Some random ideas for teams UNO could schedule in 2017-2018

It’s that time of year that the only sport we have to watch is mid-season MLB.  It’s terrible.  It’s the worst time of year.  This time of year is the opposite of the holidays.  I went outside yesterday.  I don’t hate the MLB, but you can tell that American society cannot handle it when ESPN doesn’t know what to do with itself so they just experiment with drone racing and gluttony contests.

Don’t worry, college sports are around the corner.  The schedule for the Mavericks’ basketball team should be coming out soon, and we know they will be playing at Rice, but who else could get scheduled while the athletic department scrambles to make money and probably forces the basketball team to play 10 non-conference road games.

Creighton

They’re in Omaha.  It’s not that far from UNO.  They only have like 6,000 students or anything, so they probably are not all that good.

Drake

It’s a short drive to Des Moines, and Drake is…well…they have a new coach!

Florida Gulf Coast University

New Omaha Maverick Evan Tricker is from Florida, and a trip close to home and a chance to play in front of friends and family could have been part of the pitch to get him to move to the Midwest.  I cannot think of many reasons as to why someone would want to relocate from Florida to Nebraska.  It’s the fried grilled cheese sandwiches and bread pockets of beef and cheese, isn’t it?

A home-and-home series with Dunk City, you would be into that.

Houston

Maybe, the Mavericks could stop over and play the University of Houston while on their trip to play Rice.  I’ve got a friend that lives in Houston.  Let’s all make the trip.  We can all stay in his one bedroom apartment.  He claims to have moved into the “Yuppie neighborhood.” Let’s fill his 500 square foot apartment like a clown car.

Michigan (the state)

The Mavericks have traveled in the past to the state of Michigan to face Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and Oakland.  Let’s go after just about anyone else in that state.  Why?  Because the Mavericks have access to buses and a ton of recycling units all around campus.  If you’re thinking we load up a bus with all the cans we can find and attempt the Michigan Bottle Deposit Scam – you’re right.

Nebraska

They’re in the same state as Omaha.  Tim Miles may not be on the hot seat, but there is a candle sitting on the floor under his seat ready to be lit…so I doubt the Huskers are willing to schedule the Mavericks in 2017.

This could actually just be a terrible game if it happened in 2017.  How?  No one knows.

Oregon

Apparently Dana Altman doesn’t like playing his friends, and it never appeared as if Altman and Derrin Hansen hated each other, so maybe he could just see it as helping UNO out by handing them a check for coming to Eugene.  The Ducks also have former UNO coach Kevin McKenna and former UNO player Tony Stubblefield on the coaching staff.

Portland

Perhaps while in Oregon, the Mavericks could fly in or out of Portland and play the Portland Pilots so they can get an autograph from Terry Porter before he loses his job.

Someone in the state of Tennessee

There are a handful of universities in state of Tennessee, and I am sure senior Daniel Norl would love a trip home.  Vanderbilt could hand the Mavericks some money, and while in the Volunteer State the Mavericks could also visit Belmont, Lipscomb, Tennessee State, or even Tennessee.  Austin Peay even has Domas Budrys who played high school basketball in Lincoln after transferring from Lithuania.

Valparaiso

First of all, why is their nickname “Valpo” and not “Valpa” which sounds like a terrible wrap you would buy at some trendy health restaurant?

Second of all, I seriously never knew that they were the Crusaders.  I’ve never once heard anyone say “Valpo Crusaders,” it is always just “Valpo.”

Third of all, the Crus…Valpo got the invite over the Mavericks and a few other candidates to join the Missouri Valley.  Part of the invitation should be facing every team on the possible list for a little drama.

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A month out game preview: UMKC

I’m not really sure of what route to go with here when I have to compete with Bluejay Banter’s pregame analysis of the Kangaroos.

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Not sure how much to take away from the Kangaroos based on their game against Creighton.  UMKC was down by 26 at one point, and were able to break that lead down before losing to the Bluejays by 7.  The ‘Roos were able to force enough turnovers in the last ten minutes of the game and put a little bit of a scare into the Jays.  Much of this was after the Jaystrokers thought the game was over and left, so many Creighton fans will never realize this ever happened.

Take it as the Jays were beating themselves for much of the second half, or that the Kangaroos refused to back down and would fight until the very end.  Either way, this does not help Jays fans support their argument of Creighton would beat UNO by 50.

I know we shouldn’t compare Creighton to UNO in regards to UMKC, but the Maverick players appear to find some extra motivation when they are playing a like opponent.  After beating Central Arkansas in 2014, the players said they did their part, now it was Creighton’s turn.  There was also Marquette that year.

The Kangaroos have a very talented back court with Martez Harrison and LaVell Boyd who combined for 35 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, and 6 steals in Baxter Arena when they lost to the Mavericks in overtime a year ago.  A game that was neck and neck throughout the entire game, and the Mavericks needed overtime to pull off the win.

Outside of Harrison and Boyd, the Kangaroos are not filled with a load of talent and lack depth, especially in the post.

A key piece missing from last season is 6’6″ forward Darius Austin who transferred to Jackson State.  Austin had 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Mavericks last season.

One post player that did not do well against Creighton was senior Kyle Steward.  Steward was 0-of-5 from the floor against the Jays and had 7 rebounds.  Last season, Steward averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds per game, and he shot 45% on threes.

Since the Mavericks did not have much of a perimeter game last season, especially early on, they beat UMKC on their penetration and getting to the line.  There were moments in that game when any other team would have shot three after three, but Devin Patterson used his speed as an advantage to get in the lane and create contact.  The Mavericks shot 48 free throws in that game.

Tre’Shawn Thurman had 30 points and 11 rebounds against the Kangaroos last season, which was the first game that made me wonder if Thurman had NBA potential.  He was in the zone that night, and could be due for another big game this season with UMKC lacking a post game again.

Zach Jackson and JT Gibson could also be large pieces of the offense in this game, with the Kangaroos lacking quality wing players.  Tim Smallwood had some moments off the bench in the win last season, and Gibson may need a few of those like last season.  If the Jackson that had 14 points and 8 rebounds against UC Santa Barbara showed up, the Mavericks should be able to pick up the win in Kansas City.

Lack of post players and wing players.  Do you see how much work Harrison and Boyd have to do just for this team to finish in the top half of the WAC?

Of the three games I have seen of UMKC coached by Kareem Richardson, it is hard to figure out what their plans are on offense.  It appears the plan is to let Harrison drive into the lane, hope to god that works out, if not, kick it out to a guy for a three.  If the player that gets the ball from Harrison doesn’t have an open three, they will wait for Harrison to come back out and get the ball and do that all over again.

Richardson has stated that he likes a high pace with lots of scoring, like the Mavs, but the Kangaroos struggled to get into the 80s last season.  If their game against Creighton were to show you anything, it should show that Richardson does demand maximum effort out of his players.  If the Mavericks have one of their game where they play 35 minutes instead of 40, the Kangaroos could pick up a win.

With it being such a short drive to Kansas City, the Mavericks may just be happy to not be forced to fly all around the country for a basketball game.  This game is sandwiched between two home games against Montana State and Cal State Fullerton.

Now excuse me, while I get into the history of marsupials.

 

 

 

 

I have no business listing off potential softball coaching candidates

I think the retirement of Jeanne Scarpello shocked a lot of Maverick faithful last week.  It was pretty unexpected considering the Mavericks just got through transition and have a bright future in softball, but per the release is stepping away to spend more time with family and you have to respect that.  Coaching softball takes up an incredible amount of my wife’s time and she is only coaching a few months of the year and not having to do all of the recruiting, off season work outs, and fall ball.  Well high school softball in Nebraska is played in the fall, but you get the idea.

I am not sure if Cory Petermann (I just realized that I want to scream “HEY PETER-MAN (Office Space),” will be able to be promoted to head coach or not.  I really hope that if a new coach is hired that they keep Petermann on the staff.  He’s been with the Mavericks for so long and has done so much to make the softball program one of the most successful athletic programs (that is still competing).

I’m not sure about other Mav fans feel, but I am fully confident in the hiring abilities of Trev Alberts and staff.  Dean Blais has taken Hockey to the Frozen Four.  Jason Mims built a program from scratch, his team was ranked in the top 25 for a short while in just the program’s 5th year of existing, and his recruits seem to get better and better each and every single season…which is actually to be expected, but still, it could have ended up much worse.  Chance Lindley was doing a stellar job with the women’s basketball team before unexpectedly in something that was just odd.  Alberts dropped the interim tag off of Brittany Lange, who is really kind of quietly building that basketball program into a competitor and gets better and better every year.  They’re going to be competing in the preseason WNIT in 2016 and they’re starting out at Colorado State, and that team could beat really Colorado State, who made the 2016 NCAA tournament, and possibly face off against Washington in the second round.  Excuse me, I have to go make make sure all of my bills get paid by my SouthWest Airlines Chase card so I can secure enough points for a free flight to Seattle in November…

Anyway, the Mavericks are looking for a softball coach.  I am sure that the process has already started, and we should hear who the newest head coach to Maverick athletics is in the coming weeks, but here are a list of random names that could be out there as potential candidates.  Do I have any business throwing out any names or have any insider info for this?  Certainly, no.  But when a football program like USC (which sucks) is looking for a new coach, some idiot online lists off a bunch of names that where only half of the list is actually being considered by USC and another portion of the list may just want to hear what USC has to say.  It’s just something kind of fun to talk about and contemplate as fans.

I’m content with being the idiot here.  Whatever coach does take over softball at UNO is getting a program that will be returning four All Conference players, and a part of an improving athletic department that is in the middle of upgrading their facilities and has mentioned the potential of a new softball (and baseball) stadium.


Tony Baldwin – Georgia Assistant

I’ve listed Baldwin here for no real reason for other than that I may have been Georgia’s Good Luck Guy.   It’s not a responsibility that I wanted, but it just happened.  Whenever I caught a Georgia softball game on ESPN3, or actual television, they completely dominated their opponent.  The Bulldogs were up 3-1 on Auburn when I was watching in the Women’s College World Series, and then I went for a walk and they ended up losing 3-4.

Baldwin is originally from the state of Indiana and played college baseball at Butler.  He has spent 2 season as an assistant at Georgia, he was an assistant baseball coach at Michigan State before taking on the job at Georgia.  He was mostly responsible for hitting and infielding for the Bulldogs, and in his first season at Georgia the team was 13th in the nation in batting average at .343, and they scored over 7 runs a game.

Jimmy Kolaitis – Oregon Assistant

Seriously, I have no business compiling this list.

Omaha is probably a far stretch for a guy that is an an assistant softball coach in the PAC 12, but going from a big name program to head coaching at a smaller program all to get a job as a head coach at a big name program again seems to be a likely road for many coaches.

Kolaitis was an assistant coach at South Alabama before taking the job at Oregon.  While at Oregon he has been in charge of coaching hitting, and the Ducks have one of the better offenses in college softball.  My wife is a huge Oregon Duck fan (seriously, this list is so biased) so I had to watch a number of Oregon softball games over the last 2 years, and their hitting is…dare I say it…”sick.”  Last season they had 8 of the 9 players in their lineup hitting above .300, which is “sick.”

Diane Miller – Nebraska Assistant

Miller has been an assistant for the Huskers since 2008, after coaching at Colorado State and has been primarily in charge of coaching hitting and the catchers.  With slight uncertainty where the Mavericks are going at the Catcher position after 4 years of Campbell Ditto behind the plate, it would be beneficial having Miller coach up catchers, especially in the beginning.

Miller has coached the Huskers to break more than 30 offensive records since becoming an assistant at Nebraska.  In her time in Lincoln, the Huskers have hit at an average of .295, which is right around where the Mavericks were this last season.  The chance to become a head coach, coach up a team that already has strong hitting, and develop a young team at an already successful program could be a huge attraction to Miller.

Ranae Sinkler – Creighton Assistant

Maybe this would help the relations between the Creighton and UNO program, who have still yet to face off since the Mavericks made the transition.  Sinkler is a Lincoln-native and currently works with hitters and infielders at Creighton, and while she was a player for the Bluejays she won the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year award in two separate seasons.

She graduated from Creighton in 2011 and has only been coaching for a few years, so she does not have a ton of experience.  She could continue to help the Mavericks recruit some of the better players out of the state of Nebraska.  This year Creighton had a fielding percentage of .961 and the Mavericks were at .956.

Still, UNO might be a difficult sell to anyone who has been involved with the one program, let alone Creighton, since their freshman year in college.

Jamie Trachsel – North Dakota State Co-Head Coach (Already took job at Iowa State)

So I was going to list Trachsel as a far fetch, but seriously why does North Dakota State need two coaches?  Trachsel took the job at Iowa State last week, and she was in charge of defense, recruiting, and scouting while with the Bison.  The Bison were first in the Summit in fielding percentage this season, and North Dakota’s roster is filled with players from the hot recruiting bed of softball we know as the state of California.  Maybe the Bison’s defense and recruiting will take a slight drop and open up the gates for Omaha and the rest of the Summit League to compete for conference championships again.

If you’re wondering about Iowa State softball: they finished the season at 20-35 and lost to UNO, Creighton, Northern Iowa, and Drake to name a few.

Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler – former Iowa State head coach

Iowa State didn’t renew her contract after going 20-35 in 2016 and had an overall losing record with the Cyclones in her 11 seasons in Ames.  She really helped the team improve their hitting in the beginning, and I really cannot imagine how hard it is to recruit softball players to play in Ames against the Big 12 competition.  Her players did well in the classroom with over 70 players make All Big 12 Academic teams in 11 seasons, and I know that is something that UNO Athletics would love.  Gemeinhardt-Cesler, which looks difficult to pronounce, was 153-76 in four seasons at the Division 2 level as a head coach, so maybe The Summit League is a more appropriate level for her than the Big 12.

Creighton and UNO baseball are playing, but basketball…

Let me start out by saying, and maybe reminding you, that I like the Creighton basketball program.  I hope they do well, and I think the program is great for the city of Omaha.  I like to see all the Creighton athletic programs be successful in addition to the Huskers and Mavericks (obviously)…except for Creighton softball…I just have this unexplained animosity where I don’t like Creighton softball.  I try to watch every Creighton event on television that is available, but they are at the bottom of the three instate division one schools on my Give A Crap About Meter.

Now, I would like to awkwardly transition to say that I hate going to Creighton events because of how annoying I find Bluejay fans.  That is not to say that Maverick (or Husker) fans are perfect, by any means, but Creighton fans are a lot like 16 year old kids that start out driving and drive like they own the roads that they think belong to them; not to mention they think driving validates them to finally be respected as adults.  They turn into the adults that drive 40 through the Village Pointe parking lot and run stop signs because their lawyer is better than your lawyer.

Another awkward transition: Creighton and Omaha will again not be playing in men’s basketball next season.  This will upset Omaha Maverick fans and make the Creighton fans’ heads grow…or just go on with their days.

Creightonites will say things like: “We would beat them by 40 anyway” and “That game wouldn’t help us anyway.”

I have to ask, how are you so certain that Creighton would beat the Mavericks by 40?  I know you’ve seen very little basketball as you spend most of your time at Creighton games in concession lines for hot dogs, pretzels, and Bud Light; so how do you know this?  Have you heard of intangibles?  Do you really not think Omaha guys like Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins are not going to outwork guys for 40 minutes on the Bluejays roster that have never even heard of UNO?

As a Maverick fan, I am not sitting here and claiming that Omaha would go into the CenturyLink Center and roll the Bluejays…I am not that guy, and I really don’t think many Maverick fans are in that group.  I’m more of a Let’s Have Some Fun With This Game kind of guy.  And since when has scheduling teams that Creighton can beat by 40 turned you off as casual basketball fans anyway?  The pregame analysis of every Creighton non-conference home game is just wasted time spent trying to legitimize every opponent that won 12 games in their previous six combined season seasons.  Is that the problem?  You don’t want to spend 8 seconds legitimizing UNO basketball?

I am not even sure what it means when Creighton people (and Greg McDermott) say “Playing UNO would not benefit our program,” and I am pretty confident that they have no idea what it means.  It’s been rumored, and confirmed by some local media Twitter accounts that UNO has offered to play a men’s game for free.  How did Texas San Antonio, Western Illinois, IUPUI, and Coppin State benefit you in such colossal ways that the Mavericks would not?  I’ll even go a step further here, how does playing Nebraska every season help them?

When was the last time we had just a solid player versus player match up that got us super excited for Nebraska versus Creighton?  Here is a list of 1 on 1 match ups to laugh at in this series.


2015

Geoffrey Groselle vs. Michael Jacobson

Mo Watson vs. Benny Parker

2014

Avery Dingman vs. Terran Petteway

Toby Hegner vs. David Rivers

2013

Okay, there was decent amount of anticipation for McDermott vs. Petteway

2012

The high octane slow and furious match up of Gregory Enchinique vs. Andre Almeida

Austin Chatman vs. Benny Parker

Jahenns Manigat vs. Ray Gallegos


2016 could be an incredible potential point guard match up between Tra-Deon Hollins versus Mo Watson.  We’re being robbed from seeing this happen.  Robbed!  It’s okay though, it’s not like Omaha is a big event town or anything.  People hate going to things here.  I’m getting goosebumps over the thought of paying 50 bucks to see Watson get 20 points and 10 assists against over some SWAC point guard who was listed as “pretty good in high school.”  A Tre’Shawn Thurman versus Cole Huff match up sounds pretty enticing as well.  And even Marcus Tyus versus Isaiah Zierden perimeter match up even sounds pretty fun.  Damn it, this game really does not nothing for Creighton.

In state programs do not have to play every single year, but the bigger programs need to play the smaller programs when they have someone that everyone agrees is a legit basketball player.  I was in Utah when Damian Lillard was with Weber State (similar in size to UNO)…Utah, BYU, and Utah State all had to take on Weber State that year.  It was what was best for them.  This is somewhat ignorant of me to see…Maybe they had some instate deal that year or something going on, I don’t know, I hated living in Utah.  I am not saying that Tra-Deon Hollins, or anyone with the Mavericks, is on the Damian Lillard level, but Hollins just led the nation in steals and he got better and better offensively as the year went on.  Hollins has even been compared to some Big East guards, and you’re seriously tell us this would do nothing for Creighton?

Creighton is like the older sibling that thinks they are really special and they see their younger brother trying to get bigger and better, and develop, so they have to mock and tease them to hide how insecure big brother is.  They don’t want to give the Mavericks the big stage of the CenturyLink for the casual fans* that attend their games to see the Mavericks actually play an exciting brand of basketball and grow some interest in actually paying money to go to the Baxter Arena to watch a basketball game…or even two!

*I’m not saying all fans at Creighton games are casual fans, but there is a decent chunk that are just there for the event.

Take Creighton baseball for example…the first year of UNO’s transition, they played twice and split games.  The Bluejays got a small taste of Oh Crap, Our Baseball Team Is Not THAT Far Ahead of Them.  The second year the two teams played in three games, one was even played at Werner Park, and Creighton won 2 of the 3 games.  It was so bad for the city to play that game at Werner Park, the Old Mattress Factory had pretty poor beer sales that day…and on a Saturday… The third and fourth years, the two went down to just playing one game, splitting those games over two years.  Now, it’s 2016, and Creighton baseball offered us a charity event for a division one baseball game on a Tuesday at 12:30.  That’s prime time for college baseball…in June.  How are their baseball season ticket holders no complaining about this game time?

While I know Mav fans are grateful that the two schools will finally play a regular season game in men’s soccer in 2016, the game is at 7 pm on Labor Day; which is exactly when people want to get out and go to an event in this town.

Let me throw this idea out there…it’s a long stretch, but UNO being a division one school was a long stretch for quite some time.

UNO just stops calling Creighton to do events.  For them, it will be like they are a girl that has a boy that keeps asking them out, and she keeps rejecting the boy.  The boy gives up and then starts talking to other girls, and the girl gets pissed that she’s not getting that attention anymore so she does something dramatic and weird.  Is that how middle school worked?

The Mavericks start asking out the Huskers.  Make that a yearly rivalry, convince them that Creighton can be the once in a while thing…if they feel like it.  Take the big event away from Creighton fans.  Taking the event away was lightly discussed during the Doc Sadler era, but Doc was a total dick about that sort of stuff.  I think the Creighton versus Nebraska men’s basketball game every year is the super bowl for Creighton fans.  It is their Batman versus the Joker boxing match set right in front of them.  Shit, play Huskers versus the Mavericks in the CenturyLink Center, let them bring their court up from Lincoln so they actually feel confident in that building…  Get UNK involved to come to Nebraska and Omaha in the same weekend for exhibition games, and then play each other.  You get three in state games in a week, keep that money in “the system.”

That plan will basically never happen, but it is a thought.  Wait, do we know someone’s dad?  That’s what Creighton people have taught me, anything is possible if you know someone’s dad.

Creighton better seriously start considering playing the Mavericks in basketball.  Some day the Mavericks are going to make the NCAA tournament, and the selection committee loves matching up potential in state match ups in the 2nd round.  You really want the first time you play UNO since their transition to be in the 2nd round after pissing them off for not playing them for years by not playing them?

 

I cant put together my thoughts when talking about Western Illinois

The Leathernecks beat Wisconsin to open up the season, and I am pretty sure it is the most forgettable big time win by a Summit League team of all time.  It is almost immediately discredited with: well, Wisconsin wasn’t together at that point…or something along those lines.  There were people that believed in Western Illinois after that, and hopefully those people that did use that belief to discuss how good the Summit League was as a whole for the season.  They probably more so had an attitude of: Well Western Illinois sucks, so who cares.

Western Illinois finished the season as 9th in the Summit League, which meant they had to sit out the Summit League tournament.  At least they got to really bulk up Creighton’s non-conference schedule.  It was not pretty after the Wisconsin win for the Leathernecks.  The team picked up some lopsided wins against the likes of some division 2 schools in addition to Illinois-Chicago and Eastern Illinois before going on an 11 game losing streak.  Then they hurt my brain when they broke their losing streak at home against the Mavericks.  The Leathernecks did expose a large weakness of that Mavs that Omaha was not a great defensive team in the post.  Once a team can get the ball past the quick hands of Tra-Deon Hollins and Devin Patterson, Omaha may not have the bodies to deal with guys down low.  Denver saw this and they just kept throwing the ball into Christian Mackey and CJ Bobbitt to just ruin the Mavericks.  Ehhh.

Much of the season for the Leathernecks was about as hard to watch as when your brother brings home some train wreck of a girl to meet your parents; and you hold a large amount of embarrassment that you know your brother.

The Leathernecks are going to be losing JC Fuller’s 12.7 points per game, which is probably a good thing as he thought he could have the green light to shoot like Steph Curry, but Curry actually makes the crazy shots he takes.  Western Illinois only played Fuller for 8 minutes when they beat the Mavericks and instead gave most of the back court minutes to freshman De’Angelo Bruster, who might be the new fastest player in the Summit League.  His speed created so many opportunities for other players in that game against the Mavericks, he may have actually won that game for the Leathernecks even though he scored 0 points.  Bruster only scored 2 points per game, but the Leathernecks were 2-0 in games he played more than 20 minutes, so hell, they might as well at least make an attempt to give him more minutes in 2017…but Billy Wright seems like the least creative coach in the League; so who knows.

Garret Covington will be the Summit League’s top returning scorer, and that is fun, I guess.  Covington has been known as being one of the league’s most threatening scorers over during the first three years of collegiate careers, but watch a Western Illinois game.  No one else knows how to get open, the coaching staff doesn’t have a great list of plays to really get players open, and Covington never really scores when the game is on the line and he can push the Leathernecks over their opponent.  Granted, they don’t have too many moments when the game is close for Covington can do that, but the point still remains…probably, I think, I may have gone in and out of points there.

The idea here is, who else on the team can actually score consistently?  Jabari Sandifer would go 8-of-12 from the floor one game and then go 2-of-13 the next game, and most of shots were Aw Crap, When Did the Shot Clock Change to 30 Seconds shots.  We like to ask these hypothetical questions of: Would Tre’Shawn Thurman put up the same numbers at a Creighton or a Nebraska?  The simple answer is no because he would be on a different team with a different depth and a different offense than what he is currently on, but it does not mean he is a worse player.

Anyway, if you took Garret Covington and threw him on any other team in the Summit League would he still be known as one of the most prolific scorers in the league?  Covington took 13 shots a game in 2016 and attempted almost 7 free throws a game to guide him to 18 points per game.  You put him on South Dakota State, pretend you’re trading him for Reed Tellinghuisen… Covington isn’t such a dominant of a scorer that he would have taken shot attempts from their three seniors and Mike Daum…Covington would score less than 10 points a game with the Jackrabbits.  Put him on Omaha’s roster, he’d score more than 10 points a game because of the offense, but he would have been the 3rd or 4th option on offense in most situations, and the Mavericks would have been freaking sweet…I think my general point here is that Covington should not have been a Summit League 2nd Team player.  Didn’t Lawrence Alexander finish as North Dakota State’s winningest player with over 100 wins?  It’s kind of a weird thing to say since basketball is a team sport, but Covington has only been a part of 27 wins in his three years at Western Illinois.

You know what, I hate talking about Western Illinois this long.  They at best will finish with 5 conference wins next season.  I am still salty at their men’s soccer team; they flopped so much against Omaha that I thought maybe Manu Ginobli, Vlade Divac, and Derek Fisher took up coaching college soccer.


My wife is out of town for a conference and I heavily debated of traveling (alone) to Tulsa to see the Mavericks take on Oral Roberts; or to Macomb to see UNO Softball play Western Illinois, but I unfortunately decided to be responsible and to save money.  Damn it, I brought up Western Illinois again.  UNO softball at Western Illinois is actually on the radio this weekend…sayyyyy whaaaaat?  88.3 FM is apparently a station?

I was worried about the softball team for UNO this season because of the depth of the pitching, but they are staying alive so far thanks to the bats.  Not saying the pitching has been awful between Laura Roecker and Abbie Clanton, but there are not a ton of options if the two of them are having a bad game or were to get hurt.  Nine players hitting above .250 right now…Nine!  That’s how many times Ferris Bueller unofficially missed class his senior year.  Three players are in the top 10 in the Summit League in batting average.  Oh and this team just beat Iowa State in Ames!  The Mavs are also 159 in RPI right now which is 2nd in the Summit behind North Dakota State.

With just one conference loss, the Mavs are currently 2nd in the conference standings behind 6-0 North Dakota State.  The Mavericks will end the regular season at North Dakota State and also still play 3rd place team South Dakota at home next weekend, so there is still a lot on the line for the Mavs as the two top seeds get byes in the conference tournament in Fargo.


Oh and per twitter, Caroline Hogue has left the women’s basketball team.  Someone may need to let Jon Green cry on their shoulder for a while.

 

 

The Bluejays are coming to Mavtown to face an improving Mav team

Scheduling is incredibly difficult in college basketball, and that I guess is why the Creighton Bluejays (4-6) will be playing at the Omaha Mavericks (7-3) on Sunday in women’s basketball.  I will not be able to watch, listen, or attend this game because of a Christmas party.  I will be able to attend the UNO-Arizona State hockey game before, so I would like to point out that I will have attended more Arizona State athletic events this year than Creighton events.

Now, I assume most local casual basketball fans pay attention to women’s college basketball as much as people who love cop movies pay attention to the 2nd to 7th Police Academy films…so allow me to set a little dinner tray for you here…I say a dinner tray because there wont be much talk about Creighton (as a team).

This is probably from one of the Police Academy films. Who the heck knows.
This is probably from one of the Police Academy films. Who the heck knows.

Creighton fans, and by Creighton fans I mean the people who pretend to love the entire athletic program of Creighton University, even though they only attend fun sounding men’s basketball games and have season baseball tickets just so they can get College World Series tickets easier, will probably just assume that Creighton won this game the second it was scheduled.  They may pick up the Omaha World Herald preview of this game and see that Omaha only has one player that scores in double figures and say “oh the Jays are going to run that tiny might as well be D2 school out of the gym.  All they have to do is stop that one player, and it is over.  The Jays will also stop that player because I said so.”

I would like to think that the Jays have a couple coaches and administrators that will be using up their promotional dollars from Uber to travel to Baxter Arena so the whole team can carpool a few rides up Dodge Street for free.  The Jays come into the Baxter on a 4 game losing streak, but 3 of those 4 games were on the road and the home game was to some low major team from the state of South Dakota… This streak has also been without the returning Big East Player of the Year, Marissa Janning, who has been out with an injury.  This game will not be as easy for Creighton to win as Jays people* think.

*I decided to categorize Omahans that pretend to enjoy Creighton athletics as Creighton/Jays people instead of fans.

The crowd could get pretty big for this game.  The game is after a hockey game, so I assume there will be some hockey fans that will go hang out at Dudley’s and get in a really good mood before coming back to the Baxter to watch some basketball.  Dudley’s has a Bloody Mary bar on Sundays, right?   Some department of something at UNO sent out some free tickets for some alumni for filling out some survey to this game.  I really just wanted to say “some” a lot there, and I have no explanation as to why.  There will be Creighton people that will attend, as long as they can get through what they perceive as the harsh ghettos of Omaha to find the Baxter Arena.  An 8 pm start time on a Sunday is as odd as a collegiate hockey game on a Sunday, but several people should be done with work for the year so it might as well be a Saturday to most people.  There should be some movie goers that will be in the middle of a Star Wars hangover that may need to go straight from Aksarben Cinema to the Baxter to cure that hangover.  The Creighton-UNO women’s basketball game can be their personal pizza and Dr. Pepper.  String along a few people that still don’t understand you can buy tickets online and will get to the cinema and realize the earliest showing that is not sold out is 4 hours away…ah what the hell is going on at that arena over there?  Women’s college basketball games appear to be only taking about an hour and a half to finish now, so it is not like it is that late anyway.

I am sure there will be that Creighton group that thinks they cannot attend this game because they cannot help that UNO program build and do not want to help them pad their attendance.  Sad/Fun note:  The Mav women’s basketball team averaged the lowest attendance in all of division one last season with an average of 190 per game and a total of 2,850 on the season.  This season through 5 games, the Mav women are averaging about 615 people per game and already have a total attendance of 3,079.  That’s fine Jays people, don’t come if you don’t want to…don’t support your athletic program “on the road” when you can.  Don’t worry about padded attendance stats, you’re not the same people that bragged up one of the biggest home attendances in college volleyball after Nebraska made the CenturyLink Center their second home.

Even though the Mavs are coming off of an over time loss in a game that they led by 24 points, the Mavs are no joke.  The 3rd quarter is a little scary for them as it is the only quarter that they are being outscored by their opponents for some reason.

Again, one might look at this team and see they only have one player that is a double digit scorer and think they are just a one player team.  That is not true, but by the way, that one player is amazing.  With seven playable newcomers, I really did not have high expectations before the beginning of the year.  I thought this season was going to be like a television show in its first season that had some good characters, but was still trying to figure itself out and set up plot lines for the next season.  Mikaela Shaw was going to be the main character with everyone else getting a little screen time to develop their stories for future seasons, and they were going to set everything up for the introduction of the new character named Dapprich that will get plenty of screen time in the second season.  I just thought, if they could get through this season with a minimal amount of departures, then the next season would be something you cannot wait to binge watch on Netflix a few times.  With 7 wins already, the Mavs appear to be ahead of schedule. There is still some figuring out, but you can tell the team grows more and more every game.  That probably sounds really general, but watch the freshman on the team from game to game.  You can actually see Hogue, Vidal, and Brecht piece everything together game after game.

I thought with all the new faces and youth that Brittany Lange may have challenges again this season trying to set a lineup again.  Due to injuries and with trying to figure out what worked best last season, the Mavericks had already used 4 different starting lineups through 10 games last season.  This season, they have only used 2 different starting lineups, and that was just to start Marissa Preston over Amber Vidal.

You could tell Lange and staff were really excited about this recruiting class, and you should be able to see why.  The Mavs have a complete ensemble of characters that each bring something to the table.  First off, there is Shaw who you have just come to expect will come out with a 45 point, 18 rebound, 7 assist game at some point.  Not only does Shaw currently lead the Summit in points per game, but she is tied for 5th in the league with her own teammate, Vidal, in assists per game.  Shaw can pass out of double teams to Remy Davenport and Ellie Brecht who can each hit threes and mid range jumpers, or to Vanessa Barajas who appears more comfortable on offense and cutting to the basket for easy buckets, or to Caroline Hogue to pull off a post move down low…the Mavs appear to have more options offensively this season.

Teams cannot just go into the lane on the Mavericks either.  Barajas and Hogue are the number one and number two shot blockers in the Summit League.  I hope this develops to a rivalry between the two, trying to outdo each other for more blocks…similar to Antonio Banderas being obsessed with being “number one” in Assassins**.  The two of them combine for 4.4 blocks per game so far and the next closest team in the Summit averages 3.8 blocks per game.  Sara Echelberry is also starting to get a little time at the center spot and has 4 blocks in 8 games so far.  The Mavs get to add a transfer from Texas Tech to the center spot next season…and Westside graduate Jay Bridgeman…how crazy is that post player depth going to be?

**If you are unaware of what Assassins is…it is the 7 hitter hitter in the lineup of 90s Stallone movies that were all completely average in their respectful slot in the lineup…Rocky 5, Oscar, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger, The Specialist, Judge Dredd, Assassins, Day Light, Cop Land…  This is the San Diego Padres of movie lineups.  I believe these are all films that college students watch when they are in the mood for a bad movie and to laugh that someone made these movies with the intent of making a serious movie.  I sadly have a Because You Watched Assassins list.

How crazy is the depth going to be next season if they can keep the group together?  I’ve come to just accept that at least one player will transfer or get just a job in the off season and leave team with every college basketball team every single year.  Figuring out minutes may actually be more of a challenge next season, as the team will be adding a serious scoring threat in Michaela Dapprich to play along side this cast of characters.

 

2 games, 2 nights, 2 losses, and I had to eat some pride

I will accept a partial amount of blame for the loss of this Eastern Michigan game.  You see, and please do not attempt to find me and punch me in the face, but I took a Creighton season ticket holder to the game with me.  Yes, I took Dick C. Fan with me.  DCF is a UNO graduate.  He is a MavJaySker, though Husker football is the only Nebraska sport that he roots for, but he is cool with UNO sports.  DCF is more of a Creighton fan though, and because of his Creighton roots, he used to despise Jake White due to his Wichita State days.  The funny thing is, DCF actually looks a little bit like Jake White.  Remember, part of the plan is to get the MavJaySkers to get to UNO games and respect the players, coaches, and where the program has come.  I may have given DCF a little too much flack in the past.  He did follow UNO athletics in their division 2 days, but thought them moving to division 1 was a bit of a joke at first, but he appears to be comfortable with it now.

When Jake White announced that he was going to transfer to UNO, I immediately texted DCF and told him that his distant relative was going to be a Maverick.  DCF was not happy.  I think he cussed me out over a text message, and begged me to stop calling Jake White his cousin.  Over parts of last season, I would text DCF to update him on how good Jake White was playing as a Mav, and he never responded to any of the texts.

The day the Mavericks played UMKC, DCF texted me to see if I wanted to go to the Creighton game with him.  I told him no, but he could go to Eastern Michigan-UNO with me, so we struck up a deal that we go to the games together.  Tuesday afternoon, I asked him if he was excited to see his cousin play basketball.  He was the opposite of pumped.

When we got to the game, I really thought DCF was going to just start yelling expletives in Jake White’s direction.  Instead, the UNO fan in him came out, and he said “there is my boy.”  DCF even threw out a first pump when Jake White’s name was announced in the starting lineup.  Then, the game happened…


  • This is the first game that I walked up the arena and people were not on the community ice practicing curling.  DCF and I used to want to start a curling team, but we legitimately know nothing about curling.  I would feel bad if I get into curling and was instantly good at it and pissed off some guys that were doing curling for decades and saw some guy who doesn’t know how to do it is amazing.  It’s no diss at curling, I just don’t know what makes a curling guy a good curling athlete.  I’ve never heard anyone say: “oh that Caleb Steffensmeier had a pretty good basketball career, but could imagine him as a master curler?”
  • DCF asked every question you could think of about Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins, as he remembered watching them play at Central.  I really thought about lying to him, but I told him what I knew.
  • DCF then told me how excited he was about Creighton’s Khyri Thomas, and I almost broke into tears to admit that I used to sit around and hope that Thurman and Thomas would come to UNO and kick start the program to the next level.  UNO got half of my equation.
  • DCF kept hoping that UNO would pass the ball to Jake White, this was quite the change as 3 years ago he was calling Jake White offensive names.
  • You could tell that he was immediately impressed with Tre’Shawn Thurman, and he should be.  Creighton fans will catch glimpses of him over time and be saying things like “ah crap”
  • With Thurman having 13 points and 8 rebounds at half, we shared a short discussion of Is Thurman better than Creighton forwards…it’s kind of a dumb conversation to get into, but it is what Omahans that like basketball are eventually going to talk about.  We agreed that Thurman is probably right on par with Cole Huff from an amount of talent, there are things that Huff does better than Thurman, but there are things that Thurman does better than Huff.  It would be pretty difficult for most coaches to decide who to start between them.  We then agreed that Thurman is better than Zach Hanson and Toby Hegner, but DCF pointed out that Hanson is playing the best basketball of his college career up until this point.  My thought on this is:  It is Hanson’s junior year, he should be playing the best basketball of his collegiate career up until now.  You don’t want to say, “hey, this guy was one of the best freshman I had ever seen and now he is absolute crap.  I love it.”
  • I thought the most shocking part of looking at the stats of this game was that the fouls were actually even.  Though, I continuously felt like UNO’s fouls were giving them the shaft.  No one was ever really in foul trouble except for Hollins.  I think the fouls got into the heads of some of the UNO players, especially the no calls.  It is just weird that the refs get incredibly knit picky for 97% of the game but space out for another 3% of the game.  All players need to adjust to this crap, the deeper and more mature teams are going to get through this.  I believe Scott Nagy said that…not in those exact words, but you get it, right?
  • Jake White got fouled going up for a basket and the ball flew backwards…DCF and I went on to make a number of Caddyshack 2 references.  This has to be the first time anyone has referenced this movie in quite some time.  There were also Celtic Pride references shared between us.  If Celtic Pride and Caddyshack 2 are not films you are familiar with, I am not sure we would get along.
  • DCF and I were both thinking that the Mavs should have kept Hollins out on the court when he picked up his 3rd foul pretty early in the second half.  The offense was completely flat without him.  There was too much standing around when he was on the bench.  Can we get a check on how many assists Hollins gets as a result of his penetration to the basket?  It has to be 2/3 of his assists.
  • Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman each had double-doubles…when was the last time UNO had two guys with double-doubles in a game…and when was the last time a Maverick had two double-doubles in a row…and when was the last time a sophomore had two double doubles in a row?
  • I had another game where I found myself asking: why did Randy Reed not play more?  The kid had some real hustle plays down the stretch…the team needed that energy for more of the game.  Can we not go with a front court of White-Thurman-Reed all at once?  I know you probably lose some three point shooting with that line and do not stretch out the floor a bunch, but just let them all set screens for Hollins and Patterson to get around and they will find a cutting man.  Is it something you want to go with for 20 minutes of the game?  No.  But I wish it is something that should be tried out for a 3 to 4 minute stretch.  Last year the Mavs went with a Rostampour-Thurman-Reed front court against Oral Roberts for a few different couple minute stretches and it really bothered Korey Billbury of Oral Roberts.
  • DCF commented about how watching Jake White now is like watching a completely different player than what he saw from him at Wichita State.  Claimed that at WSU he just stood around and wanted to shoot threes, and now he is down low posting up and getting knocked around down low.  He was really blown away at his nemesis turned…not friend…but…dude guy he has no reason to hate?
  • I tried to get DCF to go to the family that holds up pictures of Maverick players faces when they are shooting free throws and demand an answer as why they have his picture when they are holding up Jake White’s photo.  I could not convince him to do this, but it could been entertaining.
  • Thanks to Facebook’s On This Day, I was able to get reminded that 3 years ago on December 1st, I watched a terrible football game in which Nebraska was involved and it was the most embarrassed I ever was to watch a Husker football game.
  • Mavericks were 4 of 17 on threes in this game…is this killing Marcus Tyus?  Like how it was killing Mike Rostampour when he was sitting out and the Mavs could not rebound the ball?

Night 2 – Creighton vs Arizona State

This was painful for me.
This was painful for me.

I do not hate Creighton athletics, but I do get annoyed with their fans.  I would say it is safe to call me a MavJaySker…in fact I think that is my gamer tag on Xbox.  I would just much rather watch their games on television or listen to them on the radio than to actually attend a game.  Hanging with 18,000 people freak out at every single whistle, good or bad, is not my thing.  Let me make a correction there, I would be with about 14,000 people freak out at ref calls as at any given time the CenturyLink Center has a combined 4,000 fans walking the arena looking for the cheapest beer that they can find, or they are permanently planted in the beer garden to brag up about how they went to the most expensive bar in all of Nebraska.  You can also always find a handful of people reading a magazine at any given moment.

It’s also stressful to hear some drunk guy try to convince his friend that the ranking of best basketball programs goes as this:  1. Duke/North Carolina/Kentucky/Kansas…2. Creighton…350. UNO…351. Nebraska…And Creighton was a three point shot away from Booker Woodfox from beating Kentucky in the National Championship in 2009?  2010?  Ah hell, that one year the NIT second round was just as good as the NCAA Tournament.

I also love that when you go to a Creighton game and the fan’s pregame analysis is just that the other team sucks.  For three straight hours Wednesday night, I just heard how Arizona State was a shitty basketball team…then the Jays lost to them.  So I guess that means the Jays are back.


Some takeaways from the Creighton game…

  • I remember a few years ago thinking that Geoff Groselle was going to be one of the worst ever in Creighton basketball history.  He was recruited to be a Missouri Valley player, and his first couple seasons were filled with several injuries; and when he did play he would bobble the ball a lot and could never score a basket.  I thought for sure he would transfer out at some point.  He has turned into a completely competent player though, and the Jays actually draw up plays to get him the ball in the post.  He had a moment at the end of the game where he grabbed an offensive rebound under the basket and the guy in between him and the basket was 6’3″ or so, and he should have just gone back up for the easy basket, instead he pissed off 18,000 people…or just the 6,000 or so people that were paying attention.  I know the Jays were down by 3 at this point with a few minute to go, but take the easy basket when you can get it!
  • The Jays take care of the ball, and their perimeter defenders are never caught flat footed.  They really don’t have the greatest weak side defense though…which led to a few wide the hell open threes.
  • An attendance dip tonight for the Jays actually, only around 16.2k…was it the 8 o’clock start time?
  • I’m still sitting here wishing Khyri Thomas would have gone to UNO.
  • What is with Division 1 universities in Omaha not being able to box out and let up a bunch of offensive rebounds?
  • I know the Jays like having stretch 4s, but Cole Huff and Toby Hegner took 13 threes.  It’s nice to have big men that can hit threes, but having forwards that only want to take threes is…well…Walter Pitchford…  Don’t you want bigs that use it as a last resort type of thing?  Maybe I am just old fashioned and love Jake White shooting 60% in the paint.  Dumb, right?
  • Arizona State’s warm ups had hoods on them.  I am sure there is some story behind this, but I am just going to assume it has something to do with witchcraft and that is why they had a better second half.
  • Arizona State did not look like a great three point shooting team, but they hit threes right when it mattered.
  • Whoever is in the Billy Bluejay costume is doing a great job.  He spun a basketball on his finger, that cannot be easy in a costume like that.  They were also a great break dancer, seriously, a great job and could really give the Oregon Duck a run for his money…even if Billy Bluejay looks like an evil stork and not a Bluejay.
  • Cole Huff missed 2 free throws and 1 three pointer in the last 8 seconds of a 1 possession game.  I feel sorry for Huff, not just that he missed the shots, but that the Jays fans are going to completely turn on him.  How many days until they demand that Toby Hegner start over him?
  • I watched a number of Jays fans heading for the exits when Creighton was down by 1 point with 6 seconds to go, like the Jays were down by 12 points.
  • There were two guys behind me that looked like Creighton Bluejays super fans, but instead of talking about Jays basketball or cheering on the Jays, they just talked about Breaking Bad the whole time.  Seriously though, Breaking Bad was fantastic.  Great basketball scenes that were totally applicable to what was going on too.
  • I heard a number of Jays fans say that Creighton would have won that game if the refs would have called the 8 travels that Arizona State committed in the game.  I seriously want you to find me a basketball game where the refs got every single traveling call right.  I watched a number of Jays players travel with no whistles blown, and the Jays fans would clap on like it was a great move.  I complain about calls too, but I would never say the one and only reason a team lost the game is because of the fouls.
  • Isaiah Zierden is the best shooter out of Creighton, Nebraska, and UNO.  The balance in his shot is the best…the best Jerry.  The Jays have great quick plays to get him wide open on the outside too, it is the best thing about watching the Jays.
  • I really thought Greg McDermott was going to have a hard time dividing up minutes between Groselle, Hanson, Hegner, Huff, and Krampej this year, as he has seemed to have trouble distributing minutes other than when it was just obvious to go with Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge at the same time; but Greg has done a great job of that so far this season.
  • Heard a couple of Jays fans saying the worst part about the loss was that Arizona State didn’t have any stars that scare you.  Honestly, what star does Creighton have?  Zierden is a great shooter, but is he a star putting fear into his opponents for 40 minutes?

 

I’ve gone to two basketball games in two nights, and the home teams have lost in each one.  I wanted to go to the Lady Mavs game tonight, but I am afraid I’ll drop three in a row and be the bad luck guy.