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).
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.