A month out game preview: Montana State

I have never been to the state of Montana.  Recently, a friend of my wife began dating a guy from Montana.  He used to play football at the university of Montana.  We’ve bonded over some time.  We bonded because he was trying to tell me that the Big Sky was an underrated conference, and I was able to argue and make points that the Summit League was better and more underrated.

Either way, he hates Montana State.  When I described all that is lovely about North Dakota hockey fans, he stopped me, and told me that it sounded exactly like Montana State fans.

I am not sure if he was just bullshitting that is true or not, but I have presented all of this to you to make a funny that I am really excited about the potential of putting my place up on Air B&B for North Dakota, and now Montana State fans. My place is next to two doughnut shops, a liquor store, a strip club, a classy establishment called Arby’s, and is 10 minutes away from Baxter Arena.  I’m living on a gold mine!  They’re going to want my place for $1500 a night!


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The Mavericks have another return game.  The Bobcats will be coming to Omaha in the middle of a Summit League sandwich as they travel to Vermillion first to take on the Coyotes, and then for some reason meet back up with the Coyotes 8 days later in Bozeman.

I find myself wondering what would have happened had Devin Patterson not hit a three point shot with time expiring, and Omaha had not won in Bozeman last season.

Omaha was 2-4 against division one opponents on the year heading into Bozemen.  The Mavericks had an eight point lead with under three minutes remaining, and let the Bobcats claw their way back to tie the game with just a few seconds left.  This was a situation that was familiar to the Mavs as they had blown some leads like this before.

Gary Sharp made a point, as he was making the call, that there were so many games and situations in the past exactly like that moment that had not gone the Mavericks way.

Maybe had the Mavericks lost that game in overtime, they would have lost some swagger and confidence in themselves.  Maybe they would have gone on to lose at Grand Canyon, and maybe end up not having the fight they had in other games when they found themselves blowing a big lead, or needing to fight back from a large deficit.  I don’t know.  History happened as it did.

Either way, Patterson had 38 points, hit the game winning shot, and the Mavericks ended up moving on to a winning season and the Bobcats ended their season at 14-16.

Sounds like a recipe for the Bobcats to be out for some revenge.

The Bobcats are still coached by former Creighton assistant Brian Fish.  Fish is working to improve Montana State, and as you would expect from a former assistant of Dana Altman, he likes his team to get out and run and put up shots.  This will be a high scoring game, and should be fun to watch if you do not like defense.  Omaha and Montana State were both in the top 30 in field goals attempted per game last season.

The Mavericks are without Patterson.  That is obvious.  The Bobcats also lost a key point guard from last year.  Marcus Colbert was a senior that averaged 17 points and 5 assists a game.  He had 35 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists to help the Bobcats keep that game against Omaha close.  The Mavericks have Marcus Tyus to help replace Patterson’s scoring, the Bobcats are still in the middle of figuring out who will take over the scoring.

The Bobcats return five contributors from last season.  They will also have a couple guys sitting out due to to transfer rules, which can be a bad thing for a team’s depth, but thems the rules.

With only 5 players coming back that were contributors from last season, it is difficult to know what the Bobcats can be this season.  They were picked 7th in the Big Sky preseason poll, which is probably fair.  Their roster is made up of mostly former junior college players that appear to be hit or miss.  Fish recruited some guys to Creighton that were just right for their system, and one should expect he has done and will do the same at Montana State.

One returning player that could be one of the best opposing players to come to Baxter Arena this season is sophomore Tyler Hall.  Hall held a scholarship offer from the Mavericks if you want to spend the next month wondering why someone would intentially pick living in Bozeman over Omaha.   He averaged 18.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as he went on to be named the Big Sky Freshman of the Year, and was named to 2nd Team all conference.

Another player that could be good and have a breakout season for the Bobcats is sophomore forward Sam Neumann.  Neumann is a native of Minnesota and picked the Bobcats over South Dakota State.  He did not get much playing time last season, but Neumann had 11 points and 5 rebounds in the Bobcats’ lone exhibition game.

It is just a little difficult to gauge how good his players can be when their SID puts together descriptions of their players like this:

Copy and pasted from msubobcats.com

Montana State: (2016) An athletic wing with a diverse skill set.

Montana State: (2016) Begins his freshman season in contention for starting honors at a wing spot.

Montana State: (2017) Entes the fall in competition for starting honors on a wing.

Montana State: (2016) Enters the 2015-16 season competing for playing time on a wing… known for his offensive ability and shooting skill.

You might get pretty pumped up for the Mavericks season if the Omaha SID just wrote in for KJ Robinson: ” He’s shorter than the other guys so assume he’s fast.”

With the lack of depth for the Bobcats, and the fact that they are playing two other games this week, I would like to think the Mavericks have the advantage in this game.   It will be a much needed win considering how difficult the rest of the schedule is for the Mavericks.

There may be some Creighton fans that actually make it to Baxter Arena just to see Brian Fish, but probably not many.  Actually, probably not any.  There may be a fair amount that actually read the game recap in the Omaha World Herald.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tyus and Jacobson lead the The Summit League All Snubbed Team

Not making the Preseason All Summit League Team is really not that big of a deal at the end of the day.  Making it, and then not making the final season All Summit League team is kind of a big deal.  Everyone laughs at you.  They don’t actually.  Okay, wait, what is the point of a Preseason Team of anything?  Is the real point of it to upset some of the players who just maybe should have been on there?

Former South Dakota State coach, Scott Nagy, basically said it was completely worthless.  It’s like when some movie gets really hyped up because it has Marlon Brando and he gets top billing, but the movie is actually great because of the acting of the 5th highest billed actor.  Maybe, it is a sign of respect to some guys?  It certainly has added a little motivation to guys in the past that were not selected to the team.

I’m not going to specifically say who should be dropped off from the teams, but here are some guys that maybe should have been named to the 1st or 2nd team.

Tyler Flack, Sr., F, South Dakota

No South Dakota player was selected to the Preseason Team, and we kind of get it. The Yotes lost a ton, and we have no idea what is going on there.

After missing all of 2014-2015 with a back injury, Flack was able to make a comeback in the second half of last season.  He ended up averaging 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and was able to raise those numbers to 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds over the last 12 games of the season.  With a number of players leaving, and having a relatively young and thin front line, Flack could be even more of a center piece for the Coyotes and put up even bigger numbers in 2016-2017

AJ Jacobson, Jr., G/F, North Dakota State

I had to double check a couple things here.  Jacobson seemed like Summit League royalty a year ago, so it was weird not even seeing him mentioned.  First, I had to double check that my Cntl + F was working properly when I did not see Jacobson’s name on the Preseason Team.  If you don’t regularly use the Cntl + F option to find certain words in readings, just know that if you start using it, it will really start angering you in regular life when you read things like restaurant menus without and you just want to know what items have avocado in them. After that, I had to go check to see if Jacobson was still on North Dakota State’s roster.  Sure is still on the roster.

Jacobson was named Summit League Honorable Mention as a freshman and again as a sophomore, and he’s been just about the only member of the Bison that’s been able to stay away from injuries and not get in trouble on the team in some fashion.  It’s possible he wont have to play as much at the 4 this season, so he could be a more effective player on offense and defense in his natural position.

Matt Mooney, So., G, South Dakota

With over 75% of their scoring from last season gone, South Dakota will need to replace that scoring…duh.  Mooney, a transfer from Air Force, could really be one of the main guys that step up and take a big role on this team.

I get that this is a stretch for being snubbed, and there is uncertainty here, but a couple of the guys on the Preseason Team could have slightly reduced roles because of the newcomers on their rosters taking their minutes and shots away.  Mooney is the one getting the shots.  Mooney was a consistent freshman for Air Force in 2014-2015, averaging 7 points per game and shooting 45% from the field.  There are 40+ points per game from the wing positions that need made up for South Dakota, and then some if they want to be a contender this season, Mooney is going to be the main guy to take over this loss of scoring.

Matt O’Leary, Sr., F, IUPUI

O’Leary had some consistency issues in 2015-2016, but he was still a big weapon for the Jaguars as a newcomer.  For a big man, he can do just about anything.  He has a few post moves, can hit mid-range jumpers, knock down a three here and there, step back and hit the three, put the ball to the floor and drive to the basket, and he even led all big men in the Summit in assists last season.  It’s bascially like watching what I thought Rylan Murry would have become, but the Indiana version.  With some late departures, O’Leary has been left as one of few experienced big men for the Jaguars and if he finds some consistency, could really be one of the biggest match up problems in the Summit League.

Marcus Tyus, Sr., G, Omaha

It’s fine, I get it, I am biased, but Tyus is being named the Co-Captain of the All Snubbed Team with Jacobson.  I sat here a year ago thinking Tyus got snubbed on the Preseason poll, in addition to Jake White and Devin Patterson who both ended up on the 2nd Team at the end of year.  I also thought Tre’Shawn Thurman was snubbed in both the Preseason and Regular Season awards in 2015-2016, but whatever.

Maybe some people forgot of Tyus’ existence, but can you imagine the Mavericks last year with a healthy Marcus Tyus on the roster?  Can you even believe it?  He arguably had a better junior season than Max Landis did (who was selected to the 2015-2016 Preseason 2nd team and then ended up as the Summit League Player of the Year), and Tyus was playing out of position on defense for basically the entire 2014-2015 season.  Tyus should be taking over the scoring left from Devin Patterson’s departure.  They both score in different ways, but are capable of putting up the same points.

I’m just putting a back court together in my mind of one of the best all around players the Mavericks have ever had (Hollins) next to one of the most consistent shooters the Mavericks have had in division one.  I’m trying to not start the Mavericks Would Beat the Huskers by 15 This Season debate.

Meet future Mav KJ Robinson

I’m not sure what you can take away from a highlight tape from one game, but look at that cross over-step back jumper move…  It is the same move that helped Devin Patterson score many points as a Omaha Maverick!

A while back the Mavericks’ coaching staff made it a point to recruit players from winning programs.  In Robinson’s junior year, his team at Blue Springs South won the state Missouri Boys Class A Championship and he was teammates with current Missouri Tiger Kevin Puryear.  Blue Springs South ended the season at 29-2.

In his senior season, Blue Springs South ended at 17-11 and lost in the 2nd round of the state tournament to eventual runner up Kickapoo.  Kickapoo had a player, Jared Ritter, that is committed to play basketball at Xavier.  Kickapoo lost to Chaminade in the state championship, who has the second rated player in nation who is committed to Duke, Jayson Tatum.  So high school basketball in Missouri sounds fun.

If you are curious, Remy Davenport of the Omaha women’s team also attended Blue Springs South.

Robinson was named to the Missouri Coaches All-State basketball team, with guys that are committed to Duke and Xavier.  This is a guy that many people from the Kansas City area, per a series of tweets, thought that Omaha made a big time steal by landing.

Robinson’s dad appears to like every tweet involving UNO basketball, so that’s kind of cool.

I’m not sure what you were hoping for in basketball recruiting when the Mavericks made the transition.  Junior college players; Big 10, Big 12, and Missouri Valley transfers; in-state Nebraska guys should hopefully have been obvious; Iowa guys; Kansas City area guys; Minnesota guys; and the occasional three star recruit maybe… Robinson is a Kansas City area guy, and the occasional 3 star recruit.  Rivals rated Robinson as a three star recruit.

The 3 stars do not always guarantee a guy can be a star at the mid-major level, but the potential certainly adds some excitement and hope in local fans.  Cannot forget the days of how bad Creighton fans were salivating over P’Allen Stinnett being rated as a 4 star recruit by some sites.  This may sound like I’m dogging on the Bluejays here, but I’m not.  After seeing Stinnett as a highly touted recruit and him dominating his first NCAA basketball game, the math made sense that he was going to be the guy taking Creighton to the next level…not some guy from Ames, Iowa years later.

It is hard to imagine how many minutes Robinson can pick up as a freshman with the guard-heavy back court of Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, Kyler Erickson, JT Gibson, and Daniel Norl.  Robinson has the potential to be the team’s second best pure point guard on the 2016-2017 roster, but it is difficult to put it together how many available minutes there could be for him.  Hold on, my brain is about to take a break to imagine a 2019-2020 back court of Gibson and Robinson.  Okay, and I’m about to slip in a happy coma.  See what I mean about hope in potential?


On an unrelated note…

I got to the Omaha Metro Summer League Thursday night and floated around between as many games as possible.  Marcus Tyus was playing on the UNO Alumni team, and he is looking solid.  There were some brief moments where it looked as if he was still trying to adjust to his knee, but he ran the floor extremely well, always knew where to get to for a rebound, and was shooting lights out.

 

 

A look at who the Summit League is losing

College sports graduates teams every year, players transfer, and teams are affected by that from year to year…duh.  Some top teams get worse because of what they are losing, and other teams get better with what they have coming back.

Here is who Summit League men’s basketball is losing this year, and the list is in order of what teams will be affected most by their losses.


South Dakota

It feels uncommon to see the team that finished 8th in a conference to be losing so many players.  Seems like these teams are typically youthful and at least have a lot to look forward to in the future as they develop their team.  South Dakota will graduate 4 players on scholarship and one walk on player; as well as lose three players to transfer.

The Yotes will have a new look with three transfers coming aboard, and could potentially have the deepest core of post players as most of their post players this season were freshmen and sophomores.

From 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, the Coyotes were losing the most scoring off their team at 57% and they fell from 4th in the conference to 8th.  Going into next season, they will again be the team that loses the most scoring at nearly 80 freaking percent of their scoring.

Graduates

Tre Burnette, 6’5″ guard/forward

Played in 32 games and started 23 in 2015-2016.  Averaged 13.2 points; 6.6 rebounds (4th in the Summit League), shot 44% from the field; 51% from the free throw line; and, 32% on threes.  Finished his senior season with 8 double-doubles.

Burnette played the 2, 3, and 4 for the Coyotes at different times.  His production and hustle will be missed by the Coyotes, but he could be being replaced by more efficient players.

Casey Kasperbauer, 6’1″ guard

Started in all 32 games for the Yotes in his senior season.  Averaged 12.1 points; 2.5 rebounds; 2.1 assists; and 1 steal per game.  Shot 41% from the field; 95% (led the Summit) from the free throw line; and 41% on threes.

Craig Smith once called Kasperbauer the best shooter that he had ever coached, and that will be missed by the Coyotes.  The transfer guards coming in for South Dakota appear to be slightly more versatile than Kasperbauer and be more productive over the 34 minutes a game that Kasperbauer was playing.

Trey Norris, 6’0″ guard

Played in all 32 games for the Yotes, and was moved into the starting rotation after Shy McClelland left the team, which was weird because Norris seemed to be the better point guard on the court for the team.  Ended the year averaging 7.5 points and 4.3 assists per game, but was averaging 12 points 5.4 assists in February and March.

Eric Robertson, 6’8″ forward/center

Started in all 32 games for South Dakota as a senior.  Not much of a rebounder for a big man averaging 3.2 per game.  Robertson scored 8.3 points per game on 47% from the floor.

I thought that Tyler Hagedorn or Dan Jech should have been playing more time than Robertson, and I may be more bias for Hagedorn being that he is from Nebraska, but both true freshmen seemed that they could have been more productive over Robertson.

Duol Mayot, 6’5″ guard/foward

Played in 17 games in his senior season as a walk on.

Departures

Dejon Davis, 6’4″ sophomore – Transferred to Indianapolis (D2)

Considered to be one of the most improved players in the Summit League after seeing his scoring go from 1.9 points per game in his freshman season to 9.3 as a sophomore.  Davis’ playing time was increased as well going from a seldom used guard his freshman season at 9.3 minutes per game to starting in 31 of 32 games in his sophomore season and averaging nearly 30 minutes per game.  He was 6th in the Summit League in field goal percentage shooting 55.1% from the field.  He was likely to see a reduction in minutes with Matt Mooney and Carlton Hurst becoming eligible, but Davis still would have been a contributor to the team.

Shy McClelland, 6’0″ junior – Left team in early February

McClelland averaged 11.5 points on 49% from the field in his time with South Dakota, but he shot 51% from the free throw line attempting over 4 free throws a game.  He was pretty inconsistent in his time on the team, but could have been a contributor to the Coyotes in 2016-2017.

Zach Dickerson, 6’4″ sophomore – Left team in early February

A transfer from Eastern Illinois that was not seeing much playing time for South Dakota, and probably was not going to see much of an increase in minutes in 2016-2017.


South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits are losing nearly half of their scoring, and they will working with a new head coach in 2016-2017.  Teams in the Summit League may not have the same fear that they’ve had going up against the Jackrabbits that they have had over the last few years.

Graduates

George Marshall, 6’0″ guard

Marshall ended the year struggling when it mattered most.  The Jacks had to survive through his 15% shooting in the conference tournament to move on to face Maryland in the big dance.  Marshall ended the regular season as a 1st Team All Summit League player with his 14.9 points per game, which was 10th in the league.

Marshall has potential to play basketball overseas or in the new NBLA.

Deondre Parks, 6’1″ guard

Parks played in 33 of the team’s 34 games and also averaged 14.9 points per game, and he was a good rebounder at his size with 4.6 per game.  He was shockingly pushed down to the Honorable Mention Team for the Summit after being named to the preseason 1st team.

Like his back court teammate, Parks also has potential to play basketball overseas or in the new NBLA.

Jake Bittle, 6’4″ guard

Bittle did not receive any post season awards after being named to the preseason 1st Team for the Summit League.  He was forced out and also played through some injuries, which may have led to some slightly inconsistent play for himself and the Jackrabbits.  Bittle led the Jackrabbits with 25 points in their win at Minnesota.

Losing Bittle as the guy to actually run the Jackrabbits offense is what could hurt the team the most.

Cory Jacobsen, 6’1″ guard

Never really saw much playing time as a walk on for the Coyotes.  Scored 2 points his senior season.

Departures

Connor Devine, 6’10” junior – Transferred to Alaska-Anchorage (D2)

Never truly broke into the rotation at South Dakota State playing behind a number of quality post players in three years.  Devine did average 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds as a junior, and shot 64% from the field in 8 minutes per game.  Could have been potentially a starter or the 1st post player off the bench in 2016-2017 with the Jacks currently with a lack of big men.

Logan Doyle, 6’8″ sophomore – Transferred to Northern State (D2)

Basically the exact same situation as Devine.  Only played in 7 games as a sophomore, but could have been one of the first guys off the bench in 2016-2017.


Omaha

Graduating four contributors is really hard to make up in college basketball, but the Mavericks will get to reload some of their roster with transfers and players returning from injuries.  The Mavericks will also literally be blessed with a 6th year of eligibility to Kyler Erickson.

Graduates

Devin Patterson, 5’11” guard

Patterson was the fastest player in the league, and that speed is what kept the Mavericks in a few games and gave the team a few victories.  Making up 18 points per game (3rd in the Summit) will be difficult, making up for his speed and his ability to get to the free throw line with be more difficult to overcome.

Patterson has potential to play basketball overseas or in the NBLA.

Jake White, 6’8″ forward

Even though White seemed to constantly be in foul trouble, he finished his senior season 5th in scoring in the conference with 17.3 points per game; as well as 6th in the Summit in rebounding at 6.2 rebounds per game.  It is hard to find a big man like White that can score from anywhere on the court as well draw as many fouls as he did.  As much as White did commit fouls, he was also able to tie for 3rd in the Summit for free throws attempted per game behind Obi Emegano and Devin Patterson.  White also shot 81% from the free throw line as a senior, which was 2nd in the league among forwards.

White has potential to play basketball overseas or in the NBLA.

Randy Reed, 6’6″ forward

Reed may have only averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds per game in his senior season, but the energy and hustle that he brought off the bench for the Mavericks was priceless and will be incredibly difficult to replace.  His 21 points and 5 rebounds off the bench on senior night was one of the most fun performances by a Mav to watch in person since the Mavericks made the transition to division one.

Tim Smallwood, 6’2″ guard

Smallwood was a little inconsistent, but he was able to improve on his shooting from his junior season to his senior season.  As a junior he shot 26% on threes, and he ended up shooting 37% on threes in his senior season.  I personally thought Smallwood was an underrated one-on-one defender.

Departure

Devin Newsome, 5’9″ sophomore

This appears to be unofficial at the moment.  Per the Omaha World Herald, Newsome is looking for a school to transfer to, but there has not been an official statement from anyone.  Newsome was rarely used in his freshman and sophomore seasons, and was unlikely to see an increase in minutes with the guards expected to be on the 2016-2017 roster.


IPFW

Graduates

Max Landis, 6’2″ guard

The ‘Dons are losing the Summit League player of the year that averaged 10 points a game on just three point field goals.  This is not something that is just easy to make up, but it can be done with a few players taking over the load of scoring and shooting.  After Mo Evans was forced off the team in the second semester, Landis stepped up as a passer and averaged over 4 assists without Evans on the roster.  IPFW has Purdue transfer, Bryson Scott to help take over the scoring load but he shot 29% in his two years on threes at Purdue while Landis just shot 45.6% on threes as a senior, which was 30th in division one.

Landis has recently had workouts with the Indiana Pacers and has potential to play in the NBDL.

Joe Reed, 6’8″ forward

The ‘Dons may end up missing Joe Reed more than they think.  He averaged 10.5 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game, but he was always ready to take a clutch shot.  The ‘Dons loved their small ball style in 2015-2016, and Reed was perfect to play at the 5 for that style.  Their core of post players in 2016-2017 may not be the best players for that type of system the coaching staff seemed to fall in love with.

Michael Calder, 6’2″ guard

Calder was fantastic making up for the loss of Mo Evans in the second half of the season.  He was a bit of a one dimensional guard in his junior season when he averaged 4.7 points, and he was able to step that up to 10 points per game overall as a senior.  Calder averaged 14.4 points in Summit League games after Evans was forced out for the 2nd half of the season.

Departure

Andrew Poulter, 6’11” junior

When Poulter signed with the ‘Dons, I was under the impression that Jon Coffman was going to start and play Poulter at the 5.  Poulter was overweight, shot terribly in junior college, was quite slow, and the ‘Dons wanted to go to a new small ball style.  I thought we were going to have to get Coffman checked into some sort of rehab, but instead Poulter hardly got any playing time at IPFW and decided to leave.  Just didn’t seem like the right fit from the beginning.


Oral Roberts

Graduates

Obi Emegano, 6’3″ guard

So I read somewhere that NBA scouts thought that Emegano was a junior and they were not taking his stock into the draft very seriously.  This seems like a really bitter end for the conference scoring champion after a bulk of his teammates leaving Oral Roberts over the last few years, a shoulder injury in the summer, a mid-season concussion, and being surrounded by an incredibly inconsistent youthful squad with zero chemistry.  Though a year from now we could be talking about how the 2016-2017 Summit League scoring champion, Garret Covington, was only a part of 40 wins in his entire collegiate basketball career.

Emegano has potential to be in the NBDL as he appears to be too short to play the shooting guard position in the NBA, nor really enough speed to be in the NBA…but people said the exact same things about Steph Curry.  The loss of Emegano is obviously huge for the Golden Eagles, and they may be classically bad in 2017.

Brandon Conley, 6’6″ forward

The undersized big man suffered through little injuries his entire senior year at Oral Roberts, which led to inconsistent play.  Conley did shoot 56.2% from the field, which was 4th in the Summit League.  His averages of 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds are something that can be easily made up with Oral Roberts’ youth.  They seem to routinely have a guy that goes from averaging 2 points a game to getting 8 to 10 points each game the following year.

Departures

DaQuan Jeffries, 6’5 freshman

Jeffries looked like a guard that loved playing against faster paced teams like Omaha and IPFW, and he even looked pretty good for what Oral Roberts liked to do…yet he transferred away from the team.  His versatility as being a 6’5″ guard who was actually probably better as a forward made it difficult to figure out where to play him in each and every game.  His 6.7 points per game was going to be 4th among returning players to the team.

Tre Vance, 6’9″ junior

Vance averaged less than one point and one rebound in his time at Oral Roberts.  Not really sure what to say here…  I’ve lost 17 pounds in the last 2 months…I’ve been working out a lot and eating really well.  It’s cool and all, but I have to buy a bunch of new clothes because I look like a little kid wearing a bunch of hand me downs from his big brother.


Western Illinois

I want to say it really couldn’t get any worse for the Leathernecks, but it doesn’t seem like it will get much better.

Graduates

JC Fuller, 6’3″ guard

Fuller started the year off pretty hot, and then his shooting dropped off toward the end of the conference season.  Fuller averaged 12.7 points a game, but I doubt Billy Wright will miss his shot selection.  The Leathernecks won two games in a row over Omaha and Denver when they decided to play freshman De’Angelo Bruster more than Fuller…then they went back to giving more minutes to Fuller and lost 4 of their last 5.

I will still remember Fuller as the guy that was absolutely on fire in the first half at Baxter Arena and talking shit to the Maverick bench, then put his forearm into Kyler Erickson’s chest right in front of a referee to push off to miss a 30 foot jump shot.  Then Fuller went missing the second half and the Mavericks came back from a big deficit to win the game.

Tate Stensgaard 6’9″ forward

I feel like Stensgaard was injured throughout his entire career.  He always appeared as if he was playing with a pulled hamstring.  Stensgaard could hit 15 foot jump shots consistently, and could put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket and draw fouls, he shot 60% from the field and averaged 8.6 points as a senior.  Western Illinois just boggles my mind.

Jalen Chapman, 6’8″ forward

Chapman started at center for the Leathernecks and averaged 17 minutes a game in each of his 2 seasons at Western Illinois.  I’m not really sure where else in the Summit League that he would have averaged 17 minutes a game.

Jamie Batish, 6’4″ guard

Batish was a really good shooter that had his career affected by nagging injuries.  The Leathernecks may have picked up a few more wins with the shooter being able to play more as a senior.


North Dakota State

Graduates

Kory Brown, 6’4″ guard

Brown is going to be hard to make up for the Bison, but they pride themselves on their Next One Up philosophy.  It’s not easy to lose a guy that was a part of 2 NCAA tournament teams and went to the conference championship every year he was a member of the team.  He was second on the team in rebounds and was arguably their best perimeter defender.  Brown was also that guy that you forgot was in the game when they’re down by 10 and then all of a sudden he makes a handful of defensive stops and scores on 4 straight possessions to get the Bison right back in the game.  They may not have that guy that can just create a 10 point swing in 2 minutes completely by himself next season.

Chris Kading, 6’9″ center

Normally, you wouldn’t think the loss of a guy that averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds is a big deal, but it is actually a little bit of a big deal for the Bison to lose Kading.  His senior year was slowed down with surgeries before the start of the season, which is what led to a reduction in playing time, but he was still effective for the Bison on the court with his smart play and defense.

In the game at Baxter Arena, AJ Jacobson couldn’t guard Jake White or Tre’Shawn Thurman and Jacobson got into foul trouble so David Richman called on Kading.  Kading grabbed some big boards, drew some fouls on Jake White, hit a big three in the first half, and helped spark a little run to keep the game close.  Thurman and Randy Reed were both bothered by Kading and couldn’t really score on him.  The second half, Jacobson got more playing time before ultimately fouling out, and the Bison probably could have won that game if Kading was fully healthy and could have gotten 35 minutes.

Departures

Trey Miller, 6’7″ freshman

Miller played 5 minutes for the Bison and just decided to say “eff this” and left the team.

Brian Ishola, 6’5″ sophomore

I’m not sure who Ishola was.  I think he was just a player that EA Sports made up when there weren’t enough players in the game anymore.


IUPUI

The Jaguars are graduating two seniors, but they are going to have the most returning to their roster in 2016.  They also added two senior transfers that will be eligible immediately and could have the most depth in the Summit League in 2016-2017.

Marcellus Barksdale, 6’5″ guard

One of the best perimeter defenders in the Summit League, and Barksdale had to play every position at some point in his career with the Jaguars as they just about didn’t have anyone else on the team in his first 3 years in the program.  If James Gardner had not come along for IUPUI and brought in a bunch of transfers with him, Barksdale may have been a part of 8 wins in his entire year with the IUPUI.

The stats for Barksdale won’t be hard to make up for the Jaguars, but his defensive presence that allowed the Jaguars to start most of their fast breaks may hurt them to a degree.  They really didn’t win games with their amazing offensive efficiency, they won 9 conference games with their scrappy defense that Barksdale was a major catalyst for.

Mason Archie, 6’5″ guard

The Jaguars considered Archie to be their best perimeter defender, yet that seemed like a ploy to have teams forget about Barksdale somehow.  His length may have bothered some of the smaller shooting guards in the league a bit, but it’s not like that is something teams couldn’t overcome.

The Jaguars are going to be the most experienced team in 2016-2017, if that wasn’t the case, I may have said the losses of Barksdale and Archie were more detrimental to the team.  They return 80% of their scoring from their 9-7 team, and are adding two graduate transfers and a transfer from Syracuse to the roster.  They’ll be fine.

 

 

The Mavericks: Reloaded

2016-2017 is going to be a bit of a sequel to last season.  Consider it The Mavericks: Reloaded.  Is The Matrix Reloaded the 2nd or the 3rd one of the Matrix series?  They blend together to me for 4 and a 1/2 hours of stupidity for me, so it is difficult to remember.

The Mavericks graduate Kyler Erickson, Devin Patterson, Randy Reed, Tim Smallwood, Jake White from the program.  Each player brought something unique to help guide the program through the first year of transition into the CBI.  Erickson brought the heart, and the other 4 bought some earth element to create a superhero to save the world of disaster.  Normally teams that lose 5 seniors do not compete too highly the following season, but the Mavericks get to quickly reload their roster with Marcus Tyus (redshirted to recover an injury), Mitchell Hahn (redshirted due to transfer from Holy Cross), and JT Gibson (only played 10 games due to an injury).

The decision to redshirt Tyus apparently came a day or two before the start of the regular season.  Really, it was a smart move on the part of the Mavericks.  He tore his ACL in February of 2015, and normally tearing your ACL takes over a year to fully recover.  I still showed up to the opening game and had a 2 hour WHERE IS TYUS panic attack for that game.

You have got to think that Tyus will get the most shot attempts on this team next season.  His junior season, he may have had one of the most efficient seasons since the transition to division one, for a guard at least.  In his junior season he shot 49% from the floor and 44% on threes.  The only guard who really came close to that, that played most of a season, was Justin Simmons who shot 47% from the field and 40% on threes in his junior season.

While Tyus may take over as the primary shot taker, he never really showed the ability to create his shot in the same capacity that Devin Patterson could.  I’m not really sure this program has seen a guy that has that ability that Patterson had, and no one remaining on the roster is really that guy who can do that; so next season the team will have to work together more to get open looks…which can be good because of less standing around and less jump shots with 25 seconds on the shot clock.  Patterson attempted 5 threes a game in 2015-2016, granted that number would have been lower with Tyus on the floor, but Tyus should be taking about 4 threes a game in his senior season, but his percentage should put him at making the same number of threes each game as Patterson did in 2016.  Tyus wont really need to create his own shot with a play maker like Tra-Deon Hollins with him in the back court.

The Mavericks finished 8th in the conference in three point field goal percentage at 33.7%, but that number should go up with Tyus, Hahn, and Gibson on the court; and also Hollins improved from behind the arch as the season went on.  Hollins shot 17% on threes in November and December, and 39% on threes after January 1st.

Aside from the expected better shooting; arguably the best post player the Mavericks have had since transition, Jake White is graduating and that will be a huge piece to make up. Tre’Shawn Thurman will continue to get better and should be an All Conference player in his junior season.  Daniel Meyer and Zach Pirog will really have to improve this summer to help make up for that post production.  I never got to actually watch Mitchell Hahn in high school, but he doesn’t appear to be the same type of rebounder that Jake White was, or a dominating post player against Nebraska high school basketball.  Hahn has the ability to handle the ball and play as a very tall three, which could make the Mavericks very versatile team.  Either way, I hope one of the main on the court goals of the Mavericks this season will be to get my section to stop screaming “BOX THE EF OUT!”

The Mavericks currently have 10 players on scholarship.  Maybe 11 if they give Ben Kositzke a scholarship, who actually could be a pretty underrated player.  He has some really nice post moves, a baseline jump shot as good as Jake White’s, and he just had a year of redshirting to work out on basketball.  Kositzke also apparently had a scholarship offer to Tennessee Tech out of high school.  I was telling my wife about some of the Mavs’ roster and mentioned this, and she usually does some shit talking whenever a university in the state of Tennessee is brought up, instead she was like: “Tennessee Tech, really?  They’re a really good program, that’s a great scholarship offer…and he walked on to the Mavericks?  That’s great!”  That’s got to be worth something.

Speaking of basketball in Tennessee: the Omaha signee Daniel Norl, originally from the state of Tennessee, appears as if he can really add depth to the Mavericks back court.  The 6’2″ guard averaged 11 points, shot 50% from the floor, and 40% on threes for a top 25 junior college in 2015-2016.  He started his career at Eastern Kentucky after getting offers from Tennessee Tech, Belmont, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State, and Murray State.  In his highlight videos you can tell he is a solid defender and likes to make the extra pass on offense.

There are still many available transferring players out there.  It is unclear if Nebraska’s Johnny Trueblood is going to transfer somewhere to play basketball, or if he going to just destroy every pickup basketball game in Lincoln; but many Husker fans on the Husker Hoops Central would like to see him transfer to UNO.  I’m sure both South Dakota schools will try and move in on Trueblood should he decide to pick the Mavericks.

South Dakota State was able to pick up a transfer from Southern Utah, AJ Hess, who will be a senior and eligible to play immediately for the Jackrabbits.  Hess only played in 6 games for South Utah in 2015-2016; in his junior season at SUU, he averaged 11.7 points and 3.7 rebounds; Hess also shot 44% from the floor, 41% on threes, and better than 80% at the free throw line.  The Jackrabbits are going to be able to put out some bigger lineups with two 6’6″ guys who can play the guard position.

I’m bummed that Omaha Benson/Iowa Western’s Thik Bol committed to Southern Illinois.  His post defense combined with Hollins’ perimeter defense would have been a delightful combination on the court.

With the potential to sign two to three more players, and another assistant coach, the Mavericks still have a lot to come in the next few weeks.

 

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.

 

 

#MarchMavericks versus Denver Pioneers Summit Tourney preview

I almost forgot this game was happening.  It’s not that I am not used to the Mavericks playing in March, or that I am weirded out at a 8:30 pm college basketball game in the state of South Dakota on a Sunday night.  I just almost forgot the Omaha Mavericks, or the Summit League, was a thing because I made the mistake of listening to John Bishop and Josh Peterson on Unsportsmanlike Conduct all week try the 215th way to rephrase the questions: Is Mike Riley a good football coach; and is Tommy Armstrong Jr a good quarterback?

Oh, but it’s happening…it’s finally here, the Mavericks are playing in the Summit League tournament as a 3 seed.  I don’t really know where to start with this as I am too excited.  So um, okay, how about this…

Denver, huh?

I like the idea of Omaha fans traveling to Denver this weekend for hockey, all while other Omaha fans are traveling to Sioux Falls to see Omaha and Denver play in men’s basketball.  The fans going to Denver get to start little trivial arguments of who is better, drink some beer, go to a hockey game, bond over why they both hate North Dakota, and grow a rivalry.  Oh, and not to mention, UNO softball is in Colorado this weekend to play Colorado State and Idaho State.  I know it doesn’t have much to do with the Pioneers, but hey, hopefully some Mav fans can get to Fort Collins for some Mav softball.

Omaha and Denver basketball have two contrasting styles.  Omaha loves to get out and run and find quick baskets, and Denver likes slug up the court and pass the ball 5 times before even thinking about shooting, and then pass 3 more times, and then get a backdoor cut for a player to get a wide open shot.  These two contrasting styles makes this game the hardest to guess on to win and get out of the first round of the tournament.

Denver, though, while last in the Summit League in scoring, can actually really play at a fast pace and keep up with higher scoring teams.  Playing in Omaha, the Pioneers were able to get 5 guys in double figures and were able to outscore the Mavs with 75 points.  Weeks later, playing at IPFW, Denver scored 84 points before losing by 4 to the Mastodons.  Denver had three different guys score more than 20 points in that game, and they were able to hit 20 three point field goals as a team.  20!  Amazingly, Denver shot absolutely no free throws in that game.  IPFW had to shoot 62% from the field in that game and shoot 12-of-18 on threes to outscore Denver in that game.

Statistically, it’s not easy to talk about Denver because of their Princeton offense.  They are last in scoring in the Summit League, last in rebounding, last in blocks; but they are first in field goal percentage and free throw percentage…the things Denver cares about.  Interestingly, Denver finished 4th in the conference in steals, which is good for them because they love playing possession to possession.  So maybe, we should look more at some intangibles in this game.

I’m just going to assume that Denver is going to be the least represented fan base in Sioux Falls, based on what LetsGoDU whined about last month, well they may have more fans than Western Illinois there.  Zing.  Omaha has a bus of students heading to Sioux Falls, and people that have the ability to not work on Monday morning could be headed up…and people that do not care about sleep.  Seriously, 8:30 pm on a Sunday, and maybe an even later start time if the earlier games don’t go according to plan.

The Mavericks may have some Oh Shit, We’re Actually Here jitters, but Derrin Hansen made a point that the quickest way to get over that is to get out play fast and make it a basketball game.  Denver’s staff has been here before, but Denver’s players may actually have those jitters as well since the team is mostly newcomers.  Denver does have some seniors that have been here before that can help ease the nerves of the Pioneers.  Oh here is a stats thing: Denver’s senior forward, Marcus Byrd averaged 17.8 points per game over the last 6 games of the season, he also shot 59% from the field, and 60% on threes.  That is pretty scary.

It’s good for the Pioneers that the Mavericks don’t have anyone that has been in a conference tournament before.  Oh wait, there is Jake White!  In 2013, White played in each of Wichita’s State’s games in the Missouri Valley tournament.  He had a 9 point, 8 rebound, and 3 assist performance in the first round against Missouri State.  That team also went to the Final 4 that year.

I’m sure Jake White is happy being named to the All Summit League 2nd Team, but maybe he feels a little disrespected and is incredibly hungry to win and keep playing.  Not that the guys on the 1st Team weren’t great, and I am sure it was incredibly hard to decide between John Konchar, Mike Daum, and Jake White to get onto the 1st Team…but 2 freshmen beating out a senior has to piss someone off.  The same goes for Devin Patterson.  How about the snub to Tre’Shawn Thurman?  Garret Covington was selected to the 2nd Team,  for scoring a lot of points on a team that was limited on scoring options that finished last?  Thurman averaged more points, more rebounds, more blocks, and shot a higher field goal percentage than AJ Jacobson who was named Honorable Mention…and Thurman averaged less minutes.  I know the stats may not be a big part of it because guys are going to get stats for Omaha at their pace, but still…Thurman has to be happy for his teammates, but not happy about the snub.

Tra-Deon Hollins was the first Mav men’s basketball player to be named to the 1st Team for the Summit League, by the way.

I don’t think there is just one guy that is most important for the Mavericks to get a win in the first round.  All of the Mavs needs to play efficiently, and make few mistakes…especially after the load of mistakes the Mavericks made against the Pioneers in Omaha with the missed layups, missed dunks, and terribly timed turnovers.  That’s the other thing, is there a game that Omaha would like to have back more than any other as that Denver at Omaha game?  Actually, maybe that whole week.  Omaha seems to have more of a revenge factor, and be playing for more recognition in this first round than Denver.  That was also a game that Omaha played without Randy Reed, who just had two of the best basketball performances of his life in the last two games.

Derrin Hansen also said it pretty well on the radio this morning when he said his team appears to play better when going into their tougher games.  I didn’t get all of it, because I had that moment at work where the guy that takes 15 minutes to ask me a question that a normal person only takes 1 minute to ask had to come up and ask me a question…and give me the whole story has to why he has come to ask me the question…you know, so I could understand the point of view of all the characters involved.

By the way, could Hansen feel slightly snubbed for not being named Coach of the Year?  Hansen actually probably doesn’t care all that much, but his players might be a little angry about it and that may add to their hunger for some conference wins.  Not to take anything away from Jon Coffman.  He did a great job, even after losing a player due to academics.  Hansen lost his returning leading scorer, lost a freshman who was expected to help replace the shooting lost in Marcus Tyus, and finished 3rd in the conference after being expected to finish 7th in the Summit League.

For all 7 of the people that have paid attention, I basically selected no upsets in the first round of the Summit League tournament…which is kind of lame.  If someone had a gun to my head and said I had to pick who was the most likely to get upset in the first round of the conference tournament, I would have to answer because I really question the mind of the person who would hold a gun to my head for something that like, but I would shockingly pick South Dakota State… I like South Dakota State, but their game with Oral Roberts just looks like a trap.  The Jackrabbits swept Oral Roberts, but just played them last week, and Oral Roberts has a great coach and the leading scorer in the conference, and a load of dudes that can just randomly turn it on in a game.