2014-2015 finish: 15-15 (10-8)
Last season at Omaha: Omaha won 92-82
There is nothing like a good ole fashioned battle between UNO and a former NCC member. Actually, there are probably many things like it. After a tough battle with Colorado in Boulder, the Mavericks will travel to Greeley, Colorado…I have never been to Greeley, but it sounds like the most boring name possible for a town.
Let me start out by saying that I dislike the University of Northern Colorado. It really has nothing to do with athletics really, and it is entirely based on one former staff member that caused my spine to tingle in annoyance whenever I hear the school’s name. When I worked at Weber State, there was this employee that used to work at Northern Colorado and she would always, and I mean ALWAYS, refer to the school as UNC. Every time she said UNC, and I mean EVERY TIME, I would get flustered and ask “you went to grad school and worked at North Carolina?” It just seemed like a set up to get me thinking every time, or like she wanted people to not ask and just assume she worked at North Carolina. I often wondered if she was hired based on her boss assuming she went to grad school at North Carolina and not Northern Colorado.
Let me make a terrible transition here by pointing out that UNC ranked 31st in the country last season in points per game. See, was I talking about North Carolina or Northern Colorado there? It’s annoying, it is a shade under someone kicking the back of your seat annoying. Anyway, I am talking about Northern Colorado. North Carolina ranked 17th in the nation in points per game, but that has nothing to do with anything here.
It is hard to put it together that Northern Colorado had such a high scoring offense last season. It is no offense to them, and as a completely biased fan I sit here and say “Northern Colorado, how can they be good at things?” Then I remember how many Omaha Mavericks shirts I own over how many Nebraska Cornhuskers shirts I own. I realize UNC Bears fans are probably saying the same thing about Omaha. “Nebraska-Omaha, how can they be good? It’s their first day.”
The first thing I notice when I look at the Bears’ roster is that they have no seniors. Not a one. That could be a good thing for the Mavericks, right? The Bears lost 5 key players from their 2014-2015 roster.
Tevin Shihovec, 6’2 G:
13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 43 FG%, 76 FT% 35 3pt%
Against the Mavericks last season: 14 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, 7-13 FG
Tim Huskisson, 6’5″ G:
10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 57 FG%, 72 FT%, 37 3pt%
Against the Mavericks last season: 19 pts, 2 rebs, 1 ast, 7-11 FG, 3-5 3ptFG
Dominique Lee, 6’5″ F:
10.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 spg, 60 FG%, 63 FT%, 41 3pt%
Against the Mavericks last season: 19 pts, 9 rebs, 1 ast, 5-10 FG, 1-1 3ptFG, 8-11 FT
Cody McDavis, 6’8″ F:
5.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 47 FG%, 70 FT%
Against the Mavericks last season: 2 pts, 1 reb, 1-4 FG
Corey Spence, 5’9″ G:
4.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 38 FG%, 84 FT%
Against the Mavericks last season: 1 pt, 4 rebs, 4 asts, 1 steal
Note the field goal percentages from these players are all pretty high. Northern Colorado had the 26th best field goal percentage in the country. Also, aside from the great scoring, the Bears ranked 319th in scoring defense by allowing 73.4 points per game. Omaha was 346th in the country, but they had one of the fastest paced offenses, so it’s cool. I’m not biased at all. I said shut up.
Remember how much of a drop off the Mavericks had when 5 key players left after 2013-2014. They did not necessarily have a huge drop off in talent, but it was a struggle at times figuring out who played best on the floor with each other. Finding that on the court chemistry appeared to be an issue for the Mavericks last season. So who do the Bears have returning if they have zero seniors on the roster? They have 3 key players returning.
Cameron Michael, 6’5″ G/F, JR:
12.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 43 FG%, 75 FT%, 39 3pt%, 66 3ptFM
Against the Mavericks last season: 4 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1-6 FG
Jordan Wilson, 5’7″ G, JR:
8.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1 spg, 42 FG%, 85 FT%, 40 3pt%
Against the Mavericks last season: 18 pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl, 6-10 FG, 2-5 3ptFG, 4-4 FT
Jeremy Verhagen, 6’10 F, SO:
3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 59 FG%, 52 FT%
Against the Mavericks last season: 6 minutes, 2 fouls
The Bears did find two junior college post players to add to their roster to make them a bigger team, and they also have a guard, Dallas Anglin, that transferred from Doc Sadler’s Southern Miss, who left last December, so I am unclear if he will be available for the games in the first semester or not.
Jamal Evans, 6’7 JuCo transfer
Sophomore season at Midland JC: 9.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Tanner Morgan, 6’9 JuCo transfer
Sophomore season at Casper College: 8.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 42 FG%
Last season against the Bears, the Mavericks were lead by their returning core of now graduated Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter, and 2015-2016 senior guards Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson (and actually every Mav that entered the game scored). Tyus scored 19 points, grabbed three rebounds, and he dished out six assists against the Bears. He also shot 5-8 from the floor and was 3-3 from behind the three point line. Patterson had 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists against the Bears last season. Patterson was also named Summit League Player of the Week for his performance.
This season the Bears will be coming off a game at Kansas and a game at home against Division 2 Colorado Christian, and also American East Maryland at Baltimore County before the Mavericks come to town; so they could have a few things figured out by the time they take on the Mavericks.
With very little coming back and not being a great defensive team, you have to like the Mavericks’ chances with their high rolling offense in this one. No game is a guarantee, and it is a road game for the Mavericks, but the Bears had no answer for Devin Patterson and Marcus Tyus last season. Have they figured out a solution to them yet? I doubt they have been formulating a game plan this entire time. There is that damn altitude factor, Omaha was 0-2 last season in the state of Colorado last season, that was on separate trips though so maybe they can get used to it after a few days at mile high. The Bears were 12-3 at home last season with the losses coming to: UC Davis, Montana State (ouch), and Montana.
I like these games against the Big Sky schools, they are measuring sticks for the Mavericks when it comes to playing the Summit League. I do wish the Mavericks could schedule some of the better teams in the conference though, like a Montana or a Weber State or a Eastern Washington, to better prepare themselves possibly for the North Dakota State and South Dakota teams of the Summit League. This is a game that the Mavericks need to win.