Omaha women’s basketball was always about potential under Brittany Lange, and still is

Chance Lindley apparently just didn’t show up to work one day.

He left college coaching and just moved away or something with little to no notice.  I think I saw somewhere a while back that he actually moved to Wichita and ran a bakery, for some reason. It’s also possible this life isn’t real and we’re in a simulation and there was just a glitch in Lindley and he was written out of the coding in this matrix.  I don’t know, I’m not into conspiracies, but it sounds like it could hold up.

Lindley spent just two seasons as the head coach at Omaha, and he was actually pretty successful in his tenure at the school, even if you legitimately forgot who he was.  He posted a 32-23 record with stars Paige Frauendorfer and Jamie Nash on Maverick roster, as they were transitioning to division one.

In that time, he assembled a really good recruiting class with Mikaela Shaw and Madi Robson in the group.

Either way, Lindley left us and ghosted us like a match on a dating app.  His departure created an opening for 26 year old Brittany Lange to take on the opportunity as an interim coach.  Lange was taking over a roster filled with fresh faces, but also filled with potential.

Most of us think we can do our jobs better than our boss.  Hell, my direct boss is socially inept, and she has said a total of 9 words in person to me in 2 1/2 years.  Regardless, I can’t imagine coming into work one day and having her boss say: “yeah, so they just aren’t answering their phone.  You’re in their role now, and all your subordinates need to be trained.  Cool, I’ve got some golf to go play. don’t mess up” and then me actually doing the job, let alone have the local newspaper reporting on it…and at 26 years old.

I am the same age as Brittany Lange, so naturally she’s the Omaha Maverick head coach I would want to sit down and talk to the most, if ever given the opportunity to talk to any Omaha Maverick head coach.  I’d literally be made of questions around her, and they’d all be questions about being a head coach at 26 years old, in a scenario in which she didn’t even really apply the job.

I’m trying to think of all the things I was doing at 26 years old. I was working a job I didn’t really like, thinking Blue Moon was craft beer, drinking a lot beer, starting a really bad basketball blog, and watching endless amounts of videos of people online skateboarding off of things.

My friends were either starting grad school or finishing grad school, drinking craft beer, and drinking a lot of beer, working jobs for way less than they were worth, having kids, and sharing endless amounts of videos of people skateboarding off of things.

Just thinking of how different Lange’s life was from other people’s lives around her age has always fascinated me.  She was the head coach of a division one basketball team, and while you all say “I could do that,” no you can’t.  The Mavericks went 12-16 in her first season as head coach, a team made up of just one senior, 5 freshmen, 3 junior college transfers, and two injured wing players; Brianna Bogard who played just 4 games and Cathleen Cox who missed the entire season.

Lange had the interim taken off of her title and she was awarded the head coaching position with the Mavericks.  In her second season as head coach, the Mavericks roster consisted of mostly freshmen and sophomores, and the future appeared bright with Mikaela Shaw and the young core.

After seeing a group of players leave after her second year, Lange brought in arguably her best recruiting class into the 2015-2016 season.  The class included sisters Michaela and Moriah Dapprich, sisters transferring from Wichita State, as well as Texas Tech transfer center Courtney Vaccher.  Freshmen players like: Kalen Phillips, who was a 4 star athlete on ESPN, Sara Echelberry, a 6’2″ versatile forward who appeared to have the skills to play all three front court positions, Amber Vidal, a streaky floor general point guard, center Caroline Hogue who averaged 3 blocks a game as a freshman at UNO, the sharpshooting Ellie Brecht, and local center Jay Bridgeman.

In 2015-2016, the Mavericks finished 15-15, and made it to the second round of the Summit League tournament.  The future never appeared brighter for the Maverick women.  As fans, we saw the potential in the freshman and knew we were going to be adding Vaccher and the Dapprich sisters to this roster. I haven’t even mentioned Remy Davenport, who was fantastic with the Mavericks.

We thought the only problem the team might have would be having maybe too much talent and the coaching staff figuring out how to divide up all the minutes.  In our minds, we really thought we were going to have a three deep rotation at center with Vaccher, Hogue, Bridgeman, and maybe even Echelberry.  The 2015-2016 team also had 6’3″ rim protector Vanessa Barajas as a back up center.

In March 2016, I was convinced the Mavericks would win the Summit League tournament a year later.  The team even picked up Jess Walter, a transfer from Indiana, who would sit out the year, but it felt like another ingredient for the future after the expected greatness.

Over the Summer, Hogue and Barajas both left the program and the Mavericks lost their rim protection.  The Mavericks still had their most talented roster since transitioning to division one, but it wasn’t enough as the team finished below expectations for a 5th place finish in the Summit League.  2016-2017 was the only season Lange would finish with a winning record.

Make any excuse you want for Lange, but through injuries and early departures, Lange was constantly left struggling with trying to figure out how to get her teams to gel. Having to change the team’s starting lineup game-after-game, players appeared to struggle with their constantly changing roles.

Lange would consistently recruit solid recruiting classes, but each class consistently brought players transferring out of the program.  With all the potential in her recruiting classes, Lange only had 3 players play 4 years in her program: Mikaela Shaw, Taijhe Kelly, and Kalen Phillips.  Yet, when you account for all of the injuries that occurred in her tenure to Jay Bridgeman, Ellie Brecht, Kalen Phillips, Cathleen Cox, and others you can understand the complications in finding the right lineups.

With the constant turnover to players and assistant coaches, the Mavericks struggled to find an identity.  With the exception of the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, the Mavericks were always looking for leadership on the court.

This last season was another example of all that turnover.  The roster was once again filled with new faces. The lineup was changed a number of times, roles were changed, the team kept coming close to wins but lost several chances late in the game, and players struggled to find consistency.

Like any other season under Lange’s tenure, fans can take note of the team’s potential.  Lange recruited wine players to the Omaha program, and year-after-year we saw the potential of where the program might be a year or two later.  As a fan, I wish we could see where the program might go with this core of talent and Brittany Lange, but year-after-year, we saw the mass exodus in the program.  Perhaps, a coaching change can take the potential Lange brought to the program and bring it some stability.  Maybe even be competitive with the likes of South Dakota and South Dakota State.

Lange leaves the program with some pieces attractive to a new coach.

Freshman Ella Ogier had perhaps statistically one of the most successful freshman seasons since Mikaela Shaw.  Sophomore center Mariah Murdie was named 2nd Team all conference, the first time a Maverick has been awarded to (1st or) 2nd Team since 2017.

The Mavericks finished 2-14 in the Summit League in Lange’s last season, but had 6 conference losses by 6 points or less.  The Mavericks will lose just one senior, and the foundation for a great team is there.

Lange took on a job no one really wanted at the time.  She will find an assistant coaching job and hopefully grow into the potential in her we all saw as fans, and I have no doubt she will be a head coach again. She will leave the Omaha program with pieces for a bright future, for the right coach.

As far as a head coaching search goes, all I’m going to say is: Connie Yori currently lives in Omaha.

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