The Mavericks are finally back to the Baxter, but what about Drake?

Nearly 3 weeks into the season, the Mavericks are finally getting their first game this year in Baxter Arena.

Tuesday, Derrin Hansen said that the Mavericks had to create their own energy on the road, so it should be beneficial to his basketball team to finally receive some energy from a home crowd.  Not sure how much energy the Mavericks are needing or expecting, but it may be difficult to come by on a Wednesday night.

The Mavericks are coming back to Baxter Arena after losing 7 straight games on the road.  A road trip that saw one of their best scorers, Mitch Hahn, go down with a shoulder injury.  The team was still able to make hustle plays and keep a few games close, and feel as if they could be 3-4 right now if just a few things had gone their way.

Still, things did not go their way on their road trip, so the Mavericks are 0-7.  Seriously, with Hahn out, the Mavericks were playing stretches of the game against Jackson State with Alex Allbery or JT Gibson at the 4.

Fans bringing energy on a Wednesday night may be difficult to harness.  That guy who sits about 8 rows behind the team bench and talks shit to the referees the whole game will bring it, but it wont be the home opener energy we experienced in 2015 when Baxter Arena opened.

Whenever the Drake Bulldogs visit Omaha in anything, Drake fans do show up.  They may be the quietest fan base ever and sport a median age of 70, but they’ll show up enough for the Drake players to see the blue shirts in attendance.

The Bulldogs have shown that they love playing small ball with a bulk of their minutes going to their guards, so maybe a few minutes of JT Gibson at the 4 won’t be that big of a problem.

One of the reasons the Mavericks are 0-7 and not 3-4 right now is because of the number of mistakes in clutch moments.  The Mavericks had several opportunities to beat Jackson State, but turned the ball over multiple times late in the game to give the Tigers more chances to eventually give themselves an opportunity for a last second shot.

In the Mavericks’ defense, Daniel Meyer played with the type of energy against Jackson State that the Mavericks need from him every game.  Though, toward the end of the game, he had an offensive rebound and was fouled going back up to make the basket, but the referees called off the basket.  That bad call was a large difference maker, and ruined the Mavericks chances of winning in regulation.

This is also a depleted Mav team that has been playing without two players that were expected to be big time contributors in Mitch Hahn and Renard Suggs.  The Mavericks are still trying to figure out their rotations in competition, and not having those two in the lineup is making that even more difficult.  I’m sure the Mavericks will welcome them back when they’re healthy again, but they’ll have to hit the reset button on figuring all of that out.  The injuries to those two guys have given others the opportunities to step up.

KJ Robinson started the season off poorly, but has filled out his application to be the third member of the Big 3 for the Mavericks.  In the first three games, Robinson averaged 6 points, 2.3 assists, 5 turnovers, and shot 26% from the field.  In the last four games, he has averaged 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 turnovers, and shot 51% from the field.  Robinson even knocked down 7 three point field goals against Tennessee Tech.  He did a great job against Jackson State at finding the open man and had a nice pick-and-roll going with Daniel Meyer.

But what about Drake?

Niko Medved took over a Drake Bulldog team that is made up of mostly juniors and seniors.  They have a great deal of chemistry, which he makes a point of making stronger and stranger, and the Bulldogs average 11 turnovers a game as compared to the Mavericks who average 18 turnovers, so far.

Also, Medved was an assistant under Tim Miles at Colorado State.  He was previously head coach at Furman for 4 years where he coached the team to increase their win total each season he was there.  Hold on a second, I have to troll Nebrasketball fans for a moment.


MEDVED AND CRAIG SMITH WERE THE REAL BRAINS BEHIND THE OPERATION AT COLORADO STATE


Drake already beat Wake Forest, who had also lost to Georgia State and Liberty, but beating a big conference team can bring a large amount of confidence to a mid-major basketball team.

The Bulldogs average over 85 points a game, and are also 12th in the nation in three point field goal percentage.  The Mavericks will get to play the face paced offense they enjoy, but they’re going to have to cut down on the unguarded turnovers and defend the three.  Two things that the Mavericks have struggled with the last few years.

 

 

 

 

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Imagining what would have happened had the Huskers played the Mavericks

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Some half time stats:

Nebraska – 

Michael Jacobson – 4 points, 5 rebounds

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

Jordy Tshimanga – 1 minute

Tai Webster – 8 points, 3 rebounds

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

Omaha

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McVeigh finally hits a three.

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

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

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

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

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

Nebraska calls a timeout with 4 seconds remaining.

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

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

And…

 

 

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Dec 8

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

1. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons beat Indiana.  Don’t you remember?

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

2. Omaha

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

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

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

3. North Dakota State

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

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

4. South Dakota

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

5. IUPUI

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

6. South Dakota State

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

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

7. Denver

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

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

8. Oral Roberts

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

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

9. Western Illinois

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

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

A month out game preview: UMKC

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

omakc.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

A month out game preview: Eastern Michigan

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

omaemu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

A Month Out Game Preview: UC Santa Barbara

omaucsb

A good ole rematch.  Everyone loves these home-and-homes, right?  I mean, you basically have no chance of watching this one, but playing the same team in back-to-back years can help give you an indicator of how your team has improved.  We hope anyway.

I’m not sure what you remember from this match up last season.  It is possible that you tried to put the actual game itself out of your memory.  I mean, it was the first regular season basketball game played at Baxter Arena.  There was that.  That was hot.  That was fun.  Tra-Deon Hollins went 0-6 from the floor, and most of us could never imagine him going 9-of-12 from the floor with 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists against South Dakota State a few months later; but it happened.

The only things that come to memory, other than the satisfaction of finally seeing basketball in the Baxter Arena, was the terrible offense, terrible shooting, and wondering if Marcus Tyus not playing was a sick prank.  The only memorable plays I have from that game was when JT Gibson gave the Mavericks hope by draining three pointers in back-to-back possessions after the Mavericks had been shooting so bad on threes I found myself wondering if the game would be closer if I was out there shooting some threes.  I assure you, the Mavericks would have been down by more.

Well the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos get to host the Mavericks this year for their home opener.  The Mavericks graduated four players from last season, and the Gauchos graduated six players, so it is possible that this game could have the same offensive woes of last season with both teams trying to figure out their personnel.  I imagine if the teams go a combined 34.8% from the floor again that Gary Sharp will leave at half time and go check out Santa Barbara.  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s had a vacation home in Santa Monica.  Maybe, Brad Pitt is just bumming around in his home dipping mini tacos in nacho cheese, like a real man.

The Mavericks, for the most part, get to reload their roster, with some transfers, and guys coming back from injuries.  The Gauchos, though, have a relatively young roster with nine scholarship players that are freshmen or sophomores.  There might be some meshing issues at the start of this game for each team, so listen to this game holding your lucky rabbit’s foot, put that lucky penny in your shoe, or wear your Gauchos shirt if you’re the bad luck person.

Clearly biased here, but my perception would be that Omaha will not need as much time meshing together since most of their “newcomers” have been with the team for over a year at least.  The Mavericks, though, may have some difficulty of dividing up and figuring out what to do with minutes in this game since they play at USC the following night.

The Gauchos could have some issues finding some chemistry on the court with what is a mostly new roster.  Their coaching staff and fans have already claimed this season to be a “rebuilding year.” UC Santa Barbara does return Gabe Vincent, a 6’4″ junior that averaged 14 points a game and earned Big West Honorable Mention.  Other than that, the Gauchos do not return much scoring at all.  Vincent had 16 points on 5-of-16 scoring against the Mavericks last season, which was just a painful offensive showing from both teams.

Santa Barbara will be adding a very serious presence to their front line with Junior College transfer Jalen Canty.  Canty is a 6’8″ and 255 pound beast that can be a match up nightmare for teams, so… please be too slow for the Mavs quick pace, please be too slow for the Mavs quick pace, please be too slow for the Mavs quick pace.  While in junior college, Cantry also received offers from Colorado State, Tulsa, and Rhode Island, and he was once committed to Washington State while in high school.

Okay, he does not look all that slow, and appears to have some pretty solid footwork.

Going into their match up last season, I thought the scariest thing about the Gauchos was the quality of their wing players, and that may still be the case.  The Mavericks were going into last season introducing Zach Jackson, JT Gibson, and Tra-Deon Hollins to the wing, after a year of struggling at defending pretty much anyone from 6’2″ to 6’6″ on the wing.  Now the Mavericks are a little more established at the wing with Jackson, Gibson, Hollins all returning, and now the Mavericks will be able to add experienced 6’3″ guard Daniel Norl to that core wing players.  Let’s not forget, and how could we, that the Mavericks still have Kyler Erickson who’s non stop energy could give problems to Robocop.

The Gauchos lost their core of wing players, but are reloading with adding a few well recruited 6’5″ freshman.  Christian Terrell is a freshman out of Sacramento that held offers from Washington State, Tulsa, Pepperdine, and Gonzaga.  Terrell was rated as a 3 star recruit by Rivals and Scout.  They also have Clifton Powell, always be afraid of a guy named Clifton, who played at a prep school for a 5th year.  He’s described as “bouncy.”  The Gauchos also have Ohio State transfer, Mickey Mitchell, who will be sitting this season out.  The Mavericks don’t play these guys next year, right?

One thing to keep in mind: Los Angeles Lakers’ General Manager Mitch Kupchak’s son, Maxwell Kupchak, plays for UC Santa Barbara.  The Lakers will be away at New Orleans and Minnesota while Omaha is in Southern California.  Maybe Mitch Kupchak comes to watch his son play basketball, for the fun of it, and maybe he takes notice in a particular point guard on the Mavericks’ roster.  Maybe he’s impressed enough to check him out a second night in Los Angeles.

All in all, since this is a rebuilding year for the Gauchos, you would think the Mavericks would have the edge in this game.  Right?  Maybe with Santa Barbara having home court advantage, Omaha might be like a 3 point favorite or something.  Right?

Relax.  By the time this game happens, you’ll get to know if it will be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton filling out a presidential bracket on ESPN in March.  Actually, that is incredibly depressing.

 

 

 

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.