It’s that time of year that the only sport we have to watch is mid-season MLB. It’s terrible. It’s the worst time of year. This time of year is the opposite of the holidays. I went outside yesterday. I don’t hate the MLB, but you can tell that American society cannot handle it when ESPN doesn’t know what to do with itself so they just experiment with drone racing and gluttony contests.
Don’t worry, college sports are around the corner. The schedule for the Mavericks’ basketball team should be coming out soon, and we know they will be playing at Rice, but who else could get scheduled while the athletic department scrambles to make money and probably forces the basketball team to play 10 non-conference road games.
They’re in Omaha. It’s not that far from UNO. They only have like 6,000 students or anything, so they probably are not all that good.
It’s a short drive to Des Moines, and Drake is…well…they have a new coach!
Florida Gulf Coast University
New Omaha Maverick Evan Tricker is from Florida, and a trip close to home and a chance to play in front of friends and family could have been part of the pitch to get him to move to the Midwest. I cannot think of many reasons as to why someone would want to relocate from Florida to Nebraska. It’s the fried grilled cheese sandwiches and bread pockets of beef and cheese, isn’t it?
A home-and-home series with Dunk City, you would be into that.
Maybe, the Mavericks could stop over and play the University of Houston while on their trip to play Rice. I’ve got a friend that lives in Houston. Let’s all make the trip. We can all stay in his one bedroom apartment. He claims to have moved into the “Yuppie neighborhood.” Let’s fill his 500 square foot apartment like a clown car.
Michigan (the state)
The Mavericks have traveled in the past to the state of Michigan to face Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and Oakland. Let’s go after just about anyone else in that state. Why? Because the Mavericks have access to buses and a ton of recycling units all around campus. If you’re thinking we load up a bus with all the cans we can find and attempt the Michigan Bottle Deposit Scam – you’re right.
They’re in the same state as Omaha. Tim Miles may not be on the hot seat, but there is a candle sitting on the floor under his seat ready to be lit…so I doubt the Huskers are willing to schedule the Mavericks in 2017.
This could actually just be a terrible game if it happened in 2017. How? No one knows.
Apparently Dana Altman doesn’t like playing his friends, and it never appeared as if Altman and Derrin Hansen hated each other, so maybe he could just see it as helping UNO out by handing them a check for coming to Eugene. The Ducks also have former UNO coach Kevin McKenna and former UNO player Tony Stubblefield on the coaching staff.
Perhaps while in Oregon, the Mavericks could fly in or out of Portland and play the Portland Pilots so they can get an autograph from Terry Porter before he loses his job.
Someone in the state of Tennessee
There are a handful of universities in state of Tennessee, and I am sure senior Daniel Norl would love a trip home. Vanderbilt could hand the Mavericks some money, and while in the Volunteer State the Mavericks could also visit Belmont, Lipscomb, Tennessee State, or even Tennessee. Austin Peay even has Domas Budrys who played high school basketball in Lincoln after transferring from Lithuania.
First of all, why is their nickname “Valpo” and not “Valpa” which sounds like a terrible wrap you would buy at some trendy health restaurant?
Second of all, I seriously never knew that they were the Crusaders. I’ve never once heard anyone say “Valpo Crusaders,” it is always just “Valpo.”
Third of all, the Crus…Valpo got the invite over the Mavericks and a few other candidates to join the Missouri Valley. Part of the invitation should be facing every team on the possible list for a little drama.
I think the retirement of Jeanne Scarpello shocked a lot of Maverick faithful last week. It was pretty unexpected considering the Mavericks just got through transition and have a bright future in softball, but per the release is stepping away to spend more time with family and you have to respect that. Coaching softball takes up an incredible amount of my wife’s time and she is only coaching a few months of the year and not having to do all of the recruiting, off season work outs, and fall ball. Well high school softball in Nebraska is played in the fall, but you get the idea.
I am not sure if Cory Petermann (I just realized that I want to scream “HEY PETER-MAN (Office Space),” will be able to be promoted to head coach or not. I really hope that if a new coach is hired that they keep Petermann on the staff. He’s been with the Mavericks for so long and has done so much to make the softball program one of the most successful athletic programs (that is still competing).
I’m not sure about other Mav fans feel, but I am fully confident in the hiring abilities of Trev Alberts and staff. Dean Blais has taken Hockey to the Frozen Four. Jason Mims built a program from scratch, his team was ranked in the top 25 for a short while in just the program’s 5th year of existing, and his recruits seem to get better and better each and every single season…which is actually to be expected, but still, it could have ended up much worse. Chance Lindley was doing a stellar job with the women’s basketball team before unexpectedly in something that was just odd. Alberts dropped the interim tag off of Brittany Lange, who is really kind of quietly building that basketball program into a competitor and gets better and better every year. They’re going to be competing in the preseason WNIT in 2016 and they’re starting out at Colorado State, and that team could beat really Colorado State, who made the 2016 NCAA tournament, and possibly face off against Washington in the second round. Excuse me, I have to go make make sure all of my bills get paid by my SouthWest Airlines Chase card so I can secure enough points for a free flight to Seattle in November…
Anyway, the Mavericks are looking for a softball coach. I am sure that the process has already started, and we should hear who the newest head coach to Maverick athletics is in the coming weeks, but here are a list of random names that could be out there as potential candidates. Do I have any business throwing out any names or have any insider info for this? Certainly, no. But when a football program like USC (which sucks) is looking for a new coach, some idiot online lists off a bunch of names that where only half of the list is actually being considered by USC and another portion of the list may just want to hear what USC has to say. It’s just something kind of fun to talk about and contemplate as fans.
I’m content with being the idiot here. Whatever coach does take over softball at UNO is getting a program that will be returning four All Conference players, and a part of an improving athletic department that is in the middle of upgrading their facilities and has mentioned the potential of a new softball (and baseball) stadium.
Tony Baldwin – Georgia Assistant
I’ve listed Baldwin here for no real reason for other than that I may have been Georgia’s Good Luck Guy. It’s not a responsibility that I wanted, but it just happened. Whenever I caught a Georgia softball game on ESPN3, or actual television, they completely dominated their opponent. The Bulldogs were up 3-1 on Auburn when I was watching in the Women’s College World Series, and then I went for a walk and they ended up losing 3-4.
Baldwin is originally from the state of Indiana and played college baseball at Butler. He has spent 2 season as an assistant at Georgia, he was an assistant baseball coach at Michigan State before taking on the job at Georgia. He was mostly responsible for hitting and infielding for the Bulldogs, and in his first season at Georgia the team was 13th in the nation in batting average at .343, and they scored over 7 runs a game.
Jimmy Kolaitis – Oregon Assistant
Seriously, I have no business compiling this list.
Omaha is probably a far stretch for a guy that is an an assistant softball coach in the PAC 12, but going from a big name program to head coaching at a smaller program all to get a job as a head coach at a big name program again seems to be a likely road for many coaches.
Kolaitis was an assistant coach at South Alabama before taking the job at Oregon. While at Oregon he has been in charge of coaching hitting, and the Ducks have one of the better offenses in college softball. My wife is a huge Oregon Duck fan (seriously, this list is so biased) so I had to watch a number of Oregon softball games over the last 2 years, and their hitting is…dare I say it…”sick.” Last season they had 8 of the 9 players in their lineup hitting above .300, which is “sick.”
Diane Miller – Nebraska Assistant
Miller has been an assistant for the Huskers since 2008, after coaching at Colorado State and has been primarily in charge of coaching hitting and the catchers. With slight uncertainty where the Mavericks are going at the Catcher position after 4 years of Campbell Ditto behind the plate, it would be beneficial having Miller coach up catchers, especially in the beginning.
Miller has coached the Huskers to break more than 30 offensive records since becoming an assistant at Nebraska. In her time in Lincoln, the Huskers have hit at an average of .295, which is right around where the Mavericks were this last season. The chance to become a head coach, coach up a team that already has strong hitting, and develop a young team at an already successful program could be a huge attraction to Miller.
Ranae Sinkler – Creighton Assistant
Maybe this would help the relations between the Creighton and UNO program, who have still yet to face off since the Mavericks made the transition. Sinkler is a Lincoln-native and currently works with hitters and infielders at Creighton, and while she was a player for the Bluejays she won the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year award in two separate seasons.
She graduated from Creighton in 2011 and has only been coaching for a few years, so she does not have a ton of experience. She could continue to help the Mavericks recruit some of the better players out of the state of Nebraska. This year Creighton had a fielding percentage of .961 and the Mavericks were at .956.
Still, UNO might be a difficult sell to anyone who has been involved with the one program, let alone Creighton, since their freshman year in college.
Jamie Trachsel – North Dakota State Co-Head Coach (Already took job at Iowa State)
So I was going to list Trachsel as a far fetch, but seriously why does North Dakota State need two coaches? Trachsel took the job at Iowa State last week, and she was in charge of defense, recruiting, and scouting while with the Bison. The Bison were first in the Summit in fielding percentage this season, and North Dakota’s roster is filled with players from the hot recruiting bed of softball we know as the state of California. Maybe the Bison’s defense and recruiting will take a slight drop and open up the gates for Omaha and the rest of the Summit League to compete for conference championships again.
If you’re wondering about Iowa State softball: they finished the season at 20-35 and lost to UNO, Creighton, Northern Iowa, and Drake to name a few.
Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler – former Iowa State head coach
Iowa State didn’t renew her contract after going 20-35 in 2016 and had an overall losing record with the Cyclones in her 11 seasons in Ames. She really helped the team improve their hitting in the beginning, and I really cannot imagine how hard it is to recruit softball players to play in Ames against the Big 12 competition. Her players did well in the classroom with over 70 players make All Big 12 Academic teams in 11 seasons, and I know that is something that UNO Athletics would love. Gemeinhardt-Cesler, which looks difficult to pronounce, was 153-76 in four seasons at the Division 2 level as a head coach, so maybe The Summit League is a more appropriate level for her than the Big 12.
Twice this week I was up past midnight watching sports. Tuesday night for the World Series, and last night for the Oregon Ducks-Arizona State game. Today could be rough, but I am still on a Baxter Arena high, so there is that. Here are some random observations from last night’s Midnight Madness event.
Mikaela Shaw informed us that the student section for basketball games will be right behind the visitor’s bench. I love that, great move.
Are the curtains going to be down for most of the sections during basketball games? Like, I get it. But what if a visiting team’s fans wants to come in and buy out one of those sections? We wont turn them down, right?
The taco cannon shot a taco right next to me. I was 2 seats away from a free taco. I have also realized that I will probably never recognize the person holding and shooting the cannon as a person. I just see a taco cannon and I do not recognize a person, I just see a taco cannon that is floating around on it’s own shooting out bliss wrapped in tortillas.
I saw Rylan Murry walking around and I really wanted to scream “Skinny Love!” into his direction and then run away like I’m a 4th grade girl.
The women’s scrimmage was nice. None of the women had their numbers on the back of their jersey, so every time a new player touched the ball I would have to ask who the heck that was, since there are so many new players.
In the Summit League teleconference, Brittany Lange talked about how impressed she was in newcomers Ellie Brecht and Amber Vidal, and they do look very impressive. Vidal’s point guard skills are fantastic. Really excited to see her run the team’s offense. Like, I want to create her as a player in NBA 2k16 and have her run my team.
All the women’s team appears to show a lot potential. The hype in their recruits might be real. This team could be stacked next year too if they keep everyone together and add in their transfers in 2016-2017. Incredibly curious how the minutes get divided up though.
I am glad that Rodney Rogan is not a professional referee.
I was sitting on the side where the men’s team was warming up, so I was watching them warm up instead of the women.
The freshman that I have heard the least about, Zach Jackson, looks like he could be a really good player. I do not think that he missed a shot in warm ups, or even in the team’s scrimmage. Seriously look up any photo of him though, he might be incapable of smiling. Looks like he has some pretty good ball handling too, but let’s get a real game under our belts and see whats up.
Can we give Zach Pirog the nick name of “The Mile High”? I watched Zach Pirog take the ball coast to coast and get a dunk, so my life is complete.
I was actually really impressed with Ben Kositzke. I know it is all based on an open scrimmage and warm ups, but he was showing some good stuff: hitting some jumpers, keeping guys out of the low block, putting on a couple post moves. Also, I am a Millard South guy, so to be impressed with a Millard West guy should mean something.
Speaking of Millard South, Kyler Erickson had a crossover that changed my life. By the way, when I was in high school I badly wanted to make fake letter jackets that said Millard East. I would wear it all over town and convince people there was a Millard East High School that was just atrocious and undersized in basketball and football.
Daniel Meyer looks like he has bulked up, like he just goes to the rocky mountains and lifts boulders and pushes cars up mountains just for the thrill. All in blue jeans too. I also watched him take the ball coast to coast. Scrimmages, man.
Jake White just looks overall healthier, a healthy Jake White could really be a an All Conference player.
Marcus Tyus got to play, his knee looks fine. Boo ya!
Tra-Deon Hollins is going to bring great defense, sweet dunks, and another great passer to his team…not a bad thing to have at all.
Randy Reed was hitting the three on command in warm ups, and handling the ball in the scrimmage really nice. Granted, it’s not like Devin Patterson and Hollins were trying to poke the ball away from him constantly, but I can be optimistic about things. Randy Reed can fly too, he might be a super hero.
The shooting competition was pretty fun, but for some reason the basket on the side where the visiting team’s bench is lost every single time. Jake White couldn’t miss on the other end, but then couldn’t make it on that end. I am convinced that side is cursed. The Mavs are going to lose the first half of every game. By the way, I have been a Celtics fan my whole life. Even through the Rick Pitino era, so I sometimes scare easily with basketball.
The student that shot for free tuition made the lay up and free throw pretty easily, but the three pointer was rough. Josh White shagged the ball for him for a little bit. Josh White might be the best passer in Maverick history. I call for Josh White shagging the ball for every shooting challenge this season.
Tre’Shawn Thurman did not have a great dunk competition. It made me sad. Tra-Deon Hollins won it (see previous tweets). By the way, Omaha Central has 4 players from their 2013 state championship team in division one.
Two weeks until college basketball. Two of the longest weeks of the year. It will be like when you drive from Denver to Omaha and it all goes pretty quickly until you get to Grand Island and time slows down because it hates you.
So I love talking about college basketball any time of the year. A buddy of mine finds it incredibly difficult to talk about college basketball until the month of October, which I fully understand and respect. I am pretty sure he was talking about late October after the MLB has concluded, but this is what you get when you are not specific. Last season we had a bet, a parlay bet if you will, based on the win totals of the division one men’s basketball teams for Nebraska, Creighton, and Omaha. I am not completely well versed on all the gambling terms out there, but I think it is a parlay bet. I love going to the casino and playing blackjack, but I seriously learned what a parlay bet was from watching “Silver Linings Playbook”. Anyway, even though no one won last year, we fully intend on doing this bet again.
The idea is that we set an agreeable number set as a over/under figure for how many wins each team will have, but we will not include their conference tournaments or any potential post season tournaments. If we think one of them will go 15-15, we will set the over/under on that team at 14.5 or 15.5. Each of us then decide between them getting more than 14.5 wins or less than 14.5 wins. We set a different prediction for each team, and in order for you to win, you have to get all three right. We’re not betting tens of dollars on this, just a growler of beer at the winner’s choice of brewery. It is very difficult for me to decide between Nebraska Brewing Company and Benson Brewery. Nebraska Brewing would make sense though, because that this is about Nebraska.
Since each of the three teams under performed last season, neither of us came even close. The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. See what I did there? Being that I had no faith in Creighton to do well last season, I had the under on them correctly, as we set the over/under on Creighton at 19.5, I believe. Nebraska and UNO underperforming, kept me from getting a free growler from Benson Brewery though. By the way, in the state of Nebraska it is apparently illegal to take an outside growler into a brewery and have them fill it. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law each got me growlers for Christmas. One was an Oregon Ducks growler and the other was to some brewery in the state of Washington. I tried to take the Oregon Ducks growler in some place in Nebraska and was notified that Nebraska is one of two states to have this rule. Denied.
Anyway, I am open to suggestions on to what to set the over/under on each team this season. All three teams had trips to Europe, so you have got to be thinking some sort of improvements for each team.
It is almost a gut instinct to set the Huskers at a low win total. They only had 13 wins in 2014-2015 and most preseason predictions have them finishing 13th in the Big 10 this upcoming season. They lost Terran Petteway who is now with the Atlanta Hawks, and they have nine new players being thrown into the mix.
The good news for the Huskers is that they only have two true road non-conference games, and one of those games is in Omaha against Creighton. They lost Petteway, but they still have Shavon Shields. I never think it is great when your main scorer is a volume scorer like Petteway. Your first option on offense last season shot 39% from the field, and now your main option on offense shot 44% from the field last season, those few more field goals can make a big difference, especially if your volume scorer is taking poor shots just for the sake of scoring points. The bad news about Shields is that his field goal percentage has dropped in each of his 3 seasons as a Husker, but I feel like he was playing hurt for much of the 2014-2015 season, am I wrong? I could be making that up, I thought I remember reading that.
The Huskers’ third option on offense, Walter Pitchford is also gone, and they should be look at this like it is a great thing. Pitchford’s production dropped from his sophomore season to his junior season, and he did not even look like he was into it most games. He just looked like a guy that was being forced to go to a chick flick with his wife, because the comic book movie you took her to had terrible dialogue. He also just seemed unwilling to take the ball into the post and score, which is what you look for in a 6’10” player (not). So two of your top three scorers shot less than 40% from the field, in a way, you should actually feel pretty good about replacing that with a Kansas transfer and a few highly touted freshman. I still seriously need someone to explain to me how Pitchford is competing for a roster spot on a NBDL team and Mike Rostampour is not.
I think the Huskers can at least get 7 wins in their non-conference schedule. Are they better than 7-11 in the Big 10? As they are picked 13th to win the conference, many people do not think so. Their season is really going to be dependent on how well their freshmen Glynn Watson and Ed Morrow can adjust to division one, but really we are in an age where most power conference teams are relying on a number for freshmen to step in right away.
I’m still not completely confident in the Huskers, I think we are going to have to set the over/under for the Huskers at 13.5. I badly want the over on that though, but I understand there is some risk involved.
The Bluejays finished 14-19 last season, and they lost 5 contributors from last year’s team, but it was a seriously awkward year for Creighton. After losing 4 major contributors from 2013-2014, including Doug McDermott, Creighton was left in a bit of a mess. They had a few injury issues that did not help them try to carve out a starting lineup, with only one player during the season starting in all of the team’s games.
Greg McDermott gets to play transfers Cole Huff (via Nevada) and Maurice Watson (via Boston University) this season, who were both double digit scorers at their previous schools. These two should more than help replace some of what the team lost. If anyone has been paying attention, Creighton has freshmen Khyri Thomas and Martin Krampelj sound ready to make an impact right away. Both players averaged double digits in scoring on the team’s trip to Italy.
Anyway, it seems completely realistic for the Bluejays to improve on 14 wins this upcoming season, but by how much? They do have two true road games against Oklahoma and Indiana in their non-conference schedule that will be incredibly difficult, and they also have the Huskers in Omaha which seems like an automatic win for the Bluejays anymore. They also have a tough Arizona State team at home as well. Every team in the Big East looks to be improving as well, as most of them were down last season, so with 31 games on the regular season schedule I am thinking of setting the over/under for Creighton at 17.5. It is tough, but I want to take the under on this.
A depressing 12 wins last season, I think we had the over/under last season at 16.5 and we both selected the over. I opened up to you, and you judged me. There were a number of injuries for the Mavericks, and some games that were lost in the final couple minutes, and the team is returning a lot so one could think the Mavericks will improve upon the 12 wins. However, the Mavs have what appears to be a more difficult non-conference schedule this upcoming season.
Does this Omaha team remind anyone else of the 2004-2005 Phoenix Suns roster? White-Amar’e, Thurman-Marion, Hollins-Johnson, Tyus-Richardson, Patterson-Nash? I say that only ever watching one game of Hollins ever, and that was Omaha Central’s championship game his senior season. I was only really watching the game to see how Nick Billingsley would do. Oh, how the world works.
Anyway, if the roster is like the Suns, one could assume that the Mavericks will have a pretty good season in the conference, but likely lose to a North Dakota State or South Dakota State in the semi finals. They will also more than likely lose in a way that will make you debate the pros and cons of getting in a fight with a referee. I want to set the over/under at 15.5 for Omaha, and I want that over.
So I am welcome to any thoughts and suggestions if those are appropriate figures.
Also, something completely trivial that I typically send this friend at the start of the college basketball season is a Pre Season All State of Nebraska Division 1 Team. This is what I set for the team, but I do not feel all that confident about it. It’s not like this really makes a difference anyway. Unless a Creighton die hard finds this, then they will bitch about it. Take that photo of the state of Nebraska being a Husker basketball state downtown and you will for sure find yourself into a condescending man that will lecture you on Creighton versus Nebraska.
Big Win in 2014-2015: vs UT-Arlington (180 RPI) 104-81
Random Stat: UNO and Montana State both won at North Dakota last season by the exact same score of 80 to 78.
When you first hear of Montana State, you assume this could be an easy road win. I mean, it is Montana State of all schools.
Okay, this has been getting a little stale talking about who is returning, and what new players might be good, but now we get to add a new ingredient to the recipe. Some fish.
Brian Gosh Darn Fish. I really do not think that his is full legal name, but it could be. The Mavs may not have a shot at playing Creighton, but they do have a shot at former Creighton/Oregon/San Diego/Marshall Assistant Coach, Brian Fish. Trying to get his program going, Fish will take on the Mavericks in their first full year of division one. This seems like it should be a home and home series. I feel like we should be able to expect the Bobcats in Omaha in 2016.
I felt pretty confident in Fish’s ability to recruit a good team and make a positive impact on Montana State right from the second he got hired. He appeared to be Dana Altman’s number one guy after Kevin McKenna left Creighton. Fish was responsible for recruiting some great players to the Bluejays. Every time Creighton played a team that had a coach in the hot seat, Fish appeared super into the game, like he wanted the opportunity to be a head coach. It was always in him. He had been rumored for a number of head coaching jobs before, one in particular was hearing his name being floated around when Western Illinois needed a new head coach…twice that came up actually.
We are going to throw in a pinch of another ingredient though. Fish was able go all the way to Rock Island, Illinois to go after a recruit named Tyler Hall. Why is this an item of interest? Tyler Hall was rated a 3 star recruit by ESPN, but ESPN’s recruiting website is not all that great at rating players so it might not be that big of a deal in the long run. However, Hall was given a scholarship offer by the Mavericks as well; and on top of that he saw offers from South Dakota, South Dakota State, Ohio (Saul Phillips), and Western Michigan. So yes, Fish came into Omaha’s backyard and stole one from us. It could be a big deal, it could not be. The Bobcats are advertising Hall as a player that will be competing for a starting spot, but they won 7 games last season, so I assume every new guy is competing for a starting spot. Fish was also able to get a commitment from Minnesota native, Sam Neumann. The Mavericks did not offer Neumann, but Minnesota is an area the Mavericks like to get into for recruiting…Neumann did receive an offer from South Dakota State.
Actually kind of stoked to see JT Gibson and Hall go head-to-head.
This could give Omaha fans an indication of what kind of guys the Mavericks are losing out on and what type of guys we are going after, other than the obvious list of players that are currently on the roster. As a fan, you like to know your team is offering guys that are capable players. I hate it when Nebrasketball fans lose out on some recruit to Auburn and that player turns out to not be competent enough to player in a power conference, and the Husker fans get all giddy that the player “sucks”. Shouldn’t you be upset that this dude was almost on your roster, but he did not think your team was good enough for his abilities? Am I right?
How else has Fish done in recruiting? Like many coaches trying to turn their team around quickly, Fish went after junior college players to add experience to his team. He signed 5, that is right, 5 junior college transfers to his team. 3 of those junior college players are 6’8″ or taller. I’m just going to do some quick math here. 5 junior college players, 4 freshman…that is 9 new players to work into the mix. With 9 new players, it feels kind of worthless to bring up many teams stats from 2014-2015.
Omaha is 4-0 against the Big Sky since becoming Division 1, but in reality, 3 of those wins are against North Dakota. This will be the second game of 2015-2016 that the Mavericks go up against the Big Sky after playing at Northern Colorado.
This should be a difficult game for the Mavericks. Road game, on Sunday, in a place like Bozeman, Montana. With so many new faces for the Bobcats, it could be difficult to scout Montana State, but the Bobcats could still be trying to figure each other out at this point. Brian Fish is not going to be surprised by the Mavericks either, he should be pretty knowledgeable of the program and have a plan for this game.
So there are 13 weeks until the Mavs basketball season starts, so what is a better time to start previewing their 2015 fourteen non-conference opponents? Probably last week actually if I wanted to take it one team at a time. Crap. Oh well. Here we go.
The Mavs will open their season at the brand new Baxter Arena in Mavtown with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. Don’t you love it how nicknames of California teams (pro and college) make no sense? This will be after Mav hockey will already be 10 games into the season, but there will not be any hockey this weekend, so really it is a great weekend to open up the season for the Baxter Arena for basketball. UNO Men’s soccer should be in Denver this weekend for the Summit League tournament and championship, and hopefully the women’s soccer team will have made some noise at this point and maybe have already made the Summit League tournament. This will also be the final weekend of the regular season for the volleyball team.
I know some Mav fans were expecting a bit time opponent to open up the arena. Some were thinking the likes of Nebraska or Creighton, but the Gauchos are not a small opponent by any means. In fact, they actually finished the 2015-2016 season with an RPI of 98. If case you forgot: Creighton finished at 157; and Nebraska finished at 155, but I know it is more about the name and prestige for most. The Gauchos also finished the year with a winning record, tied for 2nd with UC Irvine in the Big West, and a trip to the CBI where they lost to Summit League team Oral Roberts.
In addition to all of this, Santa Barbara had one win over a power conference team, Washington State. I know Washington State is someone to not take incredibly seriously right now as far as power conference teams ago, but the Gauchos beat them 71-43.
Side note: My Northwest friends are mostly Washington State fans. Last year, when I heard UNO was going to Seattle and looking to play Washington or Washington State while in the Northwest, I told my Northwest friends that they might have a Mavericks versus Cougars match up. They laughed and said “there is an easy win for UNO.”
Speaking of Seattle, remember when UNO lost to them and we were incredibly shocked by it? The Gauchos beat Seattle 87-46. Looking at the rest of their 2014-2015 schedule, they had some close losses to some good teams. As mentioned, they lost to Oral Roberts by 4 in the CBI. The Gauchos also traveled to Lawrence early in the year to lose to Kansas by 10, the Jayhawks had a final RPI of 5. The team did also split games with Florida Gulf Coast, losing to Dunk City by 6 in overtime before beating them by 13 later in the non-conference schedule.
I really wish UNO and Colorado State could meet every year, the Rams are a fun team to watch, and they are “sort of local” with a large number of UNO alumni (and former Omahans) in the state of Colorado. Santa Barbara lost to the Rams by 2. Colorado State had a final RPI of 37.
Speaking of other teams I would like to see UNO play, but this is because of my wife’s fan hood, Santa Barbara lost to Oregon by 4 points in overtime in Eugene. Also, a team I hate discussing, SMU, beat Santa Barbara by 7. Larry Brown’s final experiment finished with an RPI of 27.
The Gauchos are coached by Bob Williams, who has been with Santa Barbara since 1998 after winning a Division 2 championship with (then D-2) UC Davis. Williams has made the NCAA tournament with the Gauchos 3 times, his last time was in 2010-2011.
Who did they lose?
The Gauchos lost a huge piece of their team. 6’8″ and 265lbs Alan Williams averaged a double double in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons for Santa Barbara. He was an All Big West player for all three of those seasons as well. He is actually probably solely responsible for what kept Santa Barbara in the game against Kansas, as he showed to be too much for Perry Ellis, in which Williams had 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
Williams averaged 17.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg his senior season, he also was not a terrible free throw shooter at 77%. He had a 20 rebound performance in a 65-60 overtime win over Mercer. Oh Williams also led the NCAA in rebounding in 2014 and in 2015.
Willaims did miss 6 games in 2014-2015 with the Gauchos going 4-2 in his absence, and those two losses were against UC Irvine and UC Davis, the two top teams in the Big West.
After finishing his career as a Gaucho, Williams played for the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets in the NBA Summer League, where he was named All Summer League 2nd team after a 22 points and 21 rebound performance against the 76ers. He has signed professionally with a Chinese team.
I feel like Mike Rostampour would have loved competing against this guy.
Who do they have coming back?
Williams is obviously a huge loss, but he was not the only Big West 1st Team player that the Gauchos had. 6’4″ senior Michael Bryson also made the all conference team after averaging 14 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game. Bryson loves taking threes, he made about 2 threes per game in 2014-2015 with a total of 68 on the year. In comparison, CJ Carter, who led the Mavericks, made 48 on the season. Bryson also shot 85% from the free throw line.
The Gauchos return two more wing players that averaged over 10 per game last season. 6’5″ senior John Green averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds per game, though Green was mostly used at the 4 position last season since, other than Williams, the Gauchos did not have much of a post game. The team also return 6’3″ sophomore Gabe Vincent who averaged 10 per game, but did face inconsistencies throughout the year, as most freshman do. Vincent shot 41% on threes on the year, and had a total of 57.
So you’re telling me there is a chance?
Probably the Mavericks biggest weakness last season was their perimeter defense, so you get a little scared when you hear they are facing a team with their strength being their group of returning wing players. The Gauchos will be trying to adjust to life without a walking double double, and after Williams, the Gauchos did not have a reliable post game.
So the keys to the game could be how much the Mavs can work the ball into Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman, as well as how good of a perimeter defender new Mavericks Tra-Deon Hollins can be in the game…who sounds to be a pretty stellar defender.
This is not going to be as easy of a game as playing Central Arkansas to open up the year, but to get better the Mavs have to play the best, this is great competition. As of right now, it does sound as if Santa Barbara has the edge, but hopefully opening up the new arena (to basketball) can create a great atmosphere to give the Mavs a great home court advantage in this game.
The Mavs will finally be fully eligible for the post season next year…duh. From what I have heard, the 2015-2016 schedule for the UNO Mavericks men’s basketball team includes trips to Minnesota, Missouri, Wyoming, and “a trip to Vegas.” I am not sure how complete the schedule is at this point, but from what I have heard creating a schedule can be pretty difficult. It was pretty difficult in EA Sports’ March Madness 2007. That was the worst video game I have ever played. Well that is dead anyway, but here are some trips and games that I thought could be potentially good match ups and/or fun trips for the Mavericks and their fans should they choose to go. A few of these are suggested home-and-home series, and the others are just UNO going there once.
Virginia – 7 (Final RPI Ranking) or Virginia Tech – 221
The first UNO game I could watch on ESPN3 was UNO @ Michigan State. I remember the commentators saying Derrin Hansen was trying to sell recruits at the time on the opportunity to go play against the bigger teams in their home area. With Jake White and Marcus Tyus getting a run at Minnesota, Randy Reed getting the chance to go up against Missouri, and Tim Smallwood getting conference foe Oral Roberts, that leaves out Devin Patterson for the senior non-Omaha guys.
I would think you would be more comfortable with the Mavs going up against Virginia Tech just based on the RPI rankings, but if you are one of the people that want them to play the best to become the best, then obviously Virginia would be the more appropriate choice for that route. Tech had a pretty similar roster this season as far as experience with 2 seniors, 4 juniors, 1 sophomore, and 5 freshman but they were a substantially larger team. I never watched a Virginia Tech game this season, because I mean, why would I have? Based on the just really lazy investigating, they appear to be a pretty slow team which could draw to the Mavs’ advantage.
Drake – 259
I thought I heard that Drake had a return game to Omaha from the Mavs playing them in Des Moines in 2013, but I have yet to see it or hear anyone mention it ever since. I may have made it up in my own mind now that I think about it. If the Mavs had to go to Drake again, the Bulldogs are a little over two hours away, so obviously not a bad trip for Mav fans. Des Moines also has a lot of fun stuff to do like…turn around and drive back to Omaha.
As a former conference foe to the Creighton Bluejays, the JaySkers may draw some interest in this game and show up for a game in Omaha. The Bulldogs have been going after some of the same recruits as UNO, so that could add some animosity and create a new I-80 rivalry with the Bulldogs. Both programs could live off of the “screw Creighton” policy.
Drake did not have the greatest season in 2014-2015, but it is not like they had the greatest of expectations. The Bullsdogs did have a bright spot with freshman Reed Timmer leading the team in scoring at 11.5 ppg, so the future does not look awful. In addition to Timmer, Drake will have two Big 10 players that will be eligible for the 2015-2016 season, Kale Abrahamson from Northwestern and Graham Woodward from Penn State.
So most of this trip is based on wife’s alumni status to Belmont, and it is not like anyone would ever actually attempt to schedule all 6 of these schools, but my wife has stated that if someone needed 2 or 3 quick road games that they should check out the Nashville area. I have never been to Nashville, but as she described it, Vanderbilt, Belmont, and Lipscomb are all right on the same block.
Nashville is an 11 hour drive through Kansas City and St. Louis, so it is not like it would be the most boring drive in the world for the Mavs and/or their fans. Mav fans that like country music would have the time of lives in Nashville as it is the center of country music with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. My wife says to not go out and do karaoke unless you are a serious singer. The karaoke scene is much different there as it is composed of people trying to make it in the industry and get noticed for a record deal, not people getting really drunk and singing songs in an Eric Cartman voice. I would not know, I think karaoke is dumb either way.
Vanderbilt – 88
The only SEC school that appears to actually care about academics of the student athletes finished the season making it to the 3rd round of the NIT. Vanderbilt was made up of mostly underclassmen, so you have to think they have a bright future as they are not really a program that is built around one and done stars. They would be kind of the centerpiece of the Nashville trip, but with a SEC team already on the schedule, this could be a tough sell to the UNO program. As a fan if you went to the game or watched it on television, you could just find yourself upset that the team benches are located on the baseline. It is one of those things that bugs me and I cannot figure out what it is about it that is so upsetting. It is like not liking someone, but you cannot exactly put your finger on it as to what makes you want to punch them in the face every time you see them.
Belmont – 100
Rick Byrd has been with Belmont since they were in the NAIA so he knows what is like to take a program into division one and how long it can take to become a successful program at the D1 level. Hopefully because of this, he can have some sympathy for Derrin Hansen and the UNO Mavericks.
The two schools have played a home-and-home series in men’s soccer, so the two athletic programs have had some sort of communication. Playing Belmont would be no easy task, their size and athleticism is pretty similar to UNO, but they rarely make mistakes and are one of the best at hitting the three. Last year the Bruins ranked 4th in the nation with 10 threes made per game, and as you probably know, the Mavericks were not the best at perimeter defense. Belmont has a winning record of 101-36 since UNO made the transition in 2011-2012. The team should be returning their top three scorers as well. Hey, did you also know that, per Rivals, South Dakota State’s Reed Tellinghuisen’s final three choices were SDSU, UNO and Belmont?
Belmont also hosts the Country Music Awards, so there is that. My wife also claims you can just randomly see celebrities just about anywhere. She once saw Tim McGraw in Walmart and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at a tiny little diner. The university was also the shooting location for a number of Hannah Montana episodes, might I suggest a Socker Boppers tournament at random places around campus to get your rage issues out of the way when you think of Miley Cyrus?
Lipscomb – 275
I do not know much about Lipscomb other than that they are one of Belmont’s biggest rivals and that they are on the same block as Belmont, and hey they are pretty close to UNO in RPI. I bet a good ole Summit League versus Atlantic Sun battle really gives you that special feeling that makes you feel like your heart is going to explode out of excitement.
Tennessee Tech – 288
An hour and a half from Nashville, but per Verbal Commits, their basketball program has been going at the same level of recruits as UNO. They made offers to Zach Pirog and Ben Kozitske. Also pretty close to UNO in RPI.
Austin Peay – 316
A hour drive from Nashville, and hey what the hell, while we are there I guess. Austin Peay is one of those programs that you have seen the name on the ESPN bottom line score center and it always sticks out, but you literally do not know anything about them. The basketball program also has Lincoln’s Parkview Christian School’s Domas Budrys (by way of Lithuania) on the roster and they also gave former UNO player Jalen Bradley an offer this year, so where do they get off?
Middle Tennessee State -152
I am not going to pretend that I know anything about Middle Tennessee State, I seriously had no idea that they were in Conference USA until right now. Mufreesboro is also a hour drive from Nashville.
Weber State – 260
Okay, I know I am biased since I worked at Weber State for a year, but the schools actually have some pretty decent similarities that could make for a fun match up. Both schools are at that “lower major” status and battling for name recognition with the bigger names in their own state with UNO dealing with Nebraska and Creighton and Weber State dealing with Utah and BYU. Like UNO, Weber State is also a commuter campus and they have had difficulties trying to find that community support that UNO was struggling with for quite some time. Weber State men’s basketball though is pretty similar to Creighton in the Dana Altman era in regards to that it is difficult for them to get teams to come to them. They are a decent basketball program, and they really want to do the home-and-home series with the bigger programs, but the bigger programs end up laughing at them. They really do not want to do the Go Play a Big 10 Team and Get Crushed games. Weber State did play Oral Roberts in Ogden this year and won by one point, so it is possible that they will have a game in Tulsa in 2015-2016, not sure how many Summit League teams the Wildcats want to play.
Weber State was picked to win the Big Sky conference, based on basically nothing, but they ended up tying for 7th (out of 12) in the conference with Idaho and a 13-17 overall record and finished with an RPI of 260. The Wildcats are coached by Iowa native Randy Rahe who has tried to get into the Nebraska area of recruiting in the recent years. Last year he had former Omaha Skutt center James Hajek as a senior, and he has also had some players from Nebraska junior colleges join his program in the past. Rahe was also rumored for the Drake job when it was last available. He has taken the Wildcats to two NCAA tournaments.
Even though the Wildcats did under perform this last season, they have some great pieces returning that could help prepare the Mavericks for the Summit League. They will be returning 2nd Team All Big Sky forward Joel Bolomboy, who will be a senior, that averaged a double double with 13 ppg and 10 rpg as well as 6’2″ guard Jeremy Senglin, who will be a junior, that averaged 16 ppg, 3 rpg, and 3+ apg. Aside from that, the only player that they are graduating is Hajek.
If Mav fans were willing to make the trip, Ogden and northern Utah have a lot to offer. Anywhere you are in northern Utah, you are a guaranteed 15-20 minute drive away from a beautiful hike. Get some beautiful pictures at Antelope Island 20 minutes away from Ogden, see the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, and you can also go take a look at all the sights and gorgeous landscape that hosted the 2002 Olympics. Oh, there is also an In N Out Burger in between the Salt Lake City airport and Ogden… The trip is about a 13 1/2 hour drive from Omaha, but can be risky with the state of Wyoming basically giving up when it comes to taking care of I-80 during the winter. The flights are usually not too bad though, you will typically have to connect through Denver and end up on two separate 90 minute flights. There is a large Salt Lake City group that loves the Huskers that hosts watch parties for Husker games, but if you were to go you would actually find a decent number of UNO alumni in the group
If you are a beer drinker though and want to make the trip to Utah, you will more than likely not have a great time, especially if you are not into outdoors stuff. The Salt Lake City Husker bar is really fun though, they have a party room dedicated to the Huskers (and the Utes). I also have some Weber State friends that I have been talking a little smack to telling them that UNO is superior in basketball (and another number of sports), so there may be a few Ogdenians that will get a little too into the game and causing a ruckass. Weber State did have a decent club hockey team while I was there, and Ogden has the Mustangs, a Junior A team in the WSHL, so there is always the potential to catch some hockey while there.
Omaha and Weber State have already played in softball (UNO won) and women’s soccer (WSU won) so again, there has been some form of communication between the two athletic departments. Also, while I was working at Weber State the volleyball team played at a tournament in Lincoln against Nebraska and Creighton and I offered to give their (now former) head coach information on restaurants and things to go do and see…he was actually surprisingly a really big jerk about the entire thing.
Okay, so the schedule is already pretty tough as it is with two power 5 schools on the schedule already, and there may not be room for one more, but you have to admit you have some interest with the Mavs going up against former UNO coach Kevin McKenna. Derrin Hansen could definitely soften up Dana Altman and McKenna by bringing them some Runzas and Dinker’s. That may be the only way to sell it to Altman and McKenna. When Altman played against Creighton in the CBI Championship, it was definitely awkward already with how recent it was since Altman had just left Creighton, but also Altman claimed that he did not like playing against his friends. I am not sure if him and Hansen have a relationship, but I am sure they have ran into each other, and it could be difficult for Altman having to face a jersey with the word Omaha on it.
Portland State -166
Portland – 221
Okay there is not much that I actually know about Portland and Portland State, but to get to Eugene, Oregon to play the Ducks, it would probably be best to fly through Portland. I know that Portland State is a commuter campus just like UNO, they are in the Big Sky, which the Mavericks and other Summit League teams like to go up against, and I know that the city of Portland is awesome.
The city has literally everything you could ever ask for. Great scenic views, awesome hikes within driving distance, the Columbia Gorge is just about one of the most beautiful things that you will ever see, tons of breweries and unique restaurants, mountains to look at and drive to, the ocean is about an hour and a half away, and the state also has no sales tax. There is also Voodoo Doughnut, their line gets really long, I was there on a Sunday night at 10 pm and the line was longer than a Christopher Nolan film. Portland is also a huge hipster community, possibly the biggest I have ever seen, so it may be difficult for Rylan Murry to ever come back to Omaha after a trip out there. You can also walk around and mock everything that you have seen in “Portlandia”. Who else wants to have an adult hide and go seek league? Per the UNO Alumni Association, there are 400+ living in the state of Oregon that are UNO alumni, but Portland is right on the border of Washington state which has 700+ UNO alumni so there is a chance of getting a decent turnout to see the Mavs in the area.
Portland State has been trying to recruit a little from the Nebraska area, but I really do not know why, none of their coaches have any ties to the Midwest, and their basketball program has yet to land anyone from the area. The Vikings will lose seven seniors from their 2014-2015 roster that opened up the season by winning at USC, which really is not all that big of a deal. They also will not have much height on the roster with only only player 6’7″ or taller, as of right now anyway. The Vikings do have a Arizona State guard sitting out in the 2014-2015 season, Calaen Robinson, who the team is expecting to play a huge role in the 2015-2016 season.
The Portland Pilots beat Drake and Murray State this season, two teams that the Mavs lost to in 2013-2014. They also lost a narrow game at UNLV by two points. Okay, this seems a little more interesting now. The Pilots, like the city of Portland, is a really diverse team. Their roster this season consisted of guys from Canada, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and obviously the Pacific Northwest. If sitting around in a giant hipster city, drinking craft beer, eating delicious sushi, and making fun of tall people’s funny last names is fun to you, then maybe you are wishing this trip would have happened this season. The Pilots also has a will be sophomore named Jason Todd, so if you are a comic book nerd and understand what that means, you are pretty much looking for airplane tickets to Portland right now.
Montana State -323
Speaking of Dana Altman, Montana State is coached by his former assistant Brian Fish who is trying to grow some respect for his program. Fish was rumored for the Western Illinois job a while back, and he has been recruiting in Omaha’s backyard. Again, Montana State is a Big Sky team. I have never been to the state of Montana, so…that is all I have to say about that. The average high temperature of Bozeman in November is 42 degrees and in December it is 33 degrees, so it is not like it is completely awful.
In 2014-2015, the Bobcats had…ahh hell I am not even going to try.
Southern Miss – 283
Hey Doc Sadler, remember when you said there was no way you would schedule UNO? Southern Miss was one of the worst scoring and worst rebounding teams in division one this past season, that actually sounds really familiar to Nebraska fans. I am still pretty baffled that they beat North Dakota State, who they did schedule a home-and-home series with. Doc’s team had no player taller than 6’7″ and only graduated one player from this season, oh and their non conference schedule only had two power five schools on it, so yes that sounds exactly like a Doc Sadler team.
I am just saying, based on everything that I can perceive about Sadler, if the Mavs called him and pretended to be the University of New Orleans I am sure they could convince Doc to schedule “the Privateers” and Doc’s staff would just sign the contract without looking at it actually saying University of Nebraska at Omaha instead of University of New Orleans. Then Doc would actually look at his schedule at some point and drop his signature phrase of “I am not a smart man.”
I think UNO fans and people in Nebraska would like the match up. Doc was never really an enemy to anyone around here. He was never Santa Claus but he was never Martin Short as Jack Frost. People around here genuinely liked Doc as a person and would welcome back to Omaha for a night or two.
The transitioning schools
As a school that is just finishing up the transitioning period, we know how painful of a four year process it can be, so maybe we can help out the following programs. Also as a Mav fan, I am keen to go play and beat these teams as four of the five had better RPI rankings than the Mavs last season.
Abilene Christian – 326
10-21 record in 2014-2015, 3 wins were against non-D1 opponents
scored 27 points in their final game of the season, ouch
Grand Canyon – 279
They have Thunder Dan as their head coach, that is enough for me
Incarnate Word – 173
They beat Nebraska last year, which may have led to the destruction of the Huskers’ confidence all season
Massachusetts Lowell – 262
Finished 12-17 overall including 1 win over a non-D1 opponent
As of right now, their 2015-2016 roster will be composed of one senior and the rest of the team will be freshmen and sophomores
Ranked 346th out of 351 in the nation in rebounding as a team
Northern Kentucky -263
Will be coached by John Brannen, former Alabama assistant
They got to play in their conference tournament. Why? What the shit?
Southern Illinois – 274
Another team coming to terms with the “screw Creighton” policy. I am not sure if Creighton and Southern Illinois ever actually had a bitter rivalry program to program or if it was really just Creighton not liking SIU taking their attention away for a few years. I remember Southern Illinois fans being incredibly furious whenever Creighton played in Carbondale. I searched and searched online to find the “I h8 Cr8n” shirts that their fans made but had no luck.
Southern Illinois has also had and won some recruiting battles with the Mavs, so this just irritates me more than it should. With the transition over, this should be less and less of a problem so that is refreshing. Also I feel like Creighton fans would come out to the game in disguise just to yell at Barry Hinson. Seriously, Hinson seems like he was molded out of puddy by Rita Repulsa to create the ultimate douche to destroy the Power Rangers, but probably more likely to destroy Southern Illinois. Granted, it is not like he took over the best program there in Carbondale.
UMKC – 293
Is anyone else incredibly bored with this match up? I do love a trip to Kansas City, but the Kangaroos have more players than they do fans, so it feels like you are going back and watching an old Division 2 game. The game I attended in Kansas City in 2013 there were more Mavs fan than Kangaroo fans. Most of the UMKC fans there were parents of the youth cheerleaders that put on a routine at halftime and then they all left at halftime.
The loss to UMKC this last season should have left an disgusting taste in your mouth. It was the first loss of the season that the whole team was available for, and a team that most thought the Mavs should not have lost to. The Mavs had 26 turnovers in this game. 26! So yes, I would love to see the Mavs get the chance again to not have 26 turnovers. Every time the Mavs play UMKC in anything I get more wrapped up in “why the hell are they in the WAC” instead of the actual game itself. They have to fly to every single one of their conference games, so you know they are looking to make up for it in the non conference schedule. Oh we can drive there? Just send them a contract and hope they sign it.
They will be returning Martez Harrison who was an All American Honorable Mention player. He averaged 17.5 ppg and 4 apg, and he had 25 points and 6 assists against the Mavs in the one game they played this season. A guard like Harrison could prepare the Mav back court for what they are going to have to go up against in the Summit League next season. The Summit League is going to be filled with a lot of great guards this upcoming season.
I am not expecting Mav fans to make the trips for the in season games, but how refreshing was it as a Mav fan to see how many students and fans made it out to the Frozen Four? With things beginning to “matter” more, fans are going to be willing to make the fun trips.