A good ole rematch. Everyone loves these home-and-homes, right? I mean, you basically have no chance of watching this one, but playing the same team in back-to-back years can help give you an indicator of how your team has improved. We hope anyway.
I’m not sure what you remember from this match up last season. It is possible that you tried to put the actual game itself out of your memory. I mean, it was the first regular season basketball game played at Baxter Arena. There was that. That was hot. That was fun. Tra-Deon Hollins went 0-6 from the floor, and most of us could never imagine him going 9-of-12 from the floor with 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists against South Dakota State a few months later; but it happened.
The only things that come to memory, other than the satisfaction of finally seeing basketball in the Baxter Arena, was the terrible offense, terrible shooting, and wondering if Marcus Tyus not playing was a sick prank. The only memorable plays I have from that game was when JT Gibson gave the Mavericks hope by draining three pointers in back-to-back possessions after the Mavericks had been shooting so bad on threes I found myself wondering if the game would be closer if I was out there shooting some threes. I assure you, the Mavericks would have been down by more.
Well the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos get to host the Mavericks this year for their home opener. The Mavericks graduated four players from last season, and the Gauchos graduated six players, so it is possible that this game could have the same offensive woes of last season with both teams trying to figure out their personnel. I imagine if the teams go a combined 34.8% from the floor again that Gary Sharp will leave at half time and go check out Santa Barbara. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s had a vacation home in Santa Monica. Maybe, Brad Pitt is just bumming around in his home dipping mini tacos in nacho cheese, like a real man.
The Mavericks, for the most part, get to reload their roster, with some transfers, and guys coming back from injuries. The Gauchos, though, have a relatively young roster with nine scholarship players that are freshmen or sophomores. There might be some meshing issues at the start of this game for each team, so listen to this game holding your lucky rabbit’s foot, put that lucky penny in your shoe, or wear your Gauchos shirt if you’re the bad luck person.
Clearly biased here, but my perception would be that Omaha will not need as much time meshing together since most of their “newcomers” have been with the team for over a year at least. The Mavericks, though, may have some difficulty of dividing up and figuring out what to do with minutes in this game since they play at USC the following night.
The Gauchos could have some issues finding some chemistry on the court with what is a mostly new roster. Their coaching staff and fans have already claimed this season to be a “rebuilding year.” UC Santa Barbara does return Gabe Vincent, a 6’4″ junior that averaged 14 points a game and earned Big West Honorable Mention. Other than that, the Gauchos do not return much scoring at all. Vincent had 16 points on 5-of-16 scoring against the Mavericks last season, which was just a painful offensive showing from both teams.
Santa Barbara will be adding a very serious presence to their front line with Junior College transfer Jalen Canty. Canty is a 6’8″ and 255 pound beast that can be a match up nightmare for teams, so… please be too slow for the Mavs quick pace, please be too slow for the Mavs quick pace, please be too slow for the Mavs quick pace. While in junior college, Cantry also received offers from Colorado State, Tulsa, and Rhode Island, and he was once committed to Washington State while in high school.
Okay, he does not look all that slow, and appears to have some pretty solid footwork.
Going into their match up last season, I thought the scariest thing about the Gauchos was the quality of their wing players, and that may still be the case. The Mavericks were going into last season introducing Zach Jackson, JT Gibson, and Tra-Deon Hollins to the wing, after a year of struggling at defending pretty much anyone from 6’2″ to 6’6″ on the wing. Now the Mavericks are a little more established at the wing with Jackson, Gibson, Hollins all returning, and now the Mavericks will be able to add experienced 6’3″ guard Daniel Norl to that core wing players. Let’s not forget, and how could we, that the Mavericks still have Kyler Erickson who’s non stop energy could give problems to Robocop.
The Gauchos lost their core of wing players, but are reloading with adding a few well recruited 6’5″ freshman. Christian Terrell is a freshman out of Sacramento that held offers from Washington State, Tulsa, Pepperdine, and Gonzaga. Terrell was rated as a 3 star recruit by Rivals and Scout. They also have Clifton Powell, always be afraid of a guy named Clifton, who played at a prep school for a 5th year. He’s described as “bouncy.” The Gauchos also have Ohio State transfer, Mickey Mitchell, who will be sitting this season out. The Mavericks don’t play these guys next year, right?
One thing to keep in mind: Los Angeles Lakers’ General Manager Mitch Kupchak’s son, Maxwell Kupchak, plays for UC Santa Barbara. The Lakers will be away at New Orleans and Minnesota while Omaha is in Southern California. Maybe Mitch Kupchak comes to watch his son play basketball, for the fun of it, and maybe he takes notice in a particular point guard on the Mavericks’ roster. Maybe he’s impressed enough to check him out a second night in Los Angeles.
All in all, since this is a rebuilding year for the Gauchos, you would think the Mavericks would have the edge in this game. Right? Maybe with Santa Barbara having home court advantage, Omaha might be like a 3 point favorite or something. Right?
Relax. By the time this game happens, you’ll get to know if it will be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton filling out a presidential bracket on ESPN in March. Actually, that is incredibly depressing.