I’m not sure if you heard about it, but the UNO Mavericks they kind of changed conferences a few years ago. Okay they actually even changed divisions and have been going through a transition phase where they cant reach the NCAA, NIT, or Summit League post season, but hey we’re finally to the last year for it. Since roster blogs/columns are so incredibly easy, I thought we could start this blog off there to start off the basketball team’s last year of transition.
Since the Mavs have been going through this transitional phase I have noticed that the caliber of incoming talent gets better each year. Each year your staff gets to bring in players each year that you’re getting to sell on more meaningful years and a chance to go fight for the NCAA tournament with actually going and playing in your conference tournament instead of watching some team you beat earlier in the year pull out an upset in the conference tournament.
Okay so here is what the UNO Men’s basketball team lost from last season
Jalen Bradley, 6-0 Redshirt Freshman- Transfer to Northeast Community College
Bradley did show some promise early in the season but a late season foot injury ended his season early. We didn’t really know what to expect of Bradley as far as where he would end up in his career. Would he end up being a starter or a 4 year bench guy? Being that when you’re transitioning the talent on your team gets better each year, as stated earlier and each year you are losing your original Division 2 caliber guys, I think it was pretty possible that Bradley was going to be a 4 year bench guy, maybe starting his senior year but more than likely being the 6th man for his final season. Really it must be difficult when you’re showing a recruit around on their visit around and you’re asking them “So you’re going to be a junior, and we play the same position?”
Bradley was a great shooter though, his redshirt season season I’d watch him in warm ups taking shots from half court and swishing them home like it was just a regular three point shot – and yes I know it’s unguarded warm ups – but still in the limited time he did play he did shoot 40% from long range. In a 91-59 rout of South Carolina State he showed what you could be getting with a 15 point, 6-6 shooting performance off the bench. I really believe he’ll do great at Northeast Community College and will probably go on to be a great player at a Division 2 school, like maybe even set a school’s three point record in the two seasons he’ll be at this potential school.
Matt Hagerbaumer, 6-7 Senior
Hagerbaumer was never the guy that you thought was going to take over any game with his offense, but you were always completely comfortable with him as the main back up post player. He averaged 3.7ppg in 20 minutes a game but shot 72% from the field his senior year, which was actually down from the 80% he shot his junior year. Hagerbaumer led the team in blocks his senior year and currently holds the most blocks overall since the transition – yes it’s sad that I keep track. He rarely took a shot that had you going, “Really, what the hell are you thinking?” He was undersized in some situations, which could get you scared at moments, but that’s something any transitional team will go through doing it’s 4 years of sitting out of post season play
Maybe if the transition didn’t happen, maybe Hagerbaumer would’ve been a starter his senior year without Mike Rostampour on the roster, who knows. The thing I will miss most about Hagerbaumer were his hard dunks. Dude would find a way to just throw it down at least once a game. Every dunk looked like a high school varsity underclassmen that would get in for garbage time at the end of the game and get the ball in the open court and just said “ahh F it, I’m dunking the crap out of this and impressing the senior chicks with this.”
John Karhoff, 6-8 Senior
The loss of your best post offensive player hurts, it always hurts a lot. Karhoff scored a lot of points at UNO, in fact, he scored the most total points since the transition – again yes it’s sad that I keep track. Like most post players last season Karhoff was affected by some rule changes and got in a lot of foul trouble early on. Somehow he averaged less fouls a game his senior year than his junior year though, so it’s pretty possible that Karhoff just loved fouling. But as a guy recruited as a Division 2 Center, he was undersized in most games and you’re going to pick up a few fouls when you’re undersized. It just happens.
Aside from losing the 13.2 ppg from his senior year the Mavs are also losing his passing ability and really anytime your center shoots 82% from the free throw line, that’s going to be missed as well. He only averaged 1.9 apg but his assists were always big. He’d draw in the double team and kick it out to an open wing player who would knock down a shot just at the right time to start a UNO run. For being undersized and ending his high school career with a big time injury, Karhoff had a great career at UNO. I’ve been thinking that with the opening of the new UNO arena in 2015 and the start of being eligible for the post season that UNO needs to hold a ceremony for all the graduating players that never had the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament and maybe even hang their jerseys up in the building to honor their hard work. Karhoff could have left but he stuck around and he helped out in a big way, he needs to be honored with more than just a senior night.
Simon Krych, 6-8 Sophomore – transferred to Division 2 St. Cloud State
Okay so the expectations for Krych were never really that high and he only played 7.2 minutes as a sophomore, and really he was just going to get buried more in the lineup so seeing him transfer was really no big shock to anyone. He was only really used when there was foul trouble to Karhoff, Haugerbaumer, and Rostampour, and really even then there were times Derrin Hansen would go with 6-3 Alex Phillips or Justin Simmons in the post.
However, when all these post players were in foul trouble and UNO was up against a bigger in every way Iowa, Krych showed up. In 10 minutes, Krych came off the bench and shot 4-5 with 8 points and picked up 3 rebounds. That was his moment, I thought maybe he was going to prove people wrong and actually get some minutes later on down the road. But sadly, other than 12 points and 7 rebounds in a 86-36 win over Iowa Wesleyan, that was his only moment. Hopefully Krych will have plenty of great moments with his new school.
Alex Phillips, 6-3 Senior
Okay, I’ve said it a few times before that with a transitioning team your incoming players will get better and better each season during that period. So yeah you’re going to see a guy start his junior year and then get pushed to the bench his senior year. Phillips went from averaging 8.2 ppg his junior year to 5.1 ppg his senior year. An early season concussion didn’t help, but the Mavs got a true point guard with Devin Patterson added to the lineup and someone had to go to the bench.
And when Justin Simmons started having issues, the team went to emerging sophomore Marcus Tyus to help fill that role. Phillips still had his moments though. In a game at Nevada he knocked down 4 threes to help the Mavs pull off a win, then the following week he knocked down 4 threes again at Minnesota on the Big Ten Network in a close loss. Those are two huge moments. Phillips worked hard but whether it was just bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he did make some mistakes that would have you yelling “What the hell, man!” Depending on what lineup UNO would be going with in any game, Phillips was usually the 8th man and really with whatever lineup UNO goes with this year, it will be interesting to see if they can find someone as important as Phillips to be their 8th man.
Justin Simmons, 6-3 Senior
I don’t know how to start this off but Simmons’ senior year was a bit of a let down. His production dropped a lot from his junior season and he really didn’t improve anywhere other than his free throw shooting slightly. His minutes dropped by an average of 7 a game, his points dropped 6 per game, and it just goes on. There were several factors to his drop in production: CJ Carter was healthier, Patterson and Rostampour took some shots away, Simmons had several injury problems, Tyus was an improved player, and others.
But Simmons always had a great attitude and some great confidence which would lead to an occasional return of greatness. He just lost much of his consistency, and really with all of the injuries it’s hard to stay consistent. The Mavs will be lucky if they can get someone to replace the great attitude Simmons displayed, but really with his drop in production, they did find replacements. He went from being the number one option his junior year to being the third options and sometimes even lower than that, but yes Simmons’ dunks, high flying blocks, and incredibly athletic steals will be missed and hard to replace.
Caleb Steffensmeier, 6-1 Senior
You want to talk about a guy that got pushed down the lineup due to transition? Say hello to Caleb Steffensmeier. He starts as a sophomore in year one of transition. As a junior he gets pushed to the bench with junior college transfers Simmons and Phillips (who eventually also gets pushed to the bunch), and freshman guard Tyus. Then his Senior year he’s probably moved even further down the bench with the addition of junior college transfer Patterson.
Steffensmeier wasn’t recruited to play division one basketball, none of these players that left really were. He didn’t have great athleticism, he didn’t make the flashy plays, but he played smart and he played within himself. He controlled the ball on offense when he came in off the bench and really could play at any tempo the Mavs wanted to play. Steffensmeier was always good for one three pointer a game, and several times it was a huge three that would shift the game in the Mavs direction. Really how can you not miss consistent clutch threes?