There is not a ton of separation between Omaha and Fort Wayne, just four straight wins for the Mastodons over the Mavericks.
It is difficult to beat a team that you are evenly matched with three times in one season. Omaha is confident right now, and they are riding a three game winning steak, but who knows what their confidence level is when matched up against the only team that they couldn’t pick up a win against this season.
Even as Derrin Hansen was expecting any possible outcome, on the post game interview after the win against North Dakota State, it sounded as if he was playing off the anger in his attitude. It could be that every game between the Omaha and Fort Wayne in the last two seasons has been close, but the Mavericks haven’t gotten the cigar. Cigars are bad for you, so it’ s not like that part of it is a big deal. The Mastodons could be in the heads of the Mavericks players and coaches.
One thing that would instantly jump out to the Mavericks is John Konchar. Konchar is obviously a great player. Yesterday he was named First Team All Summit League after averaging 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists a game; and on top of that he shot 64 percent from the field and 54 percent on threes.
I’m sure you would expect those averages to go up against the Mavericks because of the pace both of teams want to play at, but Konchar’s stats against the Mavericks would have you think he is playing against a division 2 opponent. In 2 seasons, Konchar has averaged 24 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and shot 78 percent from the field and 85 percent on threes. He has not missed a 3 point shot against the Mavericks this season.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Derrin Hansen and the Mavericks are probably not extremely thrilled that Konchar’s mix tape for professional basketball teams to see will be largely in thanks to the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Another face that will stick out to the Mavericks is Brent Calhoun. The center that used to be heavier than my car, but has turned himself into a well conditioned basketball player that can run the floor and might even be the best Summit League player that purely stays in the post.
Calhoun was in foul trouble in one game last season and really didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate any stats, so not counting that game, but in the last two seasons Calhoun has averaged 13 points and shot 75 percent from the field against Omaha. He dominates the low block against the Mavericks on offense and defense.
He also averaged 3.7 blocks in those three meetings.
Neither of these teams love the defensive end, but the Mavericks need to slow down and contain Calhoun and Konchar. Players like Zach Jackson and Daniel Norl might not even want to take a shot in this game, and just focus all their time and energy on just bothering John Konchar. That’s nearly impossible, they won’t not take shots in this system but it’s a theory.
The hope is that this is like some super hero movie. The villain wins the early battles, the hero fails early on and learns more about the villain and even more about their own life, and then they go out there for one final jousting for a winner take all battle and the hero saves the freaking day.
Omaha coaches and players have stated throughout the entire season that they were upset with themselves with the early exit in the Summit League in 2016. They said they wanted to be playing their best basketball of the season heading into the tournament, and they are, but we have seen them go on hot and cold streaks this season. A win in this game relies on their mental focus and toughness in dealing with Fort Wayne.
In a game where the teams are so close to each other, but also so far away, every little thing matters. Mavericks have to stay focused in on the big things, and the little things.