Summit League predictions: Dec 28-31

I am sick on vacation, I am 2 hours behind in Oregon, and my in-laws are nuts.  Hopefully, this will make some sense.  It’s hard to pick between many of these teams because the non-conference schedule can have so many out liars, with some teams hardly playing any competition in November and December and Oral Roberts and Omaha having tougher schedules.

Oral Roberts strength of schedule RPI is currently ranked 10th in division one, and Omaha’s is ranked 88th.

December 28th

North Dakota State @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

Normally, I would probably just go with the home team in this match up.  The Jackrabbits have been pretty lackluster on defense this season, and the Bison weave offense will frustrate the Jackrabbits the entire game.  The Jackrabbits have appeared to get better and better as their team gets more time to gel together, but it seems to take a while for them to get into a rhythm each game.  If the Bison have a decent enough lead late in the game, their style of play will limit the amount of possessions that South Dakota State has to get back into the game.

The Bison may or may not have anyone who can stop Mike Daum, but who does?  Perhaps Dexter Werner and Deng Geu can give him different defensive looks for 40 minutes to bother him enough to get him just a little bit off of him game.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

This is actually kind of a good match up.  Daniel Amigo head-to-head with AJ Owens could be fun.  Jalen Bradley head-to-head with Joe Rosga should be fun.  Emmanuel Nzekwesi head-to-head with CJ Bobbit can be good.  Denver does have a bit more depth than Oral Roberts, and can run the Golden Eagles out of Denver.

Oral Roberts played the toughest non-conference schedule out of all the Summit League teams, so playing the Pioneers may seem like nothing to them.  However, the Golden Eagles are not a great defensive team, and the Pioneers have shown to be a solid team offensively.

December 29th

Western Illinois @ Fort Wayne

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Omaha @ South Dakota on ESPN3

The Coyotes are 6-0 at home.  Omaha has won in Vermillion two straight years, and swept South Dakota last season.

The Mavericks will be one of the deepest teams the Coyotes have faced at home, and while the Coyotes will be able to force Omaha to outside shots, that wont bother them too much now.  If the three point shooters for Omaha can knock down shots, they should be having a good night.  That Thurman-Hahn-Gibson-Tyus-Hollins lineup should create some points and start a good run of the Mavericks.

December 31st

Western Illinois @ IUPUI on ESPN3

It has to be pretty difficult to be the road team on a day like New Year’s Eve for college students.  The game is noon, though, so maybe Western Illinois will just be excited to get out of Indianapolis as soon as possible to head back to Macomb.

South Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

The Jackrabbits opening up the Summit League with two straight home losses…have I gone mad?

This game is incredibly important to both teams, but the Coyotes have been thinking of this game far longer than the Jackrabbits.  I mean, probably, right?

South Dakota has shown to be good enough at defense to keep themselves in games.

The Coyotes really don’t have anyone who can keep up with Mike Daum, and especially for 40 minutes.  Daum may have 40 points in this game, but maybe only one other guy can crack double figures.

The Coyotes may just let Mike Daum try to beat them on his own, which is a strategy other teams have gone with and been successful with.

Oral Roberts @ Fort Wayne 

What a rough start to the conference for Oral Roberts, travel wise.  They start out at Denver, and then head to Fort Wayne to play the Mastodons after the Mastodons pretty much get an open practice against Western Illinois.

Omaha @ North Dakota State

The Bison could be seeking a little revenge after Omaha came in last season and ended North Dakota State’s home winning streak.  The Bison are one of the better defensive teams in the Summit League this season, and their style of play is one that has bothered the Mavericks over the last couple of seasons.

Omaha did sweep the Bison last season, but if you recall: The Bison were playing without their leading scorer, Paul Miller, in Omaha and AJ Jacobson was in foul trouble for most of the game.

The Tre’Shawn Thurman versus AJ Jacobson has been fun to watch over the last couple of years, but the match up to see this year could be Zach Jackson versus Paul Miller.

 

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Imagining what would have happened had the Huskers played the Mavericks

Nebraska lost to Gardner-Webb yesterday.  Omaha beat Cal State Fullerton for the second time of the season.  Why couldn’t the Mavericks and Huskers have played yesterday instead of those two games?

I get that Nebraska fans feel Omaha should stop complaining about the two schools not playing each other in the last few years.  I also understand that both programs wanting their home games and schedules to align might be difficult some years.  But it sounds like Omaha’s offer to play is always on the table for Nebraska.

You know what may have been a good day that would have made sense to play each other?  The Sunday after finals week.  Just a thought.

The perception by Omaha fans is that Nebraska currently doesn’t want to play Omaha is because Omaha might be just a little bit better than the Huskers right now, and Nebraska wouldn’t want to risk the loss to their little brother.  Omaha may not have the athleticism and quantity of talent that Nebraska has, but they have some match up problems for Nebraska and enough bitter tenacity to give the Huskers everything they’ve got.

Not saying this is actually what’s happening with the Nebraska staff, just saying what fans put into their minds.

Now that Nebraska has lost to a Big South team, maybe facing Omaha might not be all that bad.  But the Husker-Mavericks match up wasn’t scheduled this year…so we’ll just have to imagine what this world would be like if they would have agreed to play yesterday…


Derrin Hansen does his hands in his pockets slow walk into the arena and glares out into the crowd.  Still not sure at what goes through Hansen’s mind when he does this, but in this case I am assuming he is doing whatever he can to raise his maturity level to not punch Herbie Husker in the face.

What is this?  When Hansen reaches the scorers’ table and a student manager provides him with a Diavolo Pizza from Dante Ristorante Pizzeria out of Omaha and two pitchers of beer.  Hansen sets the pizza and beer on the table next to his seat and glares down at Tim Miles.

“I am going to beat you while I am loaded,” Hansen screams across the court to Tim Miles.

Tim Miles’ response is to flash the cross bones in Hansen’s direction.

The crowd goes insanely wild, but collectively as a basketball miracle the fans just start chanting “SCREW THE JAYS.  SCREW THE JAYS.  SCREW THE JAYS.”  It doesn’t make a ton of sense given the situation, but it also makes perfect sense at the same time.

The analysts ask the question: What do the Cornhuskers have to do win this game?  The question alone should be a punch in the gut to a Big 10 team, but it’s actually a serious question in this case.  They need to penetrate and knock down open threes, so all of the Mav fans have a good laugh.

What do the Mavericks have to do to win this game?  Control the pace and get out into transition.  The Mav fans just continue laughing.

Tre’Shawn Thurman takes off his warm ups and walks to center circle to ready himself for the opening tip.  By getting ready, he just flexes the entire time as he walks up to face Ed Morrow.  Nebraska wins the tip.

Nebraska’s first offensive possession is spent with confusion among the players as teammates are asking each other if they are sure they were supposed to be starting tonight.  Some guard for Nebraska, I don’t know, it’s hard to keep track of them at times, tries a pass to Jack McVeigh and Tra-Deon Hollins gets in the middle of the passing lane and rushes down the court in transition.  He tries a fancy pants pass to Marcus Tyus, who wasn’t expecting the pass, so the ball goes out of bounds.

Oh, it’s going to be a sloppy game.  Who would have guessed?

Nebraska’s second offensive possession, the team works the ball into Michael Jacobson.  Jacobson is backing Zach Pirog into the lane.  Jacobson works a series of moves to confuse his defender, and works into in up and under move under for an easy basket.  Oh man, this Jacobson guy is going to kill us down low all night!

Omaha’s second offensive possession, Thurman gets the ball at the top of the lane and is defended by Nebraska’s Ed Morrow.  Thurman makes a jab step to the right, Morrow bites, Thurman moves into a fade away jump shot, and the basket is good.

Next, a pissed off Morrow aggressively attacks Thurman at the basket for a lay up.  Morrow and Thurman could provide to be a very fun match up throughout the game, but one of them is likely to get into foul trouble.  So that’s sad we have to imagine it.

Eventually Nebraska subs in Jordy Tshimanga for Morrow, and all of the Omaha fans cheer in excitement.

Mitch Hahn and Pirog outrun Tshimanga for easy baskets for a few minutes and Omaha goes on a 8-0 run.  Miles calls a time out and an assistant coach tells Tshimanga to fake an injury and head to the locker room for the duration of the game.

Jacobson gets Thurman down on the block and works a few post moves on him and gets another easy basket.  Seriously, how does this Jacobson only have two baskets?  Why don’t the Huskers go into him more frequently?

On the next possession, Thurman tries to get some revenge on Jacobson and moves at him out of control and picks up an offensive foul.

Hansen goes absolutely ballistic at the referee, even though it was a good call.  You have to remember that Hansen has at least one pitcher of beer and half of a pizza down at this point.

Omaha has a 5 point lead at half time.  Nebraska fans are really unsure what to do here.  They end up just bitterly accusing every Omaha fan of being MavSkers, and not being a true fan to anything.  You know, because you cannot just like things in this state without these people accusing you of being a home wrecker.

The Husker fans take a few moments wondering how they missed out on recruiting Tre’Shawn Thurman.  Sure, statistically, he would not of had the same career at Nebraska as he did at UNO, but he would have proven to be a quality Husker.  Omaha fans are wondering how UNO missed out on Michael Jacobson.

There is also some argument and debate trying to figure out which basketball program is doing the other basketball program a favor by playing this game.


Some half time stats:

Nebraska – 

Michael Jacobson – 4 points, 5 rebounds

Ed Morrow – 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 fouls

Jordy Tshimanga – 1 minute

Tai Webster – 8 points, 3 rebounds

And the guy who keeps track of how many times Jack McVeigh is not found wide open by Glynn Watson has broken his clip board and is being seen by a medical professional.

Omaha

Tra-Deon Hollins – 2 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers?

Zach Jackson – 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 10,000 people asking: who is this guy?

Tre’Shawn Thurman – 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 fouls


The teams come out of for shoot around at half time.  Tai Webster is just pissed.  Pissed!

Derrin Hansen stumbles out of the locker room a little surly.

Trev Alberts is seen on the big screen, and he is met with a mix of boos and cheers.  Shawn Eichorst is seen on the phone attempting to fire whoever is in charge of putting people up on the big screen.  He’s also trying to figure out who is in charge of keeping outside food and drinks from entering the building.  There is a man on the sideline with two pitchers of beer and a pizza!

The first four minutes of the second half are not basketball.  Both teams enter those minutes where they have complete offensive droughts.  Just turnovers and bricked jump shots for four plus minutes.

Miles is standing on the sideline with his arms crossed and a pissed off look on his face.  Hansen is just standing there with his hands in his pockets staring into the abyss.  That’s actually 100% accurate of their body language when their teams go on these offensive droughts.

Nebraska comes out of the media time out by having Tai Webster attack the rim.

Omaha has moved to their three point shooting line up with Thurman-Hahn-JT Gibson-Tyus-Hollins.  So naturally, they come out of the first media time out ready for Thurman to set some screens and Hollins to find open three point shooters.  This is not Omaha’s best defensive line up, so it’s enough to just keep the game close at this point.

We’re going to break into a basketball sports movie montage here –


Nebraska frees up the lane by confusing Omaha’s defense in the post, and Morrow gets a huge dunk.

Hahn makes a corner three after his defender thinks he has to help Jacobson defend an Omaha post player.

Webster breaks past Tyus through an open baseline for an easy lay up.

Hollins steals the ball from Watson and sprints across the court for an easy transition bucket.

Morrow gets an and-one opportunity.  Thurman gets an and-one opportunity.

Miles cracks a joke at a ref and the ref tries to hide his laughter.  This happens at least twice a game.

Hansen screams at an official for a blown call, and he earns a warning.  This happens at least once a game.

Zach Jackson gets McVeigh to jump on a pump fake, and Jackson drives baseline and Isaiah Roby fouls him.  Nebraska fans are still trying to figure out who this Jackson kid is.  He averaged 3.5 points a game last year, how is this possible!?  If this was the Doc Sadler era, it is entirely possible that Jackson would be a Husker.

Anton Gill gets into the lane and…well he does something basketball related, I guess.

A Nebraska fan talks about how at least Nebraska is only losing Tai Webster after this season.  Next year could be the Huskers’ year.  Right?

An Omaha fan complains about how Pinnacle Bank Arena doesn’t sell alcohol at Husker events.  That’s just an Omaha thing.

McVeigh finally hits a three.

Tyus comes off a screen and catches a pass from Hollins and knocks down a three.

Roby drives into the lane, gets the ball knocked out of his hands by Hollins, but the ball still some how ends up in Roby’s hands again and he puts up a shot with the shot clock expiring, and it goes in.

Tyus drives into the lane, misses a lay up.  Thurman gets the offensive rebounds, puts it up and misses, does that a few more times, and then gets an and-one.  Seriously, 4 misses and 5 rebounds in 10 seconds.  Thurman now has a double-double.

We’re looking at a 74-74 game right now, and Omaha calls a time out with 40 seconds left on the shot clock.  Derrin Hansen calls a time out.

Hollins stands at the top of the key dribbling and watching the shot clock dwindle down.  Pirog comes up and sets a screen.  Hollins drives to the basket, and with the attention focused on him and Thurman, Hollins passes the ball to a rolling Pirog who dunks the ball in.

Nebraska calls a timeout with 4 seconds remaining.

Omaha comes out showing a full court press.  Nebraska calls another time out.  Isn’t basketball fun?

Watson inbounds the ball to McVeigh near half court.  He drives enough to get the ball near the three point line, and throws up a three with Jackson right in his face.

And…

 

 

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Dec 8

A few weeks away from the start of the conference season for The Summit League, are you starting to get pumped? Nothing like some meaningless rankings and broad observations to help get you there.

1. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons beat Indiana.  Don’t you remember?

They actually average more steals than Omaha.  That might break you.

2. Omaha

Don’t let the Iowa State poor showing get you down.  The Mavericks were worn down in that game after putting all of their focus on the Hawkeyes over the weekend.  You could see how Tre’Shawn Thurman was warn down in that game, he had no lift in his legs what so ever.  The whole team seemed deflated from the opening tip.  I was hoping Derrin Hansen would have used half time as a kindergarten style group nap.

Also, don’t let Nebraska or Creighton smack talking fans take anything away from Omaha beating Iowa because “it’s a down year for Iowa.”  These are the same people that were in agreement that thought before the start of the season that Iowa would be in the NIT because “Fran McCaffrey is just that good of a coach.”  I guess it’s also a down century for Nebraska, so Incarnate Word should just forget their win over Nebraska a few years ago ever happened.

Looking up and down the Summit League, it is hard to find a team that is more set up for success this season AND in the future.  Even though the Mavericks still have some things they need to work on, they have an actual chance to win the Summit League this season.  In addition to that, sophomores Zach Pirog, Mitch Hahn, and Zach Jackson are showing that they could be a dangerous front court combination over the next few years.  Freshmen JT Gibson and KJ Robinson are also showing flashes of improvement and could combine with that front court in 2018 to be the best starting lineup in the Summit League in 2017-2018.  Yes, I realize that some teams could get some junior college players or some transfers from bigger schools to contend with them, but as of right now, we have a Pirog, Hahn, Jackson, Gibson, Robinson lineup to look forward to.

3. North Dakota State

The Bison have the second highest RPI and Kenpom rating as of right now, but remember when the Bison were just unstoppable at home?  Then the Mavericks broke that trend last season?  The Bison lost to the Fighting Si..Hawks by 18 in Fargo last night.  Dexter Werner had 30 points and 13 rebounds in the game, but no one else for the Bison really showed up.  The Bison back court of Paul Miller and Khy Kabellis combined for 1-of-18 from the floor.

It may actually shock you that the Bison currently have the worst three point shooting percentage in the Summit League.

4. South Dakota

Can we just call them Mini-Nebraska?  They are good at defense, poor at three point shooting, and struggle to score ball at times.  They also appear to have a ton of depth on the team, but really there is just not much difference from the starters to the bench players…but the starters are not exactly 1st Team All Conference players.

5. IUPUI

The Jaguars have had a pretty tough schedule, with only two home games so far, and they still have to play on the road against Southern Utah and Northwestern.    While you were not paying attention, because Omaha was playing in Iowa City, the Jaguars were able to pick up a win at Ball State.  Then they almost pulled off another Summit League versus Big 10 upset by playing Illinois close.

6. South Dakota State

Not sure if you’ve watched a South Dakota State game, but it’s not really looking all that pretty.  The team has no flow whenever Mike Daum heads to the bench.  There is no true point guard to really set up a pick-and-roll situation.  It really is a team of guys that have not played much basketball together and are still working to figure it out.  They can turn this around by late February, but the process of getting there may not be pretty.

They were able to beat UMKC over the weekend, but the Kangaroos were playing without their best player, Martez Harrison.

7. Denver

3-5 on the year so far, and the Pioneers have been competitive in almost every loss.  This team is still transitioning their offensive culture from Watch Out For The 10 Screens Every Play to They Shot That With 20 Seconds On the Shot Clock, but they may have a chance of having it figured out by the end of the year.

Joe Rosga is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists a game.  It may be a difficult decision if you have to pick who the best sophomore is in the Summit League between Rosga, Mike Daum, and John Konchar.

8. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles have still yet to beat a division one team.  Oral Roberts has the toughest strength of schedule in the Summit League, and they almost put a serious scare into Michigan State…which is why they are getting the edge on Western Illinois for not having the worst ranking in the Summit.

The Golden Eagles still do not have much of a bench, and their roster is filled with youth and inconsistency.  One has to wonder if the tough schedule will help them fight through and prepare them for the Summit League, or just wear them down to the point they cannot compete for 40 minutes each conference game.

9. Western Illinois

Work has been super hectic for me lately while we have been transitioning to a new software, the alternator in my car died last week, and when I had Roto Rooter come out to my place to snake my drain, and the guy poked a hole in a pipe so when I ran the dishwasher a bunch of water leaked into my basement.  We had to cut through drywall to replace the drain and all the of the furniture that was in that room is currently sitting in a hall way.

Sorry, I just thought you might want to hear about some problems I have had recently while we are on the subject of shit shows.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Nov 23

1. Fort Wayne

Duh, a win over the # 3 team in the country is going to get you stuck at number one in the Summit League until someone else knocks you off.  The ‘Dons are a complete package.  They can play big, play small, shoot, and defend.  Two of their guards had double-doubles in points and rebounds against Indiana.

2. South Dakota

The Coyotes have had an easy schedule so far, but they are still 5-1.  Three of their wins have been considered upsets, and they compete until the very end.  Craig Smith has a competitive roster this season. The Coyotes may lack some size, but most of the Summit League lacks size this season.

3. North Dakota State

The Bison are also 5-1 and have had a relatively easy schedule.  They still have the best Kenpom ranking in the Summit League.  The Bison did beat Arkansas State, who beat Georgetown, so take that for what it is worth.

Last night, the Bison beat Waldorf, which is nothing big, but they were playing without one of their key players, AJ Jacobson.  Jacobson has had problems with his thumb, which he had surgery on over the summer.  If this is something that bothers Jacobson and his shooting all season, the Bison may end up having issues over the course of the conference season.

4. Omaha

With the hardest schedule in the Summit League so far, the Mavericks are sitting at 2-3 and still have tougher non-conference games ahead.

Attendance wise, the Mavericks have also had a rough start to the season.  They were competing with the tail end of the Nebraska-Maryland game when Rice came to Baxter Arena, and played Buena Vista while the Omaha women were playing at Nebraska.

5. IUPUI

I was about to say that the Jaguars’ win against Eastern Michigan was the best win in the Summit League this season, but now it’s not even the best win in their own state.

The Jaguars have their next five games on the road, and are probably not considered favorite in any of those games.

6. South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits have also played a difficult schedule.  They have still yet to beat a division one team, and the one team they did beat was Wayne State, and the Jackrabbits only won by 8.

Mike Daum is good, but can he be good enough to carry the entire team through the Summit League tournament?  Reed Tellinhuisen, Tevin King, and AJ Hess are going to need to show some consistency for this team to remain one of the top teams in the conference.

7. Denver

HOW HAS THIS TEAM ONLY PLAYED 2 GAMES?

8. Western Illinois

The Leathernecks have also yet to beat a division one team, and they may not do that until the month of December.  Junior forward Dalan Ancrum has been a nice surprise going from 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last season to 10 points and 4.7 rebounds so far this season.

9. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles have also had a tough schedule, and have also yet to beat a division one basketball team.  They were able to take Ole Miss to overtime with the team shooting 47 percent from the field.  Oral Roberts has the makings to be a very extremely inconsistent.  They could look really good one game, and really terrible the next game.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Nov 16

1. Fort Wayne

A road loss to Arkansas should not raise any concern to Fort Wayne fans.  I hope no one is getting too crazy about Fort Wayne beating Division 3 Kenyon 117-60.

The biggest issue with the ‘Dons last year was their lack of depth.  They were able to play 9 players at least 10 minutes in the loss, and 8 of those guys scored.

Sophomore guard John Konchar had 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists in Fayetteville.  This may be the guy better than Mike Daum.

2. North Dakota State

2-0 is a good start, duh, but the schedule may be the weakest out of all Summit League teams so far.  The lack of a post game could hurt the Bison down the road.  The Bison had 6 blocks against Arkansas State, who only had two players in their rotation that are taller than 6’6″.

3. South Dakota

It seemed like there were two ways for South Dakota.  Either somewhat okay, or really bad.  Starting off 2-0 is better than somewhat okay.  The Coyotes did beat a Missouri Valley team and  MAC team, but neither of them have been overly competitive in recent years…still, they won two games that could have been considered toss up games.

The newcomers on this team are improvements over what the Coyotes lost…which was just about everything.  If the Coyotes can get everyone on the same page, they may end up being far more competitive in the Summit than people thought.

Guy to watch:  Trey Burch-Manning.  He averages a 1 double-double per game right now.

4. Omaha

With a difficult schedule so far, the Mavericks could have just worn themselves out with 3 games in 4 days.  They should hopefully get some much needed rest before the fast paced Rice comes to Baxter Arena.

The improvement of Zach Jackson has been a nice lift for the Mavericks.  If Jackson can be a regular 10 point and 6 rebound guy, the Mavericks could compete with Fort Wayne this season.

5. South Dakota State

A tough schedule with two road games at Cal and UC Irvine shouldn’t have the faithful Jackrabbit fans mapping out the tallest buildings in Brookings.  The Jackrabbits shooting 29 percent over two games as a team should be a cause for concern, especially with their two biggest shot takers, Reed Tellinghuisen and Mike Daum, both shooting 32 percent from the field.

Another contributor who was expected to be an impact player went 0-for-10 in the Jacks’ two games.  There is still time to fix this, but the Jackrabbits have two more games on the road this weekend against Wyoming (2-0) and Idaho (1-0).

6. IUPUI

The Jaguars did have a tough schedule with two road games against Eastern Kentucky and Michigan, but Eastern Kentucky is a young team this season.  The Jaguars were competitive in the Summit League last year, partially, because of their scrappy defense, but they may not have that edge this season.

The Jaguars have showed little interest in caring about getting home games in the non-conference schedule, which makes sense when they can barely get 1,000 people to their home games.  The Jaguars have a home game against Howard on Friday, and then 6 straight road games.  They may only win three non-conference games.

7. Western Illinois

Some of their guys looked good against a NCCAA team.

8. Denver

The Pioneers are in the middle of changing their program’s culture.  Rodney Billups has some of the right pieces to transition into his new run-and-gun offense, but this team will have to learn to play a face paced defense.  They let Jacksonville score 92 points in Denver.

Billups did claim before the beginning of the year that Daniel Amigo could have a break out year this season, and he did have 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists against Jacksonville.

9. Oral Roberts

A 15 point loss to a Big 12 team and an 11 point win against a D2 team sounds weird.  Get ready for the most inconsistent team in the Summit League.

A month out game preview: UMKC

I’m not really sure of what route to go with here when I have to compete with Bluejay Banter’s pregame analysis of the Kangaroos.

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Not sure how much to take away from the Kangaroos based on their game against Creighton.  UMKC was down by 26 at one point, and were able to break that lead down before losing to the Bluejays by 7.  The ‘Roos were able to force enough turnovers in the last ten minutes of the game and put a little bit of a scare into the Jays.  Much of this was after the Jaystrokers thought the game was over and left, so many Creighton fans will never realize this ever happened.

Take it as the Jays were beating themselves for much of the second half, or that the Kangaroos refused to back down and would fight until the very end.  Either way, this does not help Jays fans support their argument of Creighton would beat UNO by 50.

I know we shouldn’t compare Creighton to UNO in regards to UMKC, but the Maverick players appear to find some extra motivation when they are playing a like opponent.  After beating Central Arkansas in 2014, the players said they did their part, now it was Creighton’s turn.  There was also Marquette that year.

The Kangaroos have a very talented back court with Martez Harrison and LaVell Boyd who combined for 35 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, and 6 steals in Baxter Arena when they lost to the Mavericks in overtime a year ago.  A game that was neck and neck throughout the entire game, and the Mavericks needed overtime to pull off the win.

Outside of Harrison and Boyd, the Kangaroos are not filled with a load of talent and lack depth, especially in the post.

A key piece missing from last season is 6’6″ forward Darius Austin who transferred to Jackson State.  Austin had 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Mavericks last season.

One post player that did not do well against Creighton was senior Kyle Steward.  Steward was 0-of-5 from the floor against the Jays and had 7 rebounds.  Last season, Steward averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds per game, and he shot 45% on threes.

Since the Mavericks did not have much of a perimeter game last season, especially early on, they beat UMKC on their penetration and getting to the line.  There were moments in that game when any other team would have shot three after three, but Devin Patterson used his speed as an advantage to get in the lane and create contact.  The Mavericks shot 48 free throws in that game.

Tre’Shawn Thurman had 30 points and 11 rebounds against the Kangaroos last season, which was the first game that made me wonder if Thurman had NBA potential.  He was in the zone that night, and could be due for another big game this season with UMKC lacking a post game again.

Zach Jackson and JT Gibson could also be large pieces of the offense in this game, with the Kangaroos lacking quality wing players.  Tim Smallwood had some moments off the bench in the win last season, and Gibson may need a few of those like last season.  If the Jackson that had 14 points and 8 rebounds against UC Santa Barbara showed up, the Mavericks should be able to pick up the win in Kansas City.

Lack of post players and wing players.  Do you see how much work Harrison and Boyd have to do just for this team to finish in the top half of the WAC?

Of the three games I have seen of UMKC coached by Kareem Richardson, it is hard to figure out what their plans are on offense.  It appears the plan is to let Harrison drive into the lane, hope to god that works out, if not, kick it out to a guy for a three.  If the player that gets the ball from Harrison doesn’t have an open three, they will wait for Harrison to come back out and get the ball and do that all over again.

Richardson has stated that he likes a high pace with lots of scoring, like the Mavs, but the Kangaroos struggled to get into the 80s last season.  If their game against Creighton were to show you anything, it should show that Richardson does demand maximum effort out of his players.  If the Mavericks have one of their game where they play 35 minutes instead of 40, the Kangaroos could pick up a win.

With it being such a short drive to Kansas City, the Mavericks may just be happy to not be forced to fly all around the country for a basketball game.  This game is sandwiched between two home games against Montana State and Cal State Fullerton.

Now excuse me, while I get into the history of marsupials.

 

 

 

 

Does Tra-Deon Hollins have draft stock?

It’s a question that had been in my mind during months of not being able to watch college basketball.  Time I tried to fill a void with watching NBA Summer League, which is fine.  It’s wasn’t that fine really, I worked out a lot in that time and lost 20 pounds.  I also created my My Career player to be Tra-Deon Hollins

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Anyway, Tra-Deon Hollins might be the most complete players that the Mavericks have ever had, and the first legitimate guy that the Mavericks have had to with a chance to at least make a NBA or NBDL roster some day.  Looking around at the three division one programs in the state of Nebraska, he may have the best shot at the NBA or NBDL out of players that would be eligible for the 2017 NBA draft.

Mock drafts do have Creighton’s Marcus Foster as a potential 2nd round draft pick at this point, but he is still a junior, so we’ll see if he wants to leave Creighton early.  The city is getting robbed out of Foster and/or Maurice Watson versus Tra-Deon Hollins.  It’s like Greg McDermott and staff stole candy from a baby and then threw it in a dumpster.

With Hollins’ talent, he brings some excitement to a college basketball team that is already a fun product to watch.  I’ve had friends that poked fun at Omaha even trying to become division one that have asked “who is that guy at UNO who leads the whole nation in steals?  I need to get out and see that guy.  That’s awesome!”

Is there a more complete player that you have seen around the Omaha area recently?  Some writers have actually referred to him as the most all around player in the country.  Kerry Mill of Bleacher Report named Hollins as one of the top 25 seniors in college basketball for 2016-2017.

After averaging 12.5 points per game, 4.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, and leading the nation in steals per game as a junior; it’s hard to find another player of recent memory that do the things that Hollins can. Hollins might be the most likely player in the entire country that would be capable of getting a quadruple-double in a game.

I guess one could claim that his 28% three point field goal shooting would never cut it at the next level, and Rajon Rondo would disagree, but in the second half of the season Hollins was able to shoot threes at nearly 40%.

Maybe the 12.5 points per game is not incredibly attractive, especially on a team that plays at such a fast pace.  It takes some time for junior college transfers to get into the groove at the division one level.  For Hollins, that offensive groove maybe started coordinating itself in late December, maybe?

From December 22nd and on, Hollins averaged 14.4 points per game, and had slower teams in that statistical stretch like Denver and Western Illinois in there.  This season Hollins could be the 2nd or 3rd scoring option in most games after Marcus Tyus and Tre’Shawn Thurman, and will also be the team’s primary ball handler.  The points and the assists are going to be on the rise.


Fun Fact: 4 of the last 5 players to lead the NCAA in steals per game all at least made the NBDL in some capacity.  The 5th, is Tra-Deon Hollins who still has one more year of eligibility.

2015-2016: Tra-Deon Hollins

2014-2015: Corey Walden (3.1 spg) played for the Maine Red Claws, and appeared in four NBA preseason games for the Boston Celtics.

2013-2014: Briante Weber (3.46) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force in 2015, and the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat in the 2015-2016 season.  He even played in 2 playoff games for the Heat.

2012-2013: Duke Monday (3.1) was drafted to play in the NBDL but never made an official team roster.

2011-2012: Fuquan Edwin: (2.7) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force, and has played on the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans Summer League teams in the past.

One may want to argue that Hollins’ 4 steals per game is inflated because of the high pace of the Mavericks and the fact that they have a higher quantity of possessions as compared to other teams.  I doubt Hollins is going to send an apology letter to anyone anytime soon for being responsible for creating 4 more possessions a game for the Mavericks, with his steals alone.


Maybe a pessimist would want to take a minute to claim that Hollins only looks good because of the weak competition he faces.  You know who else had to face that criticism?  Steph Curry and Damian Lillard.  I am not comparing Hollins to Curry or Lillard, just saying that it might be possible that some of the best guys out there get overlooked.

I did sit there at Weber State and watch Damian Lillard take on the Big Sky and think that I was watching a NBA point guard, while all of my wife’s Portland friends and family thought Lillard was too small for the NBA and a waste of a draft pick.  I’m just going to set a little nugget it out there: Hollins would be a better back up to Lillard than Shabazz Napier.  Okay, I’ve officially reached full out homer biased mode.

While Hollins has a small sample size so far, since he has only played in one division one season, he has played well against NCAA tournament teams.  In three games last season, two against South Dakota State and one against Colorado, Hollins averaged 17.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7 assists, 3.7 steals, and shot 58 percent from the field.  With a tough schedule this season, Hollins should be able to showcase his talents against four to five point guards that should be in the NBA or NBDL at some point.

Hollins has mentioned before that he loves the big games, and loves going up against the bigger competition.  If one wants to knock that he doesn’t go up against the best competition, can you imagine how much better he may get against even better competition?

Hollins will definitely have his day to showcase his skills on the court to professional basketball teams.  The small market teams love bringing in players from mid-major programs with maturity and confidence to play at the next level.  The Utah Jazz invited over 100 players to work out so the Jazz could analyze their talents.

If you don’t think Hollins is booming with confidence, take a look…

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Derrin Hansen also stated in a radio interview that the coaching staff was able to analyze that defenses were figuring out that Hollins would either take a three point shot or drive the ball to the inside and expected it by the end of the season.  So over the summer, Hollins worked to improve his mid range jumper as it was a weakness of his.  If the most all around player in college basketball fixed his biggest offensive weakness to become an even more all around player, he could become the deadliest player in college basketball.

Hollins was the most improved player for the Mavericks, and maybe the Summit League, as the season went on.  With his current skill set, maturity, work ethic, and confidence, he is only going to get better and better.