFG%, 65 FT%

Mike Talley, 6’0″ G

10.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 35 FG%, 29 3ptFG%, 72 FT%

Anali Okoloji, 6’8″ F

5.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 39 FG%, 76 FT%


Key returners:

Raven Lee, 6’3″ G, Junior

That name is made up, right?  He was a 3rd Team All MAC as a sophomore showing he is a serious scoring threat averaging 16.7 ppg and shooting 44% from the field.  It is scary to think about who the Mavs will have guard him.  He made 70 three point field goals as a sophomore.  Lee is a guard that could really prepare the Mavericks for the Summit League.

Tim Bond, 6’7″ G/F, Soph

Bond is listed at 160 pounds.  That kind of stands out… He was 4th on the team in scoring with 6.1 ppg and in assists at 1.1 per game.  A 57% free throw shooter.

Jodan Price, 6’8″ F, Junior

Transferred to Eastern Michigan from DePaul after his freshman season.  At 6’8″ he likes to play on the outside with 75% of his shot attempts being from outside for three.  Averaged 4.3 points per game, but only shot 27% on the year.  He constantly has a look on his face that makes you feel like he is bored.  Actually if you look up any picture of any player on their team, they look like they just woke up from a nap.


The Rundown-Continued

I say I am afraid of Raven Lee because of the Mavericks’ poor perimeter defense last season, but I am gaining more hope as I read about the additions of Tra-Deon Hollins and Alex Allbery.  Both claim to be defensive specialists, but I do not imagine Allbery getting much playing time.  You can be comfortable with your walk on wanting to be a defensive specialist.  In most scenarios, your walk on is going to be your 5th option on the court, so it can be huge if he can make some defensive stops while he is on the court.

While, the Mavericks were one of the highest scoring teams in college basketball in 2014-2015, they unofficially averaged the 19th most points in division one…the Eagles are a sound defensive team.  The Eagles were 11th in the nation in steals per game, and ranked 51st in blocks per game.  How much can the Mavericks score on a defensive team like this?

Hey, the Mavericks are 3-0 against the MAC since joining division one, but all three of those wins are over Northern Illinois.  But, hey, the Eagles had the same conference record as Northern Illinois last season.

I am not going to sit here and say this game is a guarantee for the Mavericks, but if Hollins is as good as a defender as advertised, don’t you like Mavericks’ chances to pick up a win at home against the Eagles?  I know there was not a lot here, but how excited can one man get in writing about Eastern Michigan basketball?  Earl Boykins played at Eastern Michigan, he was pretty fun to watch.

The basketball wild cards of the Summit League

With players coming and going, roles need to be filled on teams, and some players just respond quicker than others.  North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson clearly had a big year as a redshirt freshman, which was a huge help to the Bison as they lost three key seniors from their 2014 championship team.  IUPUI’s Marcellus Barksdale went from averaging 0.3 points per game as a freshman in 2012-13 to averaging 8.6 points per game in his sophomore season, and now is considered an All Conference candidate by many.  South Dakota State’s Keaton Moffitt transferred from a division 2 program to be a top guy off the bench for the Jackrabbits.  Omaha’s Mike Rostampour made an immediate impact with Omaha in his junior season after transferring from division 2.

With the Bison and Jackrabbits as the two favorites to repeat as the two top teams in the Summit League, the league seems to look like it will be in a pretty tight battle for who is 3rd to 8th (or 9th) in the conference standings at the end of the year.  So who are some of the potential wild cards in the Summit League that can set their team apart in 2015-2016?


 

Denver

EVERYONE ON THE ROSTER NOT NAMED MARCUS BYRD, NATE ENGESSER, OR BRYANT RUCKER

Here is a statistic that may jump out at you.  Denver returns the second fewest amount of division one starts on their roster in the Summit League, behind IPFW.  They are a young team, though so was North Dakota State last season, with 6 freshman and 4 sophomores on the roster, so I am incredibly curious who can make up for the losses of Cam Griffin, Brett Olson, and Jalen Love.

The team virtually has no post game, but it is not really something that is incredibly needed in the Princeton offense.  Barry Collier ran the Princeton offense really well without a competent big man at Nebraska.  That was a really bad joke.  Could sophomore Daniel Amigo make a big jump if he is healthy?  He started in all 15 of the games he played in during his freshman year averaging 5.7 points per game, and had three double digit scoring performance, but they were all in blow outs.

Daniel Amigo is super serial.
Daniel Amigo is super serial.

IPFW

JOHN KONCHAR – 6’4″, rFR

Could Konchar be a big time player as a freshman.  He redshirted in his first season with the ‘Dons, I assume because of the 4 upperclassmen guards that were on the roster last season.  Konchar averaged 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game in his senior season in high school in Chicago.  Holy crap!  He did see action in IPFW’s preseason game last season, but he only had 3 points in 15 minutes, but hey it was a preseason game.

RACHINE TALLA – 6’9″, SO

Talla is seriously the biggest question mark for IPFW.  He redshirted at USC Upstate his freshman season, and then only played in 2 games in junior college because Mississippi is the worst place on earth.  So how much of an impact can a guy be who has basically not played a competitive game of basketball in 3 years.


IUPUI

JORDAN PICKETT – 6’0″, SO

Pickett transferred to IUPUI after only playing in five games at Loyola before suffering a season ending injury in 2013-2014.  The Jaguars do not have much of a back court, they have a lot of 6’5″ guards, but can the bigger players deal with all of the smaller shooting guards the Summit League has to offer.  Pickett is likely to have a big role for the Jaguars in 2015-2016.  In the Jaguars’ red-white scrimmage last season, which was basically IUPUI vs their players who were forced to redshirt due to transferring, Pickett was able to score 11 points against…the Jaguars.

NICK OSBORNE- 6’8″, JR

One of three transfers from Loyola on the roster.  Osborne is expected to make an immediate impact with the Jaguars, as they have not had much talent in the post in a few years.  Osborne averaged 5.4 ppg and 4 rpg, and shot 50% from the field in his sophomore season at Loyola.  He did average 3 fouls per game, so curious to see how much time he will spend on the bench due to foul trouble in the Summit League.

How much of a difference can Nick Osborne make with the Jaguars.
How much of a difference can Nick Osborne make with the Jaguars.

NORTH DAKOTA STATE 

They lost Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund, and TrayVonn Wright a year ago, and they ended up repeating as Summit League Champions with a 1st year coach.  I think they will be fine…

One could ask; who is going to be make up for the 19 points per game that they lost in Lawrence Alexander?  Can Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, Paul Miller, and junior college transfer sophomore Malik Clements make up that 19 points a game in the back court?  Yes, they probably can.


OMAHA

JAKE WHITE- 6’8″, SR

Can Jake White be the best post player in the Summit League? Can he?
Can Jake White be the best post player in the Summit League? Can he?

Last year we were teased with White.  With 10 rebounds in his first half as a Maverick, we were thinking our front court would be unstoppable with him and Mike Rostampour.  Then a few minutes into the second half, White hurt his knee, and then for almost a month we kept being told: not this game, but next game probably…  If you look around the post players at the Summit League, White is capable of being the best post player in the League, but he has to stay healthy.  When White transferred, Derrin Hansen stated that White would be the best post player in the Summit.

DANIEL MEYER – 6’9″, SO

Meyer only played 4.5 minutes per game in his freshman season with the Mavericks, but with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry (i cried a tear) no longer on the roster, Meyer should expect more playing time in his sophomore season, I mean, right?  It sounded as if he did really well in Italy, but it did not sound like the teams the Mavs played against had many players taller than 6’5″…but I did not look at official rosters, just shady looking websites that did not look fully updated.  When Meyer did play last season, I was never terrified that he was going to ruin everything.  He seemed to move pretty well without the ball, set good screens, and had a nice touch.  He even looked like he could be as good as a passer out of the post as John Karhoff, but we will have to wait and see.


ORAL ROBERTS

ALBERT OWENS- 6’9″ SO

With the graduation of Denell Henderson, Owens will competing for the starting center position with junior college transfer Tre Vance.  Owens did average 3.8 ppg and 2.4 rpg, but he never really received any significant playing time in any of the Golden Eagles’ big games.  Yet, if you look around at some of the conference predictions, Owens is expected to be a big key factor to ORU’s success.  You know, assuming they have some success this season.

Owens had great size listed at 6'9" and 260lbs.
Owens has great size listed at 6’9″ and 260lbs.

JALEN BRADLEY- 6’0″ JR

Bradley is familiar with the Summit League, as he originally played for the Mavericks, but he only played in a total of 26 minutes against the Summit League due to injuries in 2013-2014.  Bradley went on to junior college for his sophomore season, where he averaged 17 points per game.  Everyone knew Bradley could shoot at Omaha, I remember watching him shoot from half court in warm ups and making it regularly, but we did question if he could defend or play the point guard position. While he was at Omaha, they were deep with guards with: CJ Carter, Marcus Tyus, Alex Phillips, Caleb Steffensmeier, Devin Patterson, and Justin Simmons.  The Mavericks could have used him in his sophomore season as that energy guy off the bench, and that would likely still be his role, but ORU fans are expecting him (and 6’3″ Div 2/Fresno State transfer Aaron Anderson) to fill a void left in Korey Billbury and Bobby Word.  That is a lot to ask.


SOUTH DAKOTA

TREY NORRIS – 6’0″ SR

Norris started in all 28 games he played in for the Coyotes in his sophomore season, but then was sent to the bench in his junior season as Craig Smith took over at South Dakota.  Can he be counted on to be the starter again and help lead the Coyotes to another winning record?

TYLER FLACK – 6’7″ JR

Sat out 2014-2015 with an injury.  He started 19 out of 29 games his freshman season and 27 out of 30 games in his sophomore season.  As a sophomore, he averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg, he also shot 55% from the floor.  Is he going to be the same after a serious injury, and will Smith have big plans for Flack?

Can Tyler Flack be Tyler Flack again?
Can Tyler Flack be Tyler Flack again?

Here is a glaring stat for South Dakota.  I was looking at the South Dakota State fan forum, wishing I had it in me to do some trolling, and the Jackrabbits are pretty stoked that they return so much of their scoring.  The Jackrabbits return 74% of their scoring, which is second in the conference behind Western Illinois who returns 89% of their scoring, but that is Western Illinois… Anyway, South Dakota lost the most scoring in the Summit losing 54% of their scoring.  So they are going to need Flack and Norris to return to 2013-2014 form.


SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

CONNOR DEVINE/IAN THEISEN

Did I mention that South Dakota State is returning 74% of their scoring?  I think I just did that.  Most of that is the loss of Cody Larson.  The Jackrabbits arguably have the best guard trio in the Summit League with George Marshall, Deondre Parks, and Jake Bittle, but they are left with little in the post after the loss of Larson, and they are young in the post.  Devine and Theisen shared the time behind Cody Larson in the post last season, can they and freshman Nebraska natives Michael Daum and Adam Dykman make up for that loss in Larson?


WESTERN ILLINOIS

When you only when 8 games, you lose 13 of your last 14 games, one of your wins is a 2 point win at home against Devin Patterson-less Omaha team, and 15 of your 20 losses are by 10 points or more, there is not much confidence riding in your team going into the next season.  So basically everyone on your roster not named Garrett Covington is a wild card.

The Leathernecks did have some injury issues in 2014-2015, and they have the 2nd most returning division one starts on their roster in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, and as previously mentioned, they do return 89% of their scoring.

 

 

2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 5: Minnesota Gophers

I am sitting here looking at the basketball schedule and many things go through my mind as I see the Minnesota Gophers.

  • Minnesota is only about 6 hours away
  • The state of Minnesota is known for Juicy Lucys, and no one here in Omaha has really perfected it
  • The Mavericks played the Gophers pretty close when these two teams met in 2013
  • The Mavericks have 3 players from the state of Minnesota
  • Could this game be on the Big 10 Network?
  • Am I the only one who thinks Richard Pitino is a little overrated?
  • Do we have a shot here?
  • This will be the Gophers first game back after a trip to Puerto Rico
  • UNO Hockey plays Ohio State the same day basketball plays Minnesota, and possibly at the same time?
  • Minnesota has not lost a true home game against a Mid Major team since 2006…they were really bad in 2006-2007
  • Does the internet have enough Minnesota Gophers/Caddyshack memes?

The first thing I want to ask myself when I see this schedule is: Should I make the trip?

As noted above, Minnesota is not a difficult drive unless the weather is not cooperating.  I debate several times a year for a reason to go up to Minneapolis.  While it is only a 6 hour drive, probably less even, it would feel even longer as I would sit in excitement like I am Buddy the Elf impatiently waiting for Christmas.  I would be thinking of that first sweet bite of bliss as I bite into a Jucy Lucy burger, and the idea that the Mavericks could potentially pull off this upset.

This thing is seriously life changing.
This thing is seriously life changing.

A few scheduling conflicts that come to my mind are; the Nebraska-Iowa football game; and the UNO hockey game against Ohio State.  Since the game time of the Mavericks at Minnesota has yet to be posted*, it is tricky to determine if I could make the trip, listen to the football game on the radio during the drive and watch the hockey game from Minnesota or listen to it on the radio on the drive back.  So many burning questions that need to be answered.


Could this game be on the Big 10 Network?*

The last time the Mavericks and Gophers faced off, the game was played on BTN.  My wife and I had a few friends over, for something actually completely unrelated, so I definitely had the game going on in the background.  Turning on the game we thought the game could get ugly, but it was ugly for Minnesota in the beginning.  A friend of mine, who did not and still does not pay attention to the Mavericks, but he is a big college basketball fan (he is a Husker fan, it’s cool).  He was completely impressed with the shooting of the Mavericks.

At first, I thought the game could get out of hand, as Justin Simmons was slowed by injury.  My friend and I were completely surprised by the shooting of Alex Phillips that game.  Every time the Mavericks needed a 3, Phillips showed no fear taking it.  With no prior experience watching the Mavericks, my friend thought Phillips was the star of the team.  Phillips (along with Caleb Steffensmeier and Matt Hagerbaumer) really brought energy and experience off the bench for that Mavericks team.  The Mavericks do not have that same dynamic this season, but hopefully seniors Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood could bring the experience, and new guards Tra-Deon Hollins and JT Gibson can bring the energy.

Marcus Tyus had 11 points and 5 rebounds against the Gophers in 2013-2014
Marcus Tyus had 11 points and 5 rebounds against the Gophers in 2013-2014

I just realized how I got off track here.  Anyway, the game was on BTN, there was drama to that game, could the network pick up the Mavericks-Gophers again for a live broadcast?

*So I looked it up after typing all of this out.  The game time is currently not posted on omavs.com, but the game is listed as a 2 pm start time on ESPN3 on the Gophers’ website.  With that in mind, 2 pm brings up a few different scenarios of stuff to do.  

If DJs Dugout or Dudley’s Pizza could stream the game, this could create a watch party at either place, and create for great pre gaming for the hockey game against Ohio State…nice.  

Or yes, one could drive to Minnesota listening to the Husker game on the radio, go to the basketball game, and then hopefully watch or listen to the hockey game on the radio.  That is a big day.

OR, your significant other could throw a big wrench in your plans and tell you that you have to put up Christmas decorations all day and you have an event with your in-laws because you did something with your family on Thanksgiving.


Do the Mavericks have a chance?

So after checking out what most Big 10 beat writers had to say, almost every single one had Minnesota ranked 11th in the Big 10 in the incredibly worthless “Way too early rankings.”  Much of this is based on the fact that the Gophers had big expectations for 2014-2015, but instead they came in 10th and failed to make the post season.  With that in mind, the Gophers lost their two leading scorers, most of their experience, and they will be a pretty young team this season with 6 freshman and 4 sophomores.  They also have two juniors that transferred into the program but will be sitting out during the 2015-2016 season.

The Gophers do not have much talent in their post game, as the two juniors that are sitting out after transferring are basically a bulk of their talent in the post.  The Gophers do have 6’9″ senior Joey King, who could pose a threat to the Mavericks, but King does play more like a guard with literally half of his field goals made in 2014-2015 being three point field goals.  King only averaged 3 rebounds per game in his junior season, and has only had a total of 11 games with 5 or more rebounds in his entire three year career between Minnesota and Drake.  While King is mostly a threat on offense, and the Gophers lack an inside presence, the Mavericks could feel comfortable with forwards Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman to guard King on the outside, as both appear comfortable stepping out and playing defense.

The biggest threat the Gophers have is 6’5″ senior Carlos Morris, who can do a little bit of everything, averaging 11 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg, and 2 spg in his junior season while shooting 45% from the field and 36% on threes.  The scariest thing to think about is who the Mavericks will use to guard Morris.  Could Minnesota go with Morris at the 4 with their lack of size?  If so, look to Thurman and/or Randy Reed to try and contain Morris in this one.

While Minnesota had a decent recruiting class and signed two talented point guards, their young guards are going to have to go up against seniors Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, and Smallwood; as well as junior Tra-Deon Hollins.  Patterson loves these games against the bigger schools.  A stat that I love to bring up is that in 5 career games against Power 6 teams, Patterson has averaged 16.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 spg, and shot 55 % from the field and 35% on threes.  Tyus has shot 52% from the field and 48% on threes in 9 career games against Power 6 teams.

Please note that if these figures seem off as compared to earlier posts (assuming you have actually read any of these posts), it is because I realized I forgot to include Kansas State into those figures earlier.

Not to mention the Mavericks were scaring the crap out of Gopher fans for about 30 minutes of the game the last time these two teams played.  That Maverick team had a little bit of a different look, but actually so do the Gophers with only one player (King) that played in that game.  Patterson and Tyus combined for 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists in that game.

With the Mavericks having seniors Jake White and Marcus Tyus*, along with freshman JT Gibson, looking to have big games in front of their home state fans, the Mavericks will more than likely be looking to work harder to push on for a win against the Gophers.  Out of the three games the Mavericks have this season against power conference teams, this could be the Mavericks best chance at getting an upset.  I say that without even really getting into Missouri yet.  This is what is making it difficult to pass up a chance to make the drive to see the Mavericks take on Minnesota.

Mav freshman was the 2014-2015 Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year for basketball
Mav freshman was the 2014-2015 Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year for basketball

I just realized that I am not even 100% sure that Marcus Tyus will be back and ready at this point.  I just kind of assumed, because there was actually (minimal) debate of him playing in Italy.

I am not saying it is a guarantee that the Mavericks will win this game.  I am not Paul Finebaum claiming that the SEC football teams will go 56-0 in non-conference play because God spent days 8 to 13 creating what we now know as SEC football.  I am saying the game should at least be entertaining, and that the Mavericks do have a chance to win this game if they play big.  Seriously though, imagine how crazy the UNO Maverick Maniacs would be at a Ohio State-Omaha hockey game hours after a Omaha win at Minnesota.  We are talking villagers storming Dr. Frankenstein’s house crazy.

 

2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 4 UNC Bears

Northern Colorado

2014-2015 finish: 15-15 (10-8)

RPI:  241

Last season at Omaha: Omaha won 92-82

There is nothing like a good ole fashioned battle between UNO and a former NCC member.  Actually, there are probably many things like it.  After a tough battle with Colorado in Boulder, the Mavericks will travel to Greeley, Colorado…I have never been to Greeley, but it sounds like the most boring name possible for a town.

Let me start out by saying that I dislike the University of Northern Colorado.  It really has nothing to do with athletics really, and it is entirely based on one former staff member that caused my spine to tingle in annoyance whenever I hear the school’s name.  When I worked at Weber State, there was this employee that used to work at Northern Colorado and she would always, and I mean ALWAYS, refer to the school as UNC.  Every time she said UNC, and I mean EVERY TIME, I would get flustered and ask “you went to grad school and worked at North Carolina?”  It just seemed like a set up to get me thinking every time, or like she wanted people to not ask and just assume she worked at North Carolina.  I often wondered if she was hired based on her boss assuming she went to grad school at North Carolina and not Northern Colorado.

Let me make a terrible transition here by pointing out that UNC ranked 31st in the country last season in points per game.  See, was I talking about North Carolina or Northern Colorado there?  It’s annoying, it is a shade under someone kicking the back of your seat annoying.  Anyway, I am talking about Northern Colorado.  North Carolina ranked 17th in the nation in points per game, but that has nothing to do with anything here.

It is hard to put it together that Northern Colorado had such a high scoring offense last season.  It is no offense to them, and as a completely biased fan I sit here and say “Northern Colorado, how can they be good at things?”  Then I remember how many Omaha Mavericks shirts I own over how many Nebraska Cornhuskers shirts I own.  I realize UNC Bears fans are probably saying the same thing about Omaha.  “Nebraska-Omaha, how can they be good?  It’s their first day.”

The first thing I notice when I look at the Bears’ roster is that they have no seniors.  Not a one.  That could be a good thing for the Mavericks, right?  The Bears lost 5 key players from their 2014-2015 roster.


Tevin Shihovec, 6’2 G:

13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 43 FG%, 76 FT% 35 3pt%

Against the Mavericks last season:  14 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, 7-13 FG

Tim Huskisson, 6’5″ G: 

10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 57 FG%, 72 FT%, 37 3pt%

Against the Mavericks last season: 19 pts, 2 rebs, 1 ast, 7-11 FG, 3-5 3ptFG

Dominique Lee, 6’5″ F:

10.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 spg, 60 FG%, 63 FT%, 41 3pt% 

Against the Mavericks last season:  19 pts, 9 rebs, 1 ast, 5-10 FG, 1-1 3ptFG, 8-11 FT

Cody McDavis, 6’8″ F:
5.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 47 FG%, 70 FT%

Against the Mavericks last season:  2 pts, 1 reb, 1-4 FG

Corey Spence, 5’9″ G:

4.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 38 FG%, 84 FT%

Against the Mavericks last season: 1 pt, 4 rebs, 4 asts, 1 steal


Note the field goal percentages from these players are all pretty high.  Northern Colorado had the 26th best field goal percentage in the country.  Also, aside from the great scoring, the Bears ranked 319th in scoring defense by allowing 73.4 points per game.  Omaha was 346th in the country, but they had one of the fastest paced offenses, so it’s cool.  I’m not biased at all.  I said shut up.

Remember how much of a drop off the Mavericks had when 5 key players left after 2013-2014.  They did not necessarily have a huge drop off in talent, but it was a struggle at times figuring out who played best on the floor with each other.  Finding that on the court chemistry appeared to be an issue for the Mavericks last season.  So who do the Bears have returning if they have zero seniors on the roster?  They have 3 key players returning.


Cameron Michael, 6’5″ G/F, JR:

12.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 43 FG%, 75 FT%, 39 3pt%, 66 3ptFM

Against the Mavericks last season:  4 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1-6 FG

Jordan Wilson, 5’7″ G, JR:

8.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1 spg, 42 FG%, 85 FT%, 40 3pt%

Against the Mavericks last season: 18 pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl, 6-10 FG, 2-5 3ptFG, 4-4 FT

Jordan Wilson gave the Mavs fits last season. He has changed his number to 25. He likes to copy UNO's point guards, I think.
Jordan Wilson gave the Mavs fits last season. He has changed his number to 25. He likes to copy UNO’s point guards, I think.

Jeremy Verhagen, 6’10 F,  SO:

3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 59 FG%, 52 FT%

Against the Mavericks last season:  6 minutes, 2 fouls


The Bears did find two junior college post players to add to their roster to make them a bigger team, and they also have a guard, Dallas Anglin, that transferred from Doc Sadler’s Southern Miss, who left last December, so I am unclear if he will be available for the games in the first semester or not.


Jamal Evans, 6’7 JuCo transfer

Sophomore season at Midland JC: 9.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg

Tanner Morgan, 6’9 JuCo transfer

Sophomore season at Casper College: 8.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 42 FG%


Last season against the Bears, the Mavericks were lead by their returning core of now graduated Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter, and 2015-2016 senior guards Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson (and actually every Mav that entered the game scored).  Tyus scored 19 points, grabbed three rebounds, and he dished out six assists against the Bears.  He also shot 5-8 from the floor and was 3-3 from behind the three point line.  Patterson had 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists against the Bears last season.  Patterson was also named Summit League Player of the Week for his performance.

This season the Bears will be coming off a game at Kansas and a game at home against Division 2 Colorado Christian, and also American East Maryland at Baltimore County before the Mavericks come to town; so they could have a few things figured out by the time they take on the Mavericks.

With very little coming back and not being a great defensive team, you have to like the Mavericks’ chances with their high rolling offense in this one.  No game is a guarantee, and it is a road game for the Mavericks, but the Bears had no answer for Devin Patterson and Marcus Tyus last season.  Have they figured out a solution to them yet?  I doubt they have been formulating a game plan this entire time.  There is that damn altitude factor, Omaha was 0-2 last season in the state of Colorado last season, that was on separate trips though so maybe they can get used to it after a few days at mile high.  The Bears were 12-3 at home last season with the losses coming to: UC Davis, Montana State (ouch), and Montana.

Maverick fans will always feel like they have a shot with Devin Patterson on the roster.
Maverick fans will always feel like they have a shot with Devin Patterson on the roster.

I like these games against the Big Sky schools, they are measuring sticks for the Mavericks when it comes to playing the Summit League.  I do wish the Mavericks could schedule some of the better teams in the conference though, like a Montana or a Weber State or a Eastern Washington, to better prepare themselves possibly for the North Dakota State and South Dakota teams of the Summit League.  This is a game that the Mavericks need to win.

 

 

 

2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 3: Colorado Buffaloes

After opening up the season with 3 games at Baxter Arena, the UNO Mavericks basketball team will take a nice little trip to the state of Colorado for a Sunday match up against the Buffaloes (and then Northern Colorado on November 25th).

This could be a fun trip if any UNO fans wanted to take an adventure to the neighboring state.  Colorado is always a great time, unless you are one of those people who like to binge watch the crap out of a show like Vampire Diaries instead of getting out and living life.  You got your great breakfast and lunch restaurants, some of the best breweries in the world, tremendous hikes with beautiful views, and if you were to also make this trip you could check out the Denver Nuggets take on the Clippers and Warriors.  You can also hear stories from locals on you should try edibles, but also not try edibles because you could die doing something dumb.

The Mavericks built a bit of a reputation of being able to give bigger conference teams a little scare over the last two years, by being close in games but then losing in the final minutes when depth became an issue.  The Mavs will not be afraid to go into Boulder and compete against the Buffaloes, but Colorado could be a little scary for a team that finished with a losing record in 2014-2015.

This is going to be used for memes in the future.
This is going to be used for memes in the future.

The Buffaloes lose their leading scorer, Askia Booker, a 6’2″ guard that averaged 17.2 pointes per game, and shot 39% from the field.  With that in mind, Colorado had a Providence transfer sitting out last season.  6’5″ junior, Josh Fortune will look to make an immediate impact for the Buffaloes this season.  Fortune averaged 8.4 points per game in his sophomore season at Providence, while also shooting 35% from long range.  Fortune became a big piece for Providence, who won the Big East in his sophomore season.  In the months of February and March, he averaged 11.4 per game after being inserted into the starting line up.  Combine Fortune with what Colorado has for a front court, and you have yourself very tough piece of competition in front of you.

Josh Fortune is the type of player that gave UNO fits last year.  Doesn't Josh Fortune sound like a comic book villain name?
Josh Fortune is the type of player that gave UNO fits last year. Doesn’t Josh Fortune sound like a comic book villain name?

The Buffaloes will also see plenty of players in the post returning:

Josh Scott, 6’10” Sr: 14.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 54 FG%, 75 FT% in 2014-2015

Xavier Johnson, 6’7″ Sr: 10.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 45 FG%, 65 FT%, and 37 3pt% in 2014-2015

Wesley Gordon, 6’9″ Jr: 6.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg,  55 FG%, 67 FT%

Tre’Shaun Fletcher, 6’7″ 5.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 45 FG%, 71 FT%, and 46 3pt%


While Colorado has a lot returning in the front court, the Buffaloes will not have much of their back court returning, so (I am guessing) the Mavericks will look to utilize the speed and shooting of Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, Tra-Deon Hollins, and JT Gibson as much as possible in this game.  While depth has been an issue for the Mavs going up agains these bigger teams, the Mavs will have some added depth this season with so many players coming back and quality players being added to the roster.

Relying on Patterson and Tyus is not a terrible thing at all.  In 4 career games against power conference teams, Devin Patterson has averaged 18.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, and 2.0 spg while shooting 47% from the floor.  In 8 games against power conference teams, Tyus has averaged 8.4 ppg and 3.3 rpg while shooting 53% from the field and 47% from three point range.  So you have to feel comfortable with those two guys going against an experienced back court, right?

These two...
These two…

As the first road game and the first game against a big school, some of the Mavericks could have some jitters as this could be the biggest stage they have ever played on.  Colorado ranked 49th in the nation last season in attendance with 9,135 fans per game.  With that on your mind, Tre’Shawn Thurman had 12 points and 7 rebounds off of 6 of 7 shooting in his first big game his freshman season at Marquette.  Marquette averaged 13,657 fans per game last season.

Also Colorado does not really have that much of a home advantage.  If you ever frequent to Colorado, you will notice that not many people even really care about the Buffaloes (in anything).  The area has many people that have migrated from somewhere else in the country, which is why downtown Denver is filled with alumni bars to go watch their teams play.  The Giggling Grizzly is a Husker and a Michigan State bar, that can be weird on some days I am sure.

One advantage that Colorado has that people love to point out is the altitude.  It can be difficult for teams who are not used to it to come in and play for a full 40 minutes, especially with the Colorado players so accustomed to the atmosphere.    Actually, Colorado was 12-5 at home last season (if you include their CBI win) and 2 of those home losses were to Colorado State and Utah, who are both used to the altitude.  The other three losses were to Oregon, Washington, and Arizona who are not bad teams at all.  So maybe Colorado does have a geographical advantage here.  So can the Mavs maintain their pace from last season in Boulder?

Colorado finished last season with an RPI of 118, with Fortune being inserted into the line up, and much of their returning core coming back, Colorado will be looking to improve on that RPI.  Colorado had a trip to the CBI tournament where they lost to Seattle.  I kind of wanted to put a question mark at the end of that sentence.

So how do we look here?  Colorado is deep in the post, very deep actually.  Aside from the players listed above, they also have Tory Miller on the roster.  Miller is a 6’9″ sophomore who only averaged a shade under 9 minutes a game last season, but he is a Kansas City native who was offered by Creighton and Nebraska…so even the guy they are not using much has some upside.  Much of this game will rely on how well Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman can compete with that post, but as I have said it a few times before, Devin Patterson is the Mavericks’ blood line.  If Patterson can play well, the Mavericks will play well through him (did I sound real hippy-ish there).  Do you need evidence for that?


 

Patterson vs. Marquette: 26/6/8 and the Mavs win.

Patterson vs. UMKC: 8/6/3 and the Mavs lose.


 

I know there are more to stats than that, and I wish there wasn’t more to stats than that, but I have seen Patterson tweet that he loves the big games and the big opponents.  It seems like he loves these moments, and based tweets from Tre’Shawn Thurman since he was a senior in high school, I am pretty sure he loves these moments as well.  Man, I feel like a creep now.  When you have a senior leader bringing that energy and quality of play to the point guard position, you have a shot at getting another upset against the power team.  Obviously, other Mavericks will need to step up in order to get a win against a team like Colorado on the road, but Patterson has the ability to raise their ability with his great passing.