Hip hip hooray, it’s the annual: Who the Heck is Going to be in the Starting Line Up this Season post
I was listening to the Summit League media day, it sounded as if Derrin Hansen was not 125% sure of who to start on his team, and it is kind of fun to sit around and speculate stuff for people so here we go. If millions of people can sit at their computers dressed like a 7 foot tall puppy and speculate as to why Mark Hamill is not on the new Star Wars poster, then I can sit on the internet decked out in UNO Mavs gear and speculate who is going to start for the Mavericks and who will be the first guys off the bench.
One can safely assume that Devin Patterson and Tre’Shawn Thurman will be back in the starting line up. One could also assume that Marcus Tyus will be in the starting five as well, but he ended the season early on a knee injury in 2014-2015. It has been put out there that Tyus is doing fine in his recovery, and I am sure he is, but remember when Jake White got hurt in his junior season and we kept being told that he would be back next game because he was doing fine? I am sure that Tyus will be in the starting line up, but maybe not at first. We will see how his knees is actually doing in a few weeks.
So that leaves two spots open for starters to replace Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.
Is it safe to assume that Jake White will fill in Rostampour’s spot? White started in 3 games in his junior season as a Maverick. He averaged 6.3 points per game in those three starts, and 8.3 rebounds. He is probably the obvious choice over sophomore Daniel Meyer and freshman Zach Pirog.
What becomes a more difficult choice for Hansen and staff will be filling in the void left by CJ Carter, one of the top scorers in school history. The leading candidates at this point appear to be Tim Smallwood, Tra-Deon Hollins, Randy Reed, or JT Gibson.
I was kind of hard on Smallwood and Reed last season. It’s not that I thought they were bad players, I just felt that UNO was not entirely sure how to use them for most of the season and did not have well defined roles for either of them for a majority of the year. I was unsure about them as most of you would be if there was a new movie coming out featuring Adam Sandler and Nicholas Cage. Over a ten game stretch, Smallwood had 3 DNPs, and was 0-10 from three point land. I felt that Reed’s junior year was up and down. One game he was getting 20 minutes, then the next game he was getting 2 minutes, and then a week from then he was getting a DNP. It just seemed like it was difficult for either of them to get any rhythm going. I would love a world where Smallwood is hitting three 3s a game and Reed is getting a monstrous dunk every other play. That world might actually have Luke Skywalker on a Star Wars poster.
Then Marcus Tyus went down with an injury and missed the last 6 games of the season, and these two guys became the twist at the end of an independent film. Smallwood was put into the starting line up, and I thought to my self: oh great, the guy who hasn’t had it in 2015 is getting the starting spot. When Smallwood started getting more minutes, I realized how good of a defender he was. He was not racking up a bunch of steals or blocks, but he was disrupting opposing players shots and passes, and he was a big reason why the Mavericks ended the season on a 3 game winning streak. I grew super proud of his work on the defensive end in those last 6 games. His 5-of-7 from downtown at IUPUI was a big factor for what helped the Mavericks hold on for a overtime win. A statistic that surprised me when I saw the final results was that UNO finished 8th in the Summit League in 3 point field goal percentage last season. Whether Smallwood is going to start or be one of the first guys off the bench, he has to help improve the team’s 3 point shooting. If he can get his 26% 3 point shooting up to the 33% range, he can be a huge impact on his team. The Mavs are 3-1 when Smallwood hits two threes or more…
Due to life, my wife was not able to get to many games last season. She was able to attend Oral Roberts at the Ralston Arena. When Randy Reed came onto the court, my wife asked me who this guy was. I read off his resume to her, and we watched on. Reed was the high energy guy off the bench that the Mavericks needed that game. He had clutch defensive plays to keep the game close, blocked some shots, altered even more shots, and really disrupted the Oral Roberts’ rhythm. Every time the Mavs were on defense and Randy Reed was on the court, the Mavs fans were completely locked in. We all wanted to see Reed take his game to the next level that night. Like, who cares if they have Obi Emegano? We’ve got Randy Reed on defense! You have to like Reed coming off the bench though, since he can really guard the 4 and the 3. With the much of the Summit League going to small ball, teams will really have a difficult time going up against Tre’Shawn Thurman and Randy Reed at the 4 for 40 minutes if they really want to play small ball against the Mavericks. If they want to play big, the Mavs can go with Reed at the 3 and either Meyer, Pirog, Thurman, or White at the 4 and 5.
Then there is Tra-Deon Hollins. Get excited for this kid. He adds a lot to this team, and he brings a lot to the areas that the Mavericks were missing last season. He can defend, he can pass, he can score, he can rebound, and he can hit threes. I would not be shocked if he got into foul trouble (along with other guards) early on in the season with the rule changes in college basketball, but hopefully everyone can adjust to everything fairly quickly. If Hollins does not start and he is used as the high energy bench guy, he should definitely be on the court in crunch time in most situations. It seems to take junior college players a little while to really define their role on a team, unless they are going to a 0-30 team that had no scoring before and they averaged 25 a game in junior college, then they probably know they will be taking a large quantity of shots. Hollins knows what the Mavericks were missing last year though, so hopefully it does not take him long to find his niche.
The Mavericks and some local media sound to be pretty excited about J.T. Gibson as part of future for the Mavs. Gibson was the player of the year for the state of Minnesota last year, and there are several Minnesotans that think bigger schools made a mistake by not recruiting Gibson. Sounds like this other guy named Tre’Shawn that we know. I have doubt that Gibson will start right off the bat for the Mavericks, but maybe he will as the season goes on and he establishes himself. He would really have to impress coaches and set himself apart from teammates as there are so many upperclassmen guards on the team. Apparently, Gibson is completely capable of playing the both guard positions.
Either way, the Mavericks should at least know who their top 8 guys are at this point. They probably even have a good idea what their best line ups are, which is not something every team in the Summit League has figured out yet.