A Senior Day Double-Header, oh my

Saturday, the Mavericks will have two separate senior days for men’s and women’s basketball.  Both games we get to say goodbye to some truly great players.  Whether it is on or off the court, these six seniors are going to go on to do tremendous things.

Kyler Erickson

Not going to get too much into Erickson as we went through this last season.

Before being sidelined with an injury, he was expected to see a loss in playing time due to the returns of JT Gibson and Marcus Tyus, and the addition of Daniel Norl.  The Mavericks really could have used Erickson’s energy in a few games where they seemed completely flat, as well as his scrappy defense.  Mavs also missed his ability to take changes and get up and turn that momentum into nuclear energy.

Tra-Deon Hollins

Possibly, the most all-around basketball player that the Mavericks have ever had.  His court awareness on defense and his ability to steal the ball in passing lanes, and on double teams changed the way offenses played against Omaha.  It only took Hollins a year and a half to break the school record for career steals.  He ranks in the top-10 in all time career assists and has the most career assists since the transition.

Hollins’ game against South Dakota State in Baxter Arena his junior year will go down as one of the greatest single game performances in Maverick history.  The Jackrabbits were the top team in the Summit League at the time, and Hollins scored 28 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished 8 assists, recorded 4 steals, and had a huge block in the final seconds to help secure a 96-92 Maverick win.

He led the NCAA in steals in his junior year, and is currently 3nd in the NCAA in steals per game his senior year.  His 93 steals on the season is tied for the most total on the year so far.  Hollins is also currently tied in 3rd in Division 1 in assists per game, and is tied in 4th in total assists.

Hollins has potential to play basketball in Europe or the NBDL, but it is unclear if either of those possibilities truly interest him.  Either way, Hollins is going to find himself in a fantastic situation and be very successful.

Marcus Tyus

One of the most efficient and explosive players the Mavericks have ever had.  When you first see Tyus, it is probably easy to think he is just a one dimensional player that hangs out behind the 3 point line and waits for guys to pass to him.  He is far more than that.  Tyus is great at finding space and blowing by his defender to get to the basket for points in the paint, and he has a deadly mid-range game as well.

All the time in athletics, we see players get injured and end up seeing the unexpected teammate come in and fill the shoes to be a catalyst for the team’s confidence in that time of need.  Tyus’ coming out party, may have been in his sophomore season when senior Justin Simmons sat down with an injury just one minute into the game against South Carolina State.  Tyus was only averaging 7 points per game on the season at that point, but he came in when the Mavericks needed him most and scored 24 points off the bench on 8-of-13 shooting.

There is no doubt that the Mavericks missed Tyus in 2015-2016.  Without his shooting, the Mavericks were one of the worst three point shooting teams in the Summit League last year, but are 1st in three point field goal percentage in conference play in 2016-2017.  The Mavericks struggled to score the ball at times with him on the bench as a senior.  There was no player more important to their offense in 2016-2017…maybe his back court senior teammate Hollins.  They probably tie actually.

Over time, Tyus has improved as a defender, and part of that came with having a bigger players on the court so he wasn’t always forced to defend guys that were 4+ inches taller than him.

He’s proven to be one of the best scoring guards in the history of the Mavericks.  With at least 2 games to go in his senior season, Tyus is 2 three point field goals away from tying the 5th most threes in a season by a Maverick, this is the most threes made by a Maverick in a season since transition.  He’s also 38 points away from being in the top 10 all time for Mavericks in scoring.


Michaela Dapprich

Your first thoughts when you heard Michaela Dapprich was transferring to UNO from Wichita State were most likely positive.  Probably the same excitement you get every time Christopher Nolan released a trailer for a new Batman film.

A Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention Player wants to come play basketball at UNO?  Sweet.

It was like over night there was hope that Mikaela Shaw and Remy Davenport would have a consistent third threat on offense.  In 2013-2014, the Mavericks had Paige Frauendorfer, Jamie Nash, and Carolyn Blair-Mobley as a dangerous Big 3.  Now, Maverick fans had a feeling that we could have that same type of threat in 2016-2017.

It seemed to take Dapprich a bit to find her stride with the Mavericks.  She struggled as the Mavericks struggled with their difficult non-conference schedule, but came around to find consistency on offense when the team got to conference play, in a competitive year for the Summit League.

In conference play, Dapprich is currently 6th in points per game, 5th in 3 point field goals made and 3 point field goal percentage, and 5th in overall field goal percentage.

You would never expect her teammate Mikaela Shaw to take a possession off, but you could feel comfortable as a Maverick fan that if Shaw was struggling, that Dapprich could take over.  Dapprich is also not afraid of the big shot and looks to score in clutch moments when the Mavericks need the ball the most.

The only thing you regret about Michaela Dapprich joining the Mavericks is that it makes you really wish we had more time with her.

Abi Lujan

Lujan is one of those special players that does not need stats to make a difference in a basketball game.  Her will and hustle is enough to swing possessions in the Mavericks favor.  When the Mavericks needed a spark off the bench in her senior season, Lujan was not shy to provide such a spark.  She was one of the best Mavericks in her junior and senior years with the team at boxing out and taking away rebounds when needed.

Mikaela Shaw

Plain and simple, the Mavericks will never have a player like Shaw ever again.  As a true all around talent, she will leave a legacy at UNO as arguably the greatest women’s basketball the university has ever seen.

Shaw came to Omaha during a difficult time for the Mavericks.  They were already in transition and moving through a coaching change in her freshman season with an entirely new roster.  She has seen a revolving door of teammates on her rosters and she remained with the program.

Her freshman season was filled with moments that had you thinking she was going to be an all time great.

A rare talent on offense, Shaw has probably spent some time at every single position for the Mavericks.  She’s one of the best players you’ve probably ever seen at picking her spots and playing with or without the ball.  Watching her on offense is similar to watching Batman in The Dark Knight secretly tying up all of the SWAT team members so he can push them over the ledge to go get a one-on-one with the Joker.  She systematically runs through every member of the defense to find her spots for open shots.

Shaw will leave UNO as the greatest.


A nerdy thing I like to do is keep track of the career and class rankings for the era after transitioning.  Though a young history, here are where these seniors rank respectively.

Points

2nd Marcus Tyus                1272

7th Tra-Deon Hollins       753

20th Kyler Erickson           198

Rebounds

7th Marcus Tyus                  313

9th Tra-Deon Hollins        283

20th Kyler Erickson              97

Assists

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         385

6th Marcus Tyus                  158

14th Kyler Erickson              43

Steals

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         220

4th Marcus Tyus                  117

18th Kyler Erickson             24

Blocks

9th Tra-Deon Hollins          20

15th Marcus Tyus                   12

21st Kyler Erickson                 5

3 Point Field Goals

1st Marcus Tyus                     161

8th Tra-Deon Hollins            54

15th Kyler Erickson                27

 


Points

1st Mikaela Shaw                   1731

7th Michaela Dapprich          376

22nd Abi Lujan                         182

Rebounds

1st Mikaela Shaw                    880

4th Abi Lujan                           290

17th Michaela Dapprich        119

Assists

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   303

10th Abi Lujan                            59

13th Michaela Dapprich          49

Steals

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   136

9th Abi Lujan                              42

12th Michaela Dapprich          37

Blocks

4th Mikaela Shaw                      49

9th Abi Lujan                               14

12th Michaela Dapprich           11

3 Point Field Goals

7th Michaela Dapprich             49

9th Mikaela Shaw                       42

17th Abi Lujan                              19

 

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Summit League Predictions: Feb 22-25

A little better last week, but damn it this league is hard.

February 22

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Bison really had no answer for Albert Owens in Fargo as he went off for 28 points and 9 rebounds for the losing Golden Eagles.  The Bison have lost their last 2 road games, and this will be Oral Roberts’ Mega Bowl as they are only playing for a good show and to send their seniors out the right way on their last game.

Omaha @ Denver

Denver shot 64 percent the last time these two teams played, and still lost.  The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Denver last season, but with 29 points from Jake White as the rest of the team struggled a bit.

Okay, I might be trying to reverse jinx the Mavericks here.

It costs $9.95 to view this game on the Pioneers’ website.  I really don’t want to give them my money, but I might.

February 23

Fort Wayne @ IUPUI on ESPN3

Fort Wayne defeated the Jaguars by 30 a month ago.  IUPUI had 20 turnovers in that game, and it’s probably a bad idea to give the fast paced team like Fort Wayne the ball 20 times at home.

The Jaguars will not turn the ball over that much at home, but their offense is not good enough, even against a sub par defense like Fort Wayne’s, to put up enough points to make up the difference against the Mastodons.  I say that, and remember at one time Western Illinois once outscored Fort Wayne.

South Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Western Illinois’ defense is capable of frustrating South Dakota, but South Dakota’s defense is also capable of frustrating the non-existent offense of Western Illinois.

South Dakota was without Tyler Flack and were able to beat Western Illinois in Vermillion.  The Leathernecks’ post players are not very well built to stop a player like Flack.

February 25

Denver @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

After a 51 point and 15 rebound performance against a fast paced offensive Fort Wayne, Mike Daum gets a week of rest to play a fast paced offensive Denver.

Maybe this is Mike Daum’s last game in Brookings?  Maybe not.  Either way, good luck Denver.

South Dakota @ IUPUI on ESPN3

The Jaguars are completely unpredictable, who knows what they’ll do.  They lost in Vermillion when the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack.  The Jaguars will need to knock down threes against the South Dakota defense, but the match up of the day could come down to Tyler Flack versus Matt O’Leary.

North Dakota State @ Omaha

The Mavericks have shown that they are a tough team to beat when they come out with a high energy level, and they should definitely be playing with some energy on senior night for Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins…and Kyler Erickson.

Are the Mavericks going to get a medical hardship for Erickson and make him a 7 year senior next season?

The game between these two last season in Omaha was one of the better games Maverick fans have seen at Baxter Arena or Ralston Arena.  The energy for both teams was high.  The Bison had to figure out how to play without AJ Jacobson, who was in foul trouble.  Jake White had to sit a little bit with some foul trouble, but came back into the game and made huge shot after huge shot.  The Bison were also without Paul Miller in that game, and he is capable of hitting big shots against the Mavericks defense.  Hollins, Tyus, Zach Jackson, and Daniel Norl will need to play big defensive minutes and slow him down.

The Bison are also not the greatest team on the road.  They have lost their last 3 of 4 on the road with the one win at Western Illinois.

Fort Wayne @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Okay, so my take on their previous match up couldn’t have been more wrong as I just wrote:

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Western Illinois somehow won that game.

Western Illinois was in a zone in that stretch of the season where they were hitting threes with consistency and putting up points.  Other than a 91 point performance in a double overtime game last week, the Leathernecks have struggled to score over the last month and a half.

Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak could go off against the poor defense of Fort Wayne.  That could be enough to top the Mastodons, maybe.

This could potentially be Billy Wright’s last game with Western Illinois.  Maybe the Leathernecks will want to see what he can do next season with a core of Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, and CJ Duff.  I don’t really know though, Western Illinois appears to care the least about athletics in the league.  He’s only been at Western Illinois for 3 seasons, but the Leathernecks have still yet to earn 20 wins over D1 teams.

Summit League predictions: Jan 31-Feb 4

After going two straight weeks of 4-4, I had my best week this year at 7-1.  Stupid South Dakota, had I known Tyler Flack was back, I would have changed my tune.

January 31

Denver (5-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-6) on ESPN3

This game will be close until the very end.  Albert Owens and Daniel Amigo can match up well and cancel each other out, so hopefully neither of them gets in foul trouble.

February 1

North Dakota State (6-1) @ IUPUI (3-6) on ESPN3

It’s hard to feel a lot of confidence in IUPUI right now.  They have lost three in a row, and one game was a 30 point lost to Fort Wayne.  They can usually keep games close, but have had some terrible clock management down the final stretches of games.  If you watch the Jaguars, the players appear to be losing confidence, especially Darell Combs and Jason Gardner constantly looks confused.  The body language is not good for the Jaguars right now, and it’s the worst time of the year to be going through that.

The last three games between these two teams have been close, as they do match up well with each other.  The last road game the Bison had, they beat Western Illinois by 32.

Western Illinois (3-6) @ South Dakota State (3-6) on ESPN3

South Dakota State has looked better defensively since moving away from so much zone defense.  Hard to believe these two teams are playing for not finishing in last in the conference.

Mike Daum has 8 points in Macomb.  That wont happen again.  He’s averaged 31.5 at home in conference play.

South Dakota (6-3) @ Omaha (4-5)

South Dakota made Omaha look silly in Vermillion, and the Mavericks should hopefully be out for revenge.  Marcus Tyus will not go 1-of-12 again.  Tre’Shawn Thurman seems like he is very upset with the Mavericks rebounding recently, and Thurman has a history of being very good when being fired up.

Tyler Flack came back to the ‘Yotes lineup to help South Dakota complete a sweep of Denver.  He will be able to help and defend a potentially fired up Tre’Shawn Thurman, but if he gets in foul trouble or shows a little fatigue coming back from injury then Thurman could go off.  Flack did score 19 against Denver, so he doesn’t appear too rusty.

The ‘Yotes defense and three point shooting will keep this game close, and my teeth hurt thinking that it will be one of those games where the opponent has a 10 point lead, Omaha gets it down to 2, then it goes back to 10, then Omaha gets it down to 1, and it goes back to 10.

Hey, maybe Omaha can win on South Dakota possibly looking ahead to North Dakota State, but I think I am pushing it.

February 4th

South Dakota (6-3) @ North Dakota State (7-1) on ESPN3

The Bison had to build a big lead to hold off South Dakota in Vermillion.  Fargo is not an easy place for away teams to play basketball.  The only two teams to win in Fargo this season are from the state of North Dakota.

Fort Wayne (5-4) @ Denver (5-4)

This could be a really fun game with little defense, just as there was in Fort Wayne.

The Pioneers were able to hold John Konchar to 6 points on 1-of-5 shooting in Fort Wayne in their first meeting. How is that possible?  I’m asking on behalf of the other seven teams in the Summit League.

Last year, Konchar had 10 points and was 4-of-8 from the free throw line in Denver against the Pioneers’ old Princeton style.  But seriously, have the Pioneers kidnapped someone and Konchar is mentally off his game like when Lex Luthor kidnapped Clark Kent’s mother to make Superman go do something stupid like fight Batman?

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ South Dakota State (3-6) on ESPN3

South Dakota State gets Western Illinois and Oral Roberts at home this week.  Good for them.  Cannot wait for the South Dakota State is Back story lines.

Omaha (4-5) @ Western Illinois (4-5) on ESPN3

Omaha was bitter about losing at Western Illinois last season.  It altered their season from a top two finish in the league to dropping to third and not getting an extra day of rest in the Summit League tournament (if they would have won in the first round).

The Mavericks hit 15 threes against the Leathernecks in Omaha earlier this season and forced the young Leathernecks to 18 turnovers.

Garret Covington appears to be feeling better than he did while in Omaha, so defense on him could become critical for the Mavericks.  Anyone else feel like Daniel Norl is becoming the best Mavericks perimeter defender?  He had some good minutes on defense against John Konchar, and he played good defense against South Dakota State.  Might be time to give him some more minutes, just as the Mavericks did last season toward the end of conference play with Kyler Erickson last year.

A month out game preview: Iowa

First off, congratulations to Chicago Cubs and all of the Cubs fans, except for all of the Cubs fans that were Royals fans last season. There is a special place in hell for you where they just force you to watch Major League 3 on a continuous loop but they replace Scott Bakula with Scott Baio, because you’re in hell and you did this to yourself.


I have no beef with the Iowa Hawkeyes.  My father attended the University of Iowa back in the day.  Both of my parents were born in our bordering state.  I have been forced to watch Iowa football games with a group of drunkards who just spat out nonsense the entire time. There is a very small part of me that has an unfortunate connection to the University of Iowa that I cannot deny.

Still, with my unfavorable connection, I cannot help but think negative things when I close my eyes and imagine up a die hard Iowa Hawkeye fan.  Usually, the person I enjoy working with the least always has Hawkeye memorabilia hanging up in their work space.

My wife was born into Oregon Duck fan hood, and when we first started dating we would go from establishment to establishment each week during football season in Omaha looking for a place for her to watch Oregon Duck games.  Typically, we would get told we could watch the bottom line of scores during the Husker game and if we were lucky ESPN might cut away to the Oregon game for a quick second to provide an update.

One time we went to DJs Dugout during a time that there was no Husker game, so we felt lucky about our chances that they would play the Oregon game.  We were told they would play the game for us, but there was an Iowa game on that night so there would be close to a 100 people in yellow screaming.  I immediately felt sorry for the waitress, knowing based on my Iowa roots that she would be dealing with a bunch of patrons complaining about not being able to smoke inside a bar and that clearly everything bad that happened was Obama’s fault.  Also, of course at the end of the night the dishwasher would have to deal with handling a number of glasses with spit, back wash, and chewing tobacco.

Still, I grew up as a closet Hawkeye fan.  My friends obsessed over Husker football recruiting and had Husker watch parties, while I had to watch Iowa games by myself or with the drunks.  If I even asked to change the channel to the Hawkeyes, I would get picked on.  Eventually, I just fell into peer pressure and went on in life as a Husker fan.  Yet, if I ever played a college sports video game, I typically would always play as the Iowa Hawkeyes…or create UNO as a team.  I still have Iowa as one of the teams I receive updates for on the ESPN ap, and I get made fun of for this.

I only provide you this prelude to hopefully point out that I might actually be objective in a Mavericks versus Hawkeyes match up.


December 3rd is apparently the Summit League versus Big 10 Challenege Day.

Oral Roberts will be playing at Michigan State, and the Golden Eagles will most likely get slaughtered.

Nebraska fans will spend their day pretending the Huskers did so poorly against South Dakota since Craig Smith knows Tim Miles so well, and not accept that the Huskers are actually just bad at basketball.  Actually, I think Nebraska will not be as bad as people think this season, but South Dakota still has a fighting chance against them.

The Omaha Mavericks will also take a short drive to face the sort of prestigious Iowa Hawkeyes.

omaiowa

I like Iowa.  Not the state, but the university and the athletic program.  With that said, I don’t think they will be very good this season.  My expectations are not very high for the Hawkeyes, yet I have been told to not count them out because Fran McCaffery is such a good coach, and many people expect them to be a NIT team.  While he is a good basketball coach, it is completely acceptable to tune into an Iowa Hawkeye game and wonder why they’re letting the team accountant pace the sidelines.

The Hawkeyes may have made the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2016, but they lost four starters from that team.  A team we thought would go undefeated in the Big 10 after they topped Michigan and Michigan State in the middle of the year because Fran McCaffery was such a good coach but then ended up losing 4 in a row and lost to Illinois in their first game of the Big 10 Tournament.  You should blame Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury for that, just because.  Don’t blame McCaffery, he’s the best.  Actually, it would be best to blame Obama.

The lone returning starter for the Hawkeyes is Peter Jok.  An athletic 6’6″ player that can play the guard position and hit threes.  Guys like this have not been kind to the Mavericks since transitioning to division one.  It would not be great for the Mavericks if the Hawkeyes were playing Jok at shooting guard against a smaller Marcus Tyus or Kyler Erickson.  I may just think this because of the haunting memories I have of Shavon Shields  a few years ago having his way with Tyus and just shooting over him all night.

Aside from Jok, the Hawkeyes are a young team and it appears they will be having issues trying to figure out who to play on the court, especially early in the season.  The Mavericks offense is based on running out into traffic and causing confusion, and it looks like the Hawkeyes could get easily confused by the Mavericks.  If the Mavericks get out and run, Tra-Deon Hollins spin moves into some and-one opportunities, the Hawkeyes could have some problems with their lack of chemistry and experience in this game…and the whole season.  This game, may actually be the biggest opportunity for the Mavericks to pull off an upset against a Power 5 team.

The Hawkeyes may have more athleticism, but the Mavericks at least know who and what they are.  Since teams in their own state wont play them, the Mavericks look at teams like the Hawkeyes for a win to bring a notoriety to their program.  Guys like Tre’Shawn Thurman, Tra-Deon Hollins, and Mitchell Hahn have had Iowa on their minds most likely since they were youngsters.  This is a game they badly want to win.  They may actually want this win more than the Hawkeyes.  Do you remember how close the Mavericks played the Hawkeyes the last time they traveled to Iowa City?

The Mavericks may not have the advantage if the game is slowed down.  Iowa recruited very well for post players.  They landed three freshman all around 6’8 and 250 pounds.  They probably cannot play all three of these guys, and are likely to redshirt at least one of them.  Tyler Cook is the most coveted, who McCaffery already thinks could be a legendary player at Iowa.

Cook does not appear super fast, but he also does not appear super slow.  He is a strong player with a number of post moves.  If the game is slowed down, Tre’Shawn Thurman will need to stay out of foul trouble, and let’s sit and hope that Daniel Meyer and Zach Pirog have both improved defensively.

That is somewhat of an issue for the Mavericks in this game.  With Iowa’s size and athleticism, the Mavericks need somewhat unproven guys like Meyer, Pirog, and Zach Jackson to really step up in this game for the best chance to win, especially on defense.

The Mavericks do have an opportunity to win this game, but they could be playing on tired legs with this being their sixth road game of the year, and the third of a four game road trip.  At least the Mavericks will be used to playing on the road already by early December…

This game will be at 1pm on a Saturday.  It is about a four hour drive to Iowa City, and you apparently (per Rylan Murry) need to check out some place in Des Moines called Zombie Burger on the way.  So plan for that.  Don’t wear your nice shoes to Iowa City either.  Actually, you might want to check out the prices of Hazmat suits.  I don’t think you can buy one of those at the UNO bookstore, so you may want to get on that.

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.