How to schedule the Mavericks and the Bluejays: Part I

Richard Creighton Fan walks into a bar

Okay, his name is actually Dick Creighton Fan*, but he walks into a bar about a half hour before the tip off of a men’s Creighton basketball game.  The first thing you need to know is that the bar belongs to him.  He will spend about 40 dollars on beer and food throughout the duration of this basketball game, and that is the most important 40 dollars that this bar will ever receive.  Dick grabs his seat at the end of the bar, right next to the tv, and so when you walk in you will have to walk by him and acknowledge his fan hood to the Creighton Bluejays.  For crying out loud, he has the new Bluejays logo on his shirt and the old logo on his hat, so you know he is freaking serious, super serious, he is Batman Taking Down the Joker serious.  It is a Saturday, so there are other basketball games on, and other sports on television, but none of those matter while Dick is ready to spend 40 bucks.  Dick is incapable of watching the game at home, no one is entirely sure of the reason, but does it really count as watching a sports match if you do not spend at least 20 bucks on beer?  If you went to a Creighton game with Dick, you would see how many trips he makes to the concession stand for a 8 dollar beer, it is a minimum of 3 times.

*Dick Creighton Fan is a pseudonym for a combination of every fair weathered Creighton fan you have ever met.  We all know a Dick Creighton Fan, they are all over Omaha, you have had several interactions with many of them, and you are even close friends with a few of them.  Most of this is based on an actual Dick Creighton Fan that I am good friends with.  Please do not take me poking fun at Creighton basketball as me not respecting the program, I have a good deal of respect for the actual program itself.

Fans of other teams begin to pile into the bar, none of them have a Creighton shirt on, but that does not matter to Dick, because you are the one who is a douche, and you need to respect what he brings to the world of sports, you came to his bar, he did not come to your bar.  A fan with a Nebraska Cornhuskers shirt walks in to watch a game, Dick tells him he is an idiot, Nebraska is stupid.  Dick loves the Huskers from late August to the beginning of January, but damn it, this is the winter, and Dick is 99% positive that the other sports at the University of Nebraska folded about 15 years ago.  A UNO hockey fan walks into the bar in hopes of catching the team’s away game, Dick does not care for UNO, you see in Dick’s mind, Creighton is in the Big East and has never been in a mid major.  Creighton has been a part of the big boys since the beginning of sports, so liking UNO is for the poor.  It is amazing how Creighton fans have already forgotten that they were actually in the Missouri Valley, and it can also be amazing that the ones who do remember that they played in the Valley forget that Wichita State and Northern Iowa were not always powerhouses.  An Iowa fan walks into the bar, what a loser, get creative, Creighton is all about innovation, Dick wants to ask the Iowa fan what it is like living in a trailer park.  A Kansas basketball fan walks into the bar, and this just enrages Dick.  Dick cannot handle it, this will cause Dick’s budget of 40 dollars at the bar go up to 50 dollars.  Who the hell does this Kansas fan think he is?  He is a punk, Kansas will not schedule Creighton, and the only logical reason is because Kansas is just afraid of Creighton, too scared to schedule them.

I walk into the bar right before tip off to watch the Creighton game with Dick.  Dick chastises me for showing up late, five minutes before the tip for a Creighton game is late to Dick.  The tip comes, Dick is so into it that he can only talk to me during commercials, and even then it is mostly about how the fifteen steps he has to take to the bathroom are completely stupid.  The referees make a legit call against the Bluejays and Dick calls the referees a bunch of (homophobic slurs), because Dick is super classy if you cannot tell.  An opposing player hits a wide open shot because the Bluejays are pretty terrible at defense, and that opposing player according to Dick is the biggest thug that ever existed in Dick’s mind.  That player belongs behind bars for hitting that shot.  A Creighton post player misses an uncontested layup and the opposing team grabs the rebound and runs down the court to score a transition basket.  “He was fouled!  These are the worst refs I have ever seen,” Dick screams out.  That player comes out of the game because he just a layup missed with no one or a ghost in the arena hit him on the arm, and another post player comes into the game.  The new post player gets the ball deep in the post, and with his awful footwork travels and turns over the ball.  “What kind of call is that?!  These refs are out to get us,” Dick objectively examines.  He claps hard for everything the Creighton starters do, as if they are the 5 greatest human beings on the face of the planet.  Essentially, Dick thinks of the Creighton starting 5 as the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers.

So half time comes and Dick can finally talk to me, and thank God!  Dick graduated from Creighton, but is now working toward his Master’s degree at UNO, as that is becoming the typical route for Creighton grads that stay in Omaha.  So the UNO fan in me is curious, I ask Dick if and when the Bluejays and the Mavericks ever play, who will he root for since he is now a part of the UNO family (though I already know the answer).  Dick sets down his Bud Light (Dick ALWAYS has Bud Light, it is the classy man beer after all), he then looks at me in disapproval as if I had just admitted to him that I slept with his mother, AND ON MOTHER’S DAY!

“I will never root for that dog shit program,” he says in my direction with a soul less Terminator-like expression on his face.  Dick then goes on to tell me the history of the Creighton basketball program, which I am already familiar with, and points out reasons how the two will never ever be on the same playing field.  To bring them into the same arena is a disgrace to the fine culture and the existence of a basketball program with such excellence.


What is that you say?

So the transition for UNO athletics is over for all but the Spring sports at this point, and while many UNO fans are looking forward to the added respect of the glory that comes with being fully division one, they want to know if the UNO Mavericks will ever play the Creighton Bluejays in men’s basketball.

As an Omaha kid, I grew up really liking Creighton basketball.  A majority of the games were on KMTV and I watched every single one that I could, I had to mute the games due to the anger that would be inflicted on myself at the sound of Travis Justice’s voice, but I did watch most of the games.  Kyle Korver, Larry House, Nate Funk, Anthony Tolliver, those are names you can throw at any Omahan and they will have some sort of respect for them as athletes.  I grew up liking Nebraska as well, but it was a little more difficult to find their games on television.  They were so awful, they would never get picked up anywhere, but once in a while you might get lucky with one of the Big 12 games on KXVO.  I rooted for Nebraska, and I still do, but Creighton, I do not root for anymore really.

You know what achieved status I did not have as a child?  I was not a college student or graduate yet, and I had never been to a college party that involved Creighton students.  UNO and UNL students can get along on the basis of At Least You Do Not Go To Creighton bond, and I am pretty sure that a bulk of UNO students wanted to go to UNL at some point in their life, but for whatever reason they ended up at UNO.  I had friends in high school that ended up at Creighton (and UNL), and their parties always involved a bunch of dill holes.  Every UNO student has had this happen to them, they get to a party and mingle around a little bit, they start a conversation with a Creighton student and the CU student brings something up about campus, and you inform them that you do not go to Creighton.  They find out that you go to UNO and all of a sudden, the conversation is basically over.  How the hell did this peasant get into this royal gathering?  The royal court cannot be seen with the UNO jesters, so this person who seemed decent enough suddenly vanishes and relocates to a new group that is worthy of their commentary on life.

So after a number of run ins with Creighton students like this, the love of their athletics program died.  I cheered for them for a while, I watched their games on television, but I do not care the same way I did as a child.  Even with Doug McDermott, I never really cared if they won or lost, the Creighton students ruined it for me, and I am sure they have ruined it for many non-Creighton students all around the eastern part of the state of Nebraska.  If Creighton athletics wins at this point, good for them, if they lose, oh well, it does not affect my life in any way.

Not all Creighton students are bad though.  There are a few different types of Creighton students and fans that you should be made aware of.


The Entitled:

This is quite possibly the worst kind of Creighton student.  The Entitled Creighton Fan did not have a job in high school, their daddy has a good job, a great job that most of us are jealous of.  Daddy does not make The Entitled work too hard for anything.  Those “Why go to Creighton ads” should be followed with “because Daddy did not make you get a job in high school and you have no useful skills” if they need to get The Entitled to pick them over…okay The Entitled are going to go there no matter what if they are from Omaha.

The Entitled worked hard enough to be okay in high school, they got decent grades, stayed out of trouble, and did okay on the ACT.  Daddy makes enough money for The Entitled to get into Creighton with no serious issues.  Daddy pays the way for The Entitled to go to Creighton, so they will not have $100,000+ dollars of student loan debt by the end of college.  Daddy just wants to be sure that The Entitled can get into a fraternity so he has some students to study with (or cheat off of).  I know Creighton is supposed to be really hard to get into, but as Omahans we have all heard the stories of some entitled asshole getting through high school with a 2.2 GPA and a “26” on their ACT, but somehow they got into Creighton.  Daddy figured out a way.

Daddy will get The Entitled a job right away out of college no matter what, they just need a degree, and they need the Creighton name on the degree, not because it will help in the job market really, but for the glory of it.  The Entitled goes to every home game, because it is not like they need to work anyway, the Entitled goes to each and every game and pretends he goes to Duke, oh and if the Entitled does not get a free t-shirt at the game, it was a shitty game.  The Entitled will also be a total dick about a Creighton win over Nebraska, UNO, or any opponent.  The Entitled has not had a bunch of personal success as far as awards and accomplishments or what have you, so they have to ride the shit out of the athletics team that they started following when they were 18 years old.

The Entitled does not get disciplined by Daddy, just supported.  It is surprisingly easy to skate through life with your parents having the resources.  I know a Creighton grad, we went to high school together, let’s just say that Daddy and Mommy both have a ton of money.  The Entitled got some bad grades in their first semester at Creighton, and they printed off a bogus report card to give to their parents.  Somehow Mommy and Daddy found out, they got mad for five entire minutes, and The Entitled cried.  Mommy and Daddy felt bad for the tears, and for their actions of being the shittiest of parents in the world so Mommy and Daddy bought The Entitled a brand new $25,000 car.  Tough life, right?  The Entitled could have gone to college just about anywhere, they could have just gotten an online degree really, because if Mommy and Daddy can get them a $25,000 car for existing, they can get them a full time job just about anywhere in Omaha.  Creighton on the degree was just for Mommy and Daddy to have something to brag about.

Trust me when I say the words Creighton University do not really matter once you actually hit the job market.  The words may help them get a job straight out of college a few months faster, but after time the degree does not really matter to the employer.  What matters is what you did in your last job and how you did it.  The Entitled can use Creighton to get them into the door, but advancement is an entirely different story.


The West/East Coasting Douche:

So did you know that Creighton has one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Hawaiian student populations in the US, on the mainland?  I found this out a few years ago, and it $urprised me.  There are a decent number of people that come from one of the coasts, it is usually the third school on their list, but they came to Omaha to visit the campus and “fell in love” with the campus.  They did not actually fall in love with the campus though, they fell in love with the Midwest feel of it being five years behind in terms of culture for where they are from.  They feel a little more cultured by coming here.  Downtown Omaha provides a bigger city feel, but with a small town splash mixed in for a little flavor, but not too much flavor.

The West/East Coasting Douche comes to Omaha, they like it, but they never really leave downtown for a few years.  Do not go to Dundee, that is where crime happens.  They come with the intention of coming to Omaha and getting the hell out after 4 years, which most of them are successful with.  This type of fan can be a bit of a prick.  To them, all of the locals are fools, you can never be as cool as someone from some a small town in California wine country after all.  They go to the sporting events and raise hell, because with a plan of getting out after 4 years, who cares what people around here think of them?

The West/East Coasting Douche more than likely comes from a similar economic class as The Entitled, but they have a different attitude and usually are not much of a factor after they graduate because they skip town immediately after graduation.  They go back home after Creighton life and just pay attention to the pro sports in the end.  They typically do not educate themselves on Creighton’s opponents, because it is just about a Creighton win, which is respectable in a way, but they do not care if it is Georgetown that Creighton beats of it is Arkansas State.  All Creighton wins are cool to these people, which is also respectable in a way, but when they talk up beating Arkansas State like it was the game of the century, you kind of want to smack them around a little bit.

So I grew up liking Creighton, right?  I have a Creighton Bluejays rain jacket, if I could find a Huskers rain jacket or a Mavericks rain jacket that fit as comfortably in the rain when it is warmer out, I would replace it.  Anyway, my wife and I went to Portland for her 10 year high school reunion.  Have you ever been to the Pacific Northwest?  It rains a lot, so I brought the rain jacket.  I worked out of my company’s Portland office for a few days, and my wife met me in downtown Portland after work for her to go shopping for a dress for the reunion, and to torture me with boredom.  Anyway, while sitting there in pain for an hour or two waiting for her to try on dresses, a guy comes up to me and asks me about my Creighton jacket.  He is clearly pumped to find a fellow Creighton buddy so far away from Creighton, he treats me like we are about to be best friends, but then he asks me what year I graduated from Creighton.  I disappoint him with telling him that I went to UNO, then his head drops and the conversation just turns into one word exchanges.

I did not live up to par with him, I was a local Nebraskan, not a fellow West/East Coasting Douche.  The West/East Coasting Douche is never overly mean or anything (other than at sporting events), they just simply do not care about the locals.  They are in college to get their education, which is important and honorable, the sports thing is cool to them, but not typically hugely important.  These are usually the students that you will look down into the student section and see them sitting down, drinking a beer, and playing games on their phones.  So the people that want to make you shout WHY DID YOU EVEN COME TO THIS GAME!?  They usually leave with about 10 minutes to go in the game though, no matter the score, because who really cares?  You cannot buy a beer at that point in the game, so that is when it stops being fun to the coaster.


The Attitude:

With similar backgrounds to The Entitled and The West/East Coasting Douche, The Attitude is just a prick for the sake of being a prick.  The Attitude cares about Creighton athletics winning, because they need to be better than you, and apparently their sports team beating your sports team is what confirms that.  Maybe the fundamental difference between The Attitude and The Entitled is that Daddy made The Attitude get a job in high school, maybe even one in college, just to teach The Attitude to please for the love of God just do not have an attitude.  The Attitude gets to Creighton though, and they have to deal with the Entitled and the West/East Coast Doucher, they need to compete for spoiled bitch hood.

Usually The Attitude is nothing physically great.  Their life has been spent with Daddy trying to give them life lessons by making them work and try to be a little hard on them to get them to grow up, but damn it, they went to a high school where all the kids got BMWs and The Attitude was stuck with a newer, but still slightly used, Honda Accord.  Why is life so freaking unfair?!?!  So The Attitude has let themselves go just a little bit to test Daddy’s love.

This same trip I spoke of for going to Portland for my wife’s 10 year reunion, before leaving Omaha we were sitting in the airport, and of freaking course I accidentally put my headphones in my checked baggage.  We were sitting next to The Attitude and a future Creighton student who could possibly turn into the West/East Coast Douche, but she seemed like a decent person really.  The Attitude knew everything there was to know about life, she had all of the right answers to everything.  She tried to teach the future Creighton student what real student life was going to be like.  The Attitude made fun of the locals and taught real import stuff like what professors you should take based on how hot they were or how easy they were as a teacher.  Do not even try to challenge The Attitude into adulthood, you will get nowhere.  The Attitude then talked about which fraternity had the hotter boys and where they hung out, who had the better parties, and which one you would definitely get lucky at…The Attitude was about 30 pounds over weight and wore glasses that made it look like she was trying to crack a safe, there was nothing really attractive about her on the outside or the inside, and you could tell that she never really had anyone in her life tell her “you know, you are not really God’s gift to man, you should try to nicen up just a little bit.”

The entire time she talked, my wife and I just had our heads down wishing it would just stop.  We both wanted to tell her off, but we both knew and probably just hoped that five years down the road she would grow up and look back at everything and realize her stupidity.

The Attitude is usually the one at Creighton games who do not know what a foul or a travel is.  How could Creighton make infractions in the game, they are too smart to not know the rules?   The Attitude is typically in college for the ride and to say that they went to college, not to actually get anything out of it.


The Senseless:

No one knows how The Senseless got into college, and in fairness they are at every college.  I am pretty sure they are just created like cartoon characters and never truly age.  They live the Van Wilder experience and have been a Senior a semester away from graduating for the last couple of years.

The Senseless loves Nebraska football probably more than anything, but hates Nebraska in everything else, especially basketball.  I believe the term for that is JaySker.  My friends and I think there are couple different types of JaySkers.  The acceptable ones who love the Bluejays, but also love the Huskers as well.  They support both programs equally as they the two biggest and local products, and they probably have ties to both of them.  These JaySkers can also love the Mavericks, even the Lopers, and whatever the hell else is out there in Nebraska.  Then there is the other type of JaySker, the ones who love Nebraska football as if it is their first born child, but hate Nebraska in everything else and just support the hell out of Creighton.  These people make up The Senseless.

The PA in the CenturyLink Center may announce the Nebraska basketball score from time to time, and The Senseless will boo the crap out of that.  They hate Tim Miles so damn much, probably because he is a coach with a personality, and he could threaten the ideal that Creighton has a dominating advantage over a Big 10 school on the court and in recruiting.  Tim Miles and Nebraska will beat Creighton someday, and it will be the worst day in the life of The Senseless.

The Senseless supports Creighton athletics no matter what, which is good for them, but to them the athletes walk on water.  The stories of students getting into Creighton with bad grades is impossible for them to understand.  To The Senseless ALL Creighton students got a 4.0 or better in high school and a perfect score on the ACT or SAT.


The Good Ole Folks:

The Good Ole Folks are good people.  They go to Creighton, because they want the quality education, and they want the challenge that is supposed to come along with Creighton.  They do not get to every Creighton event, just the ones they have time for.  These folks cheer on the Bluejays because it is their school, you can respect these people, you want to hang out with these people.

The Folks usually have taken out a decent number of student loans to take on the Creighton challenge.  They hear The Attitude talk about taking classes with the easy professors and they thank them for letting them know what classes to not take.  The Folks may have a father that works three jobs just to help their child go to school, and I really do not think there is anything more respectable than that.  You may meet the Folks at a party and they can carry a conversation with you most of the time, unless some peer pressures come from their Creighton associates, but later in life they will hold a small amount of regret for that.

The Folks can typically get along with anyone who is a good decent person, as they are a good decent person themselves.  They realize that sports are just an escape vehicle for most people.  Something to get away from the normal pressures and stresses of life.  The Folks do not need to wish the deaths of college kids of opposing schools, in order to take some form of comfort in a Creighton loss.  The Folks are at every school, and they are needed in to keep the rest of fans fair and balanced.


 

Where are you going with this?

So that is the main core of Creighton fans/students, when you get to know them, you hate them.  They have taken something that you could once enjoy and they make you borderline hate the athletic program.   Dick Creighton Fan, he takes on the characteristics of all the main core except for The Folks. but Dick is going to be essential for the success of the UNO men’s basketball team.

What does profiling Creighton athletics fans into something as if they are marketing profiles have to do with scheduling Creighton and UNO men’s basketball?  Just wait, I will explain that…

To be continued…

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References from Space Jam to Bill Brasky can only mean one thing, South Dakota is coming to town

Okay, you’re Lebowski, I’m a Lebowski, you’re along I-29, I’m along I-29, you used to be D-2, I used to be D-2, you’ve lost four of your last five, I’ve lost four of my last five, now get on with it.

Ever since joining the Summit League, I have always thought that the UNO Mavericks were on an even plain as the South Dakota Coyotes.  They are both former NCC members, both schools seem to be going after some of the same recruits, they are in the shadow of South Dakota State, and the Mavs kind of are too.  Since joining division one, UNO has gone 3-3 against the Coyotes, they split games in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, and UNO was able to pick up a come from behind win in Vermillion earlier this season.

Fact, Vermillion is a dumb name for a town.

The Coyotes field a squad that is mostly juniors and seniors on their roster, they have 9 freaking juniors on the roster.  There is not much height to the team, but they do have 6’10” James Hunter who transferred from Pac-12 powerhouse Washington State.  If you have an allegiance to the pacific northwest, you would know that was sarcasm.  With little height on the team, there is not much of a post game for the Coyotes.  UNO posts Mike Rostampour, Tre’Shawn Thurman, and Jake White were able to combine for 29 points, 26 rebounds, and shoot a combined 9-18 from the field in the first meeting between the two teams.  That is not to say that the Coyotes are a terrible rebounding team.  They matched UNO’s 38 rebounds in their game earlier this season, and 6’3″ Tyler Larson averages just under 8 rebounds a game.

Fact, South Dakota fans are weird.

I say these programs have similarities, but their fans confuse me.  I attended last year’s game in Omaha between the two teams.  A decent number of South Dakota fans showed up, which makes sense as they are the closest Summit League school to Omaha, and every fan was the same.  They looked as if they took a break from fixing their tractors, like they came down to Omaha and hit up an Applebee’s before the game, drank too much beer in Ralston Arena, and acted as if the Coyotes were the representing the Tune Land Tune Squad.  Have you ever seen those sketches from Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin and John Goodman drinking too much and shouting ridiculous stuff about a magical man named Bill Brasky?  Put South Dakota Coyote shirts on those two characters, and that’s what I saw in these people.  Always talking as if the Caps Lock button is stuck, or like they cannot take the Caps Lock off because there is a drink in that hand.

BRANDON BOS ONCE HIT A THREE POINTER WITH HIS HANDS TIED BEHIND HIS BACK AND HAD TO SHOOT THE BALL WITH HIS NOSE LIKE HE WAS AIR BUD.  TO BRANDON BOS!!!

TYLER LARSON ONCE DUNKED THE BALL SO HARD THAT HE PULLED OFF THE RIM AND HE FLEW OFF THE RIM INTO SUPER MARIO WORLD.  TO TYLER LARSON!!!

CASEY KASPERBAUER CAN HIT A THREE POINTER FROM SO FAR AWAY HE FLEW TO SUPER MARIO WORLD TO SAVE TYLER LARSON AND THEN SHOT A THREE FROM BOWSER’S CASTLE TO VERMILLION TO WIN A GAME OVER SOUTH DAKOTA STATE.  TO CASEY KASPERBAUER!!!

Watch out for characters like this when South Dakota comes to Omaha.
Watch out for characters like this when South Dakota comes to Omaha.

South Dakota takes a lot of threes, and they hit a lot of threes.  Overall they are 4th in the Summit in 3 point field goal percentage, but the numbers have dipped a bit recently and overall they have the 2nd worst field goal percentage in the league.  The game in Vermillion was the first game of the year in which UNO’s opponent hit more 3s than Omaha and Omaha still won the game.  So the post play for UNO is important here, as South Dakota has very little of it.

Much about the threes is the same for Omaha.  The Mavs have shooters, but they have not really put up a lot in a game in the last 5 games.  What do you define as “a lot of threes”?  I would probably say seven.  Seven sounds good.  Seven minute abs.  Seven little dwarfs.  Seven miles an hour.  Seven Costanza.  The Mavs have not hit more than 6 threes since January 14th and 18th.  They also have given up a lot of threes recently, as the perimeter defense seems to be facing a new challenge game after game.  The Mavs have given up 6 or more threes in each of the last 5 games, in fact there has only been one game this season in which the Mavs have given up less than 5 threes.  Yeah, take that Nevada.

These last 6 games for UNO are important.  You do not want to see the Mavs get any worse as they are trying to grow as a program, but with their current record they cannot finish above .500.  If they go 3-3 in their last 6 games they will match their 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 win totals of 11, which 2011-2012 is kind of skewed because the schedule was a mix of D-1, D-2, NAIA, and whatever else is out there.  They only had one win that year against a D-1 opponent, take that Northern Illinois.  Three wins is doable against South Dakota, Oral Roberts, Western Illinois, North Dakota, IUPUI, and IPFW.

These last three home games are the last home games we will see of seniors CJ Carter and Mike Rostampour.  Would you expect them to not go out with a bang?  They both bring it every single game, with the last three home games on the horizon, I cannot imagine them just taking a backseat, like, hey, let the guys that are going to be here next year get some time.  No, no, no, no.

In six career games against South Dakota, CJ Carter has only not made double figures once.  His sophomore season, the Mavs lost 95-72, and Carter only had 4 points.  Overall, in the 6 career games he has averaged 16 points per game and shot 43% from the field.

In three career games against South Dakota, Mike Rostampour has not scored less than 10.  He has averaged 12.6 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, shot 48% from the field, and shot 83% from the line.  Safe to say South Dakota’s front line is no match for Mike Rostampour?

How about Marcus Tyus?  In 5 career games he has shot 55% from the field and scored 11.2 points per game against South Dakota.  Tyus has turned into the most consistent scorer for the Mavs this season.

But does anyone else feel like we are due for a big time performance from Devin Patterson?  I would place a bet on that, but not like Krusty the Klown betting against the Harlem Globetrotters because he thought the Generals were due.

At one time, I thought that Patterson was the best pure point guard in the Summit League.  I still think that, but ever since his ankle injury he has not been the same.  The quickness is not there like it was earlier in the season.  I was told prior to the beginning of the year that he broke his toe and is letting it heal on its own, which may or may not be the best course of action.  Patterson’s game against Marquette of 26 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 11-12 free throws may be the best performance by a Mav ever considering the stage.  Patterson really is the biggest x-factor for this team.  He and Rostampour added toughness to this squad when they entered the starting lineup in 2013-2014, he may not be the scorer that Carter or Tyus are, but when Patterson runs the offense, and when he does well, the team does well.  I want my Patterson back.  It is just a lot of ground to make up when you take the best point guard in the league, give him an ankle injury, and slow him down given how important he is to the Mavericks.

There are some Omaha ties to this South Dakota team.  I do not have this 100% verified but I am pretty sure Casey Kasperbauer’s brother played at Nebraska and currently lives and works in Omaha, even went to graduate school at UNO.  Kasperbauer is from Carroll, Iowa, which has produced some decent basketball talent in past.  Junior Duol Mayot is a Omaha south grad, he was a great rebounder at the JuCo level, but he really has not gotten a bunch of playing time at South Dakota yet.  There was apparently some interest in Mayot to come to UNO, but I do not think that a scholarship was ever offered.  Freshman Dejon Davis is from Minnesota, an area that UNO likes to recruit out of, and he also had some interest from UNO, but I am also not sure if a scholarship was ever offered by the UNO staff.

Head coach Craig Smith is a former assistant of Nebraska’s Tim Miles, like Tim Miles he is known for improving teams.  He did it at the NAIA level, he was the national NAIA Coach of the Year in 2007, and he also helped Tim Miles improve North Dakota State, Colorado State, and Nebraska.  He gets to Nebraska and recruits, I am not sure how much of an influence he had on it, but at Colorado State they had 4 native Nebraskans on the team when they reached the NCAA tournament.  Along with Mayot, he has Logan Power from Lincoln as a walk on, and he also picked up a commitment from Norfolk’s Tyler Hagedorn, who also held an offer from UNO.  Smith has already led his squad into Omaha once already and almost came up with a win at Creighton, which makes Mav fans happy and mad at the same time.

Given the circumstances this kind of seems like a must win game for the Mavs.

By the way, am I the only one that wants South Dakota-UNO to be a big time rivalry?

 

CJ Carter: One hundred starts later

Until Friday night, the UNO Mavericks men’s basketball team had never won an opening conference game in the Summit League, but this all changed when senior guard CJ Carter led a second half charge over the South Dakota Coyotes to help the Mavericks start the conference schedule on the top winning half of the league.  Could you have found a better way for CJ Carter to celebrate his 100th start as a Maverick?

When UNO made the transition to division one, they cut the wrestling and football programs, which clearly upset some people.  Many said they would never support UNO ever again. Several of those people saying that had never been to a UNO football game, or a wrestling match, it’s just fun to be whiny for most sports fans.  They sat around and just hoped UNO would never be good.  I love getting in a conversation with some dude that says it’s a travesty that UNO cut football and wrestling, and I agree it sucks, but I always ask those people, did you ever go see Zach Miller play quarterback?  No.  Or did you ever go see Greg Zuerlein split the uprights?  No.  Did you ever go see Jake Ellenberger wrestle? No.  Yeah, sounds like it’s really affected your life.  While Zach Miller was helping the Mavericks dominate, these fans were more vested in watching Bill Callahan screw up the Nebraska Cornhuskers so they could complain about it.

Some coaches left UNO and most coaches decided to ride out the storm and help their programs build.  Athletic teams were cut and athletic programs were born.  Student athletes transferred away from UNO, some just plain old quit college athletics, and others transferred into UNO just to say they were division one athletes.  Carter signed with the Mavs when UNO was still a division two team his senior year of high school.  When UNO announced that they would be transitioning to division one, they eliminated any chance that he had at playing in a conference tournament, he could have easily left the school and no one would have blamed him for it.  Many probably thought he would have went to Kearney and had a successful career there.  I think many students in his situation would have said screw it and left.

Carter’s story should remind locals something.  College athletics isn’t about championships.  It’s not about fans going to a Creighton game and seeing Cavel Witter dribble the ball out of bounds off of his shin and claiming he’s a dumb ass, or Kaleb Korver not being his brother, so he’s a waste.  It’s about giving kids an opportunity for a scholarship by doing something that they love and building skills off the court or off the field for a successful future.   Those NCAA commercials about how most college athletes will be going pro in something else don’t end with “because they actually kind of sucked at sports.”  Several conferences in different sports do not let all of their teams into their post season tournaments, some college athletes go all for years without making it to the post season.

Is Carter’s college basketball career the Omaha dream?  Yes it’s been a career filled with several ups and downs a long the way, but a Omaha guy playing his college career to build a program in his hometown.  Taking his program from being something no one cared about or gave credit to and into something people around town are talking about as something to get out and see, something on the rise.  He was given the opportunity to start right away.  He has been a part of Mavs first division one victory against Northern Illinois, got to play against Nebraska in Lincoln in both of their arenas, and scored 25 points in what has been UNO’s best program win at Marquette.  He was even a part of the team’s first post season win in the CIT.  Every first that UNO men’s basketball had in division one, CJ Carter was a part of it in a large way.

When UNO made the transition, local fans outside of the UNO family wrote the Mavericks off.  Assuming they would never be good, and giving the Mavericks no respect.  The locals thought, they’re not playing for the NCAA tournament, so what’s the point?  The Summit League is not the Big 10, or the Big East, or even the Missouri Valley, so who gives a damn?  Had UNO never made the transition, Carter would have played a career that had locals saying “yeah he can play at UNO, but would he be able to make it at the D1 level?”

Averaging double figures as a freshman had Mavnation wondering how his career would go.  Maybe his production would slip once the Mavs got division one guys around him on the roster, and it did slightly his sophomore season, but he was slowed by some injuries as well.  His junior season, when injuries affected Justin Simmons, Carter had to be the one to step up.  He was always kind of the third option up until that, but then he had to be the main guy on the outside, especially when he became a more consistent threat.

He’s the only men’s basketball player that played through all four years of the transition.  As the only guy who has played through all four years of the transition, no player has scored more points in division one than Carter.  No player has more assists, steals, or three pointers since the transition.  No UNO men’s basketball player will ever play as many disrespected minutes as CJ Carter, or as many minutes that “don’t matter” to the locals.  No one will ever fill up the start sheet with a bigger asterisk than CJ Carter has.

I’m not entirely sure if the team has a team MVP award that they give out each season, but if they do, they should call it the Carter Award for now on (and the women should call theirs the Kelly award).  Not many could have done what Carter did.  Several would have decommitted and just gone somewhere else. It’s actually surprisingly easy for most people to give up on stuff because it’s too hard to go through something.  Others that have come to UNO to feel like a division one player, but they could not out do Carter.  Carter came to UNO has a division two player and fought through it to become a division one player.  Many people around here who pretend to know what college basketball is have probably never even heard of CJ Carter.  There will be no statue of CJ Carter built outside of the new arena, nor will the new arena be named after him, but Carter will need to be remembered for what he has done and what he helped UNO build.

 

The effect of a guy named Nitro Rostampour

Before the 2012-2013 season the UNO Mavericks men’s basketball team picked up a walk on transfer from St. Cloud State named Mike Rostampour, and no one really thought anything of it.

Nitro Rostampour is working out in the Sapp Fieldhouse when John Karhoff walks in.

John Karhoff:  The name’s Karhoff.

Nitro Rostampour: Uh…Nitro, hi.

John Karhoff:  Interesting nickname, what’s your real name?

Nitro Rostampour:  Nitro…I’m working on a nickname, though.

John Karhoff:  Oh yeah?

Nitro Rostampour:  Yeah.  Listen to this……Mike.

That’s probably not exactly how it happened, but I’m sure it’s pretty darn close.  By the way, if you haven’t seen Down Periscope, we’ll probably never get along.  Also, I don’t care what you say, “Nitro Rostampour” flows pretty well.

I didn’t get to go to any basketball game during UNO’s first transition year because I was living in Ogden, Utah for a big chunk of that year.  My wife and I moved back to Omaha in March after the season.  I got to stream a few of the games and my thoughts were never really negative but kind of bummed that it was going to take so much time to get through this transition process.  Waiting for 2015-2016 was going to be rough, I thought.

By the way, Tre’Shawn Thurman, per the recruiting websites I saw you had an offer to Utah State.  I don’t know how serious they got with you, or if you ever visited, but trust me, Utah is not the place to be.  Before my cable got set up, my wife and I asked someone where a good sports bar was so we could go watch the Nebraska and Oregon football games and they told us Applebee’s.  Freaking Applebee’s!  

Anyway, I began focusing my attention to the recruiting and any player that would be on the roster when the program finally became eligible for the NCAA tournament.  The 2012 recruiting class was kind of cool I guess.  This was sort of UNO’s first actual division one recruiting class.  Justin Simmons, Alex Phillips, Marcus Tyus, Jalen Bradley, Indiana State transfer Koang Dulouny (who would leave the team after 7 games), and Mike Rostampour as a walk on.

I read everything I could about that first recruiting class, tried to find the videos on each of them (that sounds creepy out of context), but there wasn’t much on any of them really.  Marcus Tyus had a few videos, everyone else just had some articles about them.  You really had to dig deep on the internet to find anything on any of them, and the internet isn’t small.  I still thought and hoped that these guys could all help, they could all contribute and help the program improve, and get it to where it needs to be by 2015-2016.  Before the 2012 season started, UNO picked up a commitment from Rylan Murry (and one too from Nick Billingsley), and I was thinking – oh this Murry guy has offers from Central Michigan and South Dakota!  The only guy in the 2012 class I could find with a scholarship offer from anywhere else was Alex Phillips with an offer from Eastern Illinois.  Not that none of the others didn’t have any, they just at least weren’t that widely reported at least.

So I see we have this 6’8″ walk on named Mike Rostampour, and I don’t think much of him.  The thoughts running through my mind were: He averaged 8ppg and 5rpg at St. Cloud State as a sophomore, I’m sure Simon Krych could do that (he’s currently averaging 1.8ppg and 2.2rpg as a junior at St. Cloud State)…Rostampour just came to UNO to say he’s a D-1 player, but he’s not actually a D-1 player…Wait, he can shoot 3s?…Well at least we can have some height on the bench…Look at those tattoos, what a jerk store.  Could he really be better than Rylan Murry, Simon Krych, or Matt Hagerbaumer?…

I don’t remember what I was busy with, but it was difficult for me to get to games in the 2012-2013 season at first.  I finally got to go when they played Western Illinois in January.  I watched everyone in warm ups, I see Rostampour, I think to myself – I’m not excited about that guy, hopefully Jalen Bradley is getting ready for next year… UNO lost that game by 15, they only got out rebounded by 6 rebounds but it seemed like so much more.  Rostampour caught my attention that game.  How did a walk on guy who is red shirting grab my attention?  Every time John Karhoff, Alex Welhouse, or Matt Hagerbaumer got outworked for a rebound, Rostampour had a look on his face as if he was being tortured.  Every time there was a time out, Rostampour was the first to run out and greet his teammates to the bench.  Even as a red shirt, he was doing as much as he possibly could to help everything in the program improve.  The Mavs couldn’t rebound that year and you could tell it was killing Rostampour.

Before the start of the 2013-2014 season, Mike Rostampour is awarded a scholarship and gets the nod to be in the starting line up.  Okay, what?  The walk on?  The Junior College to Division 2 to Division 1 walk on is going to start?  Really, why I am surprised?  A bulk of the roster is former Division 2 players.  Rostampour is in foul trouble in just about every single game at first, but in the time he was out on the court, the team is clearly a better rebounding team.  Matt Hagerbaumer also looks to be a better rebounder, maybe it was self improvement or maybe Rostampour helped him get better, I don’t know.  But rebounding is no longer the team biggest weakness.  Well, it is, but it has clearly improved now, and it’s not going to get them blown out by 30 or 40 anymore.  Once Rostampour adjusted to the speed of the game, and the officials being more touchy with their foul calls, he was able be an impact on the floor.  The Mavs got better and better once he figured that out.

 

The added toughness in general was also needed to add to that roster.  Before Rostampour, the body language on the players was basically screaming – why the hell are we out here, what are we even playing for?  Rostampour changed that when he was on the court, there was more fight in everyone’s eyes.  You also have to credit Justin Simmons and Devin Patterson to adding some fight in the team, but a lot of it did come from Rostampour.  The boy band needed a tough guy.  Without Rostampour, the 30-40 point beat downs from Big 12 and Big 10 teams would’ve continued.  Rostampour gave them a fighting chance.  Rostampour came to UNO at exactly the right time.  When UNO goes up against South Dakota State’s Cody Larson or IPFW’s Steve Forbes we’re not sitting there saying, “oh well that guy will murder us down low,” instead we’re saying, “that’s okay, we have Rostampour.”

During the Marquette game, I showed someone the score on my phone that UNO won the game and they instantly said “have you seen UNO’s center?  He’s a freak.”  After a home loss to Denver last season, I was hanging out in the bar in the Ralston Arena after the game a little while with a friend.  We were walking out and we walked by Rostampour, we couldn’t help but stare, partially out of fear that he may want to fight us.  He noticed us and thanked us for coming out to the game, even though he had a look on his face as if the Pioneers just stole his puppy.  I don’t think anyone should ever be afraid of saying anything bad about Rostampour, in a way, I think it feeds him to get better.  Like, someone said something bad about me?  I’m going to go kill a basketball by squeezing it to death.

Yeah, Rostampour brings attention to UNO,  people want to see him.  He’s UNO’s first legitimate rebounder since transition.  Barring some injuries, he should end up with most career rebounds since transition.  He’ll have more than Matt Hagerbaumer and John Karhoff, and they had 3 years to his 2 years in that time frame.  His 21 rebounds against North Dakota in the CIT was the most any Maverick had in a division one game, his 239 rebounds his junior year is the most rebounds any Mav has had in D-1.  His 7 double-doubles are the most for any D-1 Mav (yeah okay the D-1 history is young, but still).  But my perception is that Rostampour never thinks he’s better than anyone else, I believe he thinks he constantly has to prove himself and proving himself is showing everyone how hard he works.  His driving force is the need to get better and improve in anyway he can.  You ever look at his twitter?  At first it was all about him taking pride in him and the Mavs working to improve.  His description is:  C Team-Juco-D2-Walk on = Current OMAHA POWER Forward.  You ever have a truly awful job and when you first start out they tell you a success story about how the CEO started exactly where you are, as just a regular part-time employee and worked their way up.  That’s Rostampour, he’s the CEO that remembers when he had to clean the bathrooms. I’m probably way off, but that’s just what I see.  By the way, I really hope no one makes the walk ons and red shirt players clean the bathrooms.

 

I think the first thing I ever saw him do was air ball a 3.  I thought, along with everyone around me, oh well this is a transitional team, we can’t get the good guys yet.  Each and every game Rostampour improves.  He hears a few people comment on his air balls, or his fouls, or all the tattoos, and he works to improve it.  He’s Mike Rostampour, he’s always ready to go.

When the Mavs are on the road, he’s the one the home team’s fans hate the most…  How can that guy be good?  He wouldn’t even start if he played for us… When Rostampour first started at UNO he said he wanted to be the Mavs’ Chris Andersen – The Birdman.  Probably my least favorite player in the NBA, but if you want to be Chris Andersen, you’re going to be the player the opposing team hates each and every single time.  Yeah, okay, if he played for a Nebraska, Creighton, or a Minnesota he wouldn’t be getting the minutes that he gets at UNO, not too many people are going to argue that, but you can’t tell me those teams wouldn’t be better with Rostampour coming off the bench and giving you everything he possibly could in his time on the court.  The Birdman – or Nitro – doesn’t care about the amount of minutes, he cares about making the most of those minutes.  He’s not worried about the skills he doesn’t have, he’s concentrated on how to make the most of the skills he does have and making damn sure the team benefits from those skills.

“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop those skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals”  — Larry Bird

Post game UCA Notes/pregame Seattle notes

Central Arkansas Post Game Notes:

  • Player of the game is seriously up for debate, could be either:
    • CJ Carter: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 6-11 FG, 4 threes
    • Devin Patterson: 22 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 8-12 FG, 2 threes
    • Mike Rostampour: 13 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
    • Jake White: 9 points, 11 rebounds (9 offensive)
  • Devin Patterson was and is apparently playing with a broken big toe
  • UNO had more offensive rebounds (26) than UCA had total (25)
  • Jake White left the game limping and came back out on crutches, but is apparently OK
  • Rostampour & White are going to give teams fits in the post, by far the best rebounders UNO has had
  • Tyus’ shot didn’t seem to have the same arch as normal, maybe having some issues?
  • Carter, Patterson, & Rostampour all played 30 minutes or more, White probably could have gone for more than 30 minutes had he not left the game…but Randy Reed & Tre’Shawn Thurman look like they will for sure be the top bench guys as of now
  • None of the freshman seemed nervous, which is great
    • Maybe Rylan Murry did at first but then he was taking threes with confidence
    • Thurman looked ready right away
    • Devin Newsome looked comfortable running the floor
    • Daniel Meyer didn’t get much playing time, but when he got in he didn’t look nervous at all and had a good post move from what I remember
  • As a Millard South guy, it was great to see Kyler Erickson get out on the court
  • The team’s new intro video was great, showed off the campus a bit, just looked great

Seattle U Pregame notes

I feel like it should be worth noting that the UNO Mavericks will be playing more games in Key Arena than the NBA this year.  I hate being the dude that says that playing later on the west coast is a disadvantage for the Mavericks, but you know what, it really could be.  My wife is from Washington state, and the area is incredibly beautiful, but it rains constantly and is obviously two hours behind.  Every time I’m there it takes me a couple days to adjust to the time change.  I’m sure a D1 athlete gets enough adrenaline to where it doesn’t really affect them, but wouldn’t it be an issue for a bench guy that uses that adrenaline to sit for 10+ minutes before entering the game?  In reality, college students are probably pretty used to being up late.  If I were traveling to see the game, I would probably fall asleep at half time…and I love college basketball.  As a traveler, I wouldn’t look forward to flying from Omaha to Seattle and then to Milwaukee all in the same week, combined with having to work my ass off, but yeah I am kind of lazy.  Here are some game notes just based on lazy observation:

  • Seattle lost their first game at home to Texas State 62-53
  • Former Omaha Bryan player/current Texas State guard Ethan Montalvo (who UNO offered) played 11 minutes, missed a three pointer
  • Hopefully Jake White is healthy and ready to go, well hopefully everyone is healthy and ready to go but the entire team didn’t limp off the court on Sunday
  • UNO beat Seattle last year in Omaha 76-69 and it was one of the more chippy games I attended last year, in that game:
    • CJ Carter – 17/2/3
    • Devin Patterson – 12/2/2
    • Mike Rostampour fouled out in 15 minutes and had 3 points & 3 rebounds
    • Marcus Tyus – 4/6/4
  • For Seattle, these dudes had:
    • Jack Crook – 4/6/2
    • Jarell Flora – 5/4
    • Deshawn Sunderhaus – 7/5/2
    • Isiah Umipig – 35/3/4
  • Feels like the main threat from Seattle is Isiah Umipig, as noted he had 35 points against the Mavs last season…he averaged 19.5 last season and had 23 in the Redhawks’ opening game this season
  • Looking at the two teams on paper, UNO definitely looks like the better team but curious if playing on a Wednesday night on the west coast could cause issues of for the Mavericks
  • Since going D1 UNO is 1-4 playing in Pacific (& Hawaii) time…but are a better team as compared to when they first started, they went 1-2 last season beating Nevada and losing to UNLV & Hawaii but were competitive in both games

What happened to the Mavs roster?

I’m not sure if you heard about it, but the UNO Mavericks they kind of changed conferences a few years ago.  Okay they actually even changed divisions and have been going through a transition phase where they cant reach the NCAA, NIT, or Summit League post season, but hey we’re finally to the last year for it.  Since roster blogs/columns are so incredibly easy, I thought we could start this blog off there to start off the basketball team’s last year of transition.

Since the Mavs have been going through this transitional phase I have noticed that the caliber of incoming talent gets better each year.  Each year your staff gets to bring in players each year that you’re getting to sell on more meaningful years and a chance to go fight for the NCAA tournament with actually going and playing in your conference tournament instead of watching some team you beat earlier in the year pull out an upset in the conference tournament.

Okay so here is what the UNO Men’s basketball team lost from last season


Jalen Bradley, 6-0 Redshirt Freshman- Transfer to Northeast Community College

Bradley did show some promise early in the season but a late season foot injury ended his season early.  We didn’t really know what to expect of Bradley as far as where he would end up in his career.  Would he end up being a starter or a 4 year bench guy?  Being that when you’re transitioning the talent on your team gets better each year, as stated earlier and each year you are losing your original Division 2 caliber guys, I think it was pretty possible that Bradley was going to be a 4 year bench guy, maybe starting his senior year but more than likely being the 6th man for his final season.  Really it must be difficult when you’re showing a recruit around on their visit around and you’re asking them “So you’re going to be a junior, and we play the same position?”

Bradley was a great shooter though, his redshirt season season I’d watch him in warm ups taking shots from half court and swishing them home like it was just a regular three point shot – and yes I know it’s unguarded warm ups – but still in the limited time he did play he did shoot 40% from long range.  In a 91-59 rout of South Carolina State he showed what you could be getting with a 15 point, 6-6 shooting performance off the bench.  I really believe he’ll do great at Northeast Community College and will probably go on to be a great player at a Division 2 school, like maybe even set a school’s three point record in the two seasons he’ll be at this potential school.

Matt Hagerbaumer, 6-7 Senior

Hagerbaumer was never the guy that you thought was going to take over any game with his offense, but you were always completely comfortable with him as the main back up post player.  He averaged 3.7ppg in 20 minutes a game but shot 72% from the field his senior year, which was actually down  from the 80% he shot his junior year.  Hagerbaumer led the team in blocks his senior year and currently holds the most blocks overall since the transition – yes it’s sad that I keep track.  He rarely took a shot that had you going, “Really, what the hell are you thinking?”  He was undersized in some situations, which could get you scared at moments, but that’s something any transitional team will go through doing it’s 4 years of sitting out of post season play

Maybe if the transition didn’t happen, maybe Hagerbaumer would’ve been a starter his senior year without Mike Rostampour on the roster, who knows.  The thing I will miss most about Hagerbaumer were his hard dunks.  Dude would find a way to just throw it down at least once a game.  Every dunk looked like a high school varsity underclassmen that would get in for garbage time at the end of the game and get the ball in the open court and just said “ahh F it, I’m dunking the crap out of this and impressing the senior chicks with this.”

John Karhoff, 6-8 Senior

The loss of your best post offensive player hurts, it always hurts a lot.  Karhoff scored a lot of points at UNO, in fact, he scored the most total points since the transition – again yes it’s sad that I keep track.  Like most post players last season Karhoff was affected by some rule changes and got in a lot of foul trouble early on.  Somehow he averaged less fouls a game his senior year than his junior year though, so it’s pretty possible that Karhoff just loved fouling.  But as a guy recruited as a Division 2 Center, he was undersized in most games and you’re going to pick up a few fouls when you’re undersized.  It just happens.

Aside from losing the 13.2 ppg from his senior year the Mavs  are also losing his passing ability and really anytime your center shoots 82% from the free throw line, that’s going to be missed as well.  He only averaged 1.9 apg but his assists were always big.  He’d draw in the double team and kick it out to an open wing player who would knock down a shot just at the right time to start a UNO run.  For being undersized and ending his high school career with a big time injury, Karhoff had a great career at UNO.  I’ve been thinking that with the opening of the new UNO arena in 2015 and the start of being eligible for the post season that UNO needs to hold a ceremony for all the graduating players that never had the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament and maybe even hang their jerseys up in the building to honor their hard work.  Karhoff could have left but he stuck around and he helped out in a big way, he needs to be honored with more than just a senior night.

Simon Krych, 6-8 Sophomore – transferred to Division 2 St. Cloud State

Okay so the expectations for Krych were never really that high and he only played 7.2 minutes as a sophomore, and really he was just going to get buried more in the lineup so seeing him transfer was really no big shock to anyone.  He was only really used when there was foul trouble to Karhoff, Haugerbaumer, and Rostampour, and really even then there were times Derrin Hansen would go with 6-3 Alex Phillips or Justin Simmons in the post.

However, when all these post players were in foul trouble and UNO was up against a bigger in every way Iowa, Krych showed up.  In 10 minutes, Krych came off the bench and shot 4-5 with 8 points and picked up 3 rebounds.  That was his moment, I thought maybe he was going to prove people wrong and actually get some minutes later on down the road.  But sadly, other than 12 points and 7 rebounds in a 86-36 win over Iowa Wesleyan, that was his only moment.  Hopefully Krych will have plenty of great moments with his new school.

Alex Phillips, 6-3 Senior

Okay, I’ve said it a few times before that with a transitioning team your incoming players will get better and better each season during that period.  So yeah you’re going to see a guy start his junior year and then get pushed to the bench his senior year.  Phillips went from averaging 8.2 ppg his junior year to 5.1 ppg his senior year.  An early season concussion didn’t help, but the Mavs got a true point guard with Devin Patterson added to the lineup and someone had to go to the bench.

And when Justin Simmons started having issues, the team went to emerging sophomore Marcus Tyus to help fill that role.  Phillips still had his moments though.  In a game at Nevada he knocked down 4 threes to help the Mavs pull off a win, then the following week he knocked down 4 threes again at Minnesota on the Big Ten Network in a close loss.  Those are two huge moments.  Phillips worked hard but whether it was just bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he did make some mistakes that would have you yelling “What the hell, man!”   Depending on what lineup UNO would be going with in any game, Phillips was usually the 8th man and really with whatever lineup UNO goes with this year, it will be interesting to see if they can find someone as important as Phillips to be their 8th man.

Justin Simmons, 6-3 Senior

I don’t know how to start this off but Simmons’ senior year was a bit of a let down.  His production dropped a lot from his junior season and he really didn’t improve anywhere other than his free throw shooting slightly.  His minutes dropped by an average of 7 a game, his points dropped 6 per game, and it just goes on.  There were several factors to his drop in production:  CJ Carter was healthier, Patterson and Rostampour took some shots away, Simmons had several injury problems, Tyus was an improved player, and others.

But Simmons always had a great attitude and some great confidence which would lead to an occasional return of greatness.  He just lost much of his consistency, and really with all of the injuries it’s hard to stay consistent.  The Mavs will be lucky if they can get someone to replace the great attitude Simmons displayed, but really with his drop in production, they did find replacements.  He went from being the number one option his junior year to being the third options and sometimes even lower than that, but yes Simmons’ dunks, high flying blocks, and incredibly athletic steals will be missed and hard to replace.

Caleb Steffensmeier, 6-1 Senior

You want to talk about a guy that got pushed down the lineup due to transition?  Say hello to Caleb Steffensmeier.  He starts as a sophomore in year one of transition.  As a junior he gets pushed to the bench with junior college transfers Simmons and Phillips (who eventually also gets pushed to the bunch), and freshman guard Tyus.  Then his Senior year he’s probably moved even further down the bench with the addition of junior college transfer Patterson.

Steffensmeier wasn’t recruited to play division one basketball, none of these players that left really were.  He didn’t have great athleticism, he didn’t make the flashy plays, but he played smart and he played within himself.  He controlled the ball on offense when he came in off the bench and really could play at any tempo the Mavs wanted to play.  Steffensmeier was always good for one three pointer a game, and several times it was a huge three that would shift the game in the Mavs direction.  Really how can you not miss consistent clutch threes?