I know there is a chunk of UNO students that will be making their way to the South Dakota town known for holding Daktronics, and having a pretty decent Applebee’s; and that is pretty great but I wanted to throw some reading material out there…even though I am sure no students ever actually ready this.
Here are a few things you should know if you are just a casual fan and you do not follow much into this, or if you are just trying to impress some dude or…whatever.
These are supposed to be points that make you feel good…kind of like you are watching a Andy Dwyer greatest hits compilation…or like the happiness you will receive after your buddy introduces you to Kung Fury…a half hour film based on a police officer who became a Kung Fu master after being bitten by a cobra and being struck by lightning at the same time.
- Ideally, I guess, a teams goal is to at least split their road games; and Omaha is already 4-0 on the road this season in league play…so they could lose the rest of their road games and still have split on the road.
- 2 of the 4 road wins were against teams Omaha had never beaten since transitioning to division one: North Dakota State and Oral Roberts
- The road win against Denver was the first time the Mavericks had beaten the Pioneers in Denver. The Mavericks beat Denver by 14, which is the 2nd highest margin Denver has been defeated by at home this season.
- Omaha currently has the 2nd leading scorer in the Summit League, Devin Patterson…and the 2nd best rebounder, Tre’Shawn Thurman…and the assist leader, Tra-Deon Hollins…and 2nd leading shot blocker, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and the nation’s leader in steals, Tra-Deon Hollins…Devin Patterson is also 2nd in the conference in steals…Hollins is also second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio
- In league play, Omaha leads the Summit League in points per game, actually they are tied with Fort Wayne…they commit the least amount of fouls…they have the most steals in the conference…the Mavericks lead the conference in free throws attempted and are 2nd behind Denver in free throw percentage…they also lead the conference in field goal percentage…the Mavericks are also 2nd in the league so far in defensive three point field goal percentage, which is great because they gave up the most three point field goals in the conference last season
The Mavericks have been tested on the road so far this season and had some close wins, and close losses, against good teams. This game could be the biggest test that Omaha has faced so far…ever since joining the Summit League. Matt Zimmer, of Argus Leader, said that Omaha may in first, but they are the team with more to prove here. He is absolutely correct.
Yes, the Mavericks were able to beat North Dakota State at home this season with the Bison on a 31 game home winning streak, but they came up close against the Bison in each of their two meetings last season, losing by 3 and 7. The Mavs beat Oral Roberts, who is known historically for being one of the best teams in the Summit League, but the Golden Eagles are in a down year…even with the conference’s leading scorer. This is South Dakota State, who has built themselves up to be the team to beat in the Summit over the last few years. One of the teams the Mavericks have been trying to build themselves up to be ever since transition, and the Mavericks have lost a few recruiting battles to the Jacks since the transition. Mike Daum and Reed Tellinghuisen both had offers from the Mavericks, and I believe Skyler Flatten and Ian Theisen both had “interest” from Omaha.
I am not sure if it is time for either of these teams to look ahead into the seedings of the Summit League tournament, but first place in the conference standings is on the line here. There is still a lot to play out, but South Dakota should finish somewhere between 6th and 8th in the final standings in the conference; and neither Omaha or South Dakota State want to be matched up against the Coyotes in the first round of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls.
The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Brookings in 2014, the same weekend North Dakota State beat the Jackrabbits in Brookings, and I am pretty sure that is the last time South Dakota State lost at home. Since that game the Mavericks have lost to the Jackrabbits three straight times by an average of 19 points per game. Since that weekend, the Jackrabbits have won all of their conference home games by an average of 19 points, and the closest a team as come was Denver by 9 in February of 2014. There were actually some narrow margins of victory of North Dakota State in their home winning streak.
The Jackrabbits are 16-5 this season, but they have been beat up with injuries. Wisconsin transfer, Preseason Summit League First Teamer, and 2014-2015 2nd Team All Summit League player, George Marshall, missed 6 games this season and the Jackrabbits with 4-2 in his absence. Preseason Summit League First Teamer and 2014-2015 Summit League Honorable Mention player, Jake Bittle, missed 8 games and the Jackrabbits went 4-4 without him on the court. Bittle also missed 9 games in his sophomore season and the Jackrabbits went 4-5 without him in the lineup. Other than these guys being out, 6’6″ sophomore, Skyler Flatten, has been out all year so far, but is expected to come back at some point. Flatten averaged 3.2 points per game in his freshman season, but he saw his minutes go down once George Marshall became eligible.
The Jackrabbits have only played 7 games (not including non-division one opponents) with their big three of Bittle, Marshall, and Parks all playing together in the same game. Their only loss with all three of them was on the road to UMKC. Their big three are known for being good three point shooters, and the Jackrabbits do have guys around them that can knock down threes, but the Jackrabbits are currently 6th in the Summit League in three point field goal percentage at 35.7% overall. When Bittle, Marshall, and Parks are all in the lineup the Jackrabbits shoot around 40% from three, which would be 2nd in the conference. Omaha is 1-2 this season when their opponent shoots above 40% from three.
Omaha may be the worst three point shooting team in the league, but Hollins has improved as the year has gone along, going 6-of-11 in the last four games…at one point he was shooting 15% on threes. The Mavericks, however, play more so to penetrate and get to the basket and force the other team to foul. They are currently 10th in division one in free throw attempts per game, and on top of that are 24th in free throw percentage. On the reverse of that, South Dakota State commit the most fouls in the league.
George Marshall was back in time to start off conference play, but Bittle just back last week and the Jackrabbits went 2-0 on the road, at Oral Roberts and South Dakota, with him back in the lineup. This was combined with head coach, Scott Nagy, calling out his team for not having any toughness; so there was probably some added motivation by the team to pick up 2 road wins to show their coach wrong.
The Mavericks biggest deficiency last season was defending three point shooting, and mostly just being able to guard wing players. The team fixed this by signing Tra-Deon Hollins. Seriously, if there was a All Summit League Tough as Nails Team, Hollins would be first team. No other team has one defender on their roster that intimidates their guards and wing players nearly as much…on top of that his back court teammate, Patterson, is 2nd in the league in steals.
Going into the season, the Jackrabbits were mostly worried about who they were going to play at the center position. Freshman Mike Daum has filled the role quite nicely averaging 13.4 points and 6 rebounds per game in 19 minutes per game…he has had 20 or more minutes in the last 6 games. Has he had to face a post player combo like Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman yet? Probably not.
I know that Omaha has more to prove in this game, but this game has to be more important to South Dakota State. Their coach recently called them out for faking toughness, and their team was one shot away from the NCAA tournament a season ago. No team in the league will lose as much as the Jackrabbits going into next season. Their seniors combine for 48 points per game, and there could always be someone who transfers out. Omaha will lose Patterson (and White, Reed, Smallwood, and Erickson), but they will get Marcus Tyus back to play alongside Tra-Deon Hollins in the back court next season…and they get to add Mitchell Hahn after sitting out from transferring.
If the Jackrabbits win this game, there could potentially be a 4 way tie for first…but if they lose they could potentially be 4th or 5th in the standings in the conference…