Can the Mavericks improve on 5 Summit League wins?

Sometimes I find preseason predictions pointless, other than starting a conversation about the upcoming season or letting people know what could potentially be the biggest games of the year, there is not really much of a point to it.

I mainly find them useless because of the methodology in ranking teams.  Many seem to just copy and past the standings of last year, and then make a small edit if a team had a high amount of turnover from last season’s roster.  But I came up with a plan to do this for the Summit League.  I was reading some preseason predictions for the Big 10 football season which was done by a bunch of ESPN writers.  Some made good points but they all had to come up with a record for each team, and the math did not always make sense.  One clown had Ohio State going 12-0 with a 8-0 Big Ten record and Michigan State going 11-1, and also with a 8-0 Big Ten record.  Seriously, how drunk and lazy and/or bad at math was that guy?  Or some guys would have two teams going 8-0 in conference, a couple going 0-8, and everyone else going 5-3.  The math didn’t add up and they were telling you that these teams would win these amount of games because they are Skeletor and they said so.

So I came up with a plan.  I would go through the Summit League conference schedule and assign wins and losses over the course of a number of weeks.  At first it was just: South Dakota State is a better team than Denver, so win goes to the Jackrabbits.  Then later, I would look at the difficulty of each team’s conference schedule.  Obviously, everyone plays each other twice, but there are some things that stick out; like how Denver is the only team with the highway to the danger zone in playing at North Dakota State and South Dakota State in back to back games.  Or how South Dakota and Oral Roberts are the only two Summit League teams without three straight games on the road in conference play.  Then things like Omaha playing on the road against someone on a Thursday, as road games on Thursdays appear to be difficult for most teams.  Actually road games are pretty difficult for anyone.  Then I would go through the schedule again and consider some teams’ strengths versus their opponents weaknesses.  Like how teams better be good at three point shooting against South Dakota as they forced teams to take the most threes with their defense…and other things.

But I assigned wins and losses to each game, and did it several times considering different factors.  Then I plain and simple would add up each team’s wins and losses to see who had the most after going through it about 15 times.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it better than just saying South Dakota State will go 15-1 in conference because of Jesus?  Probably.

Really, after going through all of this; I really do not see much separation between many of the teams.  South Dakota State seems like a clear cut favorite.  Then North Dakota State seems like they are 2nd best, but they really should not be as comfortable as one would think.  Then Oral Roberts-Omaha-IPFW-IUPUI-South Dakota appear to be in a fight for spots 3 to 7 with Denver and Western Illinois sitting at 8 and 9; but Denver is a difficult place to play; and Western Illinois, while not great last year, they do return basically everything.

So much of the 3 to 9 in the Summit League appears to come down to:

  • Who can stay healthy?
  • Who can win on the road?
  • Who can pick up a win against South Dakota State and North Dakota State?

But for the sake of length, I am going to just post about Omaha to get started and why they should win more games than their 5-11 record last season.  Then I will come out with the rest of the Summit League later.


Omaha

Range of wins:  7 to 11 wins

Boldest Predictions:  Will pick up win against North Dakota State at home, will sweep South Dakota

Clearly, I am biased in how well I think the Mavs could do this season.  The Mavericks finished 5-11, but they had 4 conference losses decided by one or two possessions.  I know it does not work this way, but the Mavericks could have finished 8-8 or 9-7 in the Summit League had just a couple more things gone their way.  There is also more to play for with the Mavericks this season, and they should have a slightly stronger home court advantage with their new arena being right on campus. The attendance for the Mavericks has risen each season since transition, and people in town are starting to take them more serious.  2012-2013 was probably the most fun season to watch, but Omahans did not seem to even notice.  UNO Men’s Basketball was that new television show that had some good looking commercials that got you interested; but it was pitted in the same time slot as Breaking Bad in it’s prime and Sunday Night Football.   Justin Simmons had some of the most exciting dunks you could possibly witness; but Doug McDermott was in the middle of one of the greatest careers in Creighton and NCAA history; and Tim Miles was bringing a personality to the Huskers.  Omahans were in the mode of thinking they’d like to go to a Mavs game, but never fully pulled the trigger.  A few years later:  Creighton is down and Nebraska is too young for locals to know what is happening.  UNO has a brand new arena, in a fun part of town, some local guys on the roster that can make some noise, and six seniors to help start the new era of the program.

The Mavericks also have a pretty good way to start conference play with Western Illinois and IUPUI at home.  2013-2014 started @ Western Illinois, @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State; and 2012-2013 was @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State, and then a month conference break before they had South Dakota and Kansas City at home before going back on the road against very good IPFW and Oakland teams.  Last year the Mavs started on the road @ South Dakota and Western Illinois, and then came back home for North Dakota State and South Dakota State, before going back on the road against Oral Roberts.  The Mavs are finally not being welcomed to the Summit League with the middle finger jammed in front of their face, so hopefully they can start league play with some momentum.  The most difficult part of the conference schedule is going to be three straight road games at Denver, and the Mavericks yet to have a good game in the state of Colorado; then at Oral Roberts which is one of the toughest places to play in the Summit League; and then at South Dakota State who is the preseason favorite in the league and swept the Mavs last season by margins of 19 and 22 points.

As far as what is returning to the Mavericks: they lost Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter, but they are returning 61% of their scoring; which is the 4th highest in the league.  Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson as a returning back court is arguably one of the top 3 back courts in the league.  Jake White is hopefully healthy enough to give significant minutes when the conference season turns around, he is tied with his fellow teammate Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading returning rebounder in the league.  Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood should hopefully finally have roles edged out to really help this team improve.  Lack of depth was an issue for this team last season, but newcomers Zach Pirog, JT Gibson, and Tra-Deon Hollins sound as if they can really help the Mavericks improve on some of the weaknesses the Mavs had in 2014-2015, and add some needed depth to this team.  This team can go big, it can go small, it has adaptable lineups that can go up against anyone in the Summit.

From what I could tell, the preseason predictions biggest concerns with the Mavericks are that they cannot make up for the loss of Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.  Okay, everyone loses someone in college athletics, but should we really be concerned about losing two guys that were not recruited to ever play in a Summit League conference tournament?  So really, why are people so hard on them for losing Rostampour and Carter, but no one is hard on IPFW for losing Steve Forbes and Joe Edwards; or South Dakota for losing Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos; or Oral Roberts for losing half of their team?  Please don’t take this as a Rostampour and Carter Were Not Unimportant thought… The Mavs would not be the same without them.  The point is, it does not seem like the Mavericks are asking as much out of their newcomers and returning players as much as other teams.  They are asking Jake White to be healthy enough to score 2-4 more points and grab a couple more rebounds, which I realize is easier said than done; Tre’Shawn Thurman to continue to improve; Tyus and Patterson to be more consistent; and Reed and Smallwood work more on their roles that they established toward the end of last season.  Other than North Dakota State and South Dakota State, everyone else appears to be asking guys to come in and be stars or huge impacts right away.  One thing that does scare me about Omaha finishing in the top half of the conference is the injury to Marcus Tyus.  He’s coming off ACL surgery that he injured in February.  Being ready in full form throughout November, December, and January just seems like a lot to look for at this point.

Who is going to start for the Mavs?

Hip hip hooray, it’s the annual: Who the Heck is Going to be in the Starting Line Up this Season post

I was listening to the Summit League media day, it sounded as if Derrin Hansen was not 125% sure of who to start on his team, and it is kind of fun to sit around and speculate stuff for people so here we go.  If millions of people can sit at their computers dressed like a 7 foot tall puppy and speculate as to why Mark Hamill is not on the new Star Wars poster, then I can sit on the internet decked out in UNO Mavs gear and speculate who is going to start for the Mavericks and who will be the first guys off the bench.

One can safely assume that Devin Patterson and Tre’Shawn Thurman will be back in the starting line up.  One could also assume that Marcus Tyus will be in the starting five as well, but he ended the season early on a knee injury in 2014-2015.  It has been put out there that Tyus is doing fine in his recovery, and I am sure he is, but remember when Jake White got hurt in his junior season and we kept being told that he would be back next game because he was doing fine?  I am sure that Tyus will be in the starting line up, but maybe not at first.  We will see how his knees is actually doing in a few weeks.

So that leaves two spots open for starters to replace Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.

Is it safe to assume that Jake White will fill in Rostampour’s spot?  White started in 3 games in his junior season as a Maverick.  He averaged 6.3 points per game in those three starts, and 8.3 rebounds.  He is probably the obvious choice over sophomore Daniel Meyer and freshman Zach Pirog.

What becomes a more difficult choice for Hansen and staff will be filling in the void left by CJ Carter, one of the top scorers in school history.  The leading candidates at this point appear to be Tim Smallwood, Tra-Deon Hollins, Randy Reed, or JT Gibson.

I was kind of hard on Smallwood and Reed last season.  It’s not that I thought they were bad players, I just felt that UNO was not entirely sure how to use them for most of the season and did not have well defined roles for either of them for a majority of the year.  I was unsure about them as most of you would be if there was a new movie coming out featuring Adam Sandler and Nicholas Cage.  Over a ten game stretch, Smallwood had 3 DNPs, and was 0-10 from three point land.  I felt that Reed’s junior year was up and down.  One game he was getting 20 minutes, then the next game he was getting 2 minutes, and then a week from then he was getting a DNP.  It just seemed like it was difficult for either of them to get any rhythm going.  I would love a world where Smallwood is hitting three 3s a game and Reed is getting a monstrous dunk every other play.  That world might actually have Luke Skywalker on a Star Wars poster.

Then Marcus Tyus went down with an injury and missed the last 6 games of the season, and these two guys became the twist at the end of an independent film.  Smallwood was put into the starting line up, and I thought to my self: oh great, the guy who hasn’t had it in 2015 is getting the starting spot.  When Smallwood started getting more minutes, I realized how good of a defender he was.  He was not racking up a bunch of steals or blocks, but he was disrupting opposing players shots and passes, and he was a big reason why the Mavericks ended the season on a 3 game winning streak.  I grew super proud of his work on the defensive end in those last 6 games.  His 5-of-7 from downtown at IUPUI was a big factor for what helped the Mavericks hold on for a overtime win.  A statistic that surprised me when I saw the final results was that UNO finished 8th in the Summit League in 3 point field goal percentage last season.  Whether Smallwood is going to start or be one of the first guys off the bench, he has to help improve the team’s 3 point shooting.  If he can get his 26% 3 point shooting up to the 33% range, he can be a huge impact on his team.  The Mavs are 3-1 when Smallwood hits two threes or more…

Going into 2015, Smallwood has scored in 7 straight appearances.
Going into 2015, Smallwood has scored in 7 straight appearances.  How does Paul Miller tie his shoes?  Photo by Mark Kuhlmann

Due to life, my wife was not able to get to many games last season.  She was able to attend Oral Roberts at the Ralston Arena.  When Randy Reed came onto the court, my wife asked me who this guy was.  I read off his resume to her, and we watched on.  Reed was the high energy guy off the bench that the Mavericks needed that game.  He had clutch defensive plays to keep the game close, blocked some shots, altered even more shots, and really disrupted the Oral Roberts’ rhythm.  Every time the Mavs were on defense and Randy Reed was on the court, the Mavs fans were completely locked in.  We all wanted to see Reed take his game to the next level that night.  Like, who cares if they have Obi Emegano?  We’ve got Randy Reed on defense!  You have to like Reed coming off the bench though, since he can really guard the 4 and the 3.  With the much of the Summit League going to small ball, teams will really have a difficult time going up against Tre’Shawn Thurman and Randy Reed at the 4 for 40 minutes if they really want to play small ball against the Mavericks.  If they want to play big, the Mavs can go with Reed at the 3 and either Meyer, Pirog, Thurman, or White at the 4 and 5.

Reed can be one of the most excited Mavs to watch.
Reed can be one of the most excited Mavs to watch.  Photo by Mark Kuhlmann

Then there is Tra-Deon Hollins.  Get excited for this kid.  He adds a lot to this team, and he brings a lot to the areas that the Mavericks were missing last season.  He can defend, he can pass, he can score, he can rebound, and he can hit threes.  I would not be shocked if he got into foul trouble (along with other guards) early on in the season with the rule changes in college basketball, but hopefully everyone can adjust to everything fairly quickly.  If Hollins does not start and he is used as the high energy bench guy, he should definitely be on the court in crunch time in most situations.  It seems to take junior college players a little while to really define their role on a team, unless they are going to a 0-30 team that had no scoring before and they averaged 25 a game in junior college, then they probably know they will be taking a large quantity of shots.  Hollins knows what the Mavericks were missing last year though, so hopefully it does not take him long to find his niche.

The Mavericks and some local media sound to be pretty excited about J.T. Gibson as part of future for the Mavs.  Gibson was the player of the year for the state of Minnesota last year, and there are several Minnesotans that think bigger schools made a mistake by not recruiting Gibson.  Sounds like this other guy named Tre’Shawn that we know.  I have doubt that Gibson will start right off the bat for the Mavericks, but maybe he will as the season goes on and he establishes himself.  He would really have to impress coaches and set himself apart from teammates as there are so many upperclassmen guards on the team.  Apparently, Gibson is completely capable of playing the both guard positions.

Either way, the Mavericks should at least know who their top 8 guys are at this point.  They probably even have a good idea what their best line ups are, which is not something every team in the Summit League has figured out yet.

 

 

The basketball wild cards of the Summit League

With players coming and going, roles need to be filled on teams, and some players just respond quicker than others.  North Dakota State’s AJ Jacobson clearly had a big year as a redshirt freshman, which was a huge help to the Bison as they lost three key seniors from their 2014 championship team.  IUPUI’s Marcellus Barksdale went from averaging 0.3 points per game as a freshman in 2012-13 to averaging 8.6 points per game in his sophomore season, and now is considered an All Conference candidate by many.  South Dakota State’s Keaton Moffitt transferred from a division 2 program to be a top guy off the bench for the Jackrabbits.  Omaha’s Mike Rostampour made an immediate impact with Omaha in his junior season after transferring from division 2.

With the Bison and Jackrabbits as the two favorites to repeat as the two top teams in the Summit League, the league seems to look like it will be in a pretty tight battle for who is 3rd to 8th (or 9th) in the conference standings at the end of the year.  So who are some of the potential wild cards in the Summit League that can set their team apart in 2015-2016?


 

Denver

EVERYONE ON THE ROSTER NOT NAMED MARCUS BYRD, NATE ENGESSER, OR BRYANT RUCKER

Here is a statistic that may jump out at you.  Denver returns the second fewest amount of division one starts on their roster in the Summit League, behind IPFW.  They are a young team, though so was North Dakota State last season, with 6 freshman and 4 sophomores on the roster, so I am incredibly curious who can make up for the losses of Cam Griffin, Brett Olson, and Jalen Love.

The team virtually has no post game, but it is not really something that is incredibly needed in the Princeton offense.  Barry Collier ran the Princeton offense really well without a competent big man at Nebraska.  That was a really bad joke.  Could sophomore Daniel Amigo make a big jump if he is healthy?  He started in all 15 of the games he played in during his freshman year averaging 5.7 points per game, and had three double digit scoring performance, but they were all in blow outs.

Daniel Amigo is super serial.
Daniel Amigo is super serial.

IPFW

JOHN KONCHAR – 6’4″, rFR

Could Konchar be a big time player as a freshman.  He redshirted in his first season with the ‘Dons, I assume because of the 4 upperclassmen guards that were on the roster last season.  Konchar averaged 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game in his senior season in high school in Chicago.  Holy crap!  He did see action in IPFW’s preseason game last season, but he only had 3 points in 15 minutes, but hey it was a preseason game.

RACHINE TALLA – 6’9″, SO

Talla is seriously the biggest question mark for IPFW.  He redshirted at USC Upstate his freshman season, and then only played in 2 games in junior college because Mississippi is the worst place on earth.  So how much of an impact can a guy be who has basically not played a competitive game of basketball in 3 years.


IUPUI

JORDAN PICKETT – 6’0″, SO

Pickett transferred to IUPUI after only playing in five games at Loyola before suffering a season ending injury in 2013-2014.  The Jaguars do not have much of a back court, they have a lot of 6’5″ guards, but can the bigger players deal with all of the smaller shooting guards the Summit League has to offer.  Pickett is likely to have a big role for the Jaguars in 2015-2016.  In the Jaguars’ red-white scrimmage last season, which was basically IUPUI vs their players who were forced to redshirt due to transferring, Pickett was able to score 11 points against…the Jaguars.

NICK OSBORNE- 6’8″, JR

One of three transfers from Loyola on the roster.  Osborne is expected to make an immediate impact with the Jaguars, as they have not had much talent in the post in a few years.  Osborne averaged 5.4 ppg and 4 rpg, and shot 50% from the field in his sophomore season at Loyola.  He did average 3 fouls per game, so curious to see how much time he will spend on the bench due to foul trouble in the Summit League.

How much of a difference can Nick Osborne make with the Jaguars.
How much of a difference can Nick Osborne make with the Jaguars.

NORTH DAKOTA STATE 

They lost Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorklund, and TrayVonn Wright a year ago, and they ended up repeating as Summit League Champions with a 1st year coach.  I think they will be fine…

One could ask; who is going to be make up for the 19 points per game that they lost in Lawrence Alexander?  Can Kory Brown, Carlin Dupree, Paul Miller, and junior college transfer sophomore Malik Clements make up that 19 points a game in the back court?  Yes, they probably can.


OMAHA

JAKE WHITE- 6’8″, SR

Can Jake White be the best post player in the Summit League? Can he?
Can Jake White be the best post player in the Summit League? Can he?

Last year we were teased with White.  With 10 rebounds in his first half as a Maverick, we were thinking our front court would be unstoppable with him and Mike Rostampour.  Then a few minutes into the second half, White hurt his knee, and then for almost a month we kept being told: not this game, but next game probably…  If you look around the post players at the Summit League, White is capable of being the best post player in the League, but he has to stay healthy.  When White transferred, Derrin Hansen stated that White would be the best post player in the Summit.

DANIEL MEYER – 6’9″, SO

Meyer only played 4.5 minutes per game in his freshman season with the Mavericks, but with Mike Rostampour and Rylan Murry (i cried a tear) no longer on the roster, Meyer should expect more playing time in his sophomore season, I mean, right?  It sounded as if he did really well in Italy, but it did not sound like the teams the Mavs played against had many players taller than 6’5″…but I did not look at official rosters, just shady looking websites that did not look fully updated.  When Meyer did play last season, I was never terrified that he was going to ruin everything.  He seemed to move pretty well without the ball, set good screens, and had a nice touch.  He even looked like he could be as good as a passer out of the post as John Karhoff, but we will have to wait and see.


ORAL ROBERTS

ALBERT OWENS- 6’9″ SO

With the graduation of Denell Henderson, Owens will competing for the starting center position with junior college transfer Tre Vance.  Owens did average 3.8 ppg and 2.4 rpg, but he never really received any significant playing time in any of the Golden Eagles’ big games.  Yet, if you look around at some of the conference predictions, Owens is expected to be a big key factor to ORU’s success.  You know, assuming they have some success this season.

Owens had great size listed at 6'9" and 260lbs.
Owens has great size listed at 6’9″ and 260lbs.

JALEN BRADLEY- 6’0″ JR

Bradley is familiar with the Summit League, as he originally played for the Mavericks, but he only played in a total of 26 minutes against the Summit League due to injuries in 2013-2014.  Bradley went on to junior college for his sophomore season, where he averaged 17 points per game.  Everyone knew Bradley could shoot at Omaha, I remember watching him shoot from half court in warm ups and making it regularly, but we did question if he could defend or play the point guard position. While he was at Omaha, they were deep with guards with: CJ Carter, Marcus Tyus, Alex Phillips, Caleb Steffensmeier, Devin Patterson, and Justin Simmons.  The Mavericks could have used him in his sophomore season as that energy guy off the bench, and that would likely still be his role, but ORU fans are expecting him (and 6’3″ Div 2/Fresno State transfer Aaron Anderson) to fill a void left in Korey Billbury and Bobby Word.  That is a lot to ask.


SOUTH DAKOTA

TREY NORRIS – 6’0″ SR

Norris started in all 28 games he played in for the Coyotes in his sophomore season, but then was sent to the bench in his junior season as Craig Smith took over at South Dakota.  Can he be counted on to be the starter again and help lead the Coyotes to another winning record?

TYLER FLACK – 6’7″ JR

Sat out 2014-2015 with an injury.  He started 19 out of 29 games his freshman season and 27 out of 30 games in his sophomore season.  As a sophomore, he averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg, he also shot 55% from the floor.  Is he going to be the same after a serious injury, and will Smith have big plans for Flack?

Can Tyler Flack be Tyler Flack again?
Can Tyler Flack be Tyler Flack again?

Here is a glaring stat for South Dakota.  I was looking at the South Dakota State fan forum, wishing I had it in me to do some trolling, and the Jackrabbits are pretty stoked that they return so much of their scoring.  The Jackrabbits return 74% of their scoring, which is second in the conference behind Western Illinois who returns 89% of their scoring, but that is Western Illinois… Anyway, South Dakota lost the most scoring in the Summit losing 54% of their scoring.  So they are going to need Flack and Norris to return to 2013-2014 form.


SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

CONNOR DEVINE/IAN THEISEN

Did I mention that South Dakota State is returning 74% of their scoring?  I think I just did that.  Most of that is the loss of Cody Larson.  The Jackrabbits arguably have the best guard trio in the Summit League with George Marshall, Deondre Parks, and Jake Bittle, but they are left with little in the post after the loss of Larson, and they are young in the post.  Devine and Theisen shared the time behind Cody Larson in the post last season, can they and freshman Nebraska natives Michael Daum and Adam Dykman make up for that loss in Larson?


WESTERN ILLINOIS

When you only when 8 games, you lose 13 of your last 14 games, one of your wins is a 2 point win at home against Devin Patterson-less Omaha team, and 15 of your 20 losses are by 10 points or more, there is not much confidence riding in your team going into the next season.  So basically everyone on your roster not named Garrett Covington is a wild card.

The Leathernecks did have some injury issues in 2014-2015, and they have the 2nd most returning division one starts on their roster in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, and as previously mentioned, they do return 89% of their scoring.

 

 

2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 4 UNC Bears

Northern Colorado

2014-2015 finish: 15-15 (10-8)

RPI:  241

Last season at Omaha: Omaha won 92-82

There is nothing like a good ole fashioned battle between UNO and a former NCC member.  Actually, there are probably many things like it.  After a tough battle with Colorado in Boulder, the Mavericks will travel to Greeley, Colorado…I have never been to Greeley, but it sounds like the most boring name possible for a town.

Let me start out by saying that I dislike the University of Northern Colorado.  It really has nothing to do with athletics really, and it is entirely based on one former staff member that caused my spine to tingle in annoyance whenever I hear the school’s name.  When I worked at Weber State, there was this employee that used to work at Northern Colorado and she would always, and I mean ALWAYS, refer to the school as UNC.  Every time she said UNC, and I mean EVERY TIME, I would get flustered and ask “you went to grad school and worked at North Carolina?”  It just seemed like a set up to get me thinking every time, or like she wanted people to not ask and just assume she worked at North Carolina.  I often wondered if she was hired based on her boss assuming she went to grad school at North Carolina and not Northern Colorado.

Let me make a terrible transition here by pointing out that UNC ranked 31st in the country last season in points per game.  See, was I talking about North Carolina or Northern Colorado there?  It’s annoying, it is a shade under someone kicking the back of your seat annoying.  Anyway, I am talking about Northern Colorado.  North Carolina ranked 17th in the nation in points per game, but that has nothing to do with anything here.

It is hard to put it together that Northern Colorado had such a high scoring offense last season.  It is no offense to them, and as a completely biased fan I sit here and say “Northern Colorado, how can they be good at things?”  Then I remember how many Omaha Mavericks shirts I own over how many Nebraska Cornhuskers shirts I own.  I realize UNC Bears fans are probably saying the same thing about Omaha.  “Nebraska-Omaha, how can they be good?  It’s their first day.”

The first thing I notice when I look at the Bears’ roster is that they have no seniors.  Not a one.  That could be a good thing for the Mavericks, right?  The Bears lost 5 key players from their 2014-2015 roster.


Tevin Shihovec, 6’2 G:

13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 43 FG%, 76 FT% 35 3pt%

Against the Mavericks last season:  14 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, 7-13 FG

Tim Huskisson, 6’5″ G: 

10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 57 FG%, 72 FT%, 37 3pt%

Against the Mavericks last season: 19 pts, 2 rebs, 1 ast, 7-11 FG, 3-5 3ptFG

Dominique Lee, 6’5″ F:

10.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 spg, 60 FG%, 63 FT%, 41 3pt% 

Against the Mavericks last season:  19 pts, 9 rebs, 1 ast, 5-10 FG, 1-1 3ptFG, 8-11 FT

Cody McDavis, 6’8″ F:
5.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 47 FG%, 70 FT%

Against the Mavericks last season:  2 pts, 1 reb, 1-4 FG

Corey Spence, 5’9″ G:

4.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 38 FG%, 84 FT%

Against the Mavericks last season: 1 pt, 4 rebs, 4 asts, 1 steal


Note the field goal percentages from these players are all pretty high.  Northern Colorado had the 26th best field goal percentage in the country.  Also, aside from the great scoring, the Bears ranked 319th in scoring defense by allowing 73.4 points per game.  Omaha was 346th in the country, but they had one of the fastest paced offenses, so it’s cool.  I’m not biased at all.  I said shut up.

Remember how much of a drop off the Mavericks had when 5 key players left after 2013-2014.  They did not necessarily have a huge drop off in talent, but it was a struggle at times figuring out who played best on the floor with each other.  Finding that on the court chemistry appeared to be an issue for the Mavericks last season.  So who do the Bears have returning if they have zero seniors on the roster?  They have 3 key players returning.


Cameron Michael, 6’5″ G/F, JR:

12.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 43 FG%, 75 FT%, 39 3pt%, 66 3ptFM

Against the Mavericks last season:  4 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1-6 FG

Jordan Wilson, 5’7″ G, JR:

8.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1 spg, 42 FG%, 85 FT%, 40 3pt%

Against the Mavericks last season: 18 pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl, 6-10 FG, 2-5 3ptFG, 4-4 FT

Jordan Wilson gave the Mavs fits last season. He has changed his number to 25. He likes to copy UNO's point guards, I think.
Jordan Wilson gave the Mavs fits last season. He has changed his number to 25. He likes to copy UNO’s point guards, I think.

Jeremy Verhagen, 6’10 F,  SO:

3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 59 FG%, 52 FT%

Against the Mavericks last season:  6 minutes, 2 fouls


The Bears did find two junior college post players to add to their roster to make them a bigger team, and they also have a guard, Dallas Anglin, that transferred from Doc Sadler’s Southern Miss, who left last December, so I am unclear if he will be available for the games in the first semester or not.


Jamal Evans, 6’7 JuCo transfer

Sophomore season at Midland JC: 9.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg

Tanner Morgan, 6’9 JuCo transfer

Sophomore season at Casper College: 8.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 42 FG%


Last season against the Bears, the Mavericks were lead by their returning core of now graduated Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter, and 2015-2016 senior guards Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson (and actually every Mav that entered the game scored).  Tyus scored 19 points, grabbed three rebounds, and he dished out six assists against the Bears.  He also shot 5-8 from the floor and was 3-3 from behind the three point line.  Patterson had 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists against the Bears last season.  Patterson was also named Summit League Player of the Week for his performance.

This season the Bears will be coming off a game at Kansas and a game at home against Division 2 Colorado Christian, and also American East Maryland at Baltimore County before the Mavericks come to town; so they could have a few things figured out by the time they take on the Mavericks.

With very little coming back and not being a great defensive team, you have to like the Mavericks’ chances with their high rolling offense in this one.  No game is a guarantee, and it is a road game for the Mavericks, but the Bears had no answer for Devin Patterson and Marcus Tyus last season.  Have they figured out a solution to them yet?  I doubt they have been formulating a game plan this entire time.  There is that damn altitude factor, Omaha was 0-2 last season in the state of Colorado last season, that was on separate trips though so maybe they can get used to it after a few days at mile high.  The Bears were 12-3 at home last season with the losses coming to: UC Davis, Montana State (ouch), and Montana.

Maverick fans will always feel like they have a shot with Devin Patterson on the roster.
Maverick fans will always feel like they have a shot with Devin Patterson on the roster.

I like these games against the Big Sky schools, they are measuring sticks for the Mavericks when it comes to playing the Summit League.  I do wish the Mavericks could schedule some of the better teams in the conference though, like a Montana or a Weber State or a Eastern Washington, to better prepare themselves possibly for the North Dakota State and South Dakota teams of the Summit League.  This is a game that the Mavericks need to win.

 

 

 

2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 2: Kansas City

This is where I could have done a preview of the Mavericks’ second opponent, St. Mary’s from Minnesota, but they play in Division 3 and on top of that St. Mary’s lists the game as an exhibition.  What fun would that be?  It does feel good to actually have 100% confidence in these games though, it is not like in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 when you just were not really sure what UNO would do against these teams.

So we move on looking at the UMKC Kangaroos.

Last year I heavily debated of going to Kansas City to watch this game.  I do not recall why I did not go, but it was more than likely because I had no one that wanted to brave the exhausting three hour drive with me.  Seriously, you have to drive through Iowa for part of it.  I listened to the game on the radio, but found myself screaming like I was Krusty the Klown screaming at the Washington Generals for just watching the Harlem Globetrotters spin the ball on their fingers.

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The Mavs were getting Jake White back into the lineup after being injured in their home opener against Central Arkansas.  UMKC was playing without probably their best post player, former Bradley Brave, Shayok Shayok.  I was not feeling like it would be an easy win, but I was still expecting a win that day.  The Mavs ended up losing to the ‘Roos with a 20 point performance from CJ Carter and a 19 point and 8 rebound performance from Tre’Shawn Thurman.  You can pretty much completely attribute the loss to a season high 26 turnovers.  26!  That is scary!  That is sick, and not the good kind of sick that all the kids are throwing around now a days.  The kind of sick you feel when you find out that person you hate at work is getting their cubicle moved right next to you.  That Mavs even outrebounded UMKC by 14 on the day.  This is still the one game of the 2014-2015 season that I look back most and say, if they replayed that game, UNO wins the game.

This loss, in my opinion, was more embarrassing than any other Mav loss on the year.  More embarrassing than Chicago State.  Even though the Kangaroos beat Missouri earlier in the season, the Mavs were a superior team but could not handle the ball.  The game was right there.  UMKC took their decent back court and attacked UNO’s poor perimeter defense.  Martez Harrison, who became the first D-1 All American (Honorable Mention) that UMKC has ever had, dropped 25 on the Mavericks.  Frank Williams Jr, doubled his season average with 16, these 6’4″ to 6’6″ wing players always seemed to have out of body experiences against the Mavs last season.

Martez Harrison was also the 2015-2016 WAC player of the year.
Martez Harrison was also the 2014-2015 WAC player of the year.

The obvious hope this upcoming season is that this will not be a glaring issue anymore.  Tra-Deon Hollins is expected to help with this perimeter defensive issues, and in my opinion, Randy Reed should hopefully get a little more playing time to guard against those 6’4″ to 6’6″ wing players that gave the Mavs fits last season.

In that wing position, the ‘Roos have sophomore Darius Austin, who averaged 4.4 ppg and 4.2 rpg in 20 minutes per game.  He did have 9 points and 8 rebounds against the Mavs last season.  There is also junior Broderick Newbill, who averaged 4.2 ppg and 2.1 rebounds per game in about 12 minutes a game last season.  He had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals against the Mavericks last season.  UMKC will also be adding a 6’3″ junior college transfer, Deshawn King, who averaged about 12 points per game, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.  King was not a tremendous threat from long range being that he made 33% of his threes in in his sophomore season, but he only attempted about one three point shot a game.  He also only shot 60% from the field.

My perception (actually this blog is pretty much 100% about my perceptions) is that one of the Mavs top two strengths this upcoming season will be their post game.  The Mavs lost crazy inside force Mike Rostampour, and that will hurt, but how good can the post look with a hopefully healthy Jake White and a stronger and more experienced Tre’Shawn Thurman?  Not to mention, Daniel Meyer is sounding as if he has improved his game a tremendous amount, based on the Mavs Euroblog.  The Mavs have a good three headed monster down low, and maybe even a 4 headed monster if freshman Zach Pirog is ready to play.  But if the Mavs have 26 turnovers again, or hell, even 25 turnovers, it is not like they are going to have enough opportunities to get the ball down low to the triple dragon.

With that in mind, the Kangaroos do not have much of a post game.  Can Shayok play this year?  He is basically their entire post game, but only played in 8 games last season.  UMKC will also be adding former Youngstown State forward, 6’7″ Kyle Steward, to their post game.  Steward spent his sophomore season at Butler Community College, who is pretty much good all the time (they went 29-4 last season), where he averaged about 13 points per game and 5 rebounds per game.  Steward can also step out and hit the three, so he can really help open things up for UMKC.

UMKC is a team the Mavs are kind of used to.  The proximity and somewhat equal size which has made this a little bit of a rivalry, it seemed like UNO-UMKC was going to create a nice little rivalry as Summit League members.  It would make sense for UMKC to come back to the Summit League and make it an even 10 teams, especially since UMKC does not have one conference opponent in the WAC that they do not have to fly to play.  Until they man up and face the reality that they have to come back to the Summit League, it will probably be a regular thing to play UMKC once a year.

The Kangaroos were the first team that UNO got a Summit League regular season win over, and the first team that the Mavericks swept in the regular season.  Okay, maybe that is why they do not want to come back.

It is definitely a good thing that this game will be played in Omaha.  Last season, for their conference schedule, the Kangaroos were 6-1 at home and only 2-5 on the road, so they are not that great away from the state of Missouri…but they did pick up a win in double overtime at Indiana State in their non conference schedule.  The Mavericks will have two games under their shorts at the Baxter Arena, and things are starting to look pretty good in Mavtown as it is, so hopefully a good crowd can make it out to this Tuesday game.

One difference with the Mavs as compared to last season is that when the Mavericks traveled to Kansas City, they were really still trying to figure things out.  The team was already trying to figure out where the additions of Tre’Shawn Thurman, Randy Reed, Tim Smallwood, Rylan Murry, Daniel Meyer, Kyler Erickson, and Devin Newsome were going to fit into a rotation.  That is even with trying to figure out what to do with Jake White, who was coming back with an injury at that point.  This season, there is not going to be a lot of process trying to figure those things out, and the Mavs will be trying to figure out how to add just three or four players into the mix (Gibson, Hollins, Pirog, and Jackson).  The team has had a trip to Italy and more practice to figure out rotations, so it will not take as long for the Mavericks to figure out who everyone is.  The team is going to be slightly deeper this season, which makes since now that they are a full fledged member of division one now.

So how are the Mavs’ chances against the Kangaroos this November?  The Mavs can hopefully take better care of the ball and be able to edge out UMKC this season.  Really, how could they not take better care of the ball this time around?  This is not the same Kangaroos team that Omaha swept in their first year in the Summit, really either are the Mavericks…the only player they still have from that team is Marcus Tyus.  This game can still be as close as last season, but with better defense the Mavericks will look to better contain Martez Harrison.

 

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.

 

 

 

A look back at the players The Summit League has lost from 2014-2015

Every year we as sports fans analyze teams in college sports in consideration to what players teams lost versus what they have coming back, and what they have potentially coming in.  It is the easiest and the laziest way to determine who we think will be the best and worst teams.  So before all of that starts, lets take a look at the players the Summit League has lost so far from the 2014-2015 season.


North Dakota State – The Bison won the Summit League championship for the second straight year, and they are only losing one player to graduation.  So the lazy man will tell you that with only losing one player, they will probably go on for a three peat.  No, no, no, we are talking about a potential eight peat here.  That is a Bill Swerski’s Superfans reference.  The problem with the They Won the Championship and Are Only Losing One Player argument is that the only player that they are losing was the best player in the entire league.

Graduated:

Lawrence Alexander – there is no doubt that it will be difficult for the Bison to make up for the loss of Alexander, the 2014-2015 Conference Player of the Year.  Losing 19 points per game is no easy thing to lose, but we know players cannot stick around forever  Senior to be, Kory Brown showed some moments of that he could be the guy to make up that loss, but the Bison won the Summit League the last two years behind a complete team effort, so they will have to band together again to continue their dominant run in the Summit League.  They did pick up a commitment from Malik Clements, a 6’3″ junior college guard that will be a sophomore, who did at one time have an offer from the Mavericks.  They also have still no player on their roster that is smaller than 6’3″.

Transferred:

Jake Showalter – After only playing 13 games and averaging 1.4 points per game, it is no surprise to see the guard from Wisconsin transfer out after his freshman year.  With the addition of above mentioned Clements, Showalter was still probably going to be at the bottom of the rotation for the guards of the Bison.


South Dakota State – A team that only loses 2 players to graduation, but one player was an All Conference player and arguably the best post player in the league.

Graduated:

Zach Horstman – the senior was getting a lot of playing time before getting sidelined with an injury and being forced to miss two games against Omaha and IUPUI, this opened up more room for some of the younger guys to show off what they could do.  Before missing those two games, Horstman had 5 (out of 17) games of scoring in double figures and did not have any afterwards.  With lack of depth in the front court, the Jackrabbits had Horstman playing most of his time at the 4, but at 6’6″ and 205 pounds he was probably more in line to be playing the 3.  The Jackrabbits will have Reed Tellinghuisen and Skyler Flatten to still pick up most of the time for Horstman, and both are very capable players.  Not only that, but the Jackrabbits will have Nebraska native, Michael Daum to make up for the lost time at the 4 position, who redshirted in the 2014-2015 season.

Cody Larson – the perennial Lord of Jerkfaces and former First Team All Summit League player will definitely be tough for the Jackrabbits to make up.  Sophomore to be Ian Theisen showed some strong moments of what could come in the future for the post game of the Jackrabbits, and the Jackrabbits have some pretty big expectations from Daum, but are they 9 double-doubles good?  Are they 14 and 7 good?  Yes, I just puked a little.  I will be the first to admit it, and I have already mentioned variations of this before though, the Summit League was not stacked with really good post players this season.  There was Larson, Steve Forbes, and Mike Rostampour as the top 3, and then a big drop off after that.  Where was I going with this?  Not entirely sure, I just started saying that and was hoping it would go somewhere.  Maybe, just that the loss of Larson is not as big as it seems if no one else in the Summit League has a great post game.

Transferred:

Anders Broman – I remember coming out of high school, the Jackrabbits were incredibly excited about Broman.  Every school sounds excited about every player coming out of high school though.  It is not like Scott Nagy comes out to announce the players he signed and talks about his expectations of a few of them never developing and transferring out.  Either way, Broman is on his way to Winthorp.  Not sure his playing time was going to really increase his junior year playing behind Wisconsin transfer George Marshall, Jake Bittle, and Deondre Parks.  Seriously, does that guard trio not scare you, especially with Tellinghuisen and Flatten also capable of playing the guard position?


Oral Roberts – The 2015-2016 does not look like anything the Golden Eagles are looking forward to on paper, but Scott Sutton has seen this and done this before.

Graduated:

Denell Henderson – the loss of Henderson will mean Oral Roberts will again not have much of a post game, but they have never been extremely reliable in their post game.  Henderson averaged 3.5 points per game his junior year, before moving up to 8.8 points per game his senior year.  Albert Owens averaged 3.8 points per game this last season as a freshman, so is it pretty safe to say Owens will just kind of take over that role.  Yes, I based that off of very little.  No offense to Henderson, but it is not a bunch to make up.  Oral Roberts also has two freshman coming in that are taller than 6’7″, so there is really not a ton of fallout here.

Adrion Webber – I think Oral Roberts made the most appearances on ESPN3 out of all the Summit League teams last season.  I watched most of their games, and I cannot remember Webber’s name ever being mentioned.  He did score 9 on the Mavericks in their game in Tulsa, so it is possible I was too engulfed in anger to take in anyone’s name from the Golden Eagles during that game.  Former Creighton guy, Darian Harris did see an increase in minutes toward the end of the year, I assume Harris is a guy that is capable of making up for the loss of Webber.

Transferred:  

Korey Billbury – probably the biggest loss in the Summit League in terms of a guy transferring out.  It sounded as if Billbury had issues off the court that forced him to leave, which is why it is not really a huge shocker that he transferred out.  With Obi Emegano, I really thought these two had the chance to be the greatest guard combination in the Summit League for 2015-2016, but that will never be played out.  He shot 13-19 against the Mavericks in Tulsa, that is why I cannot remember Webber’s name.  On the court, he also averaged 14.4 points per game and led the Golden Eagles in rebounds with 7.4 per game.  Billbury’s game will be a lot for the Golden Eagles to make up, but they did beat North Dakota State, Denver, IUPUI, and a CBI tournament game without him last season.

Dederick Lee – not a shocking loss for the Golden Eagles here.  Former Maverick, Jalen Bradley will more than make up the loss for Lee.

Jabarr Singleton – another guy Bradley can make up for.  Singleton did score 10 points in the Golden Eagles win over the Mavericks in Tulsa.  Seriously, what the hell was going on in that game?

Bobby Word – an incredibly significant loss for the Golden Eagles.  Known mostly for being a shooter, Word averaged 8.4 points per game as a sophomore.  He also averaged 13.5 points per game after Billbury stopped playing, I cannot see Golden Eagle fans being super excited about losing both of those guys on the court.  The Oral Roberts, are going to be a pretty young team this upcoming season.


IPFW – The Mastadons had high expectations at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, and it was partially because of their senior trio of Joe Edwards, Steve Forbes, and Isaiah McCray, but with first year head coach Jon Coffman never really materializing the roster, and ultimately just seeming somewhat bored on the bench, the Dons fell below expectations.  If their expectations were so high because of the players they lost, what are they going to be like next season without those guys?  The Dons did sign three junior college players in an attempt to land some guys to be immediate impacts, so they could be the Magic 8 ball of the league in 2015-2016.

Graduated:

Joe Edwards – losing 12 points per game can be made up.  The Dons picked up a 6’5″ junior college player, who at one time played at Alabama State, DeAngelo Stewart who averaged nearly 17 points per game and shot 47% from the field his sophomore year.  He averaged 2 points per game as a true freshman at Alabama State, yes Alabama State is a real college.

Steve Forbes – some could argue that Forbes was the best post player in the Summit League, and really it was just because of his roundness and overall size.  There was not much seen out of him from a leadership standpoint, just a Hey Lets Get Out There and Try Maybe and We Can Still Get Some Nuggets Afterwards Anyway mentality.  I would have much rather had Mike Rostampour or Cody Larson as my team’s main post player last year, each guy had that leadership quality you are looking for.  The Dons may have fell off the map because of how little Forbes seemed to give a shit.  I watched their loss at South Dakota in March, and kept thinking that Forbes should have been dominating the Coyotes post.  South Dakota’s James Hunter, who averaged 6 points a game, had 16 points in the game off of 8 of 12 shooting, because he actually cared about the game.

Kevin Harden – Kevin Harden was never the same after missing 21 games in 2012-2013 with an injury.  His minutes kept dropping, his scoring kept dropping, he just fell out at IPFW.  It is something that you hate watching happen, but it does happen.

Isaiah McCray – McCray was always capable of doing a lot of things at IPFW, he just never did a lot of things at IPFW.  As one of the more inconsistent players in the Summit League, McCray may not be dearly missed by the Dons.  They still have junior to be, Mo Evans (10.2 ppg), and senior to be Max Landis, who was on the Summit League All Newcomer team, to make McCray a forgettable player.  The more I type, the more easy it is to understand why IPFW did not do as well as expected in 2014-2015.

Transferred:

Gage Davis – He did not play in 2014-2015.

Herbert Graham – everyone likes a guy named Herb, well except for the IPFW coaching staff apparently.  In 3 years, he only played a total of 195 minutes at IPFW.

Jure Gunjina – he played in 243 minutes in his one year at IPFW before transferring to Division 2 Georgia Southwestern.  Seriously, what has IPFW been doing the last couple of years.


South Dakota – I still feel like head coach Craig Smith did the most with the least in the Summit League in 2014-2015.  The losses of Brandon Bos and Tyler Larson will be tough tough on the Coyotes, but Smith continues to bring guys in.  He will have Iowa transfer Trey Dickerson and Air Force transfer Matt Mooney sitting out in 2015-2016, unless they get some form of waiver, but Smith is quickly turning South Dakota into the Transfer Here school in the Summit League, which instate foe South Dakota State cannot be too excited about.

Graduated:

Brandon Bos – It can be difficult to make up for someone who was a great shooter, but great shooters are all around the Midwest.  And again, Craig Smith, he is no idiot.  If you watched the game mentioned earlier with Steve Forbes full out not caring against South Dakota, you would have noticed Brandon Bos playing the game of his life scoring 29 points on 7 of 12 shooting, he also had 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

James Hunter – Hunter came into Vermillion from Washington State and did just enough to give South Dakota some form of a post game.  He may have only averaged 6 points per game and 3.5 rebounds, but it is not like he was worthless.  Without him, the Coyotes could of had Tyler Larson playing center.  Smith will have Nebraska native Tyler Hagedorn and Minnesota guy Dan Jech to come in to fill in the post in 2015-2016, along with a core of upperclassmen guards, the Coyotes may actually have some expectations coming their way at the beginning of the year.  Thanks a lot, Craig Smith.

Tyler Larson – at 6’3″ Larson averaged nearly 8 rebounds a game, and averaged 14.4 points per game.  He could do a little bit of everything, which is what helped him land on First Team All Summit League team.  Not to brag, but I think I called that one.

Transferred

Adam Thoseby – The Coyotes lost one of the greatest beards that the Summit League has ever seen.  Thoseby’s minutes were dropped significantly from his sophomore to his junior year, so it was no surprise to see him go.


Denver – Only graduating two players can be a good thing, but only graduating arguably your two best players can prove to be a headache.  Losing your two best players and not doing nearly as well as anyone would have thought you would have done, that can lead to a mystery team next season.  They will essentially be playing Clue on the court in 2015-2016.  Now who scored the shot from the corner last game that started with a pump fake, and can they do it again?

Graduated:

Cam Griffin – Griffin had some off the court issues, which caused his playing time to fluctuate throughout the season.  Fans do not miss these guys.

Brett Olson –  averaging 14 points per game at a school like Denver, who runs the Princeton offense, is like losing a guy that averages 20 points per game at a different school.  One of the best shooters and most disciplined players in the entire league will not be an easy thing to make up.  Denver has never been a team for the stars though, they have been successful off of team efforts.  Head Coach, Joe Scott, may actually prefer not to have a main scorer on his team.  Either way, losing a 2nd team All Summit League player is not anything that anyone should ever be in love with.

Transferred:

Dorian Butler – the 6’6″ California native never played for the Pioneers.

Cameron Delaney – Delaney started to pick up some minutes toward the end of the 2014-2015 season, but it was not enough to convince the Texas native to stay.  Delaney and Love could have really been a decent combo for the Pioneers in 2015-2016, but we will never know.  Delaney is off to Sam Houston State, which is where all great players go.

Jalen Love – surprised to see him go, I really thought he would have been a guy that would have been used to make up for the loss of Griffin and Olson.  But he is off to (Hello,) Newman.


IUPUI – There have been a ton of transfers in and transferred out with the Jaguars since Jason Gardner has taken over at IUPUI, which is not entirely abnormal.  I am not really sure they will miss anyone that left, mainly because I doubt the staff has had enough time to learn everyone’s names.  They have lost a lot of players, but they have been one of the worst teams in the Summit League, so it is not like the guys they bring in can be any worse.  With 5 guys transferring out, you may want to assume that they were leaving because they see the incoming players as guys that are going to be better than them.  6 wins though in 2014-2015 is probably 6 more wins than most people assumed the Jaguars were going to get.

Graduated:

Player name, 2014-2015 stats

Khufu Najee – 6’4″, 190lbs…7.4 ppg, 3,1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 44% FG, 28-35 FTs, 6-22 3pters

DavRon Williams – 6’7″, 225lbs…8.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.7 blg, 57% FG, 58% FT

Transferred:

PJ Boute – 5’9″ , 160lbs, Junior…5.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 30% FG, 32% 3ptFG, 78% FT

Josh James – 6’9″, 225 lbs, Sophomore…3.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48% FG, 69% FT

Jalen McCallum – 5’9″, 160lbs, Sophomore…2.3 ppg, 0.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.6 spg, 56% FG, 2-3 FT

Elijah Ray – 6’6″, 232lbs, Sophomore…4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 47% FG, 70% FT

Justus Stanback – 6’8″ 220lbs, Sophomore…2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 52% FG


Omaha – Another a team only graduating two players, but also losing their two best players.  On top of losing their two best players, the Mavs top returning players; Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, and Jake White each had a significant number of injuries during the 2014-2015 season.  If Jake White can get healthy, he and Tre’Shawn Thurman can hopefully make up for what the Mavs are losing in Rostampour on the court.  Neither of them really seem to have the motor and intangibles that Rostampour brought to the Mavs however, not sure anyone does really.  It is still possible that the Mavs could lose some players to transfer as they have yet to announce any players leaving.  The Mavs will also have to learn to deal with more buzz in 2015-2016 as it is their first year being fully eligible for division one, and they will have a brand new arena.  Oh, and we cannot forget the Taco Cannon prestige.

Graduated:  – I am not going to talk a lot about them at this point, because I kind of already have…

CJ Carter – 2nd Team All Summit

Mike Rostampour – Honorable Mention All Summit


Western Illinois – Although the Leathernecks only went 3-13 against the Summit League in 2014-2015, they have to be pretty optimistic about 2015-2016, when they return their two top scorers, and one of those players was a 2nd Team All Conference player.  Really Western Illinois does not lose much of anything, and a number of players on the team showed some flashes of being quality players.  Really, I feel like the Leathernecks spent the entire 2014-2015 campaign as a way of waiting for the summer of 2015.

Graduated:

Mohammed Conde – led the Leathernecks in rebounding at 6 per game.  The Leathernecks are bringing in two 6’10 freshman, so it is possible that they will not even notice the loss, or at least will fill in the loss pretty quickly.  The Leathernecks really played from the outside-in, rather than the inside-out this season, so the post game was never really anything they relied on.

Remy Roberts-Burnett – I am not sure if he had some injuries or off the court issues, but his time decreased significantly this season and he missed 9 games this last season.  I also do not want to be mean, but Western Illinois went 5-4 without him.  They ended the season 8-20.  Math.

Transferred:

Tyson Reynold – The 6’9″ junior from New York played a total of 14 minutes and scored 2 points for Western Illinois.  Remember the fallen.

Kendall Rollins- Never played.

How to schedule the Mavericks and the Bluejays: PART II

How to schedule the Mavericks and the Bluejays: PART I

Okay, so you may be asking yourself, what does profiling all of the Creighton fans have to do with scheduling the Mavericks and the Bluejays?  That is a totally fair question, so let’s move on here.

You have to understand your enemy before going after them…


Richard Creighton Fan watches the second half of the game

So Dick goes on ignoring me while his version of the Justice League is trying to save the planet from a Big East team taking over.  This is all after he established that Creighton and UNO have no room to be on the same basketball court playing against each other.  A Creighton guard misses a wide open shot.  I tell him that CJ Carter would have made that shot, Dick becomes agitated, not saying anything, he is just upset at the game and more and more at me.

An opposing player knocks down an uncontested shot in the lane, with the Creighton post player up near the free throw line for some reason, and not anywhere near the basket to protect it.  I tell Dick that Mike Rostampour would have contested that shot, he would have either fouled him to make it difficult and force him to the line, or forced that player to pass out of the lane.  Dick is now disgusted and takes a drink of his Bud Light to ease the pain.

An opposing player puts some pressure on a Creighton guard and strips the ball from the Creighton guard, so of course Dick calls the opposing player a homophobic slur.  The opposing player takes the ball that is now in his possession and sprints down the court for an uncontested layup, with none of the dejected Creighton player in sight.  I tell Dick that Devin Patterson would not have allowed himself to get in that position to give up the ball to the opposing player, and even if he did, he would sprinted down the court with the opposing player to contest the shot.  Patterson would not have just laid down showing no competitive edge.

A Creighton post player attempts and rushes a real lazy hook shot which clanks off the front of the rim.  I tell Dick that Tre’Shawn Thurman would not have done that, in fact no UNO player would have just gone for the lazy hook there.  Since they had an opposing player with their hand up they would have tried a post move or passed out of it.  Thurman has this vintage Kobe Bryant/Vince Carter post move, where he jukes to the left and then goes right for a turn around fade away, and it is a much higher percentage shot then whatever the hell we just watched that Creighton player try.

Creighton is now down by 20 at this point with not much time left, the players are somehow playing with less energy than they already have this entire soulless game of theirs.  I tell Dick that UNO has not given up in a game like that all year, even when down by 15 or so with a few minutes to go, they still tried to make a game out of it.  At this point, Dick wants to punch someone and I am in the front of the line.  He slams down his drink and throws out some notes as to why the UNO-Creighton game will never happen, but now he hopes that it will happen just to shut people like me up.

By the way, a side note:  The Creighton fan I have based Dick Creighton Fan off of looks exactly like Jake White.  If Jake White got done with college and stopped working out and let himself go a bit, and was 7 inches shorter, but still looks exactly like Jake White in the face.  He cannot stand Jake White because of his Wichita State past.  Every time Jake White does something cool I will text Dick with “hey, your cousin had 10 and 8 tonight, good for the fam!”  Then he will text mean things back about Jake White, would you expect anything less from a Dick Creighton Fan?  Dick also has season tickets for Creighton basketball, the people in his section are the people that usually bring a book to read, so you know, the real supporters and the people that make you wonder why they even came.  Dick also plays basketball like you would expect a Creighton fan would…selfishly.  Takes 15 threes during a 40 minute game and only makes about 4 of them at best.  Also does not recognize you sprinting down the court and hustling to get open, so just jacks up threes.


Why it may not be happening.

I have no absolutely positive reason as to why UNO-Creighton may not be happening as of right now.  Maybe it is money, maybe McDermott and Hansen, or the two athletic administrations cannot agree on stuff, I am not sure why.  Maybe McDermott is just a really really really nice guy and does not want to beat the Mavs and cause an inner city riot.  I do not think McDermott has a mean bone in his entire body.

I find myself wondering this though, could the reason be because of the JaySkers?  The JaySkers that just root for anyone local, they like the Mavericks enough to take notice, but maybe not enough to go to their games yet.  If UNO-Creighton happens, the JaySkers will take a little more notice and be more aware of what the Mavericks have, and that they are at least entertaining.

If the Mavericks and Creighton play, and UNO comes close or even beats the Bluejays, what would the JaySkers do with their money?  They will buy a UNO shirt or two, maybe some tickets to a few games, and maybe even classify themselves as JayMavSkers, or maybe they even sift through Bull Shit Mountain enough and just become MavSkers.  If they spent 50 bucks from their annual Going Out Budget on UNO stuff, that is 50 bucks less that they will spend on beer and food at the CenturyLink Center.

If a JaySker were more aware of the Mavericks and entertained by them, would they be more inclined to go to a UNO event over a Creighton event?  If they could go to Aksarben, which is more centrally located than the CenturyLink Center (and Ralston Arena), pay less for parking, and walk just a little bit closer to DJs Dugout and other restaurants, do you think they would go for it?  Would they rather see UNO have a shot against Oral Roberts over seeing Creighton getting dominated by a overrated Georgetown team?  Seriously, Georgetown has been overrated for the past 10 years.

When the JaySker goes to a UNO hockey game, they see the Creighton University advertisement on the scoreboard, they still get that Bluejay taste in their mouth.  Typically the JaySkers will make it out to UNO-North Dakota hockey, or UNO-Ohio State in the old days, the JaySkers just like the events they can brag about seeing really.  There is no University of Nebraska at Omaha advertisement when the JaySker goes to a Creighton Basketball game, not even sure if it is allowed.  So if UNO men’s basketball was put right in front of their faces, could the JaySker sway a little bit?

UNO and Creighton have played in a few sports, and when you go the atmosphere is a little weird.  Creighton fans always have this feeling of We Will Beat the Crap Out of Our Opponent, but they have been a little more quiet when Creighton plays the inner city rival.  Their attitude changes to Oh Crap We Better Not Lose to This Team.  When I moved back to Omaha from Utah, one of the first things I did was get tickets UNO vs. Creighton baseball, I was pretty damn pumped for the game.  I think I was scared that game was going to be a sell out, being away from Omaha for about a year I just kind of imagined that everyone in Omaha would be jacked for that match up.  What a perfect gift for my return to Omaha though.  The game was a little slow, Creighton players seemed to lack a little energy and it was almost as if the Bluejay fans did not want to do smack talk, especially since the people in red and black out numbered the people in blue and white.  It is also hard to smack talk when your baseball team in the last few years has just become a team of Hey Let’s Just Hit the Ball to the Outfield and Hope for the Best.  UNO won the game 3-2, the Creighton players looked like they were on suicide watch after the game, they did not appear to want to come out and shake the UNO players hands, and they probably knew that Ed Servais was going to have them run a marathon after losing to that reclassifying team.  The Creighton fans walked out of there confused and as quiet as you exit a funeral.

How would you rank Creighton sports teams in terms of how prideful their fans are toward the team.  1. Men’s Basketball, 2. Men’s Soccer, 3. Baseball?  That is their fans’ third favorite sport, and UNO showed that they can hang with them.  Men’s Soccer showed that they can hang in exhibition play as well.  Women’s soccer needed two overtimes to beat UNO this last season.  Oh this reminds me, UNO-Creighton softball happening any time soon is probably less likely than men’s basketball happening anytime soon, but hey, that is another conversation.

When UNO can make the big dance and possibly pull of an upset, the JaySkers will come crawling.  The 14 seed beating the 3 seed prestige is far more powerful then the BIG EAST team beating a SWAC team in the first/second round or whatever the hell it is anymore.  That is when the prestige factor will come into play for Creighton to play UNO, the game will need to be played after that.  That will make UNO men’s basketball the even that they will want to go see and Creighton will have the need to play at beat the Mavericks to show everyone who is still the boss of this town.  And it is not like UNO is wanting Creighton every single season, although that would be swell, it is not necessary, UNO fans just want the acknowledgement from the Creighton fans, so once in a few years is fine.  City rivalries do not necessarily happen every season, especially when the schools are not at the same level.  UNO fans understand that The BIG EAST is on a different level than the Summit League, they are not psychotic.

Creighton fans also do not like to share attention.  For 12 years they got to share a market with Barry Collier and Doc Sadler coached Nebraska teams that would bore and frustrate the hell out of Husker basketball fans in Omaha, so many of those fans would go watch Creighton.  Even the end of the Danny Nee era at Nebraska was painful to watch.  Now, the kid up the street thinks they can join the party.  They are building a new arena, new dorms, new buildings on campus, but they still have shitty parking.  None of this can make the Creighton fan happy.  Greg McDermott is not an attention grabbing coach, his press conferences will put you right to sleep**.  If you throw him Dana Altman, Tim Miles, Derrin Hansen, and Doc Sadler into a charity poker event, you are going to forget he is there.  Miles would be the guy that never shuts up and annoys all the other players, but the crowd wants to keep watching.  Hansen will do the same, but not as many jokes, he will feed off of the Miles jokes a little bit.  Sadler would be the one accusing Miles and Hansen of having too much fun, probably folding his cards every single time.  Altman would be the guy who never says anything, still betting on what he thought was a good bet, everything would be a calculated decision.  You root for those guys in poker tournaments, mainly because you are dying to see what their hand is as 99% of the time they are in a hand, it is because they have a good hand.  McDermott would just there, drinking his water, you would forget McDermott was even in the poker tournament, he would never grab your attention to make you wonder what he is scheming.  You would just expect him to be out at some point, but not as quickly as Sadler who you assume would just get frustrated and make a bad bet so he could go home.

**That is not to say that McDermott is a bad coach.  Attention Grabbing ability does not make one a good or bad coach.  Nor does poker playing ability.  I am now curious though if anyone has done a qualitative study of this.


Why do we want it to happen?

So the hardcore UNO fans do not really like Creighton fans, they want the opportunity to beat Creighton.  They do not necessarily expect a win, but they want the chance to go to the game and maybe talk a little trash, poke fun at Creighton, and hopefully be on the winning side.  UNO fans have to live in the shadow of Creighton, which is fair since Creighton has been fully division one much longer.  In a way, UNO fans feel disrespected by Creighton fans.  Bluejay nation still does not see UNO as division one, this is partially because a majority of Creighton fans do not know what is happening outside of Creighton basketball.  A while back when Creighton was in the NIT, I had a few friends that wanted to go their game against Bowling Green, so I went down to the Qwest Center to buy the tickets, and the guy in front of me who was decked out in all Creighton gear like he was a life long fan asked as many questions as he could possible ask:

  • So this is the NIT?
  • What is the NIT?
  • What would have Creighton had to do to make the NCAA tournament?
  • Who are they playing?
  • Bowling Green is in what conference?
  • What was Bowling Green’s record this year?
  • What was Creighton’s record this year?
  • Is it a white out?
  • Is it a blue out?
  • How many fans do you expect to come?
  • Will Lawlor’s be selling any gear centered around the NIT?
  • Who does Creighton play after they win this game?
  • When is the next game?
  • Who leads the team in scoring?
  • They sell beer for the NIT, right?

I am pretty sure the ticket person wanted to just scream out “IT’S ON THE FREAKING INTERNET” the whole time.  But that is Creighton fan hood, they want to support Creighton, and they want the event.  For some reason they do not think Creighton-UNO is an event.  So we need to make it an event for them.

Would inviting Tim Miles make it an event?  Like, he could do the starting lineups.  He could come out in a tuxedo and grab the microphone and read off the starting lineups like he is doing the intros for a famous boxing match, he could read off each player’s name with some Will Ferrell like jokes, and then he could ring the starting bell.  Since there is apparently some rule that college coaches cannot attend games of their opponents, he will have to leave, and all the Creighton fans can boo him out of the building.  It might be better than Christmas for Tim Miles, and Creighton fans.


How about we shoot a few things down

Dick brought up the points that any Creighton fan that thinks they pay attention will bring up, so let’s take a look at these things.

  • It is tough enough to schedule in college basketball as is…

Yeah, okay, I can agree with that.  With the non-conference schedule taken up by early season tournaments, a rivalry game (Nebraska in this case), return games, and maybe a conference versus conference challenge, it can be a little difficult to fit a few more games in there for some teams.

It also has to be super stressful and challenging to set something up when your coaches and athletic admin attend the same charity events, local organization’s outings, AAU tournaments, and high school games.  That could require talking to each other in person.  Much more simple to get back and forth emails and phone calls with Tulsa and North Texas.  Creighton and UNO baseball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer (in exhibitions), and other sports meeting up was defying all the odds in the last few years.

  • Playing UNO would not do much for Creighton

North Carolina A & T, Chicago State (3 times), Campbell, Houston Baptist, Presbyterian, Longwood, Alcorn State, UMKC, Long Beach State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Central Arkansas, North Carolina Central, Eastern Illinois, South Dakota, and Texas Pan-American have all played Creigthon since UNO’s transition.

Screw you.

You ever watch a city rivalry game?  You can not give two craps about either team and still enjoy the hell out of it.  A few years ago I watched Cincinnatti-Xavier on television, and this was post Sean Miller.  I do not care for either team and I do not even know any player on either team.  The rivalry was so intense, you could just feel the energy in the crowd and in the players in how important that game was to everyone there.

The UNO-Creighton men’s soccer exhibition last year was incredibly intense.  I thought someone was going to get killed.  It was an exhibition game…exhibition…  I said exhibition, right?

  • Creighton would have beaten UNO by 50 (last year)

Prove it…

I think what Creighton (and Iowa) fans hate more than anything are the personality-less Nebraska football fans who think at the beginning of the every year that the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team will win the national championship solely based on the fact that the 94 and 95 ‘skers were the greatest college football teams ever.  Those teams were then, and they were great, but this now.  So just because Creighton had Doug McDermott a couple years ago, it does not mean that the Bluejays are still at that level of greatness.  The Bluejays also do not have the same perimeter defense without Grant Gibbs.  Their team has changed greatly.  Yes there are a few years that Creighton would have beaten UNO by 30+, but that is not an every year thing, there are a few years that UNO could upset Creighton, and this year could have been one of them…maybe depending on when the game was played, Creighton was doing pretty well until they played North Texas.  Hell I am pretty sure there were years in the D2 era that UNO could have upset the Huskers in basketball.

We are now at a point where UNO beat a team that beat Creighton (Marquette) and Creighton beat a team that beat UNO (Chicago State), so we can have these arguments, which if the two teams do not meet, it is going to add to some frustration for the few that want the game to happen.  Creighton’s skill level is not as high as it was a few years ago.

I have a friend, he is a JaySker, the good kind of JaySker though, he wants them to both win, and he even roots for UNO a little bit (though he has yet to attend a basketball game).  He is really just one of those guys who roots for anything local, but he owns more Creighton stuff then he does Husker and UNO stuff.  He admits one thing, even though in the past they were exhibition games, UNO always played Creighton (and Nebraska) tough and close.  It was the Mavericks’ one chance for a showcase back then.  They watch more Creighton and Nebraska games on local television all year then they do any of their opponents, so the Mavericks have a constant recruiting tape loop on watch.  They get to sit in their dorms and watch Creighton play and think to themselves, if I had to stop that guy, this is what I would do.

So this whole Creighton would beat UNO by 50 BS can stop.  I am not saying it is an automatic close game, or even a win by UNO, I am just saying that it would at least be entertaining.  Was Nebraska-UNO early in the season not entertaining?  When it is a local rivalry, the game is more about the intangibles, not about who looks better on paper, and honestly Creighton did not look all that great on paper this season.


Tim Miles: The Inspiration

Whether it was on accident or not, Tim Miles proved something.  He was interviewed on the sideline at what I think was his first Husker football game, and he answered questions with a few jokes as his charismatic self, and he finished with an infamous line, only show in the state.

Miles claims he meant that there is no Nebraska State, as he was involved in the Colorado State to Colorado relationship.  He claimed to not be thinking of Creighton at this juncture, and we will never know if it was intentional not, but this caused so many Creighton fans to just lose their freaking minds.  Tim Miles had not even been involved with a Nebraska-Creighton game yet and the Creighton fan base wanted his head.  Creighton fans get pumped up for that Nebraska-Creighton game each and every year.  In the Missouri Valley days, it was their chance to show they were better than “the big boys.”  Now, beating that Tim Miles jerk is the motivation.

Now Tim Miles just loves poking fun at Creighton.  He does it every chance he gets.  He scheduled UNO and he took some jabs at Creighton for not doing the same thing.  Creighton fans want that win over Nebraska more and more now.  With Doc Sadler, Creighton lived in local basketball bliss.  Sadler did not really care too much for the local thing, he held not merit to winning or losing to Creighton.  He did not even really go after too many local recruits, I know someone related to Iowa’s Mike Gesell, and they told me that Sadler and Nebraska never once contacted him.  Sadler did not bring much media hype to Nebraska basketball, and they were as boring to watch as it was to listen to him talk.  Miles, with the help of a new arena, practice facilities, and commitment from the university has turned all of that around.  Neighboring Creighton is cranky that Tim Miles is now the main character in all of this and Creighton needs a bottle of juice.

I wish there was a way to hit Creighton where it really hurts and convince Tim Miles to stop the annual Nebraska-Creighton game and start a Nebraska-UNO annual game, but I highly doubt that is an option.  Creighton fans would riot in the streets of downtown Omaha.  To hurt them even more, the game could be played at the CenturyLink Center, both teams could wear one of those In Memory patches during the games, and no blue would be allowed in the arena.  Nebraska could even bring their floor, like they did when they played Oregon in Omaha.  After the games, Tim Miles and Derrin Hansen could go out downtown to all the Creighton hang outs, put as much money as they can into the juke boxes and play the worst music possible, and just be laughing the whole time.  They can even go to The Blue Jay Bar & Grill (is that place still open), and call out the bar for letting in a bunch of 19 year olds and letting them drink.  Again though, highly unlikely, but I feel like Tim Miles could still jokingly bring it up as an idle threat once in a while.

So anyway, Tim Miles and his Only Show in the State comment, it charged things up for Creighton against Nebraska.  With Sadler, Creighton was getting into this Oh La La attitude toward Nebraska basketball.  They wanted the victory over Nebraska for sure, but they were not getting pumped for it like they used to.  After Miles said that, all hell broke out, Creighton fans were pumped, they circled the game on their calendar, the ticket prices on Ticketmaster jumped up to almost $300.  Creighton fans needed new shirts from Lawlor’s to show their dominance and commitment.  So Tim Miles showed us one thing, to build up demand for Creighton fans, you just piss them right off.


Yes, let’s just piss off Creighton fans

It sounds so simple, and so fun.  At this point you have to assume that Greg McDermott (and probably Derrin Hansen) has some objections about this game happening, and McDermott is definitely not going to do it without demand from the fans.  So let’s just piss off the Creighton fans and force them to demand the game to happen.  Let’s make the Creighton fans the one calling the athletic admin to ask why it is not happening.

The Senseless, The Attitude, The Coast, and the Entitled all have one thing in common.  Their presentation of self suggests that they are incredibly confident and have high self esteems.  In reality, their confident persona and self esteem is the front stage, in the back stage, they realize they have not proven anything and need validation, they are actually quite insecure and defensive.  After all, the typical Omaha born Creighton student is the kid that you went to high school with a $30,000 car, no job, and presented it as if he bought the car on his own from all the hard work he has done.  If you ever called that kid out though, he would so make sure that dumb high school girls did not think you were hot.  Creighton men’s basketball somehow validates that they made the right choice in life.  The basketball team is really good, so I must have picked the right school!  With these people we need to attack and break down that confidence, until they want to see Creighton-UNO happen to in some way prove their oddly placed dominance.

Here are a few buttons to push:

  • Your school lacks innovation and looks like a sick Mongolian Hun coughed it up

When I went to school and worked at UNO they were constructing the new HPER building.  I was also on student government and sat through a bunch of presentations on ways to grow the University of Nebraska of Omaha.  Most of these presentations centered around facilities.  The same thing happened while I was working at Weber State, consultants would come in and discuss how prospective students care most about facilities and work out facilities were always the most important.  Where else are the homeboys supposed to pick up chicks other than the gym?

Anyway, UNO reconstructs HPER, and HPER is freaking awesome.  It has everything a student could ask for.  The student population grows from it, and continues to grow.  HPER has been rated one of the top gyms in the country, the Outdoor Venture Center is also nationally ranked, and believe me, considering its location, that is a huge accomplishment.  A few months after the student numbers get a jump, Nebraska-Lincoln gets a new Outdoor Venture Center, so who tilts their head like a confused puppy?  Creighton opens up the Rasmussen Fitness and Sports Center a few years later, which is similar to UNO’s HPER, but considering Creighton’s student population versus UNOs, it is completely ridiculous.  Creighton did not want to believe the facilities argument at first, I mean it was probably based on studies from MSNBC or something anyway.  The younger cousin got a new shiny toy and they had to have one.  They do not even have their own logo, they had to steal it from the Toronto Bluejays.  The first thing you see in the About Us section of their website is the phrase There’s No Place Like Creighton.  I feel like I have heard There Is No Place Like…but I cannot remember how the rest of it goes.

You drive by campus on Cuming Street and you look at it.  While you look at it, do you see the resemblance to the exterior to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or is that just me?  Can you guys not hire a cleaning lady for that thing?

  • You do not actually care about the education

Nebraska basketball gets a brand new practice facility, so the Creighton moneybaggers and Monopoly players get all whiny and throw down some money for the Creighton Championship Center.  That is the thing, Nebraska gets an advantage and that is all those people want to fix.  This whole foundation of We Support the Jesuit Education from the boosters with more money than God is BS.  If the education is what they really valued, then their students would not be sitting in the UNO library studying because it is  a superior library.  I am sure that The Entitled and The Attitude could not even tell you where the Creighton library is located, or what the purpose of it is.  The Creighton senior days, when the players make speeches, how many of those players have you questioned if they could read or not?  Have the boosters sat through those?

  • Your student section sucks

Oh they will show up big for Nebraska, Georgetown, or Villanova, they will come get in the front rows for the games on national television, but other than that they suck.  It is after all pretty difficult to pretend that you go to Duke when your team is in 2nd to last place in something.  You go to the games and you see that a majority of the student section is disinterested, they might as well be at a Rob Schneider film.  Yes your team sucks at times, but that is still your team, and it is free for you, so why not go?

The UNO student section is far superior, yes I am a homer here, but it is true.  The main figure for Creighton sports is men’s basketball, the main character for UNO sports is hockey, and if you go to both of these events then you already know.  Even when UNO hockey is not as strong of a team as the students want to be, they still show up, because it is their team and they support it.  The Creighton students do not go if the Bluejays suck in their minds.

When I was on Student Government at UNO, this was in the Division 2 days, Trev Alberts came and talked to us and asked how to engage the students into athletics.  Alberts said one of the challenges was to get people to support UNO with one of the biggest athletic programs in the country just 45 minutes down the road, and while UNO was getting support for hockey there were not a lot of people there to support the Mavericks, there were more people who were just there for their love of hockey.  Alberts wanted to figure out how to get people behind UNO, not just the sport of hockey.  He also had the general feel that for other sports, students did not want to come to division 2 events because of the “high school” feel that it gave.  I think the high school feel is gone, students are there to support UNO now, the momentum is building, and the support is growing.  When the Mavs can play for post season, the crowd will become more supportive too, and the support was pretty high this last season of transition.

The Nebraska basketball student section did not want to go for a number of years, there was not much excitement in that program.  Tim Miles and a new arena rejuvenated them, now they are loud and crazy, no matter the opponent.  They are there to support the team now, good record or bad record, Big Ten opponent or Sun Belt opponent, they are there now.  They do not even need beer.

  • Tre’Shawn knows Omaha

It is not just Tre’Shawn Thurman, but any current and future Maverick that in an Omaha guy.  A marketing campaign we really need to start to take over JaySkers market.  You can assume most JaySkers are from Omaha and support the city of Omaha in one way or another.  With none of the Big East opponents really that close, and no Nebraska born scholarship players for Creighton (next year they will have Omaha North’s Justin Patton and Benson’s Khyri Thomas), it will be more difficult for these people to really connect with the Creighton program.  They wont have that Omaha supportive feel as they did with 8 years of Josh Dotzler-Antoine Young-Josh Jones Local From the Area back courts leading as the faces of the program and as that connection to the Omaha fans.

UNO has that connection now with Tre’Shawn Thurman, the player that the JaySkers will recognize.  We can get in Creighton’s front yard and throw a University of Nebraska at Omaha advertisement in a media timeout of a Creighton basketball game, and the video can end with the best Thurman dunk we can find.  It will get the Jayskers to think, We Need to Go See That Kid.  The guy they will want to see and sit around talking about his play at UNO and debating what he could have been at Creighton or Nebraska.  Can we post a bunch of Tre’Shawn Knows Omaha posters all around town, even on Creighton’s campus?  Is that against some rule?  Can we post a picture of him standing over an aerial portrait of Omaha, with his foot over the Creighton campus?  A subliminal message of, Everyone Will Get Behind This Guy and Not See You Anymore!

I am not even sure if this is totally legit.  I do see a bunch of women’s athletics programs just using girls that they see as the most attractive girl on the roster for their advertisements, even if they are not that much of an athlete in comparison to their teammates, so why not this?  It will not do much to anger The Attitude or The Coast, they barely care about Omaha as is.  The Entitled and The Senseless though, this will screw them up a bit.  The Entitled has a weird love of Omaha, mainly because they know they cannot leave it without Daddy’s permission, but they love it as if they are Batman loving Gotham City.  You know if Bruce Wayne’s parents did not die, and they just spoiled the crap out of him to the point of making him a waste of talent.

  • We beat Marquette…

Okay, so this can get to Creighton fans just a little bit, and they will typically come back with the You Lost to Chicago State argument, and that is fair.  But this still gets in their head enough to get them thinking.  If you keep poking at The Attitude, they are going to get pissy, they will absolutely need Creighton-UNO basketball to happen just to shut you up.  Remember, the idea is to get the fans to demand the game to happen, you want to get their reasons as to why the game is not happening out of their heads.

  • You are afraid to schedule us

I do not think this will work, but if you want to try it, what the the hell.  The fans are not afraid to schedule UNO, they just fall into the game of We Would Beat You by 50 and Playing UNO Would Do Nothing For Creighton.  The coaches and admin might be afraid, not in terms of picking up a loss on the  schedule, but more so for losing the fair weathered fans that they know “support” their program.

A mass of their fans care more about the beer at the arena, and the last time I checked the new UNO arena will sell beer.  My brother got me tickets to a Creighton game this year.  I went to the game, sat in literally the very back row, and I sat behind these three dudes who may have been the dumbest dudes I have ever found.  They hardly paid attention to the game, drank more beer than I have drank in the last 6 months, and talked about going to the casino the whole time, but this is after they discussed how dedicated they were as Creighton fans when they first sat down.  If UNO had a casino near campus, those fans would come and “support” UNO too, but I do not think these were people Trev Alberts was trying to recruit to be the supporters of UNO.

Creighton though, they love these people, and they cannot possibly take the risk of scheduling UNO for these idiots.  If Creighton-UNO plays, they may actually do a little more than pretend to care about the game.  They may stay seated, watch, be into it, and they may spend a few less dollars on beer.  OH NO!  Admit it though, you love going to their games or watching them on television and seeing 1/5 of the arena not into it, just in the hallways or at the concessions not actually rooting on the team.  Creighton might actually be afraid of scheduling UNO for the sake of these people.  So much integrity and excellence.

Have you ever heard a Creighton fan talk about Kansas basketball?  That is the team they want to play more than any but it wont get scheduled.  They want Kansas to come to Omaha and slap some dumb boring tag line of Come See the Bird Fight!  They want to show they belong with Kansas for some reason.  Kansas is on their own scale of good.  Creighton fans love to sit around and say “Kansas is afraid to schedule us”.  No, Kansas is not afraid to schedule you.  From what I could gather over years of listening to Creighton assistant coaches on the radio, it was Dana Altman who was afraid to schedule Kansas, for whatever reason.

  • Aksarben > Old Market

Creighton fans love their shiny things, and they love the downtown bars.  Apparently the Jesuit foundation means sneak into every bar in the Old Market and drink so much until you pass out in the back of a 5 minute cab ride.  Aksarben is now growing and it growing because of UNO, downtown does not NEED Creighton.  Aksarben also does not have that 42 year old dudes hitting on 22 year old chicks feel to it, bragging up his 36k a year lifestyle to some girl in college who has never worked more than 15 hours a week.  The restaurants in Aksarben are newer, the buildings are newer, and it has Amato’s.  Aksarben is not even close to being done either, not that downtown ever will be, but this has to enrage the from Omaha Creightoners.  I have not been to Aksarben much, just to DJs Dugout to catch a UNO hockey game or two, and a few other places, but I did notice that there are also not any douche bags that want to start a fight just for the sake of feeling tough like the Old Market.  Insecure people needing validation, that is the Creighton way.

  • I cannot stop laughing when you tell me that Creighton is as athletic as Georgetown or Villanova

Just stop saying it!  You are killing me!  I cannot even feel my side anymore!  Oh my God, you really think that?!  You really are that delusional!  How many beers did you have before half time?!?!  Is there a country for people like you to get deported to?!?!?!  Is it called the Republic of Dumb Shits?!?!

I had Archer on in the back ground during that…


So pissing off Creighton will be fun, and most of UNO fans probably already try it anyway, but at least now they should know that it can be productive too.  It is important to know that UNO fans need the Creighton fans to want this as much as the UNO fans.  As the JaySkers catch on, the UNO fans need to be welcoming of them, welcome them into a few watch parties for games at DJs Dugout maybe, let them see that Mavnation is not filled up with a bunch of arrogance like its neighbor.  Go to the Creighton-UNO and Nebraska-UNO events that are happening, which I am sure you already do, and find the good kind of JaySkers, friend them up and work on getting them to be MavSkers.

A little recap of the bumps and bruises along the way in the last year of transition

So the season is over for the UNO men’s basketball team, as well as this long transition period, so how would you rate the transition and the 2014-2015 season?

As for the entire transition, it was obviously a learning process.  Not just for the players, but for the coaching staff as well.  In the first year of transition, yes they won 11 games, but only one game against a division one opponent (Northern Illinois).  In the second season, the team still won 11 games, but even after a few players transferred out, and the team graduated their stop scorer, Mitch Albers, they were able to win 9 games against division one opponents.  In year 3, the Mavs were able to win 15 games against division one opponents.  That team had a solid core of talent, and everyone knew each other.  Karhoff, Hagerbaumer, Simmons, Carter, Steffensmeier, and Phillips had established what they could do, then you got to add incredibly tough and competitive Rostampour and Patterson to that team.  You have to figure 15 wins over division one teams and a post season win in the CIT was a tremendous success, considering the transition and that most of the roster was not recruited for the division one level.

From a wins perspective and conference standings point of view, you would probably want to give this season a D-, but was it really that bad?  Okay, I will admit that I am a homer, but consider a few things.  The Mavericks lost 5 conference games by one possession.  The Mavericks were able to beat Marquette in Milwaukee without Jake White (who before the start of the season was thought to be the best player on the team).  The Mavericks were affected by significant injuries to key players Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, and Jake White (who I already mentioned), not only to mention that a few other players got sidelined by a sickness or two throughout the season.  I am still a firm believer that if the Mavs had White and Patterson against Chicago State that they would have won that game.  The Mavericks were also playing with 8 guys that had never played a game as a Maverick.  So with these factors thrown at you, do you upgrade that D- to a C maybe?

We knew that Jake White suffered an injury last season while he was sitting out due to transfer rules, so you had to wonder about how much he got to actually practice and get ready for his first season as a Mav.  It seemed like he was a little out of funk for much of the season, partially because of injuries to his foot, and I assume just about every body part you can name in 30 seconds.  Can that be a game at the new arena next year?  Name more muscles than Jake White in 30 seconds, and go… We were a little teased with White at first.  Not including Koang Dulouny, who only played 7 games at UNO, he was the first transfer that the Mavericks were able to pick up that came from a bigger program.  So there was some excitement to see how much he could help.  His first game he nearly had a double-double until he had to leave the game with a foot injury.  The newspaper said it should not affect him for too long, but he missed the first road game at Seattle, then at Marquette, then at Nebraska, and so on.  We were teased with this Well He Is Pretty Likely Next Game thing for a string of games.  The Mavericks even had him suiting up, like the Boston Celtics did in 2008-2009 in the playoffs with Kevin Garnett who was suffering an abdomen injury, which just had you wondering as a fan WHY ARE YOU NOT PUTTING HIM IN THE DAMN GAME, DO YOU NOT RESPECT THE OTHER TEAM?!?!?!?!?!?!

Then White came back, then sat down for a few more games, and we found ourselves wondering if this was a bust.  A bust in the terms of, did not live up to the hype because of injuries, not because of lack of talent.  It turns out, it was NOT a bust!  Admit it, a healthy Jake White versus Mike Rostampour, you have a hard time figuring out which one is the better rebounder.  There was not a ton of consistency to Jake White this season, but how could anyone be with that many injuries?  There were many missed “bunnies” by White, but with a constant string of injuries are you going to get mad at him for that?  Did you see how extremely pissed off he was after each of those misses?  He knows that is not a normal thing and that those easy shots will drop next season after he has had more time to work on things with the Mavs.  There were a few plays throughout the year, where he would get bumped the wrong way, and he could not get down the court and back on defense, which was unfortunate, but that is not something that will last.  Not the guy we saw grab 10 rebounds in a half, nope, that healthy guy, will be up and down the court.  The (barely) less than 40% shooting for a post player, that will not be forever.  If White can stay healthy, bring that shooting percentage up to the high 40s/lower 50s, and run the floor better next season, the Mavs will win more games with that.

Then the injuries to Devin Patterson and Marcus Tyus.  The team runs on Patterson, he is the floor general, he gets shit done.  Without him, the team’s flow is completely off.  You could tell that there were a few games that he was affected by his feet and ankles, he just did not run the same.  This is no diss to Kyler Erickson or Devin Newsome, but the team is just entirely different with either of them playing the point, the team does not get out and run as much, the team do noes not do all of the things that the Mavs like to do.  The team does need those stretches though where they are not running nearly as much, this is not Oregon football, where the offense can score in a minute and then go sit down for 10-15 minutes of actual time, nope, this is constant back and forth stuff here.  The team needs Erickson or Newsome to come in and slow it down for a stretch of time, the players do not play like a video game where it has a mathematical formula to determine how tired they are, although that would be pretty awesome.  Patterson is right up there to be the best point guard in the Summit League, the best point guard is too big of a piece to have go down in order for your team to keep their rhythm and success.  But this is athletics, players have to play through injuries, and teams have to figure out how to play around those injuries.  I think Chip Kelly said that.  Two Oregon football mentions in one paragraph?  Oh man, I really have married into Oregon fanhood.  I really need to check myself in somewhere, like a bar.

Then a loss of Marcus Tyus, so you end the season without your best shooter for 6 games.  An awful person may say that the Mavericks were a better team without Tyus since they went 4-2 without him, but screw that person.  You are never a better team when you take away your most consistent player and best three point shooter.  The team’s three point shooting fell without Tyus at first.  5-18 versus South Dakota (loss), 4-19 versus Western Illinois (win), 4-19 versus Oral Roberts (loss), 3-14 versus IPFW (win), then they needed Tim Smallwood to basically do a Marcus Tyus impersonation and hit a season high 5 threes against IUPUI.  If Smallwood did not have that type of game, the Mavericks more than likely do not win that game.  I sometimes think that when a key scorer gets injured mid or late season, it can turn out better for a team’s win percentage.

Why?  When a key scorer on the team have to think about things more and process out game as a team, and be more creative to find baskets, not just throw the ball to one player for a certain percentage of the time.  Not that I think Tyus was a ball hog, not at all, not saying that.  The Mavs were just forced to figure it out, after already once trying to figure it out without Jake White and/or Devin Patterson.  When the Mavs lost White, the entire team was pretty new as it was, so they had to figure out playing together already, when they lost Patterson, they lost their flow.  Tyus going out created a different situation, but this time it was after the mix of returners and newer players got a chance to ball and gel together already for most of the season.  As a point guard, Patterson only really plays one position, so his injury basically only created more minutes for Kyler Erickson and Devin Newsome.  As a post player, Jake White’s injury basically created more minutes and opportunities for Tre’Shawn Thurman and Rylan Murry.  By the way, I am still going with Thurman and Murry sounds like the worst cop buddy show on USA or TNT.  Tyus’ injury creates a little more opportunity, playing two positions, it created more minutes for Randy Reed, Tim Smallwood, and Kyler Erickson, as well as creating more situations for Derrin Hansen to try a bunch of different lineups.  The Reed, Smallwood, Erickson combo also knew they had to bring some more energy with Tyus out, they hopefully knew and understood this was a big chance for them.  With Tyus out, they all played key moments and came up huge to help the success of the Mavericks.  It created a learning situation late in the year, and the players had to develop and work it out.  PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY OF THIS AS ME BEING HAPPY AS MARCUS TYUS BEING INJURED, INJURIES ARE NEVER GOOD, ESPECIALLY FOR ANYTHING IN THE KNEES.

Playing with 8 new faces is kind of fun, but also pretty frustrating.  The first job I ever had was in a restaurant.  There was this kid that worked with me, and we were both new at about the same time, the restaurant closed at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and the two of us pretty much closed every single Friday.  At first, it would take us 45 minutes to get all of the closing duties done, but after a while we both figured out what the other was better at, we both knew what the other was going to do before even doing it.  After a while, we could get out of that shit hole in about 15 minutes after closing.  The same thing kind of works in sports.  Yes, by this time Patterson, Carter, Tyus, and Rostampour should of had that same functioning relationship on the court, but it is not like they all play every single minute of every single game.  White, Reed, Smallwood, Murry, Meyer, Erickson, Newsome, and Thurman do not all have that same relationship with each other or the returning 4, and hopefully they can all return for next season to develop those on the court relationships.  They will know what everyone else is doing before they even start doing it.  Once the Mavs get on this trip to Europe and play together more, have a summer of working out together, all get together and practice, they are going to get better at that closing shift. So you have to be feeling good about the start of full fledged D-1 life, right?  You also have to think, there is not (as of right now at least) no division one team in Nebraska with a winning record.  Tim Miles has stated that his team has not improved as the season as gone on, it does not look like Creighton has improved toward the end of the year, but the Mavs did get better toward the end of rht year.

So is this similar to when the Mavs had the returning core from 2012-2013 and got to add Rostampour and Patterson to the mix?   Several Summit League teams have a good deal of players returning players, as there are not many graduating seniors in men’s basketball, so we will have to wait and see if the growing chemistry is a factor for the team’s success.  That is kind of obvious, right?  That we would have to wait…I mean the schedule has not even come out yet.  How dumb was it of me to say that?

Aside from the record that did not live up to expectations, we did see some great things this year.  Okay, we won a game yesterday.  If we win today it’s called “two in a row”.  And if we win again tomorrow that’s called “a winning streak.”  It has happened before.  That is a Major League reference.  If you have not seen Major League, you probably need to reevaluate your entire life.  The Mavs were able to finish on a 3 game winning streak on the road.  You have to be optimistic with that if the Mavs were able to make the Summit League tournament this year, that they would at least be hot going into the tournament, even as an 8 seed.  A team on a 3 game road winning streak, and 4 of their last 6 overall. with the 2 losses by a total of 4 points in the final possessions, is not your typical 8 seed.  But an 8 seed still has to play the 1 seed, and the Mavs did not have a good time this season against South Dakota State.  Okay, I went back and looked, that is actually a Major League 2 reference.  It is okay if you have not seen Major League 2, that is cool.

We also saw the ending of two fine careers, and the beginning of a few more.  CJ Carter finished his career with just a couple more than 1500 points, the 5th most in school history, Mike Rostampour finished his two year career teaching the Mavericks about rebounding and toughness.  The Mavs got to show off the beginning of freshman Tre’Shawn Thurman who showed a tremendous freaking upside, and Murry, Meyer, and Newsome showed glimpses of what they will be capable of.  Murry a three point specialist and good ball handler for his size, Meyer a good rebounder and defender, even showed some post moves when given the chance, and Newsome showed his ability to be a floor general.

Mav fans who paid attention this year, they know that this season was more than just the season that the Mavs beat a Big East team.  The Creighton Bluejays had a similar season a little while back, yes I know they were not in transition, but the last few years of Dana Altman the Jays would get ahead and build decent leads.  They would lose those leads on getting tired, missing shots, and not playing quality defensive possessions down the stretch.  Those teams (with Kenny Lawson, P’Allen Stinnett, Kaleb Korver, Booker Woodfox, Cavel Witter, and others) were supposed to be “the most athletic teams Creighton had in a while and supposed to run and shoot teams out of the gym, even with a bunch of new faces on the roster.  Sound a little familiar?  Creighton moved on from that, got better, made the NIT (almost beat Kentucky), eventually climbed the conference standings, found a stroke of accidental luck with Doug McDermott, had famous battles with Wichita State and Northern Iowa.  UNO will continue to grow just like Creighton did.

Another great success was how supportive the student section became this season.  This is partly because of the Pike fraternity growing a collective man crush on Derrin Hansen, and trust me, I get it.  The first three years of transition, you wondered where the students were and you really just hoped that they were not at a Nebraska or Creighton game.  Now they are taking notice, they knew how important it was to show guys like Carter and Rostampour their support.  The energy of the crowd in college basketball is an extremely valued variable.  Think of those moments the players are just exhausted and they need that reminder of who they are playing for (other than themselves, their teammates, coaches, and families).  They get that extra needed jolt and ride it.  The crowds at UNO hockey are extremely important, and not it is time that the other sports are getting the support.  I know during division 2, UNO would invite potential new hires to UNO athletics and the candidates would ask Where are the Students?  You have no idea how much of a ripple effect the student can create.  It is also extremely satisfying to go to a UNO game and see that the students are into the game the entire time, it is not like when they go to that other Omaha school and the students are sitting down, drinking a beer, checking their phones constantly, and not caring about their team.  They are just there for the hopes of a free t-shirt.

This reminds me.  Next post on how we schedule those Creighton guys?

 

 

While a great game, senior night did not end the way we wanted, and Devin Patterson is the boss

It seems that the Mavericks have had the same story to each loss so far this season.  Mavs get off to a great start, Mavs turn the ball over a bit and let the other team into the game, game gets close, CJ Carter and/or Marcus Tyus do what they can to keep the game close, Mavs miss some key free throws while the other team becomes incapable of missing free throws, and then I leave home sad.  Even though last night’s game ended with a loss, it was refreshing to see a little bit of a different story.

The Mavs did not get off to the greatest start in this one.  There were some poor decisions in the beginning, bad turnovers, bad luck, bad shots, and a lot of fouls.  Then they fought to get back into the game a bit, kept it at a close game, got down by a few possessions, then cut it back down to a position, and even take a lead.  It became a back and forth game, rather than watching than a runaway bride game.  Jake White, Randy Reed, and Kyler Erickson all came off the bench to give the team a much needed jump start.  Each played with great energy that has been needed of the Mavs bench all season, we saw a few lineups that we had not seen all year due to Tyus being out, Mike Rostampour in foul trouble, and CJ getting stitched up.

I brought my wife to the game, my wife does not get to many games due to a busy work and school schedule, but it is like having the world’s most critical commentator next to you.  I have gone to sporting events with women in the past and they point out the things that you do not typically see as a dude, like, hey that player has stupid hair, he should cut his hair.  My wife on the other hand played basketball for several years and is also coaches high school, so yes it can be emasculating at times.

Anyway, at her first game my wife sits down and asks “who is their best player”?  I tell her that each of the key players brings something different that puts them in as the best at something on the team.  Mike Rostampour is the best post defender and rebounder, Marcus Tyus is the best shooter, CJ Carter is the best slasher at getting to the basket, and Devin Patterson is probably just the most important player.  If he has a 2-7 shooting performance, the Mavs are not going to have a good time.  If he gets into foul trouble or rolls his ankle, the Mavs are not going to have a good time.  26 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists at Marquette, the Mavs had a good time.  2 of 8 with 7 points and 7 turnover against Kansas State, the Mavs did not have a good time.  MmmmK.  Things got bad for the Mavs this season when Patterson basically had to sit for 2 and a half games due to injuries, and you could tell he was still at least a little bit slowed down after that for a number of games.

My wife was a point guard, and her number in high school and in college was 3, so she has an instant respect for the junior point guard.  The coach in my wife points out every miscue by the Mavericks:  they are not moving, that was not the best shot available on that play, that player needs to figure out how to box out, that asshole does not want to play defense, I hate players who cannot catch the ball, but not as much as I hate players who pass an uncatchable pass, that idiot keeps dribbling the ball into traffic and he has three turnovers because of it.

So a lot of that was from the South Dakota loss, my wife did not have all of those complaints on Thursday against Oral Roberts.  Mike Rostampour picked up three quick fouls and you can tell some energy is taken out of the crowd.  Rostampour is the energy provider, best post defender, and it is also his senior day and he has to go sit down for 16+ minutes, so yeah there was some energy taken out of the crowd.  Jake White comes in and provides some energy, but Randy Reed really brought it last night.  My wife asks, we did not see him against South Dakota, why does this guy not play more?  I have no answer, I do not know why really, I have felt he has needed more minutes all year.

With Rostampour limited with foul trouble, and already with no Marcus Tyus, and with CJ Carter only having 4 points at half time, many of the fans around me felt like the game was over.  If you have watched the Mavs all season and seen that the story is much of the same game after game, I could see people feeling that, but this was not the typical game.  The game never got so out of hand that you could see the players giving up, they fought through everything, even though the game did not end the way the Mavs wanted to, you have to proud of the effort and the fight.

I think the most frustrating thing as a player in a close loss like that is after the game you will find yourself sitting there thinking, if I would have just not turned it over on that one play, or missed that one shot, or driven right instead of left on that play with a few minutes to go in first half, we could have won that game.  I can think of one play that me thinking, had that gone down differently, maybe they could have won that game.  With much of the team returning for next season, the team can learn from these moments and fix a lot of the mistakes.

I never like to the blame the officials for a loss, and I still do not blame them for last night’s loss, but they were confusing and knit picky at times last night.  Mid-major officials being inconsistent?  Get out of here, that never happens… The Summit League officials seem to always want to keep Mike Rostampour in check, which they should do with any player, but at times it seems like they are singling him out.  A double technical foul in the game AND a double foul of a block on the defender and charge on the offensive player tells you that the refs are afraid to look like bad guys.  I officiated basketball for a few years, you can tell the refs that do not want to be the bad guy and the guys who do not care what you think about them.  The refs that don’t want to be the bad guy call make up calls, and it makes people want to punch them in the face.

Refs are people too, they typically do not like being yelled at, and it is not like they get to explain themselves like an annoying Customer Service agent with some BS lingo.   You want the refs who forget about what a player did five games ago, the Summit League has officials who want to make sure the players know they have things in check.  Take Garth Algar’s advice on wanting expensive guitars, LIVE IN THE NOW!  They do not look at it play by play, they look at is as Well This Guy Was a Jerk Last Month, I Will Give Him a Foul For Rolling His Eyes at Another Player.  Don’t get me wrong, if some player caused a huge fight a month ago, yeah you want to make sure that guy does not do that again.  Rostampour has not been out there punching dudes, there is no reason to “keep him in check” just because he plays like he cares.  You want the refs that take thirty seconds of their life to proactively tell a player that they will call a foul if do that one bad thing again,  there is a reason why Karl Hess is now only officiating basketball games at Nazi Summer Camp.  Watch an Atlantic 10 game some time, ALL of their refs are Look at Me and I’ll Cut You refs, their players are basically not allowed to play with emotion, a guy like Mike Rostampour would only play 5 minutes a game and average 5 fouls a game in the Atlantic 10.

Mickey Gordon wanted to be the first to say farewell.
Mickey Gordon wanted to be the first to say farewell.

My wife and I were in Kansas City for a UNO at UMKC game in 2012-2013 and we sat directly behind the UMKC bench…we were even seen in the picture that UMKC used as the photo for the presser of the firing of Matt Brown.  Anyway, there was one ref, and Matt Brown would have a complaint and try and talk to the guy, and the guy would come over and make some stupid joke and have a stupid shit eating grin on his face every time and laugh like it was the appropriate time for his failure of a comedy routine.  I wanted to yell at this ref for Matt Brown.  How much would that mess up that ref?  He’s incompetent and trying to be a comedian for a pissed off coach, and the guy sitting behind the bench with the opposing team’s shirt gets up and calls him out as an idiot?  I have not seen that ref work a Summit League game since that year, and I watch a lot of them thanks to ESPN3 replay options.  If he got promoted I will be really upset.  Mild mannered Derrin Hansen was even out at center court yelling at the refs that game because they were unorganized and messing things up.  Comedy Ref stood there with incompetence the entire time, he just wanted to be everyone’s buddy.  The Mavs won that game, I think it was their first Summit League road win, but they won that game partly with learning to deal with incompetent refs.  This reminds me, why the hell is UMKC in the WAC?

A three paragraph tangent about refs might be a new record for myself.  Where was I?  Last night, yeah that’s right.  It was a frustrating loss, but what loss is not frustrating?  The most frustrating are the ones where you realize you deserved that loss due to not working hard.  The ones like last night, you can actually learn something and move one, so we will do that, we will move on.  We will lose two great seniors that helped set the ground work for division one, and who will not be forgotten.  Last night when both were sidelined, we were shown that we will be in great hands in the future.  The seniors to be, and sophomore Tre’Shawn Thurman, showed great energy and that they are ready for next year.  We are in great shape because of what the two of them provided.

I say that Devin Patterson is the most important piece of the team, and that is because he keeps things moving (among other factors).   Not only on offense, but on defense he can great so many bad situations for the other team.  My wife averaged 4+ steals a game as a freshman in high school, and her favorite thing about basketball was being “the little girl” but also being able to install so much fear into her opponents that they would shit their pants.  I have not verified if she made anyone literally shit their pants, but those were her words.  Devin Patterson does that for the Mavericks, he creates fear for the opposing team and they try to keep the ball away from him, but they cannot do it.  We can see that Mike Rostampour brings energy and gave the Mavs heart when they desperately needed it, and Devin Patterson brought that too when he came to Omaha.

At one point the Mavs were literally not moving, just four dudes standing around (while one picked up his dribble) like they were in a Jurassic Park film trying to not be seen by the T-Rex.  You could see Patterson yell at them after that.  I am not sure if he was scolding them for not moving, but they started moving around more and more after that.  I have seen him yell at players before for making poor choices, and they typically listen and respond, or end up on the bench for not listening to what he had to say.  He had this just ridiculous array of moves for the Mavs first basket last night, most NBA players would not have been able to defend it.  My wife who was frustrated by the first few minutes of the game, instantly put down her drink and clapped for him with respect.  Post game, she said “I can completely see what you mean by saying he is the most important player on the team.”  When things got bad, he made things happen for the team last night.

So after last night’s performance, even though it did not end up as a win, I hope that Carter and Rostampour can feel confident about Patterson, White, Tyus, and the rest of the crew to carry on what they worked hard to help build as a positive future for the Mavericks basketball team.

Don’t forget though, they still have three games left.  One game is even on ESPN3