It’s finally here. The chance to play the Rice Owls in Baxter Arena! You have been thinking about this since Day 1 of Omaha Mavericks basketball transition to division one. Hosting a Conference USA team in a regular season basketball game, and you spent 5 years wondering if it would ever happen… I actually did spend 5 years wondering if and when the Mavericks would host a team like Rice.
Don’t know anything about Rice University Men’s Basketball? That’s fine, no one does.
Here are some things to throw out at you:
2015-2016 Record: 12-20
2015-2016 Final RPI: 279
Conference USA had a final RPI ranking of 22.
2015-2016 Attendance Average: 2,204
Omaha was better than Rice in all of these things last year. So take that, Rice! The Owls did beat Doc Sadler’s Southern Mississippi team twice last season, so they do have that on Omaha. They do have a player named Egor, so they win the cool names competition. I’m so hungry for a rice bowl from Pepperjax now.
I Googled “best rice bowl in Omaha” and the top three places on Foursquare were Pepperjax locations. That doesn’t seem right. Amigos/King Classic came in 7th. We’re better than that, Omaha. We need to get to the bottom of this. Have you ever had the Tuna Tower or Sake Tower at Blue Sushi Sake Grill? I get that it’s not an official rice bowl, but once you knock down the tower it becomes rice and a few different ingredients in a bowl and it’s one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. You can take your fork and cut it down and eat it as stacked ingredients, like a freak.
I’m not even going to look up the name of the Owls’ basketball arena. If it’s not the Rice Bowl, I’d rather go one not knowing.
Rice is coached by former VCU Assistant, Mike Rhoades, who wants to play an uptempo style like Omaha, and as VCU did under Shaka Smart, but Rhoades has not had much of a chance to play this way with little depth on his team.
Rhoades and Rice may actually be able to have some of that depth this season, so they are not a team that the Mavericks should take likely, especially given that they will be playing the style that they actually want to play when they come to Omaha.
Being such a young team last season, Rice had 7 guys in their main rotation last year, and 6 of those players will be returning for 2016-2017. This includes 6’2″ sophomore Marcus Evans who was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year and 1st team All Conference after averaging 21.4 points per game. In addition to this, the Owls had a freshman named Chad Lott sitting out with an injury, who apparently could be better than Evans… Lott picked Rice over Creighton, now watch this kid. Warning: the first minute is one of the worst produced highlight reels you’ll ever see.
Similarly to Omaha, Rice had a guard sitting out who was expected to be one of their main scorers and leaders. 6’3″ guard, Marcus Jackson sat out his entire junior season after averaging 14.5 points per game and shooting 40% on threes in his sophomore season. Without Jackson, Rice did not have much of an perimeter game on offense and struggled on threes, shooting 32% on the year. So they’re just going to allow Jackson and Marcus Tyus to defend each other with both players wrapped in bubble wrap, right? So many dudes named Marcus to keep track of in this game.
Rice will be adding 5 new scholarship freshman to their lineup as well, and they’re likely to redshirt a few of those guys. Even though the Owls appear young on paper, there is a fair amount of division one experience on their basketball team, especially at the wing positions. In the post, they are are quite young, with only one post player being a senior and the others being true freshman or a sophomore. If the Mavericks get some opportunities to post up, Tre’Shawn Thurman could really have his way with the Rice post players.
With both teams wanting to score at a Millennium Falcon or Barry Allen the Flash type pace, there should be little opportunities for a post up move from either team. This game is going to be a high scoring affair, and if Nebraska football was not playing Maryland this day, the attendance could actually get pretty large as the season home opener.
It’s easy to look at the 12-20 record and the bad RPI and think this could be an easy win for the Mavericks. Considering, the two key injuries the Owls had last season, and their youth to a coaching staff in their second year, it is understandable for a team to produce such poor results. With their style of play, this could be a game of whoever gets to 100 first wins.
Three road games in the first four games of the college basketball season? Have we gone mad? So much basketball!
It is hard to gauge a team like Kansas State. For one, you immediately try to pretend that Manhattan, Kansas is not a real place in this area that we call Earth, so you’re like “what a bunch of dorks.” For two, Bruce Weber is just kind of an odd ball guy, so it can be hard to take his team truly serious…especially since Kansas State has gotten worse in the Big 12 in each season that he has been coaching the Wildcats. Even after a successful career, it’s hard to take him all that serious. Third, Kansas State’s style of play is not incredibly flashy, and they do not ever really aim to impress you on paper.
This is the second time that Mavericks will be taking on the Wildcats since transitioning to division one. The last time, the Mavericks kept the game close in the first half, but the Wildcats were able to run away with the game in the second, winning 84-66. Both teams have moved on from those teams with few players remaining that actually played in that game. Some are calling for Weber to be fired at this point while other’s have been pointing out their youth, and the potential of the young guys he has brought in. The Wildcats recruiting rankings in the last two seasons have been in the top 75.
Kansas State brings back Wesley Iwundu, who is not a character from Star Wars, but is a 6’7″ senior who is the returning leading scorer for the Wildcats averaging 12 points per game last season. He apparently worked on his shot in the summer and is a more rounded player from when the Mavericks last saw him. The Wildcats do return just about everything except for two players, and they appear confident that they can easily replace that production even though they lost their leading scorer, Justin Edwards.
Things were not great last season for the Wildcats, who ended at 17-16, but went 5-13 in the Big 12. They struggled to score the ball, they claim that scoring is not super important to them, which seems obvious as they ended the season as one of the worst three point shooting teams in the NCAA, and ranked 210th in free throw percentage. Did Doc Sadler take over the body of Bruce Weber? Did they switch identities like the movie Freaky Friday or Vice Versa?
Hold on, I’m doing this thing lately with all the evil propaganda out there on our presidential candidates, where every time something bad is said that I must say something good…Let me think…Bruce Weber did a really great job at Southern Illinois. That was tough. He also went to the NCAA Championship game while coaching at Illinois, cannot forget about that one.
The Wildcats do not care about scoring. They want to keep the possessions down, and they want to force their opponents to make mistakes while on defense. I’m just curious: If you’re wanting to minimize possessions, and you have a lack of true point guards on your team, and no one on your team is really an efficient scorer, wouldn’t you want to get the ball out into traffic to get an attempt at an easy basket instead of clogging up the floor and drawing a bunch of fouls for your team to embarrass themselves at the free throw line? That’s just a thought.
Weber, though, does believe this is maybe one of the most competitive rosters he has had since arriving at Kansas State in 2012, and is encouraged that most of the roster is returning and has had some seasoning together. The team had a Europe trip this season, so there is a good amount of chemistry on this team.
If the Mavericks can limit their mistakes, which was difficult for them to do last season at many points, and get out and run their style of play, they can really have an advantage to beat the Wildcats. But, and this is a hard twisting pull of your nipples, this is the Mavericks’ third true road game in four days. For the Wildcats, it is their second game of the season, and their first game is another home game against…Western…oh, this hurts to say…Western Illinois. That hurt my face. Hold on, a nice thing to say…incoming freshman, Jeremiah Usiosefe looks like he could be a really good player for Western Illinois, and it should be fun trying to figure out trying how to pronounce his name.
The Wildcats have not lost a home game to a mid-major team since December of 2014 to Texas Southern, who eventually made the NCAA Tournament that season. This game is on FSN…and it’s just another Tuesday.
It is only Tuesday and the Mavericks are having a pretty big news worthy week for mid-July. Former track athlete Sami Spenner competed in the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials over the weekend, the men’s soccer season-ticket scarves are out, men’s basketball landed a local commit, oh, and the baseball coach was fired at what seemed to be random.
Weird is the only word that really came to mind when I heard about the Bob Herold firing. After the first year of being post season eligible, the timing just seemed completely off for a coach who seemed to be completely thrilled with the challenges of becoming a growing project of a division one baseball program, even though Herold was in his 60s when the transition was announced.
One of the things of what seemed so off about the firing was that this did not appear to be anything in relation to Herold’s performance as a baseball coach. Herold’s .464 winning percentage since transition was the second highest at UNO behind (now former) softball’s Jeanne Scarpello out of the Maverick coaches that lasted at least 4 seasons. Herold also guided his program to two regular season championships in his first two seasons of officially being in the Summit League.
In no way do I think that women’s soccer coach Don Klosterman or volleyball coach Rose Shires should be let go, but neither have had the success that Bob Herold had at UNO since transition. Granted, Herold had just a little more time to adjust to division one with his program being a spring sport. Let me say it again, in no way do I think Klosterman or Shires should be let go.
I admit that when I heard of the firing my brain immediately went to the route of: they must have some new lofty goals with the spring sports. This is what my Creighton basketball loving/Husker football loving/Husker basketball hating friends have conditioned me for. I’m not saying they were right or wrong, but when Nebraska made the move to the Big 10 and Pinnacle Bank Arena, those friends presumed that Doc Sadler was going to get fired only because Nebraska “wanted to start fresh.” He got fired, so maybe they were right.
With the only UNO coaches with wins over Creighton or Nebraska now out as head coaches, either by choice or not, I wondered if the pressures of division one became too much with administration expecting more out of each program wanting to build more revenues for a new baseball/softball complex in the works. Or, if in Herold’s case, Trev Alberts saw Coastal Carolina of the Big South win the NCAA baseball championship among a field that was scripted to be nothing but ACC and SEC teams, and thought to himself that with a few tweeks, UNO baseball could be right there. Actually UNO has been literally in that stadium where Coastal Carolina, but you get it.
I didn’t spend much time thinking if the pressures became too much for baseball and softball, both coaching staffs knew what they were getting into when transition happened, but both baseball and softball lost their first Summit League tournament games in dramatic fashion after having late leads.
This is what my brain had to paint a picture of since the few initial reports were basically just: Coach fired just because, interim guy could be fun…
The baseball/softball complex comes to mind because it is something that UNO threw into some future renderings of the university that still have not come about. Also, when I was on Student Government and Trev was new to the job, he came and asked us why students weren’t going to sporting events and I had to tell him that I really liked UNO sports but I seriously had no idea where the baseball team played. Like, I knew it was off campus and probably in Boys Town, but I had no idea how to get there. Then everyone in Student Government awkwardly nodded their heads in agreement. I think I actually went some time assuming UNO did not actually play some of their baseball games and that the UNO coaching staff just called another MIAA or NCC coaching staff and agreed on some stats over the phone and flipped a coin for wins.
Still, who wouldn’t want UNO to have a new baseball/softball complex? I’d much rather go to a baseball game near the Aksarben area where UNO fans could potentially tailgait. Or go to a softball game and not worry that I am going to get a flat tire or have a high chance of having my car’s windshield smashed in with little league softball and baseball games surrounding the entire parking lot.
The interim tag on Evan Porter added even more mysteriousness to the situation. We’re only a few weeks separated from the 2016 season and the 2017 play does not start until late February; so why officially name an Interim Coach when interested candidates could be sending in their resumes to UNO in the following weeks? Hell, I wondered if some big name available baseball coach called Trev Alberts and asked if he had any openings just to mess with Trev’s head. It just seems odd with no interim tag being placed on any softball coach. Sitting on this took away some of my initial thoughts that Alberts just had someone out there in mind that he wanted to throw a job offer to right away.
Then later in the day, there is some reporting mixed into this that Herold had an altercation with a player on the team bus after a loss to Nebraska. Which seems like it is really nothing since the firing came exactly two months after the loss. Athletic Administrations have to do actual investigations into these instances, which apparently take up a lot of time. So maybe that did play a role in the firing, but Herold always came off as one of the nicest and well spoken coaches at UNO, so as a fan it is not something I can really put a lot of weight into until someone in athletics says that is exactly why the firing took place.
Let me start out by saying, and maybe reminding you, that I like the Creighton basketball program. I hope they do well, and I think the program is great for the city of Omaha. I like to see all the Creighton athletic programs be successful in addition to the Huskers and Mavericks (obviously)…except for Creighton softball…I just have this unexplained animosity where I don’t like Creighton softball. I try to watch every Creighton event on television that is available, but they are at the bottom of the three instate division one schools on my Give A Crap About Meter.
Now, I would like to awkwardly transition to say that I hate going to Creighton events because of how annoying I find Bluejay fans. That is not to say that Maverick (or Husker) fans are perfect, by any means, but Creighton fans are a lot like 16 year old kids that start out driving and drive like they own the roads that they think belong to them; not to mention they think driving validates them to finally be respected as adults. They turn into the adults that drive 40 through the Village Pointe parking lot and run stop signs because their lawyer is better than your lawyer.
Another awkward transition: Creighton and Omaha will again not be playing in men’s basketball next season. This will upset Omaha Maverick fans and make the Creighton fans’ heads grow…or just go on with their days.
Creightonites will say things like: “We would beat them by 40 anyway” and “That game wouldn’t help us anyway.”
I have to ask, how are you so certain that Creighton would beat the Mavericks by 40? I know you’ve seen very little basketball as you spend most of your time at Creighton games in concession lines for hot dogs, pretzels, and Bud Light; so how do you know this? Have you heard of intangibles? Do you really not think Omaha guys like Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins are not going to outwork guys for 40 minutes on the Bluejays roster that have never even heard of UNO?
As a Maverick fan, I am not sitting here and claiming that Omaha would go into the CenturyLink Center and roll the Bluejays…I am not that guy, and I really don’t think many Maverick fans are in that group. I’m more of a Let’s Have Some Fun With This Game kind of guy. And since when has scheduling teams that Creighton can beat by 40 turned you off as casual basketball fans anyway? The pregame analysis of every Creighton non-conference home game is just wasted time spent trying to legitimize every opponent that won 12 games in their previous six combined season seasons. Is that the problem? You don’t want to spend 8 seconds legitimizing UNO basketball?
I am not even sure what it means when Creighton people (and Greg McDermott) say “Playing UNO would not benefit our program,” and I am pretty confident that they have no idea what it means. It’s been rumored, and confirmed by some local media Twitter accounts that UNO has offered to play a men’s game for free. How did Texas San Antonio, Western Illinois, IUPUI, and Coppin State benefit you in such colossal ways that the Mavericks would not? I’ll even go a step further here, how does playing Nebraska every season help them?
When was the last time we had just a solid player versus player match up that got us super excited for Nebraska versus Creighton? Here is a list of 1 on 1 match ups to laugh at in this series.
Geoffrey Groselle vs. Michael Jacobson
Mo Watson vs. Benny Parker
Avery Dingman vs. Terran Petteway
Toby Hegner vs. David Rivers
Okay, there was decent amount of anticipation for McDermott vs. Petteway
The high octane slow and furious match up of Gregory Enchinique vs. Andre Almeida
Austin Chatman vs. Benny Parker
Jahenns Manigat vs. Ray Gallegos
2016 could be an incredible potential point guard match up between Tra-Deon Hollins versus Mo Watson. We’re being robbed from seeing this happen. Robbed! It’s okay though, it’s not like Omaha is a big event town or anything. People hate going to things here. I’m getting goosebumps over the thought of paying 50 bucks to see Watson get 20 points and 10 assists against over some SWAC point guard who was listed as “pretty good in high school.” A Tre’Shawn Thurman versus Cole Huff match up sounds pretty enticing as well. And even Marcus Tyus versus Isaiah Zierden perimeter match up even sounds pretty fun. Damn it, this game really does not nothing for Creighton.
In state programs do not have to play every single year, but the bigger programs need to play the smaller programs when they have someone that everyone agrees is a legit basketball player. I was in Utah when Damian Lillard was with Weber State (similar in size to UNO)…Utah, BYU, and Utah State all had to take on Weber State that year. It was what was best for them. This is somewhat ignorant of me to see…Maybe they had some instate deal that year or something going on, I don’t know, I hated living in Utah. I am not saying that Tra-Deon Hollins, or anyone with the Mavericks, is on the Damian Lillard level, but Hollins just led the nation in steals and he got better and better offensively as the year went on. Hollins has even been compared to some Big East guards, and you’re seriously tell us this would do nothing for Creighton?
Creighton is like the older sibling that thinks they are really special and they see their younger brother trying to get bigger and better, and develop, so they have to mock and tease them to hide how insecure big brother is. They don’t want to give the Mavericks the big stage of the CenturyLink for the casual fans* that attend their games to see the Mavericks actually play an exciting brand of basketball and grow some interest in actually paying money to go to the Baxter Arena to watch a basketball game…or even two!
*I’m not saying all fans at Creighton games are casual fans, but there is a decent chunk that are just there for the event.
Take Creighton baseball for example…the first year of UNO’s transition, they played twice and split games. The Bluejays got a small taste of Oh Crap, Our Baseball Team Is Not THAT Far Ahead of Them. The second year the two teams played in three games, one was even played at Werner Park, and Creighton won 2 of the 3 games. It was so bad for the city to play that game at Werner Park, the Old Mattress Factory had pretty poor beer sales that day…and on a Saturday… The third and fourth years, the two went down to just playing one game, splitting those games over two years. Now, it’s 2016, and Creighton baseball offered us a charity event for a division one baseball game on a Tuesday at 12:30. That’s prime time for college baseball…in June. How are their baseball season ticket holders no complaining about this game time?
While I know Mav fans are grateful that the two schools will finally play a regular season game in men’s soccer in 2016, the game is at 7 pm on Labor Day; which is exactly when people want to get out and go to an event in this town.
Let me throw this idea out there…it’s a long stretch, but UNO being a division one school was a long stretch for quite some time.
UNO just stops calling Creighton to do events. For them, it will be like they are a girl that has a boy that keeps asking them out, and she keeps rejecting the boy. The boy gives up and then starts talking to other girls, and the girl gets pissed that she’s not getting that attention anymore so she does something dramatic and weird. Is that how middle school worked?
The Mavericks start asking out the Huskers. Make that a yearly rivalry, convince them that Creighton can be the once in a while thing…if they feel like it. Take the big event away from Creighton fans. Taking the event away was lightly discussed during the Doc Sadler era, but Doc was a total dick about that sort of stuff. I think the Creighton versus Nebraska men’s basketball game every year is the super bowl for Creighton fans. It is their Batman versus the Joker boxing match set right in front of them. Shit, play Huskers versus the Mavericks in the CenturyLink Center, let them bring their court up from Lincoln so they actually feel confident in that building… Get UNK involved to come to Nebraska and Omaha in the same weekend for exhibition games, and then play each other. You get three in state games in a week, keep that money in “the system.”
That plan will basically never happen, but it is a thought. Wait, do we know someone’s dad? That’s what Creighton people have taught me, anything is possible if you know someone’s dad.
Creighton better seriously start considering playing the Mavericks in basketball. Some day the Mavericks are going to make the NCAA tournament, and the selection committee loves matching up potential in state match ups in the 2nd round. You really want the first time you play UNO since their transition to be in the 2nd round after pissing them off for not playing them for years by not playing them?
The Mavs will finally be fully eligible for the post season next year…duh. From what I have heard, the 2015-2016 schedule for the UNO Mavericks men’s basketball team includes trips to Minnesota, Missouri, Wyoming, and “a trip to Vegas.” I am not sure how complete the schedule is at this point, but from what I have heard creating a schedule can be pretty difficult. It was pretty difficult in EA Sports’ March Madness 2007. That was the worst video game I have ever played. Well that is dead anyway, but here are some trips and games that I thought could be potentially good match ups and/or fun trips for the Mavericks and their fans should they choose to go. A few of these are suggested home-and-home series, and the others are just UNO going there once.
Virginia – 7 (Final RPI Ranking) or Virginia Tech – 221
The first UNO game I could watch on ESPN3 was UNO @ Michigan State. I remember the commentators saying Derrin Hansen was trying to sell recruits at the time on the opportunity to go play against the bigger teams in their home area. With Jake White and Marcus Tyus getting a run at Minnesota, Randy Reed getting the chance to go up against Missouri, and Tim Smallwood getting conference foe Oral Roberts, that leaves out Devin Patterson for the senior non-Omaha guys.
I would think you would be more comfortable with the Mavs going up against Virginia Tech just based on the RPI rankings, but if you are one of the people that want them to play the best to become the best, then obviously Virginia would be the more appropriate choice for that route. Tech had a pretty similar roster this season as far as experience with 2 seniors, 4 juniors, 1 sophomore, and 5 freshman but they were a substantially larger team. I never watched a Virginia Tech game this season, because I mean, why would I have? Based on the just really lazy investigating, they appear to be a pretty slow team which could draw to the Mavs’ advantage.
Drake – 259
I thought I heard that Drake had a return game to Omaha from the Mavs playing them in Des Moines in 2013, but I have yet to see it or hear anyone mention it ever since. I may have made it up in my own mind now that I think about it. If the Mavs had to go to Drake again, the Bulldogs are a little over two hours away, so obviously not a bad trip for Mav fans. Des Moines also has a lot of fun stuff to do like…turn around and drive back to Omaha.
As a former conference foe to the Creighton Bluejays, the JaySkers may draw some interest in this game and show up for a game in Omaha. The Bulldogs have been going after some of the same recruits as UNO, so that could add some animosity and create a new I-80 rivalry with the Bulldogs. Both programs could live off of the “screw Creighton” policy.
Drake did not have the greatest season in 2014-2015, but it is not like they had the greatest of expectations. The Bullsdogs did have a bright spot with freshman Reed Timmer leading the team in scoring at 11.5 ppg, so the future does not look awful. In addition to Timmer, Drake will have two Big 10 players that will be eligible for the 2015-2016 season, Kale Abrahamson from Northwestern and Graham Woodward from Penn State.
So most of this trip is based on wife’s alumni status to Belmont, and it is not like anyone would ever actually attempt to schedule all 6 of these schools, but my wife has stated that if someone needed 2 or 3 quick road games that they should check out the Nashville area. I have never been to Nashville, but as she described it, Vanderbilt, Belmont, and Lipscomb are all right on the same block.
Nashville is an 11 hour drive through Kansas City and St. Louis, so it is not like it would be the most boring drive in the world for the Mavs and/or their fans. Mav fans that like country music would have the time of lives in Nashville as it is the center of country music with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. My wife says to not go out and do karaoke unless you are a serious singer. The karaoke scene is much different there as it is composed of people trying to make it in the industry and get noticed for a record deal, not people getting really drunk and singing songs in an Eric Cartman voice. I would not know, I think karaoke is dumb either way.
Vanderbilt – 88
The only SEC school that appears to actually care about academics of the student athletes finished the season making it to the 3rd round of the NIT. Vanderbilt was made up of mostly underclassmen, so you have to think they have a bright future as they are not really a program that is built around one and done stars. They would be kind of the centerpiece of the Nashville trip, but with a SEC team already on the schedule, this could be a tough sell to the UNO program. As a fan if you went to the game or watched it on television, you could just find yourself upset that the team benches are located on the baseline. It is one of those things that bugs me and I cannot figure out what it is about it that is so upsetting. It is like not liking someone, but you cannot exactly put your finger on it as to what makes you want to punch them in the face every time you see them.
Belmont – 100
Rick Byrd has been with Belmont since they were in the NAIA so he knows what is like to take a program into division one and how long it can take to become a successful program at the D1 level. Hopefully because of this, he can have some sympathy for Derrin Hansen and the UNO Mavericks.
The two schools have played a home-and-home series in men’s soccer, so the two athletic programs have had some sort of communication. Playing Belmont would be no easy task, their size and athleticism is pretty similar to UNO, but they rarely make mistakes and are one of the best at hitting the three. Last year the Bruins ranked 4th in the nation with 10 threes made per game, and as you probably know, the Mavericks were not the best at perimeter defense. Belmont has a winning record of 101-36 since UNO made the transition in 2011-2012. The team should be returning their top three scorers as well. Hey, did you also know that, per Rivals, South Dakota State’s Reed Tellinghuisen’s final three choices were SDSU, UNO and Belmont?
Belmont also hosts the Country Music Awards, so there is that. My wife also claims you can just randomly see celebrities just about anywhere. She once saw Tim McGraw in Walmart and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at a tiny little diner. The university was also the shooting location for a number of Hannah Montana episodes, might I suggest a Socker Boppers tournament at random places around campus to get your rage issues out of the way when you think of Miley Cyrus?
Lipscomb – 275
I do not know much about Lipscomb other than that they are one of Belmont’s biggest rivals and that they are on the same block as Belmont, and hey they are pretty close to UNO in RPI. I bet a good ole Summit League versus Atlantic Sun battle really gives you that special feeling that makes you feel like your heart is going to explode out of excitement.
Tennessee Tech – 288
An hour and a half from Nashville, but per Verbal Commits, their basketball program has been going at the same level of recruits as UNO. They made offers to Zach Pirog and Ben Kozitske. Also pretty close to UNO in RPI.
Austin Peay – 316
A hour drive from Nashville, and hey what the hell, while we are there I guess. Austin Peay is one of those programs that you have seen the name on the ESPN bottom line score center and it always sticks out, but you literally do not know anything about them. The basketball program also has Lincoln’s Parkview Christian School’s Domas Budrys (by way of Lithuania) on the roster and they also gave former UNO player Jalen Bradley an offer this year, so where do they get off?
Middle Tennessee State -152
I am not going to pretend that I know anything about Middle Tennessee State, I seriously had no idea that they were in Conference USA until right now. Mufreesboro is also a hour drive from Nashville.
Weber State – 260
Okay, I know I am biased since I worked at Weber State for a year, but the schools actually have some pretty decent similarities that could make for a fun match up. Both schools are at that “lower major” status and battling for name recognition with the bigger names in their own state with UNO dealing with Nebraska and Creighton and Weber State dealing with Utah and BYU. Like UNO, Weber State is also a commuter campus and they have had difficulties trying to find that community support that UNO was struggling with for quite some time. Weber State men’s basketball though is pretty similar to Creighton in the Dana Altman era in regards to that it is difficult for them to get teams to come to them. They are a decent basketball program, and they really want to do the home-and-home series with the bigger programs, but the bigger programs end up laughing at them. They really do not want to do the Go Play a Big 10 Team and Get Crushed games. Weber State did play Oral Roberts in Ogden this year and won by one point, so it is possible that they will have a game in Tulsa in 2015-2016, not sure how many Summit League teams the Wildcats want to play.
Weber State was picked to win the Big Sky conference, based on basically nothing, but they ended up tying for 7th (out of 12) in the conference with Idaho and a 13-17 overall record and finished with an RPI of 260. The Wildcats are coached by Iowa native Randy Rahe who has tried to get into the Nebraska area of recruiting in the recent years. Last year he had former Omaha Skutt center James Hajek as a senior, and he has also had some players from Nebraska junior colleges join his program in the past. Rahe was also rumored for the Drake job when it was last available. He has taken the Wildcats to two NCAA tournaments.
Even though the Wildcats did under perform this last season, they have some great pieces returning that could help prepare the Mavericks for the Summit League. They will be returning 2nd Team All Big Sky forward Joel Bolomboy, who will be a senior, that averaged a double double with 13 ppg and 10 rpg as well as 6’2″ guard Jeremy Senglin, who will be a junior, that averaged 16 ppg, 3 rpg, and 3+ apg. Aside from that, the only player that they are graduating is Hajek.
If Mav fans were willing to make the trip, Ogden and northern Utah have a lot to offer. Anywhere you are in northern Utah, you are a guaranteed 15-20 minute drive away from a beautiful hike. Get some beautiful pictures at Antelope Island 20 minutes away from Ogden, see the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, and you can also go take a look at all the sights and gorgeous landscape that hosted the 2002 Olympics. Oh, there is also an In N Out Burger in between the Salt Lake City airport and Ogden… The trip is about a 13 1/2 hour drive from Omaha, but can be risky with the state of Wyoming basically giving up when it comes to taking care of I-80 during the winter. The flights are usually not too bad though, you will typically have to connect through Denver and end up on two separate 90 minute flights. There is a large Salt Lake City group that loves the Huskers that hosts watch parties for Husker games, but if you were to go you would actually find a decent number of UNO alumni in the group
If you are a beer drinker though and want to make the trip to Utah, you will more than likely not have a great time, especially if you are not into outdoors stuff. The Salt Lake City Husker bar is really fun though, they have a party room dedicated to the Huskers (and the Utes). I also have some Weber State friends that I have been talking a little smack to telling them that UNO is superior in basketball (and another number of sports), so there may be a few Ogdenians that will get a little too into the game and causing a ruckass. Weber State did have a decent club hockey team while I was there, and Ogden has the Mustangs, a Junior A team in the WSHL, so there is always the potential to catch some hockey while there.
Omaha and Weber State have already played in softball (UNO won) and women’s soccer (WSU won) so again, there has been some form of communication between the two athletic departments. Also, while I was working at Weber State the volleyball team played at a tournament in Lincoln against Nebraska and Creighton and I offered to give their (now former) head coach information on restaurants and things to go do and see…he was actually surprisingly a really big jerk about the entire thing.
Okay, so the schedule is already pretty tough as it is with two power 5 schools on the schedule already, and there may not be room for one more, but you have to admit you have some interest with the Mavs going up against former UNO coach Kevin McKenna. Derrin Hansen could definitely soften up Dana Altman and McKenna by bringing them some Runzas and Dinker’s. That may be the only way to sell it to Altman and McKenna. When Altman played against Creighton in the CBI Championship, it was definitely awkward already with how recent it was since Altman had just left Creighton, but also Altman claimed that he did not like playing against his friends. I am not sure if him and Hansen have a relationship, but I am sure they have ran into each other, and it could be difficult for Altman having to face a jersey with the word Omaha on it.
Portland State -166
Portland – 221
Okay there is not much that I actually know about Portland and Portland State, but to get to Eugene, Oregon to play the Ducks, it would probably be best to fly through Portland. I know that Portland State is a commuter campus just like UNO, they are in the Big Sky, which the Mavericks and other Summit League teams like to go up against, and I know that the city of Portland is awesome.
The city has literally everything you could ever ask for. Great scenic views, awesome hikes within driving distance, the Columbia Gorge is just about one of the most beautiful things that you will ever see, tons of breweries and unique restaurants, mountains to look at and drive to, the ocean is about an hour and a half away, and the state also has no sales tax. There is also Voodoo Doughnut, their line gets really long, I was there on a Sunday night at 10 pm and the line was longer than a Christopher Nolan film. Portland is also a huge hipster community, possibly the biggest I have ever seen, so it may be difficult for Rylan Murry to ever come back to Omaha after a trip out there. You can also walk around and mock everything that you have seen in “Portlandia”. Who else wants to have an adult hide and go seek league? Per the UNO Alumni Association, there are 400+ living in the state of Oregon that are UNO alumni, but Portland is right on the border of Washington state which has 700+ UNO alumni so there is a chance of getting a decent turnout to see the Mavs in the area.
Portland State has been trying to recruit a little from the Nebraska area, but I really do not know why, none of their coaches have any ties to the Midwest, and their basketball program has yet to land anyone from the area. The Vikings will lose seven seniors from their 2014-2015 roster that opened up the season by winning at USC, which really is not all that big of a deal. They also will not have much height on the roster with only only player 6’7″ or taller, as of right now anyway. The Vikings do have a Arizona State guard sitting out in the 2014-2015 season, Calaen Robinson, who the team is expecting to play a huge role in the 2015-2016 season.
The Portland Pilots beat Drake and Murray State this season, two teams that the Mavs lost to in 2013-2014. They also lost a narrow game at UNLV by two points. Okay, this seems a little more interesting now. The Pilots, like the city of Portland, is a really diverse team. Their roster this season consisted of guys from Canada, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and obviously the Pacific Northwest. If sitting around in a giant hipster city, drinking craft beer, eating delicious sushi, and making fun of tall people’s funny last names is fun to you, then maybe you are wishing this trip would have happened this season. The Pilots also has a will be sophomore named Jason Todd, so if you are a comic book nerd and understand what that means, you are pretty much looking for airplane tickets to Portland right now.
Montana State -323
Speaking of Dana Altman, Montana State is coached by his former assistant Brian Fish who is trying to grow some respect for his program. Fish was rumored for the Western Illinois job a while back, and he has been recruiting in Omaha’s backyard. Again, Montana State is a Big Sky team. I have never been to the state of Montana, so…that is all I have to say about that. The average high temperature of Bozeman in November is 42 degrees and in December it is 33 degrees, so it is not like it is completely awful.
In 2014-2015, the Bobcats had…ahh hell I am not even going to try.
Southern Miss – 283
Hey Doc Sadler, remember when you said there was no way you would schedule UNO? Southern Miss was one of the worst scoring and worst rebounding teams in division one this past season, that actually sounds really familiar to Nebraska fans. I am still pretty baffled that they beat North Dakota State, who they did schedule a home-and-home series with. Doc’s team had no player taller than 6’7″ and only graduated one player from this season, oh and their non conference schedule only had two power five schools on it, so yes that sounds exactly like a Doc Sadler team.
I am just saying, based on everything that I can perceive about Sadler, if the Mavs called him and pretended to be the University of New Orleans I am sure they could convince Doc to schedule “the Privateers” and Doc’s staff would just sign the contract without looking at it actually saying University of Nebraska at Omaha instead of University of New Orleans. Then Doc would actually look at his schedule at some point and drop his signature phrase of “I am not a smart man.”
I think UNO fans and people in Nebraska would like the match up. Doc was never really an enemy to anyone around here. He was never Santa Claus but he was never Martin Short as Jack Frost. People around here genuinely liked Doc as a person and would welcome back to Omaha for a night or two.
The transitioning schools
As a school that is just finishing up the transitioning period, we know how painful of a four year process it can be, so maybe we can help out the following programs. Also as a Mav fan, I am keen to go play and beat these teams as four of the five had better RPI rankings than the Mavs last season.
Abilene Christian – 326
10-21 record in 2014-2015, 3 wins were against non-D1 opponents
scored 27 points in their final game of the season, ouch
Grand Canyon – 279
They have Thunder Dan as their head coach, that is enough for me
Incarnate Word – 173
They beat Nebraska last year, which may have led to the destruction of the Huskers’ confidence all season
Massachusetts Lowell – 262
Finished 12-17 overall including 1 win over a non-D1 opponent
As of right now, their 2015-2016 roster will be composed of one senior and the rest of the team will be freshmen and sophomores
Ranked 346th out of 351 in the nation in rebounding as a team
Northern Kentucky -263
Will be coached by John Brannen, former Alabama assistant
They got to play in their conference tournament. Why? What the shit?
Southern Illinois – 274
Another team coming to terms with the “screw Creighton” policy. I am not sure if Creighton and Southern Illinois ever actually had a bitter rivalry program to program or if it was really just Creighton not liking SIU taking their attention away for a few years. I remember Southern Illinois fans being incredibly furious whenever Creighton played in Carbondale. I searched and searched online to find the “I h8 Cr8n” shirts that their fans made but had no luck.
Southern Illinois has also had and won some recruiting battles with the Mavs, so this just irritates me more than it should. With the transition over, this should be less and less of a problem so that is refreshing. Also I feel like Creighton fans would come out to the game in disguise just to yell at Barry Hinson. Seriously, Hinson seems like he was molded out of puddy by Rita Repulsa to create the ultimate douche to destroy the Power Rangers, but probably more likely to destroy Southern Illinois. Granted, it is not like he took over the best program there in Carbondale.
UMKC – 293
Is anyone else incredibly bored with this match up? I do love a trip to Kansas City, but the Kangaroos have more players than they do fans, so it feels like you are going back and watching an old Division 2 game. The game I attended in Kansas City in 2013 there were more Mavs fan than Kangaroo fans. Most of the UMKC fans there were parents of the youth cheerleaders that put on a routine at halftime and then they all left at halftime.
The loss to UMKC this last season should have left an disgusting taste in your mouth. It was the first loss of the season that the whole team was available for, and a team that most thought the Mavs should not have lost to. The Mavs had 26 turnovers in this game. 26! So yes, I would love to see the Mavs get the chance again to not have 26 turnovers. Every time the Mavs play UMKC in anything I get more wrapped up in “why the hell are they in the WAC” instead of the actual game itself. They have to fly to every single one of their conference games, so you know they are looking to make up for it in the non conference schedule. Oh we can drive there? Just send them a contract and hope they sign it.
They will be returning Martez Harrison who was an All American Honorable Mention player. He averaged 17.5 ppg and 4 apg, and he had 25 points and 6 assists against the Mavs in the one game they played this season. A guard like Harrison could prepare the Mav back court for what they are going to have to go up against in the Summit League next season. The Summit League is going to be filled with a lot of great guards this upcoming season.
I am not expecting Mav fans to make the trips for the in season games, but how refreshing was it as a Mav fan to see how many students and fans made it out to the Frozen Four? With things beginning to “matter” more, fans are going to be willing to make the fun trips.