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

 

The Bluejays are coming to Mavtown to face an improving Mav team

Scheduling is incredibly difficult in college basketball, and that I guess is why the Creighton Bluejays (4-6) will be playing at the Omaha Mavericks (7-3) on Sunday in women’s basketball.  I will not be able to watch, listen, or attend this game because of a Christmas party.  I will be able to attend the UNO-Arizona State hockey game before, so I would like to point out that I will have attended more Arizona State athletic events this year than Creighton events.

Now, I assume most local casual basketball fans pay attention to women’s college basketball as much as people who love cop movies pay attention to the 2nd to 7th Police Academy films…so allow me to set a little dinner tray for you here…I say a dinner tray because there wont be much talk about Creighton (as a team).

This is probably from one of the Police Academy films. Who the heck knows.
This is probably from one of the Police Academy films. Who the heck knows.

Creighton fans, and by Creighton fans I mean the people who pretend to love the entire athletic program of Creighton University, even though they only attend fun sounding men’s basketball games and have season baseball tickets just so they can get College World Series tickets easier, will probably just assume that Creighton won this game the second it was scheduled.  They may pick up the Omaha World Herald preview of this game and see that Omaha only has one player that scores in double figures and say “oh the Jays are going to run that tiny might as well be D2 school out of the gym.  All they have to do is stop that one player, and it is over.  The Jays will also stop that player because I said so.”

I would like to think that the Jays have a couple coaches and administrators that will be using up their promotional dollars from Uber to travel to Baxter Arena so the whole team can carpool a few rides up Dodge Street for free.  The Jays come into the Baxter on a 4 game losing streak, but 3 of those 4 games were on the road and the home game was to some low major team from the state of South Dakota… This streak has also been without the returning Big East Player of the Year, Marissa Janning, who has been out with an injury.  This game will not be as easy for Creighton to win as Jays people* think.

*I decided to categorize Omahans that pretend to enjoy Creighton athletics as Creighton/Jays people instead of fans.

The crowd could get pretty big for this game.  The game is after a hockey game, so I assume there will be some hockey fans that will go hang out at Dudley’s and get in a really good mood before coming back to the Baxter to watch some basketball.  Dudley’s has a Bloody Mary bar on Sundays, right?   Some department of something at UNO sent out some free tickets for some alumni for filling out some survey to this game.  I really just wanted to say “some” a lot there, and I have no explanation as to why.  There will be Creighton people that will attend, as long as they can get through what they perceive as the harsh ghettos of Omaha to find the Baxter Arena.  An 8 pm start time on a Sunday is as odd as a collegiate hockey game on a Sunday, but several people should be done with work for the year so it might as well be a Saturday to most people.  There should be some movie goers that will be in the middle of a Star Wars hangover that may need to go straight from Aksarben Cinema to the Baxter to cure that hangover.  The Creighton-UNO women’s basketball game can be their personal pizza and Dr. Pepper.  String along a few people that still don’t understand you can buy tickets online and will get to the cinema and realize the earliest showing that is not sold out is 4 hours away…ah what the hell is going on at that arena over there?  Women’s college basketball games appear to be only taking about an hour and a half to finish now, so it is not like it is that late anyway.

I am sure there will be that Creighton group that thinks they cannot attend this game because they cannot help that UNO program build and do not want to help them pad their attendance.  Sad/Fun note:  The Mav women’s basketball team averaged the lowest attendance in all of division one last season with an average of 190 per game and a total of 2,850 on the season.  This season through 5 games, the Mav women are averaging about 615 people per game and already have a total attendance of 3,079.  That’s fine Jays people, don’t come if you don’t want to…don’t support your athletic program “on the road” when you can.  Don’t worry about padded attendance stats, you’re not the same people that bragged up one of the biggest home attendances in college volleyball after Nebraska made the CenturyLink Center their second home.

Even though the Mavs are coming off of an over time loss in a game that they led by 24 points, the Mavs are no joke.  The 3rd quarter is a little scary for them as it is the only quarter that they are being outscored by their opponents for some reason.

Again, one might look at this team and see they only have one player that is a double digit scorer and think they are just a one player team.  That is not true, but by the way, that one player is amazing.  With seven playable newcomers, I really did not have high expectations before the beginning of the year.  I thought this season was going to be like a television show in its first season that had some good characters, but was still trying to figure itself out and set up plot lines for the next season.  Mikaela Shaw was going to be the main character with everyone else getting a little screen time to develop their stories for future seasons, and they were going to set everything up for the introduction of the new character named Dapprich that will get plenty of screen time in the second season.  I just thought, if they could get through this season with a minimal amount of departures, then the next season would be something you cannot wait to binge watch on Netflix a few times.  With 7 wins already, the Mavs appear to be ahead of schedule. There is still some figuring out, but you can tell the team grows more and more every game.  That probably sounds really general, but watch the freshman on the team from game to game.  You can actually see Hogue, Vidal, and Brecht piece everything together game after game.

I thought with all the new faces and youth that Brittany Lange may have challenges again this season trying to set a lineup again.  Due to injuries and with trying to figure out what worked best last season, the Mavericks had already used 4 different starting lineups through 10 games last season.  This season, they have only used 2 different starting lineups, and that was just to start Marissa Preston over Amber Vidal.

You could tell Lange and staff were really excited about this recruiting class, and you should be able to see why.  The Mavs have a complete ensemble of characters that each bring something to the table.  First off, there is Shaw who you have just come to expect will come out with a 45 point, 18 rebound, 7 assist game at some point.  Not only does Shaw currently lead the Summit in points per game, but she is tied for 5th in the league with her own teammate, Vidal, in assists per game.  Shaw can pass out of double teams to Remy Davenport and Ellie Brecht who can each hit threes and mid range jumpers, or to Vanessa Barajas who appears more comfortable on offense and cutting to the basket for easy buckets, or to Caroline Hogue to pull off a post move down low…the Mavs appear to have more options offensively this season.

Teams cannot just go into the lane on the Mavericks either.  Barajas and Hogue are the number one and number two shot blockers in the Summit League.  I hope this develops to a rivalry between the two, trying to outdo each other for more blocks…similar to Antonio Banderas being obsessed with being “number one” in Assassins**.  The two of them combine for 4.4 blocks per game so far and the next closest team in the Summit averages 3.8 blocks per game.  Sara Echelberry is also starting to get a little time at the center spot and has 4 blocks in 8 games so far.  The Mavs get to add a transfer from Texas Tech to the center spot next season…and Westside graduate Jay Bridgeman…how crazy is that post player depth going to be?

**If you are unaware of what Assassins is…it is the 7 hitter hitter in the lineup of 90s Stallone movies that were all completely average in their respectful slot in the lineup…Rocky 5, Oscar, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger, The Specialist, Judge Dredd, Assassins, Day Light, Cop Land…  This is the San Diego Padres of movie lineups.  I believe these are all films that college students watch when they are in the mood for a bad movie and to laugh that someone made these movies with the intent of making a serious movie.  I sadly have a Because You Watched Assassins list.

How crazy is the depth going to be next season if they can keep the group together?  I’ve come to just accept that at least one player will transfer or get just a job in the off season and leave team with every college basketball team every single year.  Figuring out minutes may actually be more of a challenge next season, as the team will be adding a serious scoring threat in Michaela Dapprich to play along side this cast of characters.