2015-2016 Opponent Preview, Game 1: UC Santa Barbara

So there are 13 weeks until the Mavs basketball season starts, so what is a better time to start previewing their 2015 fourteen non-conference opponents?  Probably last week actually if I wanted to take it one team at a time.  Crap.  Oh well.  Here we go.

The Mavs will open their season at the brand new Baxter Arena in Mavtown with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.   Don’t you love it how nicknames of California teams (pro and college) make no sense?  This will be after Mav hockey will already be 10 games into the season, but there will not be any hockey this weekend, so really it is a great weekend to open up the season for the Baxter Arena for basketball.  UNO Men’s soccer should be in Denver this weekend for the Summit League tournament and championship, and hopefully the women’s soccer team will have made some noise at this point and maybe have already made the Summit League tournament.  This will also be the final weekend of the regular season for the volleyball team.

I know some Mav fans were expecting a bit time opponent to open up the arena.  Some were thinking the likes of Nebraska or Creighton, but the Gauchos are not a small opponent by any means.  In fact, they actually finished the 2015-2016 season with an RPI of 98.  If case you forgot: Creighton finished at 157; and Nebraska finished at 155, but I know it is more about the name and prestige for most.  The Gauchos also finished the year with a winning record, tied for 2nd with UC Irvine in the Big West, and a trip to the CBI where they lost to Summit League team Oral Roberts.

In addition to all of this, Santa Barbara had one win over a power conference team, Washington State.  I know Washington State is someone to not take incredibly seriously right now as far as power conference teams ago, but the Gauchos beat them 71-43.

Side note:  My Northwest friends are mostly Washington State fans.  Last year, when I heard UNO was going to Seattle and looking to play Washington or Washington State while in the Northwest, I told my Northwest friends that they might have a Mavericks versus Cougars match up.  They laughed and said “there is an easy win for UNO.”

Speaking of Seattle, remember when UNO lost to them and we were incredibly shocked by it?  The Gauchos beat Seattle 87-46.  Looking at the rest of their 2014-2015 schedule, they had some close losses to some good teams.  As mentioned, they lost to Oral Roberts by 4 in the CBI.  The Gauchos also traveled to Lawrence early in the year to lose to Kansas by 10, the Jayhawks had a final RPI of 5.  The team did also split games with Florida Gulf Coast, losing to Dunk City by 6 in overtime before beating them by 13 later in the non-conference schedule.

I really wish UNO and Colorado State could meet every year, the Rams are a fun team to watch, and they are “sort of local” with a large number of UNO alumni (and former Omahans) in the state of Colorado.  Santa Barbara lost to the Rams by 2.  Colorado State had a final RPI of 37.

Speaking of other teams I would like to see UNO play, but this is because of my wife’s fan hood, Santa Barbara lost to Oregon by 4 points in overtime in Eugene.  Also, a team I hate discussing, SMU, beat Santa Barbara by 7.  Larry Brown’s final experiment finished with an RPI of 27.

The Gauchos are coached by Bob Williams, who has been with Santa Barbara since 1998 after winning a Division 2 championship with (then D-2) UC Davis.  Williams has made the NCAA tournament with the Gauchos 3 times, his last time was in 2010-2011.


Who did they lose?

The Gauchos lost a huge piece of their team.  6’8″ and 265lbs Alan Williams averaged a double double in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons for Santa Barbara.  He was an All Big West player for all three of those seasons as well.  He is actually probably solely responsible for what kept Santa Barbara in the game against Kansas, as he showed to be too much for Perry Ellis, in which Williams had 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Williams averaged 17.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg his senior season, he also was not a terrible free throw shooter at 77%.  He had a 20 rebound performance in a 65-60 overtime win over Mercer.  Oh Williams also led the NCAA in rebounding in 2014 and in 2015.

Willaims did miss 6 games in 2014-2015 with the Gauchos going 4-2 in his absence, and those two losses were against UC Irvine and UC Davis, the two top teams in the Big West.

After finishing his career as a Gaucho, Williams played for the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets in the NBA Summer League, where he was named All Summer League 2nd team after a 22 points and 21 rebound performance against the 76ers.  He has signed professionally with a Chinese team.

I feel like Mike Rostampour would have loved competing against this guy.


Who do they have coming back?

Williams is obviously a huge loss, but he was not the only Big West 1st Team player that the Gauchos had.  6’4″ senior Michael Bryson also made the all conference team after averaging 14 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game.  Bryson loves taking threes, he made about 2 threes per game in 2014-2015 with a total of 68 on the year.  In comparison, CJ Carter, who led the Mavericks, made 48 on the season.  Bryson also shot 85% from the free throw line.

The Gauchos return two more wing players that averaged over 10 per game last season.  6’5″ senior John Green averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds per game, though Green was mostly used at the 4 position last season since, other than Williams, the Gauchos did not have much of a post game.  The team also return 6’3″ sophomore Gabe Vincent who averaged 10 per game, but did face inconsistencies throughout the year, as most freshman do.  Vincent shot 41% on threes on the year, and had a total of 57.


So you’re telling me there is a chance?

Probably the Mavericks biggest weakness last season was their perimeter defense, so you get a little scared when you hear they are facing a team with their strength being their group of returning wing players.  The Gauchos will be trying to adjust to life without a walking double double, and after Williams, the Gauchos did not have a reliable post game.

So the keys to the game could be how much the Mavs can work the ball into Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman, as well as how good of a perimeter defender new Mavericks Tra-Deon Hollins can be in the game…who sounds to be a pretty stellar defender.

This is not going to be as easy of a game as playing Central Arkansas to open up the year, but to get better the Mavs have to play the best, this is great competition.  As of right now, it does sound as if Santa Barbara has the edge, but hopefully opening up the new arena (to basketball) can create a great atmosphere to give the Mavs a great home court advantage in this game.

 

 

 

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Post game UCA Notes/pregame Seattle notes

Central Arkansas Post Game Notes:

  • Player of the game is seriously up for debate, could be either:
    • CJ Carter: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 6-11 FG, 4 threes
    • Devin Patterson: 22 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 8-12 FG, 2 threes
    • Mike Rostampour: 13 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
    • Jake White: 9 points, 11 rebounds (9 offensive)
  • Devin Patterson was and is apparently playing with a broken big toe
  • UNO had more offensive rebounds (26) than UCA had total (25)
  • Jake White left the game limping and came back out on crutches, but is apparently OK
  • Rostampour & White are going to give teams fits in the post, by far the best rebounders UNO has had
  • Tyus’ shot didn’t seem to have the same arch as normal, maybe having some issues?
  • Carter, Patterson, & Rostampour all played 30 minutes or more, White probably could have gone for more than 30 minutes had he not left the game…but Randy Reed & Tre’Shawn Thurman look like they will for sure be the top bench guys as of now
  • None of the freshman seemed nervous, which is great
    • Maybe Rylan Murry did at first but then he was taking threes with confidence
    • Thurman looked ready right away
    • Devin Newsome looked comfortable running the floor
    • Daniel Meyer didn’t get much playing time, but when he got in he didn’t look nervous at all and had a good post move from what I remember
  • As a Millard South guy, it was great to see Kyler Erickson get out on the court
  • The team’s new intro video was great, showed off the campus a bit, just looked great

Seattle U Pregame notes

I feel like it should be worth noting that the UNO Mavericks will be playing more games in Key Arena than the NBA this year.  I hate being the dude that says that playing later on the west coast is a disadvantage for the Mavericks, but you know what, it really could be.  My wife is from Washington state, and the area is incredibly beautiful, but it rains constantly and is obviously two hours behind.  Every time I’m there it takes me a couple days to adjust to the time change.  I’m sure a D1 athlete gets enough adrenaline to where it doesn’t really affect them, but wouldn’t it be an issue for a bench guy that uses that adrenaline to sit for 10+ minutes before entering the game?  In reality, college students are probably pretty used to being up late.  If I were traveling to see the game, I would probably fall asleep at half time…and I love college basketball.  As a traveler, I wouldn’t look forward to flying from Omaha to Seattle and then to Milwaukee all in the same week, combined with having to work my ass off, but yeah I am kind of lazy.  Here are some game notes just based on lazy observation:

  • Seattle lost their first game at home to Texas State 62-53
  • Former Omaha Bryan player/current Texas State guard Ethan Montalvo (who UNO offered) played 11 minutes, missed a three pointer
  • Hopefully Jake White is healthy and ready to go, well hopefully everyone is healthy and ready to go but the entire team didn’t limp off the court on Sunday
  • UNO beat Seattle last year in Omaha 76-69 and it was one of the more chippy games I attended last year, in that game:
    • CJ Carter – 17/2/3
    • Devin Patterson – 12/2/2
    • Mike Rostampour fouled out in 15 minutes and had 3 points & 3 rebounds
    • Marcus Tyus – 4/6/4
  • For Seattle, these dudes had:
    • Jack Crook – 4/6/2
    • Jarell Flora – 5/4
    • Deshawn Sunderhaus – 7/5/2
    • Isiah Umipig – 35/3/4
  • Feels like the main threat from Seattle is Isiah Umipig, as noted he had 35 points against the Mavs last season…he averaged 19.5 last season and had 23 in the Redhawks’ opening game this season
  • Looking at the two teams on paper, UNO definitely looks like the better team but curious if playing on a Wednesday night on the west coast could cause issues of for the Mavericks
  • Since going D1 UNO is 1-4 playing in Pacific (& Hawaii) time…but are a better team as compared to when they first started, they went 1-2 last season beating Nevada and losing to UNLV & Hawaii but were competitive in both games

Game 1: Central Arkansas (kind of a preview)

The last season of transition is about to start against Central Arkansas.  There are still some questions about the Mavs, Derrin Hansen said he wasn’t exactly sure what’s going to happen with the bench, but hopefully guys will come in and prove themselves to make the process a little more simple.

UNO’s future non-conference opponents went 7-3 on the first two days of the college basketball new year.  Central Arkansas lost to Creighton 104-77 and was out rebounded 45-28.  Creighton is a bigger team this year compared to UNO, actually I doubt UNO has ever had a larger roster than Creighton.

UNO’s Height:  Meyer-6’9″, White-6’8″, Rostampour-6’8″, Thurman-6’7″, Murry-6’7″

Creighton’s Height:  Groselle-7’0″, Artino-6’11”, Hegner-6’9″, Hanson-6’9″, Gilmore-6’7″

Why am I comparing their height?  I don’t know, maybe it’s because the closer you are to the basket the easier it is to score?  Or maybe because Central Arkansas has 6’11” and 6’10” juniors in the starting lineup.  They only combined for 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks against Creighton…playing against height in the past has been difficult for the Mavericks and I’m not sure if these two post players will pose problems for UNO.

Central Arkansas only returns one player from their roster last year.  New Head Coach Russ Pennell just started completely over for a team that is ineligible for post season due to low APR.  They have no seniors, 3 juniors eligible to play, a couple sophomores and 7 freshman.  So on paper it doesn’t look that great for them, but UNO also has a cast of new faces, and in the history of college athletics they’ve never played a game on paper…well I guess I haven’t officially looked that up, but it sounds right.

Central Arkansas did shoot well from 3, they shot 45% against Creighton.  They had 4 players in double figures with freshman Jordan Howard leading the way with 19 points.  Michael Mulligan, another freshman, had 18 points and 7 rebounds, and another freshman Mathieu Kamba scored 11.  Which kind of made me wonder what kind of numbers UNO freshman Daniel Meyer, Rylan Murry, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and Devin Newsome could put up if they got a bulk of the minutes but I do doubt they will get the same minutes the Central Arkansas freshman are getting.

UNO did beat Central Arkansas in Arkansas last year 104-88, but hey remember when it was stated that Central Arkansas is only returning one player and UNO is only returning 4 that actually played last year?  So what’s the point of guessing the possibilities of an outcome today based on last year’s game.  In fact, I don’t even think UCA’s returning player got in that game.

So basically based on very little, I want to give UNO a 10 point edge, but I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as I want it to be and could take a while for UNO to get a lead and actually be ahead.  Very excited to see how the returning players mesh with the new UNO cast.