The Coyotes are going to have a new pack in 2017

So the Coyotes finished 2016 as the 8 seed in the Summit League tournament after being preseason picked as the 5th team in the Summit.

At the beginning of the year, I said, no, this team is not in the top half of the conference.  They lost 54% of their scoring going into the 2016 season, which was the most in the conference.  Now, actually heading into the 2017 season, the Coyotes will lose almost 70% of their scoring…but they cannot get worse than 8th, right?  I mean, right?  Similar to Tim Miles at Nebraska, Craig Smith was supposed to improve this team year after year.

The Coyotes had three transfers sitting out this season who could immediately help the Coyotes try and improve next season and stay away from the 9th spot in 2017.  6’3″ Junior guard Carlton Hurst will join the Coyotes from Colorado State.  Hurst averaged 4.2 points per game and shot 44% from the field in his freshman season, but his production dropped his sophomore year to 1.8 points per game.  That CSU team his sophomore season won a program record 27 games and made the NIT.

Trey Dickerson is a 6’0″ point guard who transferred from Iowa after being upset that he was the 3rd string point guard for the Hawkeyes…and also probably because Fran McCaffrey messed up Dickerson’s income taxes.  Seriously, McCaffrey looks more like the team accountant than the head coach.  Apparently, Dickerson has the potential to be the fastest guard in the Summit League next season… He only played in 15 games for the Hawkeyes and averaged 2.7 points and 1.2 assists over those 15 appearances.  Not super impressive numbers, but yeah, I would be throwing a parade if the Mavericks had a transfer from Iowa being thrown into their lineup.  It would be the world’s worst parade.  It would be more like a random guy walking down Center Street screaming incoherent babblings.

Lastly, the Coyotes will be adding Air Force transfer, Matt Mooney, who will be a 6’3″ sophomore.  Mooney averaged 7 points in a Princeton offense his freshman season at Air Force; he shot 45% from the floor and 39% on threes.  He had 8 games of scoring in double figures for Air Force.  Mooney cited that bullying was one of the reasons for wanting to transfer away from Air Force.

Each player has potential to be at least Honorable Mention in the Summit League in 2017 and/or 2018 and help the Coyotes reload their roster quickly.  Granted, they finished 8th in 2016, so maybe rebuild is a better word here than reload.

Aside from just bringing in transfer players, the Coyotes will also be adding Lincoln native, Triston Simpson – who held offers from South Dakota State, North Dakota State, and also the Mavericks.  Simpson averaged 16.2 points and 6.2 assists per game in his senior year for Lincoln North Star.  I feel like I hardly heard Simpson’s name throughout the high school basketball season, but maybe that is just because he is from Lincoln?  The Lincoln Journal Star named him to the 1st Team Super State team.  South Dakota also signed two wing players: 6’4″ guard Tyler Peterson from the state of Minnesota who also had an offer from North Dakota; and 6’5″ Brandon Armstrong, from the state of Texas, who also held offers from New Hampshire and Texas-Arlington.

South Dakota may be losing 70% of their scoring, but they still have some interesting pieces coming back.  Forward Tyler Flack finally came back after sitting out for nearly a year and a half with a back injury.  Flack ended up averaging 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17 games this season.  He had a bit of a coming back party in Omaha when he had 14 points and 6 rebounds against the Mavericks at the end of January.  After that game Flack looked like an All Conference player averaging 12.9 points and 6.4 points per game.  If Flack can come back and be healthy all season, the Coyotes can actually make a pretty big jump from 8th place next season.  The Yotes also have their two big freshmen Dan Jech and Tyler Hagedorn coming back for next season, who both had flashes of potential in 2016, but they both kind of fell out of the lineup when conference play started and Flack was back in the lineup as a key player to the team.  A player that probably surprised us all was sophomore Dejon Davis.  His freshman season he averaged 2 points a game, but jumped to 9.2 points per game in his sophomore season…his minutes did increase by almost 20 minutes per game as the Coyotes did not have much depth at the wing…so it wouldn’t be shocking to see his production drop off in 2017 after adding the transfers and incoming freshmen.

Craig Smith and his staff still have 2 scholarship spots to fill, and Smith is likely to still go after some transfers from bigger schools as that is how he has tried to jump start a heartbeat into his program so far.  It would seem pretty typical of Smith to go after Nebraska transfer Johnny Trueblood, as Smith used be an assistant for the Huskers and he clearly likes to recruit out of the state of Nebraska.  Jerk.

I’m going to throw out another potential name that makes me want to punch a stack of bricks.  Marvin Clark, Jr… Smith has also made attempts at going after players from the Kansas City metro area, and Clark is originally from Kansas City.  Clark played two seasons at Michigan State where he saw his minutes drop to 10 minutes per game in his sophomore season, but he was working himself back into the rotation near the end of the season due to some injuries on the team.  He would be a 6’7″ 225lb junior (and could add more weight sitting out for a year) in 2018 and could really make the Coyotes a favorite in the Summit League that season, and he would immediately replace Flack after he graduates.

They may not be from bigger schools, but Milwaukee had a few players leave their team this last month after the coach had been fired; and both Austin Arians and Cody Wichmann had offers from South Dakota out of high school.  Arians would be eligible to play immediately, and at 6’6″ he could really help improve the wing position of the Yotes; he averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a junior…he also made 2.5 threes per game; but Arians visited Wake Forest last week so he may be a little too classy for South Dakota.  Wichmann will also graduate and be eligible immediately; he is a 6’5″ smaller power forward type similar to Casey Harriman (Creighton alum).  Wichmann averaged almost 5 points and 2 rebounds per game in 2016, he shot 47% from the field and 48% on threes in his junior season…He might not be the huge impact to the team that Clark or Arians would be, but he would still help the Coyotes look better than 8th in 2016.

So 2017 may depend on how quickly the Coyotes can get the new faces acclimated to their program, but they can quickly make a jump and hopefully not trend down.  They will be one of the youngest teams in the Summit, which is never great, but they will have players that have been around the block before.  This was also a team that had a decent amount of injuries in 2016, and even a couple of mid season departures, so who knows what can happen if they can actually be healthy in 2017.

 

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.