If you’ve been paying attention, and based on the attendance numbers, you haven’t been, you’d see that the Omaha Mavericks and Denver Pioneers will be in a fight for the 8th and final spot in the Summit League tournament.
It’s been incredibly difficult to pay attention to sports over the last year. Without fans every sporting event has looked like watching a practice.
I’d say with confidence that my level of knowledge and interest of the Summit League is probably in the top 1% of people, but with all the games being played on Fridays and Saturdays and roughly at the same time, it’s been difficult to keep track of everything going on in the league. It has not helped that the Mavericks men’s basketball team has had a season from hell. The team started the season with perhaps the most depth in the Summit League, but injuries have plagued this team all season to lead to just a 3 win season, entering the last week of the season. Only 3 Mavericks have played in every game this season.
It’s obviously been a bad season for the Mavericks. I mean, any season you have less wins than Nebraska is going to be a bad year. Injuries have limited…well, just about everyone. The injuries have given opportunities for more minutes…well, everyone else. Sorry to get so technical with all the jargon there.
Ross Ferrarini (I think I spelled that right? Hell, let’s just call him McLovin), Jadin Booth, and La’Mel Robinson have each received more playing time than any of them expected this season, McLovin expected none before the NCAA declared eligibility to be a free for all program, and that experience will help them with confidence and other ways as their careers continue. Again, sorry for all the jargon. With Sam’i Roe, Zach Thornhill, Marlon Ruffin (hopefully all) healthy next season, their minutes should go down next season, but hopefully be more important minutes.
Freshmen Booth and Robinson already appear to have a good chemistry on the court together. They should be a deadly backcourt in the conference in a couple seasons.
Anyway, the Mavericks have got a final chance to get themselves into the Summit League tournament with a weekend showdown with Denver. Unfortunately, the Mavericks are on the road for this. Jace Townsend dropped 32 points against the Mavericks last season in Denver, before eventually going scoreless in Omaha. The Pioneers are not as an experienced basketball team as the Mavericks, and it will really be up to seniors Matt Pile and Ayo Akinwole to carry this team this weekend. This is their last chance, and everything is riding on them as their other fellow expected stars will not be playing with them. Fortunately for the Mavericks, the Pioneers do not really have a big man who can shoot and stretch the floor, which is something the Mavericks have struggled against all season…they struggled with a lot of things, but stretch 4s just killed them all year.
It’s also possible the Pioneers players dislike Rodney Billups and don’t want to play for him anymore, so maybe the Mavericks players will just want this more.