The Mavericks are finally back to the Baxter, but what about Drake?

Nearly 3 weeks into the season, the Mavericks are finally getting their first game this year in Baxter Arena.

Tuesday, Derrin Hansen said that the Mavericks had to create their own energy on the road, so it should be beneficial to his basketball team to finally receive some energy from a home crowd.  Not sure how much energy the Mavericks are needing or expecting, but it may be difficult to come by on a Wednesday night.

The Mavericks are coming back to Baxter Arena after losing 7 straight games on the road.  A road trip that saw one of their best scorers, Mitch Hahn, go down with a shoulder injury.  The team was still able to make hustle plays and keep a few games close, and feel as if they could be 3-4 right now if just a few things had gone their way.

Still, things did not go their way on their road trip, so the Mavericks are 0-7.  Seriously, with Hahn out, the Mavericks were playing stretches of the game against Jackson State with Alex Allbery or JT Gibson at the 4.

Fans bringing energy on a Wednesday night may be difficult to harness.  That guy who sits about 8 rows behind the team bench and talks shit to the referees the whole game will bring it, but it wont be the home opener energy we experienced in 2015 when Baxter Arena opened.

Whenever the Drake Bulldogs visit Omaha in anything, Drake fans do show up.  They may be the quietest fan base ever and sport a median age of 70, but they’ll show up enough for the Drake players to see the blue shirts in attendance.

The Bulldogs have shown that they love playing small ball with a bulk of their minutes going to their guards, so maybe a few minutes of JT Gibson at the 4 won’t be that big of a problem.

One of the reasons the Mavericks are 0-7 and not 3-4 right now is because of the number of mistakes in clutch moments.  The Mavericks had several opportunities to beat Jackson State, but turned the ball over multiple times late in the game to give the Tigers more chances to eventually give themselves an opportunity for a last second shot.

In the Mavericks’ defense, Daniel Meyer played with the type of energy against Jackson State that the Mavericks need from him every game.  Though, toward the end of the game, he had an offensive rebound and was fouled going back up to make the basket, but the referees called off the basket.  That bad call was a large difference maker, and ruined the Mavericks chances of winning in regulation.

This is also a depleted Mav team that has been playing without two players that were expected to be big time contributors in Mitch Hahn and Renard Suggs.  The Mavericks are still trying to figure out their rotations in competition, and not having those two in the lineup is making that even more difficult.  I’m sure the Mavericks will welcome them back when they’re healthy again, but they’ll have to hit the reset button on figuring all of that out.  The injuries to those two guys have given others the opportunities to step up.

KJ Robinson started the season off poorly, but has filled out his application to be the third member of the Big 3 for the Mavericks.  In the first three games, Robinson averaged 6 points, 2.3 assists, 5 turnovers, and shot 26% from the field.  In the last four games, he has averaged 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 turnovers, and shot 51% from the field.  Robinson even knocked down 7 three point field goals against Tennessee Tech.  He did a great job against Jackson State at finding the open man and had a nice pick-and-roll going with Daniel Meyer.

But what about Drake?

Niko Medved took over a Drake Bulldog team that is made up of mostly juniors and seniors.  They have a great deal of chemistry, which he makes a point of making stronger and stranger, and the Bulldogs average 11 turnovers a game as compared to the Mavericks who average 18 turnovers, so far.

Also, Medved was an assistant under Tim Miles at Colorado State.  He was previously head coach at Furman for 4 years where he coached the team to increase their win total each season he was there.  Hold on a second, I have to troll Nebrasketball fans for a moment.


MEDVED AND CRAIG SMITH WERE THE REAL BRAINS BEHIND THE OPERATION AT COLORADO STATE


Drake already beat Wake Forest, who had also lost to Georgia State and Liberty, but beating a big conference team can bring a large amount of confidence to a mid-major basketball team.

The Bulldogs average over 85 points a game, and are also 12th in the nation in three point field goal percentage.  The Mavericks will get to play the face paced offense they enjoy, but they’re going to have to cut down on the unguarded turnovers and defend the three.  Two things that the Mavericks have struggled with the last few years.

 

 

 

 

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Notes about my tears from the Mavericks home opener

So I had kind of a bummer of a day yesterday.  My laptop finally died on Thursday night and confirmed yesterday that it had passed.  It was an ASUS, and I somehow got 7 years out of that piece of crap.  I was hoping to stretch its life out until after Christmas, but I knew our relationship was ending soon, so I had been backing everything up pretty good for the last year or so.  I still lost a few things that I will never get back, but I will not lose the pride in making a cheap hunk of junk last twice as long as it should have.  If anyone wants to go to a field and break it to pieces with my wife’s softball bats and listen to some gangster rap, I’ve got a little spare time.  We can bring the cheapest 40 we can find too.  Why?  Because I think it’s actually a societal norm that if a cop catches you doing illegal stuff in the middle of a field that you need to have a 40.
But there was a basketball game last night.  It was frustrating, there was very little flow to it with all of the fouling.  Yeah, not a big fan of the fouling.  We saw some new faces and some old ones with new haircuts.  The crowd was big, which was great.  The student section was full!  It wasn’t very loud, but they did not have much to cheer for in the first half.  It was just a really odd first half.  Justin Simmons and CJ Carter were both on the sideline to cheer on the Mavs.  I think I may have saw Alex Phillips as well, but I was not 100% sure about it.
  • So my seats got temporarily moved over a section with something to do with hockey that I didn’t quite fully understand but I nodded my head because I am a weak adult, the new seats were not as great of an angle.  I made up for it by drinking a Shock Top Twisted Pretzel ale.  As far as I know, you can only get this beer at Omaha Mavericks and Omaha Stormchasers games.  I am one and done with drinks at sporting events.  I never get these people spending 80 bucks on 10 beers at a sporting event and going to the bathroom every 10 minutes.  You spent at least 100 bucks to pretend to be at a sporting event.  I’m pointing at you CenturyLink Citizens.
  • The pregame for my friend and I was at Ponzu.  Why is Ponzu so bad at wrapping their sushi?  It just falls apart.  We were able to make at least 20 Seinfeld references though.  You cant beat that.
  • As we were sitting there the marching band (or I assume the marching band) came by pounding on drums around Aksarben Village.  My friend and I discussed how it’s actually kind of weird to see school spirit around UNO.  That wasn’t there 5 years ago.
  • So Randy Reed?  High energy guy off the bench?  Damn it, I hope that continues!  He is going to play such a big role in the Summit League, everyone has a 6’5″ or 6’6″ guy they throw in at the 4.
  • I know that Santa Barbara was missing their top returning player, and Omaha was missing Marcus Tyus, but Tyus’ three point shooting was dramatically missed last night.  I still say the basket on the side of the visiting team’s bench is cursed.
  • The fouls got annoying, this is worse than two years ago, it completely took any flow out of the game.  This scares me for a team that needs a face pace and flow to win games.
  • Jake White fouled out, took some contact himself, but he was healthy and that is so awesome.  He had a hard fall to the ground and quickly got up, like it was his way of showing us all that he was alright.  I remember a game last year in  which he fell to the ground and my wife’s coach mind was saying “get up kid, get back on D, what is wrong with him?”  And I sat there like: Careful babe, he might literally break.
  • I feel like Devin Patterson is able to channel this inner Chris Paul thing from time to time, but last night was not that night.  He has taken bad games by him personally in the past and had great bounce back games in the past.  Can he save that for UMKC when he goes up against an All American?
  • Did anyone notice that Kyler Erickson has an entire Millard South section cheering for him?  I think it’s 215 or 216?  His one rebound in the game was fantastic.  It was another moment where I thought the Mavs were giving up another offense board, but then he came flying out of no where to start a break.  He was out on the floor for the last defensive play.  I want to point that out.
  • It was so hard for the Gauchos to find passing lanes with Devin Patterson and Tra-Deon Hollins on the court at the same time, like they seriously could not figure it out.  I’m coining that backcourt as: The Devil’s Gate…whether you like it or not.
  • Hollins is a bandit.  He steals everything.  Remember in Home Alone 2 when Marv is thinking of all the dumb nicknames for him and Harry?  I motion to nickname Hollins as The Sticky Bandit.  It’s also great that this team has two passers that can penetrate as well.  All the kick out threes from the two of them to Tyus and Gibson are hopefully coming.
  • I want to say this about Tre’Shawn Thurman.  He picked up that second foul in the first half, and you could tell he was just angry with himself.  He sat on that bench in absolute Hulk like anger.  He was never more ready for that second half to begin.  When the first half ended, he wasted no time getting up off that bench and running to the locker room.  The fouls did not scare him in the second half, he came out more aggressive on offense and showed off some new post moves.  You could feel his pain and anger at the end of the game as he walked off the court.  He is a leader.
  • Seeing Zach Jackson get the start was a shock for me, especially since Tyus was in warm ups.  Jackson did okay though, he didn’t pass up on his first shot and took it with confidence.  He was not scared.
  • JT Gibson also played with great confidence.  Those two threes in a row got the big crowd back into the game.  He made it a game.  Going to love watching Gibson and Jackson grow and develop.
  • Toward the end of the game, the team bench was dry.  It was a close game, and guess who got the rest of the team to get up and cheer on their teammates…Ben Kositzke.  I think I was sitting near the Ben Kositzke and Alex Allbery fan clubs too.
  • I saw Rylan Murry after the game.  He looked sad.  I wanted to yell “Skinny Love” again, but I had Pandora on Skinny Love at work all day on Thursday and I think I almost cried at the music selection.
  • Did I hear Jon Green say this right on the radio: If UNO Volleyball wins the regular season title, they get to host the Summit League tournament the following year?  Oh my.  I wish this worked to a degree in basketball.  But like, since we beat Marquette last season, they have to come to Omaha to play the following year.  Or if Wisconsin lost to Western Illinois last night, they will have to travel to the fine town of Macomb in 2016.  Why cant that be a thing?
  • IUPUI beat Indiana State.  Oral Roberts beat Missouri State.  North Dakota State beat UC Davis.  How tough is the Summit this year?
  • If the Mavericks are ever on ESPN or ESPN2, or whenever they make the NCAA tournament; I badly want to see Derrin Hansen slowly and dramatically take off his glasses like he is in the cheesiest TNT drama that has ever been produced.

2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 6: Eastern Michigan

The Rundown

The Eagles do not have a very experienced roster, and they only have two seniors who combine for returning 5 points per game.  They add two junior college transfer guards to their roster; Ty Toney who averaged 18 points per game; and Willie Magnum who averaged 20 points per game in his sophomore season.

The Eagles have size, but they are not incredibly talented in the post.  Seriously, how does a 6’8″ man shoot 27 % from the field?

The Mavericks will need this win.  Really, you need every win, but the Mavericks will meet the Eagles after a 3 game road trip and right before another three game road trip.  The next home game the Mavericks will play will be against Simpson College, so I am guessing most fans are pretending it is not a real game.  After Simpson, the Mavericks have another three games on the road before starting another three game road swing.  The Mavericks have two home games in the month of December, the Eagles and Simpson College…when they come back, Omaha will start the Summit League.

Prior to playing the Mavericks, the Eagles will take on Vermont, Oakland, Michigan State, and 3 non-division one teams.  They have 4 non-division one teams on their schedule, I get annoyed with the Mavericks having 2 non-division one teams on the schedule, I cannot imagine 4.


Eastern Michigan

2014-2015 Record: 21-14 (but they went 18-14 vs D-1 opponents)

2014-2015 Road Record: 4-10

Final RPI in 2014-2015: 148

2014-2015 Post Season:  Lost to Louisiana Monroe in CBI 71-67

Big win in 2014-2015:  @ Michigan 45-42

Random Stat:  Eastern Michigan ranked 280th in the nation in field goal percentage in 2014-2015


Key losses:

Karrington Ward, 6’7″ F

12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 44 FG%, 38 3ptFG%, 65 FT%

Mike Talley, 6’0″ G

10.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 35 FG%, 29 3ptFG%, 72 FT%

Anali Okoloji, 6’8″ F

5.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 39 FG%, 76 FT%


Key returners:

Raven Lee, 6’3″ G, Junior

That name is made up, right?  He was a 3rd Team All MAC as a sophomore showing he is a serious scoring threat averaging 16.7 ppg and shooting 44% from the field.  It is scary to think about who the Mavs will have guard him.  He made 70 three point field goals as a sophomore.  Lee is a guard that could really prepare the Mavericks for the Summit League.

Tim Bond, 6’7″ G/F, Soph

Bond is listed at 160 pounds.  That kind of stands out… He was 4th on the team in scoring with 6.1 ppg and in assists at 1.1 per game.  A 57% free throw shooter.

Jodan Price, 6’8″ F, Junior

Transferred to Eastern Michigan from DePaul after his freshman season.  At 6’8″ he likes to play on the outside with 75% of his shot attempts being from outside for three.  Averaged 4.3 points per game, but only shot 27% on the year.  He constantly has a look on his face that makes you feel like he is bored.  Actually if you look up any picture of any player on their team, they look like they just woke up from a nap.


The Rundown-Continued

I say I am afraid of Raven Lee because of the Mavericks’ poor perimeter defense last season, but I am gaining more hope as I read about the additions of Tra-Deon Hollins and Alex Allbery.  Both claim to be defensive specialists, but I do not imagine Allbery getting much playing time.  You can be comfortable with your walk on wanting to be a defensive specialist.  In most scenarios, your walk on is going to be your 5th option on the court, so it can be huge if he can make some defensive stops while he is on the court.

While, the Mavericks were one of the highest scoring teams in college basketball in 2014-2015, they unofficially averaged the 19th most points in division one…the Eagles are a sound defensive team.  The Eagles were 11th in the nation in steals per game, and ranked 51st in blocks per game.  How much can the Mavericks score on a defensive team like this?

Hey, the Mavericks are 3-0 against the MAC since joining division one, but all three of those wins are over Northern Illinois.  But, hey, the Eagles had the same conference record as Northern Illinois last season.

I am not going to sit here and say this game is a guarantee for the Mavericks, but if Hollins is as good as a defender as advertised, don’t you like Mavericks’ chances to pick up a win at home against the Eagles?  I know there was not a lot here, but how excited can one man get in writing about Eastern Michigan basketball?  Earl Boykins played at Eastern Michigan, he was pretty fun to watch.