2016-2017 is going to be a bit of a sequel to last season. Consider it The Mavericks: Reloaded. Is The Matrix Reloaded the 2nd or the 3rd one of the Matrix series? They blend together to me for 4 and a 1/2 hours of stupidity for me, so it is difficult to remember.
The Mavericks graduate Kyler Erickson, Devin Patterson, Randy Reed, Tim Smallwood, Jake White from the program. Each player brought something unique to help guide the program through the first year of transition into the CBI. Erickson brought the heart, and the other 4 bought some earth element to create a superhero to save the world of disaster. Normally teams that lose 5 seniors do not compete too highly the following season, but the Mavericks get to quickly reload their roster with Marcus Tyus (redshirted to recover an injury), Mitchell Hahn (redshirted due to transfer from Holy Cross), and JT Gibson (only played 10 games due to an injury).
The decision to redshirt Tyus apparently came a day or two before the start of the regular season. Really, it was a smart move on the part of the Mavericks. He tore his ACL in February of 2015, and normally tearing your ACL takes over a year to fully recover. I still showed up to the opening game and had a 2 hour WHERE IS TYUS panic attack for that game.
You have got to think that Tyus will get the most shot attempts on this team next season. His junior season, he may have had one of the most efficient seasons since the transition to division one, for a guard at least. In his junior season he shot 49% from the floor and 44% on threes. The only guard who really came close to that, that played most of a season, was Justin Simmons who shot 47% from the field and 40% on threes in his junior season.
While Tyus may take over as the primary shot taker, he never really showed the ability to create his shot in the same capacity that Devin Patterson could. I’m not really sure this program has seen a guy that has that ability that Patterson had, and no one remaining on the roster is really that guy who can do that; so next season the team will have to work together more to get open looks…which can be good because of less standing around and less jump shots with 25 seconds on the shot clock. Patterson attempted 5 threes a game in 2015-2016, granted that number would have been lower with Tyus on the floor, but Tyus should be taking about 4 threes a game in his senior season, but his percentage should put him at making the same number of threes each game as Patterson did in 2016. Tyus wont really need to create his own shot with a play maker like Tra-Deon Hollins with him in the back court.
The Mavericks finished 8th in the conference in three point field goal percentage at 33.7%, but that number should go up with Tyus, Hahn, and Gibson on the court; and also Hollins improved from behind the arch as the season went on. Hollins shot 17% on threes in November and December, and 39% on threes after January 1st.
Aside from the expected better shooting; arguably the best post player the Mavericks have had since transition, Jake White is graduating and that will be a huge piece to make up. Tre’Shawn Thurman will continue to get better and should be an All Conference player in his junior season. Daniel Meyer and Zach Pirog will really have to improve this summer to help make up for that post production. I never got to actually watch Mitchell Hahn in high school, but he doesn’t appear to be the same type of rebounder that Jake White was, or a dominating post player against Nebraska high school basketball. Hahn has the ability to handle the ball and play as a very tall three, which could make the Mavericks very versatile team. Either way, I hope one of the main on the court goals of the Mavericks this season will be to get my section to stop screaming “BOX THE EF OUT!”
The Mavericks currently have 10 players on scholarship. Maybe 11 if they give Ben Kositzke a scholarship, who actually could be a pretty underrated player. He has some really nice post moves, a baseline jump shot as good as Jake White’s, and he just had a year of redshirting to work out on basketball. Kositzke also apparently had a scholarship offer to Tennessee Tech out of high school. I was telling my wife about some of the Mavs’ roster and mentioned this, and she usually does some shit talking whenever a university in the state of Tennessee is brought up, instead she was like: “Tennessee Tech, really? They’re a really good program, that’s a great scholarship offer…and he walked on to the Mavericks? That’s great!” That’s got to be worth something.
Speaking of basketball in Tennessee: the Omaha signee Daniel Norl, originally from the state of Tennessee, appears as if he can really add depth to the Mavericks back court. The 6’2″ guard averaged 11 points, shot 50% from the floor, and 40% on threes for a top 25 junior college in 2015-2016. He started his career at Eastern Kentucky after getting offers from Tennessee Tech, Belmont, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State, and Murray State. In his highlight videos you can tell he is a solid defender and likes to make the extra pass on offense.
There are still many available transferring players out there. It is unclear if Nebraska’s Johnny Trueblood is going to transfer somewhere to play basketball, or if he going to just destroy every pickup basketball game in Lincoln; but many Husker fans on the Husker Hoops Central would like to see him transfer to UNO. I’m sure both South Dakota schools will try and move in on Trueblood should he decide to pick the Mavericks.
South Dakota State was able to pick up a transfer from Southern Utah, AJ Hess, who will be a senior and eligible to play immediately for the Jackrabbits. Hess only played in 6 games for South Utah in 2015-2016; in his junior season at SUU, he averaged 11.7 points and 3.7 rebounds; Hess also shot 44% from the floor, 41% on threes, and better than 80% at the free throw line. The Jackrabbits are going to be able to put out some bigger lineups with two 6’6″ guys who can play the guard position.
I’m bummed that Omaha Benson/Iowa Western’s Thik Bol committed to Southern Illinois. His post defense combined with Hollins’ perimeter defense would have been a delightful combination on the court.
With the potential to sign two to three more players, and another assistant coach, the Mavericks still have a lot to come in the next few weeks.