Summit League Championship preview

We’re all so juiced right now, right?!

All season I have been hoping to see Omaha rise up to what they are capable of being and blow someone out.  It was part of my desire to not wanting to be stressed out for two hours of watching sports.

The best part about last night night is that the Mavericks were able to defend the passing lanes and create havoc just as they did last season.  The entire team was playing with a huge amount of energy, and there is really no reason why they wont bring the energy tonight.  Even with the team only shooting 24 percent on threes, the Mavericks were able to play their brand of basketball and showcase an incredible performance.

It’s unfortunate that the Mavericks have to play in the championship game which is pretty much on the road, but this is still one of the greatest opportunities Omaha has ever had.

Yes, most of the arena will be wearing blue, but there will be some black and crimson.  This is the Mavericks moment, though.  The players and coaches have said they love playing in the big away games, and taking the home crowd out of it with big plays.  Since the Mavericks beat the Jackrabbits in Brookings this season, the only game the Jackrabbits have lost to in the state of South Dakota was to South Dakota in Vermillion.

We’ve been talking about the mind game for the Mavericks, but tonight they’re going up against a team that also has something in their own heads.  The Jackrabbits have under performed this season, and even though they were able to pick up a win against the Mavericks in Omaha, they let Omaha shoot all over them in Brookings.  Both teams almost gave up big leads to escape with wins on the road in the regular season against each other.  Neither team is just going to lay down and let the other one take this win.

Mike Daum is clearly going to demand an incredible amount of attention from the Mavericks.  He is like their Super Shredder.  Watching him play basketball at times is like watching the opening scene in X Men 2 when Nightcrawler dominates the Secret Service into submission.  Hopefully, like that scene, the Mavericks can stop Daum before he does anything catastrophic.

A big factor in the game is if Tre’Shawn Thurman can stay out of foul trouble and challenge Daum enough to throw him off of his game.  If Thurman get into foul trouble, Zach Pirog, Daniel Meyer, and Mitch Hahn will need to be ready.  Meyer is not the type of player that can really defend Daum, but Pirog can.  In Omaha, Pirog’s length really bothered Daum on possessions; and the Mavericks were +11 with him on the court.  Derrin Hansen doesn’t give Pirog a lot of minutes, but if things with Daum get a little dicey he may want to take a chance on Pirog.

It’s easy to look at this as OH MY GOD, NOT MIKE DAUM, but there are other guys that Omaha needs to worry about.  With all the attention on Daum, backup center Ian Theisen is able to find wide open looks against the Mavericks and knock down big shots.  He had 15 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting in Brookings against the Mavs.  Theisen did suffer an injury after the Jackrabbits trip to Omaha and missed 6 games and has struggled to find a role in the last three games for the Jackrabbits.  Omaha is healthier and has some more depth than South Dakota State, but that doesn’t mean the guys who can step up wont step up.

Michael Orris is also a good point guard that can really control the offense for the Jackrabbits, so hopefully the Mavericks can continue this great team defense to disrupt what he can do.  Reed Tellinghuisen is another guy that the Mavericks cannot underestimate.  Tellinghuisen has struggled this season, and has even gone 1-of-10 on threes against the Mavericks this season.  He shot lights out against Omaha as a freshman and sophomore, and the Jackrabbits appear to be more successful when Tellinghuisen gets hot so forcing him to a struggle bus is key.

How about who the Jackrabbits need to go up against?

The Jackrabbits have struggled defensively for much of the season, just like the Mavericks, but they have shown signs that they are capable of being a quality defensive team. With Ian Theisen and other senior AJ Hess both slowed down with injuries, who is going to defend Mitch Hahn who is playing incredible basketball right now and seems more focused than any other play we have ever seen?  He could literally hit a shot from anywhere on the court.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit a trailer 3 from the half court line.  Hahn had a three in the first half where he was about 5 feet behind the three point line and he just looked at the IUPUI defender, who was giving him the space, like: Seriously, do you not know who I am?

The Mavericks got their huge emotional game out of the way on Sunday night when they topped the team that scared them the most, and the Jackrabbits got their huge emotional game out of the way last night against their in-state rival.  The Mavericks are playing with a high level of confidence, and they’re playing smart basketball right now.  They have to continue that if they want the biggest win in program history.

When the Mavericks entered the Summit League, South Dakota State was the program they were striving to be, and now they have the chance to show that they have come a long way to be where they want to be.

Summit League Tournament 2nd round preview

We should have expected some intense match ups in the 2nd round of the conference tournament, but there is an in-state battle, and both match ups had teams split their season series.

Neither of these games are easily predictable.

For me, it’s also difficult because I did not get to really watch the Saturday night games.  I was babysitting my 5 year old niece and she was more interested in watching the Secret Life of Pets and not what I wanted to watch.  How rude?

I did watch some of the South Dakota versus Western Illinois game on my tablet, but couldn’t give it my undivided attention.  Was trying to not be a terrible uncle.

South Dakota versus South Dakota State

Monday night tournament game with a trip to the conference championship on the line between the two teams in the conference from the state of South Dakota.  So you guys think the arena will sold out?

The two regular season games between these two teams showed that these teams do match up well together.  Their best players match up at the same positions, and their benches are relatively the same as well.

The first game was won on a last second shot by the all powerful Mike Daum.  The second game saw South Dakota win after almost giving up a big lead, but the Coyotes battled through it to hold on for a 2 point win.

The difference in this game could come down to two key match ups between Mike Daum and Tyler Flack, and also Reed Tellinghuisen and Matt Mooney.

Mike Daum is going to score the ball no matter what teams do.  It’s like watching Robocop take down a biker gang at a gas station.  There are times where he almost does not seem guard-able.  He can score from anywhere on the court, and at 6’9″ he can get his fade away jump shot over anyone.  Tyler Flack is one of the few that can actually guard him.  In Vermillion, Flack got his chest right into Daum and made him struggle to get into the paint.  If Flack gets caught in foul trouble, the two back up centers for the Coyotes, Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech, cannot guard Daum in big minutes.

Mooney has proven he is one of the toughest players on the court in the Summit League.  He hits key shots, makes smart plays, and bothers opposing guards on defense.  Tellinghuisen has struggled at times of the season and been an inconsistent player all year.  He was on fire for most of the game between these two in Vermillion, but struggled to hit key shots down the stretch.  Tellinghuisen is also not the greatest defender in the league, so he will have to come up big against Mooney.  I say this, not knowing what defensive plan TJ Otzelberger will go with this game as he has been up and down with this all year.


Omaha versus IUPUI

I don’t even want to talk about IUPUI.  I’m so done with IUPUI.  They are like the more inconsistent version of the inconsistent Mavericks.

The Mavericks had one of their signature dry spells late in the first half going into the part of the second half and ended up finding themselves down 11.

Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins were incredible in that second half.  Both of them were making huge plays for the Mavericks and were hustling their asses off.  When the Mavericks needed energy, they brought the Kyler Erickson energy to will the Mavericks to the win.  That three that rattled in late at the end of the game by Daniel Norl was seriously one of the biggest shots in the history of the Mavericks.

Still, there are things that need fixed.  The Mastodons missed three wide open threes in the last minute of that game, and the ‘Dons made the right plays to get those open shots.  When Hollins slipped on the floor giving John Konchar the wide open look, the only thing I could think was that this was my hell.

The biggest fear I would have for the Mavericks is their emotional level and mindset now.  Getting past the first round was a huge goal of theirs, and you could see the emotion in the players and Derrin Hansen’s eyes after finally earning the win.  The ‘Dons had been in their heads, and to get a win against them in that situation was a highly emotional moment for all of the Mavericks.

Now, let’s see if they can continue with the momentum and pick up another win.

Luckily, the Mavericks may find more inspiration than just getting past a team.  Their loss to IUPUI in Baxter Arena was an embarrassing loss.  The Mavericks could never quite get into the game after starting the game down 11, and it was all on them.  Omaha made bad plays, turned the ball over with IUPUI not even really playing defense, and were just outplayed in energy.

The Mavericks know how important a big start is against the Jaguars this time around, hopefully the moment can energize them to give them the edge they never found when they lost at home to IUPUI.

 

Omaha versus Fort Wayne preview

There is not a ton of separation between Omaha and Fort Wayne, just four straight wins for the Mastodons over the Mavericks.

It is difficult to beat a team that you are evenly matched with three times in one season.  Omaha is confident right now, and they are riding a three game winning steak, but who knows what their confidence level is when matched up against the only team that they couldn’t pick up a win against this season.

Even as Derrin Hansen was expecting any possible outcome, on the post game interview after the win against North Dakota State, it sounded as if he was playing off the anger in his attitude.  It could be that every game between the Omaha and Fort Wayne in the last two seasons has been close, but the Mavericks haven’t gotten the cigar.  Cigars are bad for you, so it’ s not like that part of it is a big deal.  The Mastodons could be in the heads of the Mavericks players and coaches.

One thing that would instantly jump out to the Mavericks is John Konchar.  Konchar is obviously a great player.  Yesterday he was named First Team All Summit League after averaging 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists a game; and on top of that he shot 64 percent from the field and 54 percent on threes.

I’m sure you would expect those averages to go up against the Mavericks because of the pace both of teams want to play at, but Konchar’s stats against the Mavericks would have you think he is playing against a division 2 opponent.  In 2 seasons, Konchar has averaged 24 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and shot 78 percent from the field and 85 percent on threes.  He has not missed a 3 point shot against the Mavericks this season.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Derrin Hansen and the Mavericks are probably not extremely thrilled that Konchar’s mix tape for professional basketball teams to see will be largely in thanks to the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Another face that will stick out to the Mavericks is Brent Calhoun.  The center that used to be heavier than my car, but has turned himself into a well conditioned basketball player that can run the floor and might even be the best Summit League player that purely stays in the post.

Calhoun was in foul trouble in one game last season and really didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate any stats, so not counting that game, but in the last two seasons Calhoun has averaged 13 points and shot 75 percent from the field against Omaha.  He dominates the low block against the Mavericks on offense and defense.

He also averaged 3.7 blocks in those three meetings.

Neither of these teams love the defensive end, but the Mavericks need to slow down and contain Calhoun and Konchar.  Players like Zach Jackson and Daniel Norl might not even want to take a shot in this game, and just focus all their time and energy on just bothering John Konchar.  That’s nearly impossible, they won’t not take shots in this system but it’s a theory.

The hope is that this is like some super hero movie.  The villain wins the early battles, the hero fails early on and learns more about the villain and even more about their own life, and then they go out there for one final jousting for a winner take all battle and the hero saves the freaking day.

Omaha coaches and players have stated throughout the entire season that they were upset with themselves with the early exit in the Summit League in 2016.  They said they wanted to be playing their best basketball of the season heading into the tournament, and they are, but we have seen them go on hot and cold streaks this season.  A win in this game relies on their mental focus and toughness in dealing with Fort Wayne.

In a game where the teams are so close to each other, but also so far away, every little thing matters.  Mavericks have to stay focused in on the big things, and the little things.

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 11-14

I was 6-2 last week, and 5-3 the week before.  That’s 11-5.  I’m good enough for a 3 seed in the conference tournament.

January 11th

Omaha (1-3) @ IUPUI (1-3) on ESPN3

The Jaguars are 5-0 at home so far this season, and last time at home they defeated Western Illinois by 18.  Last year in Indianapolis, the Mavericks couldn’t do anything to stop the Jaguars offense, and let them shoot 56 percent in that loss.  Expect the same this time, as the Mavericks have been bad on defense lately and IUPUI has shot at least in the high 40s in every home game.

Derrin Hansen made a point that a key to the game is that the Mavericks can rebound and not give IUPUI second chance opportunities.  In the last 3 games, the Jaguars averaged a +6.7 rebound margin.  The Mavericks in the last 4 games, averaged a -4 rebound margin.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ South Dakota (3-1) on ESPN3

This game is going to be all defense.  While it is early in the conference season, these two teams have the best defensive field goal percentage in conference games.  They also average the least amount of turnovers overall on the year among Summit League teams.

The Coyotes will be without one of their best post players, Tyler Flack, until February, but Norfolk native Tyler Hagedorn helped fill the void on Saturday with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a win over IUPUI.

The Coyotes will be able to defend the Bison guards and cause frustrations in the Bison offense enough to guide South Dakota to another home win.  The Coyotes are 8-0 at home this season.

The Bison lost by 14 in Vermillion last season, and that wasn’t your older cousin’s South Dakota team.  The Bison were also playing without their leading scorer at the time, Paul Miller.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Denver (1-2)

Western Illinois was able to win in Denver last season, who was playing without Joe Rosga at the time and CJ Bobbitt was limited to just 8 minutes in that game.  Expect Denver to be out for some revenge, and not to take Western Illinois lightly.

January 12th 

South Dakota State (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-3) on ESPN3

Oral Roberts just almost prevented the Jackrabbits from making the NCAA Tournament last season, just almost.  South Dakota State was able to escape the upset with every Jackrabbit playing poorly, except for Mike Daum.  Daum averaged 20.3 points and 7 rebounds against the Golden Eagles and can still have a huge game in Tulsa again this season.

The Jackrabbits mixed things up with their lineups and were able to get things going toward the end of the game against Omaha.  Oral Roberts has actually not been that bad for a 4-13 team.  They won each of their last two non-conference games, only lost to Creighton by 1, and had a rough start to conference play with three straight road games.  That home court is going to feel nice to Oral Roberts.

I went back and forth on who should win this game.  This game should be close throughout the entire duration of the game, with the winner escaping by winning on free throws toward the end of the game.  Both teams shoot above 70 percent at the free throw line.

January 14

Fort Wayne (3-1) @ South Dakota (3-1)

It’s almost a crime that this game wont have an ESPN3 broadcast.

Fort Wayne, one of the better three point shooting teams in the nation is going to go up against a team that allows teams to shoot more than 20 threes per game.  South Dakota is good at actually getting a hand in the face of shooters, but Fort Wayne can really move the ball around for the open shot.

Coming off of a defensive battle against North Dakota State, and having one of the best players out, South Dakota may not be able to last against Fort Wayne who will have an entire week of rest.  Fort Wayne leads the nation in three point field goal percentage, but South Dakota has the third best defensive three point field goal percentage in the conference.  The Coyotes have had the best defensive three point field goal percentage over the last 4 games.

With Tyler Flack out, the Mastodons should have a decent enough advantage in the post with Brent Calhoun, Xzavier Taylor, and John Konchar to take control of the game.  As good of a three point shooting team as the ‘Dons are, they aren’t too shabby at getting the ball down low.  The ‘Dons are also 16th in D1 in 2 point field goal percentage.

IUPUI (1-3) @ Oral Roberts (0-2) on ESPN3

IUPUI has a good enough defense to keep the inconsistent players of Oral Roberts off their game.

Alberts Owens is not quick enough to defend Matt O’Leary who is capable of scoring anywhere on the court, and none of the guards for Oral Roberts are great enough defensive players to slow down Darell Combs who is averaging 22.7 points per game so far in conference play so far.

As good as playing at home again might be for Oral Roberts, they don’t have the depth to win 2 games in three days.

North Dakota State (3-0) @ Denver (1-2)

Denver on the road is a bad match up for the Bison, but this is not the same type of game that it was a year ago when both team’s offenses worked down the shot clock on every possession to get the best shot.

Western Illinois (3-1) @ Omaha (1-3)

It’s a good thing the Leathernecks are one of the worst teams in the conference at taking the ball away and creating possessions for themselves, since the Mavericks have averaged 15 turnovers (ouch) to 11 assists (ouch) a game since entering Summit League play.

Still, the Leathernecks have started out conference play hot, and the Mavericks have not.  Derrin Hansen did mention that the Mavericks have been practicing better lately, and offensively they did look pretty good in the last two games.  The hope is that the Mavericks are still bitter about their loss to the Leathernecks last season, which helped prevent them from getting a top two spot in the conference tournament, so hopefully they can come out playing at a high level and build up a lead.

Travel this week could be an issue for the Leathernecks who will be coming to Omaha after a road game at Denver.

It’s always the random guys that show up for Western Illinois to beat the Mavericks.

Last year, Mike Miklusak was averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds a game, but beat up the Mavericks 14 points and 11 rebounds in the Mavericks’ loss in Macomb.

Tate Stensgaard was basically playing with no one defending him when he scored 26 on 13-of-15 shooting and had 7 rebounds in Baxter Arena.  He ended up averaging 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.  Stensgaard The Mavericks had to come back from a 16 point lead to win that game.

In a loss to the Leathernecks 2 years ago, Jabari Sanidfer averaged 7.4 points on the season, but had 20 against the Mavericks.  Jamie Batish had 15 off the bench for the Leathernecks and averaged 6.4 points that year.

  • Also, a random note about Western Illinois.  Since losing Jabari Sandifer to a season ending injury, who is one of the most inconsistent players the Summit League has ever seen (or at least since Mav fans have paid attention), the Leathernecks have gone 3-1 and are 4-1 overall without him this season.

What I’m saying here is while the Mavericks are planning for Garret Covington, who is averaging 21.3 points, and Mike Miklusak, who is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds a game this season, they should really be worried most about this De’Angelo Bruster kid who averages 6 points a game.  He might have 30 points in Baxter Arena.

Thanks for reading.  I know low major weekly basketball predictions might not be super entertaining, but this time of year after college football has ended, it’s this or you have the Mel Kiper Season of just analyzing the 2025 NFL Draft.

 

Imagining what would have happened had the Huskers played the Mavericks

Nebraska lost to Gardner-Webb yesterday.  Omaha beat Cal State Fullerton for the second time of the season.  Why couldn’t the Mavericks and Huskers have played yesterday instead of those two games?

I get that Nebraska fans feel Omaha should stop complaining about the two schools not playing each other in the last few years.  I also understand that both programs wanting their home games and schedules to align might be difficult some years.  But it sounds like Omaha’s offer to play is always on the table for Nebraska.

You know what may have been a good day that would have made sense to play each other?  The Sunday after finals week.  Just a thought.

The perception by Omaha fans is that Nebraska currently doesn’t want to play Omaha is because Omaha might be just a little bit better than the Huskers right now, and Nebraska wouldn’t want to risk the loss to their little brother.  Omaha may not have the athleticism and quantity of talent that Nebraska has, but they have some match up problems for Nebraska and enough bitter tenacity to give the Huskers everything they’ve got.

Not saying this is actually what’s happening with the Nebraska staff, just saying what fans put into their minds.

Now that Nebraska has lost to a Big South team, maybe facing Omaha might not be all that bad.  But the Husker-Mavericks match up wasn’t scheduled this year…so we’ll just have to imagine what this world would be like if they would have agreed to play yesterday…


Derrin Hansen does his hands in his pockets slow walk into the arena and glares out into the crowd.  Still not sure at what goes through Hansen’s mind when he does this, but in this case I am assuming he is doing whatever he can to raise his maturity level to not punch Herbie Husker in the face.

What is this?  When Hansen reaches the scorers’ table and a student manager provides him with a Diavolo Pizza from Dante Ristorante Pizzeria out of Omaha and two pitchers of beer.  Hansen sets the pizza and beer on the table next to his seat and glares down at Tim Miles.

“I am going to beat you while I am loaded,” Hansen screams across the court to Tim Miles.

Tim Miles’ response is to flash the cross bones in Hansen’s direction.

The crowd goes insanely wild, but collectively as a basketball miracle the fans just start chanting “SCREW THE JAYS.  SCREW THE JAYS.  SCREW THE JAYS.”  It doesn’t make a ton of sense given the situation, but it also makes perfect sense at the same time.

The analysts ask the question: What do the Cornhuskers have to do win this game?  The question alone should be a punch in the gut to a Big 10 team, but it’s actually a serious question in this case.  They need to penetrate and knock down open threes, so all of the Mav fans have a good laugh.

What do the Mavericks have to do to win this game?  Control the pace and get out into transition.  The Mav fans just continue laughing.

Tre’Shawn Thurman takes off his warm ups and walks to center circle to ready himself for the opening tip.  By getting ready, he just flexes the entire time as he walks up to face Ed Morrow.  Nebraska wins the tip.

Nebraska’s first offensive possession is spent with confusion among the players as teammates are asking each other if they are sure they were supposed to be starting tonight.  Some guard for Nebraska, I don’t know, it’s hard to keep track of them at times, tries a pass to Jack McVeigh and Tra-Deon Hollins gets in the middle of the passing lane and rushes down the court in transition.  He tries a fancy pants pass to Marcus Tyus, who wasn’t expecting the pass, so the ball goes out of bounds.

Oh, it’s going to be a sloppy game.  Who would have guessed?

Nebraska’s second offensive possession, the team works the ball into Michael Jacobson.  Jacobson is backing Zach Pirog into the lane.  Jacobson works a series of moves to confuse his defender, and works into in up and under move under for an easy basket.  Oh man, this Jacobson guy is going to kill us down low all night!

Omaha’s second offensive possession, Thurman gets the ball at the top of the lane and is defended by Nebraska’s Ed Morrow.  Thurman makes a jab step to the right, Morrow bites, Thurman moves into a fade away jump shot, and the basket is good.

Next, a pissed off Morrow aggressively attacks Thurman at the basket for a lay up.  Morrow and Thurman could provide to be a very fun match up throughout the game, but one of them is likely to get into foul trouble.  So that’s sad we have to imagine it.

Eventually Nebraska subs in Jordy Tshimanga for Morrow, and all of the Omaha fans cheer in excitement.

Mitch Hahn and Pirog outrun Tshimanga for easy baskets for a few minutes and Omaha goes on a 8-0 run.  Miles calls a time out and an assistant coach tells Tshimanga to fake an injury and head to the locker room for the duration of the game.

Jacobson gets Thurman down on the block and works a few post moves on him and gets another easy basket.  Seriously, how does this Jacobson only have two baskets?  Why don’t the Huskers go into him more frequently?

On the next possession, Thurman tries to get some revenge on Jacobson and moves at him out of control and picks up an offensive foul.

Hansen goes absolutely ballistic at the referee, even though it was a good call.  You have to remember that Hansen has at least one pitcher of beer and half of a pizza down at this point.

Omaha has a 5 point lead at half time.  Nebraska fans are really unsure what to do here.  They end up just bitterly accusing every Omaha fan of being MavSkers, and not being a true fan to anything.  You know, because you cannot just like things in this state without these people accusing you of being a home wrecker.

The Husker fans take a few moments wondering how they missed out on recruiting Tre’Shawn Thurman.  Sure, statistically, he would not of had the same career at Nebraska as he did at UNO, but he would have proven to be a quality Husker.  Omaha fans are wondering how UNO missed out on Michael Jacobson.

There is also some argument and debate trying to figure out which basketball program is doing the other basketball program a favor by playing this game.


Some half time stats:

Nebraska – 

Michael Jacobson – 4 points, 5 rebounds

Ed Morrow – 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 fouls

Jordy Tshimanga – 1 minute

Tai Webster – 8 points, 3 rebounds

And the guy who keeps track of how many times Jack McVeigh is not found wide open by Glynn Watson has broken his clip board and is being seen by a medical professional.

Omaha

Tra-Deon Hollins – 2 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers?

Zach Jackson – 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 10,000 people asking: who is this guy?

Tre’Shawn Thurman – 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 fouls


The teams come out of for shoot around at half time.  Tai Webster is just pissed.  Pissed!

Derrin Hansen stumbles out of the locker room a little surly.

Trev Alberts is seen on the big screen, and he is met with a mix of boos and cheers.  Shawn Eichorst is seen on the phone attempting to fire whoever is in charge of putting people up on the big screen.  He’s also trying to figure out who is in charge of keeping outside food and drinks from entering the building.  There is a man on the sideline with two pitchers of beer and a pizza!

The first four minutes of the second half are not basketball.  Both teams enter those minutes where they have complete offensive droughts.  Just turnovers and bricked jump shots for four plus minutes.

Miles is standing on the sideline with his arms crossed and a pissed off look on his face.  Hansen is just standing there with his hands in his pockets staring into the abyss.  That’s actually 100% accurate of their body language when their teams go on these offensive droughts.

Nebraska comes out of the media time out by having Tai Webster attack the rim.

Omaha has moved to their three point shooting line up with Thurman-Hahn-JT Gibson-Tyus-Hollins.  So naturally, they come out of the first media time out ready for Thurman to set some screens and Hollins to find open three point shooters.  This is not Omaha’s best defensive line up, so it’s enough to just keep the game close at this point.

We’re going to break into a basketball sports movie montage here –


Nebraska frees up the lane by confusing Omaha’s defense in the post, and Morrow gets a huge dunk.

Hahn makes a corner three after his defender thinks he has to help Jacobson defend an Omaha post player.

Webster breaks past Tyus through an open baseline for an easy lay up.

Hollins steals the ball from Watson and sprints across the court for an easy transition bucket.

Morrow gets an and-one opportunity.  Thurman gets an and-one opportunity.

Miles cracks a joke at a ref and the ref tries to hide his laughter.  This happens at least twice a game.

Hansen screams at an official for a blown call, and he earns a warning.  This happens at least once a game.

Zach Jackson gets McVeigh to jump on a pump fake, and Jackson drives baseline and Isaiah Roby fouls him.  Nebraska fans are still trying to figure out who this Jackson kid is.  He averaged 3.5 points a game last year, how is this possible!?  If this was the Doc Sadler era, it is entirely possible that Jackson would be a Husker.

Anton Gill gets into the lane and…well he does something basketball related, I guess.

A Nebraska fan talks about how at least Nebraska is only losing Tai Webster after this season.  Next year could be the Huskers’ year.  Right?

An Omaha fan complains about how Pinnacle Bank Arena doesn’t sell alcohol at Husker events.  That’s just an Omaha thing.

McVeigh finally hits a three.

Tyus comes off a screen and catches a pass from Hollins and knocks down a three.

Roby drives into the lane, gets the ball knocked out of his hands by Hollins, but the ball still some how ends up in Roby’s hands again and he puts up a shot with the shot clock expiring, and it goes in.

Tyus drives into the lane, misses a lay up.  Thurman gets the offensive rebounds, puts it up and misses, does that a few more times, and then gets an and-one.  Seriously, 4 misses and 5 rebounds in 10 seconds.  Thurman now has a double-double.

We’re looking at a 74-74 game right now, and Omaha calls a time out with 40 seconds left on the shot clock.  Derrin Hansen calls a time out.

Hollins stands at the top of the key dribbling and watching the shot clock dwindle down.  Pirog comes up and sets a screen.  Hollins drives to the basket, and with the attention focused on him and Thurman, Hollins passes the ball to a rolling Pirog who dunks the ball in.

Nebraska calls a timeout with 4 seconds remaining.

Omaha comes out showing a full court press.  Nebraska calls another time out.  Isn’t basketball fun?

Watson inbounds the ball to McVeigh near half court.  He drives enough to get the ball near the three point line, and throws up a three with Jackson right in his face.

And…

 

 

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Dec 8

A few weeks away from the start of the conference season for The Summit League, are you starting to get pumped? Nothing like some meaningless rankings and broad observations to help get you there.

1. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons beat Indiana.  Don’t you remember?

They actually average more steals than Omaha.  That might break you.

2. Omaha

Don’t let the Iowa State poor showing get you down.  The Mavericks were worn down in that game after putting all of their focus on the Hawkeyes over the weekend.  You could see how Tre’Shawn Thurman was warn down in that game, he had no lift in his legs what so ever.  The whole team seemed deflated from the opening tip.  I was hoping Derrin Hansen would have used half time as a kindergarten style group nap.

Also, don’t let Nebraska or Creighton smack talking fans take anything away from Omaha beating Iowa because “it’s a down year for Iowa.”  These are the same people that were in agreement that thought before the start of the season that Iowa would be in the NIT because “Fran McCaffrey is just that good of a coach.”  I guess it’s also a down century for Nebraska, so Incarnate Word should just forget their win over Nebraska a few years ago ever happened.

Looking up and down the Summit League, it is hard to find a team that is more set up for success this season AND in the future.  Even though the Mavericks still have some things they need to work on, they have an actual chance to win the Summit League this season.  In addition to that, sophomores Zach Pirog, Mitch Hahn, and Zach Jackson are showing that they could be a dangerous front court combination over the next few years.  Freshmen JT Gibson and KJ Robinson are also showing flashes of improvement and could combine with that front court in 2018 to be the best starting lineup in the Summit League in 2017-2018.  Yes, I realize that some teams could get some junior college players or some transfers from bigger schools to contend with them, but as of right now, we have a Pirog, Hahn, Jackson, Gibson, Robinson lineup to look forward to.

3. North Dakota State

The Bison have the second highest RPI and Kenpom rating as of right now, but remember when the Bison were just unstoppable at home?  Then the Mavericks broke that trend last season?  The Bison lost to the Fighting Si..Hawks by 18 in Fargo last night.  Dexter Werner had 30 points and 13 rebounds in the game, but no one else for the Bison really showed up.  The Bison back court of Paul Miller and Khy Kabellis combined for 1-of-18 from the floor.

It may actually shock you that the Bison currently have the worst three point shooting percentage in the Summit League.

4. South Dakota

Can we just call them Mini-Nebraska?  They are good at defense, poor at three point shooting, and struggle to score ball at times.  They also appear to have a ton of depth on the team, but really there is just not much difference from the starters to the bench players…but the starters are not exactly 1st Team All Conference players.

5. IUPUI

The Jaguars have had a pretty tough schedule, with only two home games so far, and they still have to play on the road against Southern Utah and Northwestern.    While you were not paying attention, because Omaha was playing in Iowa City, the Jaguars were able to pick up a win at Ball State.  Then they almost pulled off another Summit League versus Big 10 upset by playing Illinois close.

6. South Dakota State

Not sure if you’ve watched a South Dakota State game, but it’s not really looking all that pretty.  The team has no flow whenever Mike Daum heads to the bench.  There is no true point guard to really set up a pick-and-roll situation.  It really is a team of guys that have not played much basketball together and are still working to figure it out.  They can turn this around by late February, but the process of getting there may not be pretty.

They were able to beat UMKC over the weekend, but the Kangaroos were playing without their best player, Martez Harrison.

7. Denver

3-5 on the year so far, and the Pioneers have been competitive in almost every loss.  This team is still transitioning their offensive culture from Watch Out For The 10 Screens Every Play to They Shot That With 20 Seconds On the Shot Clock, but they may have a chance of having it figured out by the end of the year.

Joe Rosga is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists a game.  It may be a difficult decision if you have to pick who the best sophomore is in the Summit League between Rosga, Mike Daum, and John Konchar.

8. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles have still yet to beat a division one team.  Oral Roberts has the toughest strength of schedule in the Summit League, and they almost put a serious scare into Michigan State…which is why they are getting the edge on Western Illinois for not having the worst ranking in the Summit.

The Golden Eagles still do not have much of a bench, and their roster is filled with youth and inconsistency.  One has to wonder if the tough schedule will help them fight through and prepare them for the Summit League, or just wear them down to the point they cannot compete for 40 minutes each conference game.

9. Western Illinois

Work has been super hectic for me lately while we have been transitioning to a new software, the alternator in my car died last week, and when I had Roto Rooter come out to my place to snake my drain, and the guy poked a hole in a pipe so when I ran the dishwasher a bunch of water leaked into my basement.  We had to cut through drywall to replace the drain and all the of the furniture that was in that room is currently sitting in a hall way.

Sorry, I just thought you might want to hear about some problems I have had recently while we are on the subject of shit shows.

A month out game preview: Eastern Michigan

The second return game of the year for the Mavericks.  This time they get to go to Ypil…Ypilis…shoot, who cares.  It’s in the eastern part of Michigan.  Probably.

omaemu

You may remember the game last year as one of the games that Omaha was down by large margin and did not end up coming back for a win.  The Mavericks were able to cut a 15 point lead down to six before losing 80-73 at Baxter Arena in what was just another Baxter Arena shooting blunder.  You may have sat there in Baxter Arena wondering how this high octane offense could survive if they shot around 20% on threes.  Survive may be too strong of a word.  It’s not like we’re dealing with a zombiepocalyse here.  This was also the game that I figured out that I love the french fries at the Baxter Arena.  Maybe my favorite in town.  If there was a reward program for racking up points on french fry purchases at Baxter Arena, I might literally own Aksarben Village in a decade.

That game was early in the year, and you could guess that is one of the games that the Mavericks wish they could have back.  Tra-Deon Hollins was still trying to figure out how to shoot and be conditioned at the division one level.  The Mavericks had not inserted Kyler Erickson into the starting lineup at that point or were using him as the team’s source of energy.  It still seemed as if after one season that Derrin Hansen had not completely figured out how to utilize Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood at this point.

Hansen and the Mavericks still may have some issues trying to figure out some of their guys in this game.  Figuring out where and when to play Daniel Meyer, Mitchell Hahn, and Zach Pirog looks like it could be difficult at the beginning of the season.  Each has a different skill set, and finding that right mix in the post for the right opponent could be a challenge for this coaching staff.  Figuring this out will be important for the Mavericks in this game as Eastern Michigan has 6’10” sophomore Jason Thompson IV who averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds as a freshman.  He may have been one of the best post players that Mavericks played all season long.

The Eagles are likely to not have issues like this.  Eastern Michigan is bringing back four starters, and return 80% of their scoring to their team that finished 18-15 overall and 112th in RPI.  The biggest loss to the Eagles is the graduation of 6’8″ forward Brandon Nazione who averaged 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds.  The other players they lost were mostly players with small roles.  Nazione had 12 points and 7 rebounds against Omaha last season.  The Eagles will get to replace Nazione with Nick Madray, a 6’9″ transfer from Binghamton, who averaged 10.8 points per game as a freshman before ending his freshman and sophomore seasons with injuries.

The main issues the Eagles may have is their depth.  They really only have 6 players that are in their main rotation, which could be a problem for a fast paced team like the Mavericks.  They have three players that transferred in but will be sitting out the 2016-2017 season, and while that is good for the future of the program, that hurts your depth right now.

The Eagles were able to win in Baxter Arena with a lack of depth against the Mavericks on the Mavericks shooting 37% from the field and 4-of-17 on threes.  With Mitch Hahn, JT Gibson, and Marcus Tyus in the lineup, the Mavericks do not plan on going 4-of-17 in many games this season from behind the arch.  Let’s just hope they can shoot so well that the Mavericks wont have to worry about rebounding…

This game will be played at noon on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  On ESPN3, so get prepared for your spouse to yell at you about hanging up Christmas decorations “because this is the best day to do it.”