The second return game of the year for the Mavericks. This time they get to go to Ypil…Ypilis…shoot, who cares. It’s in the eastern part of Michigan. Probably.
You may remember the game last year as one of the games that Omaha was down by large margin and did not end up coming back for a win. The Mavericks were able to cut a 15 point lead down to six before losing 80-73 at Baxter Arena in what was just another Baxter Arena shooting blunder. You may have sat there in Baxter Arena wondering how this high octane offense could survive if they shot around 20% on threes. Survive may be too strong of a word. It’s not like we’re dealing with a zombiepocalyse here. This was also the game that I figured out that I love the french fries at the Baxter Arena. Maybe my favorite in town. If there was a reward program for racking up points on french fry purchases at Baxter Arena, I might literally own Aksarben Village in a decade.
That game was early in the year, and you could guess that is one of the games that the Mavericks wish they could have back. Tra-Deon Hollins was still trying to figure out how to shoot and be conditioned at the division one level. The Mavericks had not inserted Kyler Erickson into the starting lineup at that point or were using him as the team’s source of energy. It still seemed as if after one season that Derrin Hansen had not completely figured out how to utilize Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood at this point.
Hansen and the Mavericks still may have some issues trying to figure out some of their guys in this game. Figuring out where and when to play Daniel Meyer, Mitchell Hahn, and Zach Pirog looks like it could be difficult at the beginning of the season. Each has a different skill set, and finding that right mix in the post for the right opponent could be a challenge for this coaching staff. Figuring this out will be important for the Mavericks in this game as Eastern Michigan has 6’10” sophomore Jason Thompson IV who averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds as a freshman. He may have been one of the best post players that Mavericks played all season long.
The Eagles are likely to not have issues like this. Eastern Michigan is bringing back four starters, and return 80% of their scoring to their team that finished 18-15 overall and 112th in RPI. The biggest loss to the Eagles is the graduation of 6’8″ forward Brandon Nazione who averaged 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds. The other players they lost were mostly players with small roles. Nazione had 12 points and 7 rebounds against Omaha last season. The Eagles will get to replace Nazione with Nick Madray, a 6’9″ transfer from Binghamton, who averaged 10.8 points per game as a freshman before ending his freshman and sophomore seasons with injuries.
The main issues the Eagles may have is their depth. They really only have 6 players that are in their main rotation, which could be a problem for a fast paced team like the Mavericks. They have three players that transferred in but will be sitting out the 2016-2017 season, and while that is good for the future of the program, that hurts your depth right now.
The Eagles were able to win in Baxter Arena with a lack of depth against the Mavericks on the Mavericks shooting 37% from the field and 4-of-17 on threes. With Mitch Hahn, JT Gibson, and Marcus Tyus in the lineup, the Mavericks do not plan on going 4-of-17 in many games this season from behind the arch. Let’s just hope they can shoot so well that the Mavericks wont have to worry about rebounding…
This game will be played at noon on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. On ESPN3, so get prepared for your spouse to yell at you about hanging up Christmas decorations “because this is the best day to do it.”