A Senior Day Double-Header, oh my

Saturday, the Mavericks will have two separate senior days for men’s and women’s basketball.  Both games we get to say goodbye to some truly great players.  Whether it is on or off the court, these six seniors are going to go on to do tremendous things.

Kyler Erickson

Not going to get too much into Erickson as we went through this last season.

Before being sidelined with an injury, he was expected to see a loss in playing time due to the returns of JT Gibson and Marcus Tyus, and the addition of Daniel Norl.  The Mavericks really could have used Erickson’s energy in a few games where they seemed completely flat, as well as his scrappy defense.  Mavs also missed his ability to take changes and get up and turn that momentum into nuclear energy.

Tra-Deon Hollins

Possibly, the most all-around basketball player that the Mavericks have ever had.  His court awareness on defense and his ability to steal the ball in passing lanes, and on double teams changed the way offenses played against Omaha.  It only took Hollins a year and a half to break the school record for career steals.  He ranks in the top-10 in all time career assists and has the most career assists since the transition.

Hollins’ game against South Dakota State in Baxter Arena his junior year will go down as one of the greatest single game performances in Maverick history.  The Jackrabbits were the top team in the Summit League at the time, and Hollins scored 28 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished 8 assists, recorded 4 steals, and had a huge block in the final seconds to help secure a 96-92 Maverick win.

He led the NCAA in steals in his junior year, and is currently 3nd in the NCAA in steals per game his senior year.  His 93 steals on the season is tied for the most total on the year so far.  Hollins is also currently tied in 3rd in Division 1 in assists per game, and is tied in 4th in total assists.

Hollins has potential to play basketball in Europe or the NBDL, but it is unclear if either of those possibilities truly interest him.  Either way, Hollins is going to find himself in a fantastic situation and be very successful.

Marcus Tyus

One of the most efficient and explosive players the Mavericks have ever had.  When you first see Tyus, it is probably easy to think he is just a one dimensional player that hangs out behind the 3 point line and waits for guys to pass to him.  He is far more than that.  Tyus is great at finding space and blowing by his defender to get to the basket for points in the paint, and he has a deadly mid-range game as well.

All the time in athletics, we see players get injured and end up seeing the unexpected teammate come in and fill the shoes to be a catalyst for the team’s confidence in that time of need.  Tyus’ coming out party, may have been in his sophomore season when senior Justin Simmons sat down with an injury just one minute into the game against South Carolina State.  Tyus was only averaging 7 points per game on the season at that point, but he came in when the Mavericks needed him most and scored 24 points off the bench on 8-of-13 shooting.

There is no doubt that the Mavericks missed Tyus in 2015-2016.  Without his shooting, the Mavericks were one of the worst three point shooting teams in the Summit League last year, but are 1st in three point field goal percentage in conference play in 2016-2017.  The Mavericks struggled to score the ball at times with him on the bench as a senior.  There was no player more important to their offense in 2016-2017…maybe his back court senior teammate Hollins.  They probably tie actually.

Over time, Tyus has improved as a defender, and part of that came with having a bigger players on the court so he wasn’t always forced to defend guys that were 4+ inches taller than him.

He’s proven to be one of the best scoring guards in the history of the Mavericks.  With at least 2 games to go in his senior season, Tyus is 2 three point field goals away from tying the 5th most threes in a season by a Maverick, this is the most threes made by a Maverick in a season since transition.  He’s also 38 points away from being in the top 10 all time for Mavericks in scoring.


Michaela Dapprich

Your first thoughts when you heard Michaela Dapprich was transferring to UNO from Wichita State were most likely positive.  Probably the same excitement you get every time Christopher Nolan released a trailer for a new Batman film.

A Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention Player wants to come play basketball at UNO?  Sweet.

It was like over night there was hope that Mikaela Shaw and Remy Davenport would have a consistent third threat on offense.  In 2013-2014, the Mavericks had Paige Frauendorfer, Jamie Nash, and Carolyn Blair-Mobley as a dangerous Big 3.  Now, Maverick fans had a feeling that we could have that same type of threat in 2016-2017.

It seemed to take Dapprich a bit to find her stride with the Mavericks.  She struggled as the Mavericks struggled with their difficult non-conference schedule, but came around to find consistency on offense when the team got to conference play, in a competitive year for the Summit League.

In conference play, Dapprich is currently 6th in points per game, 5th in 3 point field goals made and 3 point field goal percentage, and 5th in overall field goal percentage.

You would never expect her teammate Mikaela Shaw to take a possession off, but you could feel comfortable as a Maverick fan that if Shaw was struggling, that Dapprich could take over.  Dapprich is also not afraid of the big shot and looks to score in clutch moments when the Mavericks need the ball the most.

The only thing you regret about Michaela Dapprich joining the Mavericks is that it makes you really wish we had more time with her.

Abi Lujan

Lujan is one of those special players that does not need stats to make a difference in a basketball game.  Her will and hustle is enough to swing possessions in the Mavericks favor.  When the Mavericks needed a spark off the bench in her senior season, Lujan was not shy to provide such a spark.  She was one of the best Mavericks in her junior and senior years with the team at boxing out and taking away rebounds when needed.

Mikaela Shaw

Plain and simple, the Mavericks will never have a player like Shaw ever again.  As a true all around talent, she will leave a legacy at UNO as arguably the greatest women’s basketball the university has ever seen.

Shaw came to Omaha during a difficult time for the Mavericks.  They were already in transition and moving through a coaching change in her freshman season with an entirely new roster.  She has seen a revolving door of teammates on her rosters and she remained with the program.

Her freshman season was filled with moments that had you thinking she was going to be an all time great.

A rare talent on offense, Shaw has probably spent some time at every single position for the Mavericks.  She’s one of the best players you’ve probably ever seen at picking her spots and playing with or without the ball.  Watching her on offense is similar to watching Batman in The Dark Knight secretly tying up all of the SWAT team members so he can push them over the ledge to go get a one-on-one with the Joker.  She systematically runs through every member of the defense to find her spots for open shots.

Shaw will leave UNO as the greatest.


A nerdy thing I like to do is keep track of the career and class rankings for the era after transitioning.  Though a young history, here are where these seniors rank respectively.

Points

2nd Marcus Tyus                1272

7th Tra-Deon Hollins       753

20th Kyler Erickson           198

Rebounds

7th Marcus Tyus                  313

9th Tra-Deon Hollins        283

20th Kyler Erickson              97

Assists

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         385

6th Marcus Tyus                  158

14th Kyler Erickson              43

Steals

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         220

4th Marcus Tyus                  117

18th Kyler Erickson             24

Blocks

9th Tra-Deon Hollins          20

15th Marcus Tyus                   12

21st Kyler Erickson                 5

3 Point Field Goals

1st Marcus Tyus                     161

8th Tra-Deon Hollins            54

15th Kyler Erickson                27

 


Points

1st Mikaela Shaw                   1731

7th Michaela Dapprich          376

22nd Abi Lujan                         182

Rebounds

1st Mikaela Shaw                    880

4th Abi Lujan                           290

17th Michaela Dapprich        119

Assists

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   303

10th Abi Lujan                            59

13th Michaela Dapprich          49

Steals

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   136

9th Abi Lujan                              42

12th Michaela Dapprich          37

Blocks

4th Mikaela Shaw                      49

9th Abi Lujan                               14

12th Michaela Dapprich           11

3 Point Field Goals

7th Michaela Dapprich             49

9th Mikaela Shaw                       42

17th Abi Lujan                              19

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 22-25

A little better last week, but damn it this league is hard.

February 22

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Bison really had no answer for Albert Owens in Fargo as he went off for 28 points and 9 rebounds for the losing Golden Eagles.  The Bison have lost their last 2 road games, and this will be Oral Roberts’ Mega Bowl as they are only playing for a good show and to send their seniors out the right way on their last game.

Omaha @ Denver

Denver shot 64 percent the last time these two teams played, and still lost.  The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Denver last season, but with 29 points from Jake White as the rest of the team struggled a bit.

Okay, I might be trying to reverse jinx the Mavericks here.

It costs $9.95 to view this game on the Pioneers’ website.  I really don’t want to give them my money, but I might.

February 23

Fort Wayne @ IUPUI on ESPN3

Fort Wayne defeated the Jaguars by 30 a month ago.  IUPUI had 20 turnovers in that game, and it’s probably a bad idea to give the fast paced team like Fort Wayne the ball 20 times at home.

The Jaguars will not turn the ball over that much at home, but their offense is not good enough, even against a sub par defense like Fort Wayne’s, to put up enough points to make up the difference against the Mastodons.  I say that, and remember at one time Western Illinois once outscored Fort Wayne.

South Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Western Illinois’ defense is capable of frustrating South Dakota, but South Dakota’s defense is also capable of frustrating the non-existent offense of Western Illinois.

South Dakota was without Tyler Flack and were able to beat Western Illinois in Vermillion.  The Leathernecks’ post players are not very well built to stop a player like Flack.

February 25

Denver @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

After a 51 point and 15 rebound performance against a fast paced offensive Fort Wayne, Mike Daum gets a week of rest to play a fast paced offensive Denver.

Maybe this is Mike Daum’s last game in Brookings?  Maybe not.  Either way, good luck Denver.

South Dakota @ IUPUI on ESPN3

The Jaguars are completely unpredictable, who knows what they’ll do.  They lost in Vermillion when the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack.  The Jaguars will need to knock down threes against the South Dakota defense, but the match up of the day could come down to Tyler Flack versus Matt O’Leary.

North Dakota State @ Omaha

The Mavericks have shown that they are a tough team to beat when they come out with a high energy level, and they should definitely be playing with some energy on senior night for Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins…and Kyler Erickson.

Are the Mavericks going to get a medical hardship for Erickson and make him a 7 year senior next season?

The game between these two last season in Omaha was one of the better games Maverick fans have seen at Baxter Arena or Ralston Arena.  The energy for both teams was high.  The Bison had to figure out how to play without AJ Jacobson, who was in foul trouble.  Jake White had to sit a little bit with some foul trouble, but came back into the game and made huge shot after huge shot.  The Bison were also without Paul Miller in that game, and he is capable of hitting big shots against the Mavericks defense.  Hollins, Tyus, Zach Jackson, and Daniel Norl will need to play big defensive minutes and slow him down.

The Bison are also not the greatest team on the road.  They have lost their last 3 of 4 on the road with the one win at Western Illinois.

Fort Wayne @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Okay, so my take on their previous match up couldn’t have been more wrong as I just wrote:

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Western Illinois somehow won that game.

Western Illinois was in a zone in that stretch of the season where they were hitting threes with consistency and putting up points.  Other than a 91 point performance in a double overtime game last week, the Leathernecks have struggled to score over the last month and a half.

Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak could go off against the poor defense of Fort Wayne.  That could be enough to top the Mastodons, maybe.

This could potentially be Billy Wright’s last game with Western Illinois.  Maybe the Leathernecks will want to see what he can do next season with a core of Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, and CJ Duff.  I don’t really know though, Western Illinois appears to care the least about athletics in the league.  He’s only been at Western Illinois for 3 seasons, but the Leathernecks have still yet to earn 20 wins over D1 teams.

The most trivial Summit League rankings: Feb 21

There is no way to even pretend ranking the Summit League one to nine would even be accurate at this point.  So this week, we’re going to rank them by tiers.

Tier 1: The all around and consistent

North Dakota State & South Dakota

North Dakota State

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday @ Oral Roberts, Saturday @ Omaha

South Dakota

Remaining Schedule: Thursday @ Western Illinois, Saturday @ IUPUI

Let’s just put this out there right now:  Neither of these teams are a lock to win both of their remaining games, but they are both guaranteed the top two spots in the Summit League tournament.  The two top seeds have a day off in the bracket, assuming they win their first game.

South Dakota is playing two of the possible teams to end up as the 7th or 8th seed, so that’s nice.

Tier 2: The fun, but also frustrating to watch

Denver, Fort Wayne, Omaha, South Dakota State

Going into the final week of the regular season, all four teams could finish as high as 3rd in the Summit League or as low as 7th.  Such a weird year.  Amazingly, all four teams have fast paced offenses and struggle to find consistency on defense.  These are most likely to be the 3 to 6 seeds in the Summit League tournament, and really all of their match ups will just come down to dumb fouls being called and watch coach doesn’t lose their mind in the middle of a first round tournament game.

Might be helpful if either of them can come up with some defensive stops in the tournament.  That would be like asking Hugh Grant to actually be interesting in a movie.

I assume neither Denver, Fort Wayne, or Omaha want to play South Dakota State in Sioux Falls for the first round, and then possibly play South Dakota in the second round.

Denver

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday vs. Omaha, Saturday @ South Dakota State

Fort Wayne

Remaining Schedule: Thursday @ IUPUI, Saturday @ Western Illinois

Omaha

Remaining Schedule:  Wednesday @ Denver, Saturday vs. North Dakota State

South Dakota State

Remaining Schedule: Saturday vs. Denver

Tier 3: The IUPUI

IUPUI

The one thing keeping IUPUI out of Tier 2 is that they have so much inconsistency, you really have no idea what you’re getting when you see them play.  They pick up wins against North Dakota State and Omaha one week, and then the next week drop games to Oral Roberts and South Dakota State.  Still, they can finish as high as 3rd in the conference and as low as 8th.

Remaining Schedule: Thursday vs. Fort Wayne, Saturday vs. South Dakota

Tier 4: The Ouch

Oral Roberts and Western Illinois

Oral Roberts

Remaining Schedule: Wednesday vs. North Dakota State

I actually do not think a win Wednesday night will matter for the Golden Eagles.  Even if they beat North Dakota State, Western Illinois swept Oral Roberts.

Albert Owens had a decent year.

Western Illinois

Remaining Schedule:  Thursday vs. South Dakota, Saturday vs. Fort Wayne

Good for the Leathernecks having their final two games at home, but the team that struggles to score is going to have to figure out a way to outscore two of the better offenses in the league in three days.

Tyus versus Bradley: A match up we never expected

Thursday night will mark, probably, the last time that Marcus Tyus and Jalen Bradley face off against each other, a match up Maverick fans never expected to see.

Seeing Marcus Bradley and Jalen Bradley in Omaha gear for the first time gave me a mix of emotions.

The first time I saw Tyus in person, he was coming off the bench to play a Western Illinois squad in the Ralston Arena.  He came into the game, and it appeared as if someone replaced the muscle in his arms with paper mache.  He didn’t scored any points and had only had 1 rebound, and I just found myself wondering why the hell the Mavericks were not redshirting this kid for his own benefit, and for the benefit of the program having him another year when they officially had a chance at making the post season.  The Mavs decision to not redshirt Tyus was apparently made the day before the 2012-2013 season started.

I questioned what this skinny guy from Minnesota could do.  I remember searching the ends of the internet to find any information I could on this freshman, and there was nothing.  This was a time, where it was easy to question why a kid would want to come play basketball at a school transitioning to division one.  There was nothing out there, almost as if he never existed.

That same season, we saw another freshman of that recruiting class, Jalen Bradley, sitting at the end of the bench who was redshirting.  As a fellow Nebraskan, it was easy to know where to go to get the details on Bradley.  It was known that he was a great shooter, and probably needed to work on his defense and point guard skills.  The fans that showed up to games in 2012-2013 could watch Bradley come out before the beginning of warm ups, and watch him drain half court shots as easy as free throws.

Omaha was the only school to give Bradley a division one offer at the time, and I’m not sure how much stock you want to put in Omaha’s division one status at the time.  As far as I can tell, Omaha was also the only division one offer for Marcus Tyus.

The question I had back then was: why are the Mavericks redshirting this one kid who appears to have the exact same positives and negatives of this other kid?

This may sound as if I was resentful toward Tyus over Bradley as a freshman.  I was not.  Both players were part of maybe UNO’s best recruiting class, but perhaps the 2015 recruiting class will prove to be a bigger asset to the program.  With the Mavericks coming closer to post season eligibility with each passing season, it was understandable that the recruiting would improve year-after-year.

With the recruiting continuing to improve, I never imagined either Tyus or Bradley to become starters for the Mavericks.  I was always under the impression that they would have been the high energy and highly efficient guys first off the bench when the transition period was over.

The first impression of Tyus wasn’t great, but after time you could see there was a spark to his game.  At first, he may have seemed as just a shooter.  There was an efficiency to his game, something that many Mavericks at the division one level had not had.

He handles the ball with ease, and moves around screens into open shots or open lanes to get wherever he wants on the basketball court.  Tyus even rarely makes a pass that has you wondering what he could have possibly been thinking in that scenario, unlike many other stars that have come through the Maverick program.

In Tyus’ sophomore season, he saw a slight increase of minutes in the line up due to injuries to senior Justin Simmons.  At the time, it became maybe questionable as to why Tyus was getting the start over senior Alex Phillips.  Tyus’ efficiency on the offensive end could have been the deciding factor as to why he got the starting job.

From his freshman to his sophomore season, Tyus’ points per game average increased by 3.4 points per game, and his minutes only increased by 1.5 minutes per game.

While Tyus was seeing success, Jalen Bradley was struggling to see the court as a Maverick. Bradley only played 9 minutes per game as a freshman, which were mostly garbage time minutes, and his lone season as a Maverick was cut short due to an injury.  Still, when Bradley saw the court, he was never timid to score.  He averaged nearly 5 points per game in his limited time, shot 50 percent from the field, and 40 percent on threes.

With the addition of Devin Patterson, I’m sure Bradley felt he may never see the court with the Mavericks, and that maybe there was no role for him in Omaha.

Bradley’s transfer for more playing time was understandable, but when Tyus went down with an injury toward the end of 2014-2015, Bradley’s presence on the basketball court would have been much appreciated.

With the loss of Tyus, and having no Bradley, the Mavericks were left without an efficient guard who could knock down threes with ease.  Can you imagine Omaha with Jalen Bradley on the court in 2015-2016 without Marcus Tyus?  The Mavericks would have had a knock down shooter.  He would of had the bigger role he was seeking.

Even without an injury to Tyus, Bradley would’ve eventually found a role with the Mavericks by his junior season.  Both the Omaha and Oral Roberts coaching staffs have given him a high amount of praise for how hard of a worker he is in the gym and in the weight room.  He may have had even the same role at Omaha as he currently does at Oral Roberts, but obviously the cast of Omaha could be different at this point had he stayed.

But Bradley did leave, he averaged over 17 points per game in junior college, and picked up interest that led him to being a Golden Eagle, so we’ll never know what could have been.

I am not sure if there are any ill feelings from Bradley toward Tyus for being part of the reason he didn’t get a lot of playing time in Omaha, but in their first meeting as opponents, Bradley helped the Golden Eagles cruise to a victory and had 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and only had 1 turnover while Tyus dealt with foul problems and only had 10 points.

According to the commentators, Bradley had his parents in attendance in Tulsa…and also according to them, you always play better in front of your family.  Bradley will surely have his Nebraskan family seeing him in Omaha Thursday night, and they will definitely show up to see the senior play in Vermillion, where his sister also plays basketball.

Back in 2012, we never envisioned a day that we would see Bradley and Tyus going up against each other.  As Mav fans, this might be awkward for us.  Rooting on Tyus to defend Bradley well, but still kind of okay with Bradley having a good game.

 

 

 

Summit League Predictions: Frantic February 14-19

Low amount of motivation and confidence in myself after going 2-6 last week, my worst week since starting this stupid thing.

Every game is going to be important from here on out in Frantic February.

February 14th

Denver (7-5) @ Western Illinois

Happy Valentine’s Day, Denver!  Get set a fine getaway in Macomb, Illinois!

I imagine being a college kid on the road on Valentine’s Day has to be rough.  Or not, actually, no, you probably don’t care.

Anyway, Western Illinois’ offense can barely get into the 60s, and they’re going to have to up that offense to match with Denver.

February 15th

North Dakota State (9-3) @ Fort Wayne (6-6)

So their match up in Fargo was a very fun game, and there were some weird moments, especially with a fire alarm in the arena going off.  The Bison won that game by 2, and these teams split the season series last year with the home team winning each game.

North Dakota State had a great week last week with a 17 point win over South Dakota State and an 18 point win over Denver, the more efficient version of Fort Wayne.  So you could be getting a rolling offense up against a struggling defense.

Fort Wayne is going to need to defend AJ Jacobson, Paul Miller, and keep Dexter Werner out of the paint.

This game could come down to who has less fouls and can actually keep their players out on the court, but North Dakota State might have the edge.

IUPUI (5-7) @ South Dakota State (5-8)

The outcome of this game, either way, helps and hurts the Mavericks.

How did IUPUI beat North Dakota State and Omaha, and then lose to Oral Roberts?

I’m just done with IUPUI.  Done!

February 16th

Oral Roberts (4-9) @ Omaha (6-7)

Essentially, this game could end up ruining the loser.  If Oral Roberts loses, they almost have no chance at making the Summit League tournament.  If Omaha loses, they’re going to have to play at Denver and then face North Dakota State at home.

Omaha’s loss in Oral Roberts stings them, the same way their loss at Western Illinois did last season.  They lost in Tulsa by 17, but were thrown off drastically in the first half with foul trouble to Marcus Tyus, and then when trying to make a comeback, Tre’Shawn Thurman picked up a technical foul at the worst possible time to give Oral Roberts the momentum to finish out the game.

Both teams are going to come out with some fire, but Omaha should hopefully have some more.

February 18th

Oral Roberts (4-9) @ South Dakota (9-4) on ESPN3

The Golden Eagles were able to beat South Dakota in Tulsa, but the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack and the Coyotes had no answer for AJ Owens.

Flack, while not the biggest post player in the league, is actually a quality defender that can keep other post players out of the post.

Western Illinois (5-7) @ North Dakota State on ESPN3

The Bison beat Western Illinois by 32 in Macomb.  Okay, that’s all.

South Dakota State (5-8) @ Fort Wayne (6-6) 

The Jackrabbits needed 42 points and 10 rebounds from Mike Daum to beat Fort Wayne in Brookings.  Daum will more than likely go off again considering how bad Fort Wayne’s defense is, and the fact that Brent Calhoun and Xzavier Taylor are not forwards designed to defend the Daum.

Fort Wayne went 7-of-21 on threes in Brookings, and they are a better three point shooting team at home.  They can hit the threes at home and put a deep scare of Jackrabbit fans of making the Summit League tournament.

February 19th

IUPUI (5-7) @ Denver (7-5)

Basketball on a Sunday!

The Jaguars have two tough offenses to defend on the road this week.

The only Summit League team to beat the Pioneers in Denver is South Dakota.

My trivial Summit League rankings: Feb 14th

We’re getting closer to the end of the season, and we still have no idea what the Summit League bracket will look like.  Might as well just do something like this, I guess.

1. South Dakota

Somehow, the team of mostly newcomers is the best defensive team and the most efficient offensive team in the Summit League.  Their roster also only has one senior on the team.

The Coyotes are also more dimensional than they appear.  Unlike most the other teams in the conference, they can survive stretches without their stars on the court.  Bench players are starting to come around and find their roles, and the entire team is filled with confidence at the right time of the season.

This team reminds me of old NBA and NCAA video games, actually NBA games may still have this, I wouldn’t know because I don’t play a lot of video games… but, where you can just hit a button and put in your best defensive 5, your three point shooting 5, you big lineup, your small lineup, and whatever.

I think it was generally agreed upon that the most difficult stretch of the conference season for the Coyotes was going to be their three game home stretch at Omaha, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne and they would really prove themselves if they could get through that tough stretch.  They went 2-1 on that stretch.  We were taking the Coyotes seriously before, now it’s time to take them even more seriously.

2. North Dakota State

Right there with the Coyotes, just not quite as consistent as South Dakota, but still more consistent than the rest of the Summit League.

3. Fort Wayne

Top 3 team in the Summit League in offensive efficiency, bottom 3 in defense.

If the ‘Dons are in the first round against Denver or Omaha, they probably have the greatest chance to make it to the 2nd round.  Getting to the Summit League championship game though, seems like a challenge…but it’s going to be a challenge for everyone.

4. Denver

You take the young players of an efficient system from the old Pioneers and combine it with the fast run-and-gun type of offense like Fort Wayne, and it turns out to be pretty solid.

Like South Dakota, their roster only has one senior.  Denver’s lone senior has played 5 minutes this entire season.

I think I figured out the two teams that will be at the top of the 2017-2018 preseason rankings.

5. Omaha

I have never left or turned off a UNO basketball game before the end of regulation.  I came close and debated it when the Mavs played IUPUI in the Baxter Arena.

The Jaguars embarrassed the Mavericks, and IUPUI wasn’t doing anything special except for not being completely dysfunctional as they have been for a majority of the season.

The mindset of this team is questionable right now.  They have confidence with the base that you need to win the conference tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, so it’s not like it’s a big deal if they don’t win all the conference games.  It’s going to be difficult to win three games in three days if your team is averaging 15 turnovers, and 12 of those turnovers are completely unforced.

6. IUPUI

It’s February and transfers Ron Patterson and Kellon Thomas seem to be finally gelling in a back court with Darell Combs

Without a doubt, the Jaguars appear to be the biggest I Wonder Which Team of Theirs Will Actually Show Up Tonight team.

7. South Dakota State

Through injuries, lack of talent, and a transfer, the Jackrabbits have a serious depth problem.  A struggling Reed Tellinghuisen was finally able to break out of a slump on Saturday with 28 points on 8-of-13 threes but while playing 38 minutes against a tough South Dakota defense, Tellinghuisen became noticeably tired and couldn’t hit clutch shots.

If Tellinghuisen can be consistently good, and Ian Theisen and AJ Hess can come back healthy and ready to go, the Jackrabbits can be a tough out in Sioux Falls…but could that be asking for a lot?

8. Western Illinois

Out of all the teams that should make the Summit League tournament, you would be the absolute most shocked if it was Western Illinois who got on a hot streak and won the tournament, right?  I think we all understand that it’s not impossible, but in the last 6 games the Leathernecks have not even reached 70 points in a game.  They’re going to need some offense to surprise anyone in the Summit League tournament, especially North Dakota State or South Dakota.

9. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles are not out of it yet, but they are currently sitting in 9th and their remaining games are: @ Omaha, @ South Dakota, and versus North Dakota State.

IUPUI’s remaining schedule: @ South Dakota State, @ Denver, vs. Fort Wayne, vs. South Dakota

South Dakota State’s remaining schedule: vs. IUPUI, @ Fort Wayne, vs. Denver

Western Illinois’ remaining schedule: @ North Dakota State, vs. South Dakota, vs. Fort Wayne.

After putting that out there, I actually don’t feel great for IUPUI.  Don’t feel great for anyone, actually.  Not even super confident about Omaha.

Released text messages between my Montana friend and I over softball and UNO stuff

I have a friend.  He is from Montana.  He played football at Montana.  He is the only person who engages in conversation with me about mid-major athletics.  These are a few of our text messages.


Me:  Hey, Omaha and Montana are playing in something finally, so we can yell at each other.  Finally!

No broadcast from what I can tell, so we just banter back and forth about a game cast.  The game cast is in Iowa…so 25% chance it will not work.

Montana Friend:  It’s just softball.  Who cares?

Me:  It’s UNO, and I weirdly like to support my Alma-mater, so I care.  Unlike you, you jerk.

Montana Friend:  Montana just started their softball program a few years ago.  So UNO will get an easy win.

Me:  They play twice this season, by the way.

After suffering through a transition of a sports team I follow, I think it can be shown that it’s easier to start a D1 program from scratch as opposed to moving it on from D2.  Our men’s soccer team is pretty bad ass, and soccer started with transition.  Duke just started softball, they can probably be scary good in a few years.

Weber State just started their softball program from scratch in 2010-ish and they won the conference and made the NCAA tournament last year.  How hard is it to win the Big Sky?

Montana Friend:  Probably as hard as winning the Summit League.

Me:  Fair.  NDSU is really good though.

Montana Friend:  I hate NDSU.

Me:  Fair.

Montana Friend:  Is UNO softball any good?

Me:  See, you do care!

Pretty good.  Cant get past NDSU though.  NDSU had co-head coaches last year, and one of them left for Iowa State.  UNO hired a new coach, so we’ll see.

Great hitting.  Decent defense.  Pitching was hit or miss last year.  

Poor pun.

Probably the most successful non-hockey UNO program in D1 life.

Montana Friend:  New coach good?

Me:  Her interviews have been pretty great so far.  First D1 job, but did great at (I think) it was the NAIA level.  The AD (a dreamy man) has done a pretty solid job at hiring coaches.  

She pitched at Oklahoma, and was pretty great there.  She pitched against (our mutual friend) while there.  Omaha’s pitching kind of lacked depth last year, so hopefully she can fix that.  Omaha can hit the crap out of the ball.  Omaha knows offense.

Never know how things will go with a 1st year coach though.  We’ll see.  I don’t think they’ll drop or be horrible or anything, but still wonder if they can get past Bison.

I’m feelin good about it.  Have to wait and see.  Unfortunately, since it is softball in Nebraska, I pretty much have to wait until late March to actually see.

Montana Friend:  Why not travel to Iowa and see?

Me:  I’ll pretend I didn’t see that.

Montana Friend:  It cannot be that far away, right?

Me:  I go to Iowa for gambling, wine, and lakes.  That’s all.

 

Montana Friend: What’s up with UNO basketball?

Me: Turnovers, rebounding, and mental mistakes 😦

Summit League is very balanced and tough this season though.

Montana Friend:  And they’re adding North Dakota?

Me:  It makes sense for geography.  Can add travel partners, possibly open up the conference tournament to a 10 team bracket.  Adds another baseball school.  So, not bad really.  But obviously…F North Dakota