I know there are several questions surrounding college basketball. The most important question might be: will it even happen? I was looking at the Mavericks basketball roster and I ended up asking myself a couple questions I’ve never really asked since UNO has transitioned to division 1. Does UNO have too many players on the roster?
I hope you’re excited about this season happening if it does. Mostly because the year has been an unending nightmare. Hasn’t been that bad for me, actually. I paid off my student loans. But then a week later someone ran a red light and totaled my car. I’m fine and healthy and I got a pretty large pay out for my car. I’m currently deciding between two cars. One is the obvious answer as to which of the two is better, but the other one is black and slapping an Omaha O on it would look real nice.
The Mavericks roster stands at 16 players. The only other seasons the Mavericks had 16 players on the roster since transitioning to division 1 were 2015-2016 when the Mavericks finished 18-14 on the year and lost in the first round of the Summit League tournament, and in 2017-2018 which is a season I pretend didn’t happen. UNO also had no scholarship players transfer, quit, or leave the team over the Summer and I’m not sure that has ever happened. The only player to leave the team was Hayden Miller, who had my vote for the best hair on the team.
With the addition of junior college transfer Sam’i Roe, the Mavericks are going to have a 7 man rotation of all upper classmen*. This is typically a good formula for success at a mid-major program. That’s what South Dakota’s Todd Lee said at the Summit League Media Day last season, and I guess they were okay enough to finish third in the Summit League and lose in the first round of the tournament. South Dakota State was also the least experienced team in the Summit League and they won a share of the regular season title, so there are other factors and it’s not exact science, but you get it**.
*It is still a little unclear if Marco Smith will be a sophomore or a junior.
**I started filtering through the Summit League to see who would be the most experienced team in their 7 to 8 man rotations this upcoming season and then got bored frustrated with Kansas City and stopped. The Mavericks are at least more experienced than Denver.
Looking ahead if this season actually happens, there will be some different questions surrounding the roster about playing time and redshirts.
In addition to working Smith and Roe into the lineup to replace KJ Robinson and JT Gibson, Derrin Hansen and his staff will have to figure out how to mix and rotate in their new young guards La’Mel Robinson and Jadin Booth. Robinson redshirted last season, but there are rumblings that he is good enough to start for the Mavericks this season at point guard.
So question: What do you do with Jadin Booth?
Do you redshirt Booth and allow him to work on his game in the gym and in practice, or do you play him and potentially play stretches with a freshman backcourt and let the two develop their on court chemistry? Keep in mind, Booth is going to have to compete in minutes with senior Ayo Akinwole, Robinson, Roe, Smith, and maybe even walk on redshirt freshman Grant Frickenstein (he’ll be leading nominee for the team’s best hair). That’s a lot of guards to rotate 40 minutes around.
I think Booth is going to be a great player and has the quickness, shooting, and potential to be just as good as someone like Marcus Tyus, but I personally think the right thing for him this year would be to redshirt him and give him time to get stronger.
Which brings us to another question about redshirts. In addition to bringing back front court players Matt Pile, Wanjang Tut, Darrius Hughes, and Nathan Brusseau the Mavericks are adding junior college transfer Devin Evans and Missouri-native freshman Dylan Brougham. Sophomore Kyle Luedtke can also play some minutes at the 4, if necessary.
Brougham is likely to redshirt for the 2020-2021 season, but would you throw a redshirt on sophomore Nathan Brusseau as well? Brusseau played 11 games off the bench as a freshman before suffering an injury. Brusseau didn’t appear to be playing with a load of confidence, but he has some energy and fight in him. The Mavericks have routinely played with a 3 man rotation for their front court under Hansen with a fourth guy usually used in garbage time and foul trouble situations, and that was Brusseau’s role last season.
With the addition of Evans in the front court, this allows the Mavericks some leverage with potentially redshirting Brusseau this upcoming season, which could help him put on more muscle and give him more time to come back from his injury last season.
Last question: How freaking excited are you for this basketball season? Actually, allow me to rephrase. How Frickenstein are you excited for this basketball season? I’m sorry I haven’t gotten out much lately. Something in the world happened and I’m still adjusting.
This team is deep, experienced, and can play with a lot of hustle and energy. We can just assume Matt Pile, Wanjang Tut, and Zach Thornhill will be back in the starting lineup, while the backcourt is still in up in the air, you should feel confident with just about any decision the Maverick staff makes with the starting lineup. If Hansen ends up starting Robinson at the point guard, the team could have Akinwole and Marlon Ruffin first up off the bench with a hopefully more developed Darrius Hughes off the bench as well.
The Mavericks have loved their versatility over the last few years, and this might be the most versatile basketball team they’ve ever had. They could potentially have 40 minutes of just non-stop movement and offense.