We’re all so juiced right now, right?!
All season I have been hoping to see Omaha rise up to what they are capable of being and blow someone out. It was part of my desire to not wanting to be stressed out for two hours of watching sports.
The best part about last night night is that the Mavericks were able to defend the passing lanes and create havoc just as they did last season. The entire team was playing with a huge amount of energy, and there is really no reason why they wont bring the energy tonight. Even with the team only shooting 24 percent on threes, the Mavericks were able to play their brand of basketball and showcase an incredible performance.
It’s unfortunate that the Mavericks have to play in the championship game which is pretty much on the road, but this is still one of the greatest opportunities Omaha has ever had.
Yes, most of the arena will be wearing blue, but there will be some black and crimson. This is the Mavericks moment, though. The players and coaches have said they love playing in the big away games, and taking the home crowd out of it with big plays. Since the Mavericks beat the Jackrabbits in Brookings this season, the only game the Jackrabbits have lost to in the state of South Dakota was to South Dakota in Vermillion.
We’ve been talking about the mind game for the Mavericks, but tonight they’re going up against a team that also has something in their own heads. The Jackrabbits have under performed this season, and even though they were able to pick up a win against the Mavericks in Omaha, they let Omaha shoot all over them in Brookings. Both teams almost gave up big leads to escape with wins on the road in the regular season against each other. Neither team is just going to lay down and let the other one take this win.
Mike Daum is clearly going to demand an incredible amount of attention from the Mavericks. He is like their Super Shredder. Watching him play basketball at times is like watching the opening scene in X Men 2 when Nightcrawler dominates the Secret Service into submission. Hopefully, like that scene, the Mavericks can stop Daum before he does anything catastrophic.
A big factor in the game is if Tre’Shawn Thurman can stay out of foul trouble and challenge Daum enough to throw him off of his game. If Thurman get into foul trouble, Zach Pirog, Daniel Meyer, and Mitch Hahn will need to be ready. Meyer is not the type of player that can really defend Daum, but Pirog can. In Omaha, Pirog’s length really bothered Daum on possessions; and the Mavericks were +11 with him on the court. Derrin Hansen doesn’t give Pirog a lot of minutes, but if things with Daum get a little dicey he may want to take a chance on Pirog.
It’s easy to look at this as OH MY GOD, NOT MIKE DAUM, but there are other guys that Omaha needs to worry about. With all the attention on Daum, backup center Ian Theisen is able to find wide open looks against the Mavericks and knock down big shots. He had 15 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting in Brookings against the Mavs. Theisen did suffer an injury after the Jackrabbits trip to Omaha and missed 6 games and has struggled to find a role in the last three games for the Jackrabbits. Omaha is healthier and has some more depth than South Dakota State, but that doesn’t mean the guys who can step up wont step up.
Michael Orris is also a good point guard that can really control the offense for the Jackrabbits, so hopefully the Mavericks can continue this great team defense to disrupt what he can do. Reed Tellinghuisen is another guy that the Mavericks cannot underestimate. Tellinghuisen has struggled this season, and has even gone 1-of-10 on threes against the Mavericks this season. He shot lights out against Omaha as a freshman and sophomore, and the Jackrabbits appear to be more successful when Tellinghuisen gets hot so forcing him to a struggle bus is key.
How about who the Jackrabbits need to go up against?
The Jackrabbits have struggled defensively for much of the season, just like the Mavericks, but they have shown signs that they are capable of being a quality defensive team. With Ian Theisen and other senior AJ Hess both slowed down with injuries, who is going to defend Mitch Hahn who is playing incredible basketball right now and seems more focused than any other play we have ever seen? He could literally hit a shot from anywhere on the court. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit a trailer 3 from the half court line. Hahn had a three in the first half where he was about 5 feet behind the three point line and he just looked at the IUPUI defender, who was giving him the space, like: Seriously, do you not know who I am?
The Mavericks got their huge emotional game out of the way on Sunday night when they topped the team that scared them the most, and the Jackrabbits got their huge emotional game out of the way last night against their in-state rival. The Mavericks are playing with a high level of confidence, and they’re playing smart basketball right now. They have to continue that if they want the biggest win in program history.
When the Mavericks entered the Summit League, South Dakota State was the program they were striving to be, and now they have the chance to show that they have come a long way to be where they want to be.