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.
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.