A month out game preview: Eastern Michigan

The second return game of the year for the Mavericks.  This time they get to go to Ypil…Ypilis…shoot, who cares.  It’s in the eastern part of Michigan.  Probably.

omaemu

You may remember the game last year as one of the games that Omaha was down by large margin and did not end up coming back for a win.  The Mavericks were able to cut a 15 point lead down to six before losing 80-73 at Baxter Arena in what was just another Baxter Arena shooting blunder.  You may have sat there in Baxter Arena wondering how this high octane offense could survive if they shot around 20% on threes.  Survive may be too strong of a word.  It’s not like we’re dealing with a zombiepocalyse here.  This was also the game that I figured out that I love the french fries at the Baxter Arena.  Maybe my favorite in town.  If there was a reward program for racking up points on french fry purchases at Baxter Arena, I might literally own Aksarben Village in a decade.

That game was early in the year, and you could guess that is one of the games that the Mavericks wish they could have back.  Tra-Deon Hollins was still trying to figure out how to shoot and be conditioned at the division one level.  The Mavericks had not inserted Kyler Erickson into the starting lineup at that point or were using him as the team’s source of energy.  It still seemed as if after one season that Derrin Hansen had not completely figured out how to utilize Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood at this point.

Hansen and the Mavericks still may have some issues trying to figure out some of their guys in this game.  Figuring out where and when to play Daniel Meyer, Mitchell Hahn, and Zach Pirog looks like it could be difficult at the beginning of the season.  Each has a different skill set, and finding that right mix in the post for the right opponent could be a challenge for this coaching staff.  Figuring this out will be important for the Mavericks in this game as Eastern Michigan has 6’10” sophomore Jason Thompson IV who averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds as a freshman.  He may have been one of the best post players that Mavericks played all season long.

The Eagles are likely to not have issues like this.  Eastern Michigan is bringing back four starters, and return 80% of their scoring to their team that finished 18-15 overall and 112th in RPI.  The biggest loss to the Eagles is the graduation of 6’8″ forward Brandon Nazione who averaged 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds.  The other players they lost were mostly players with small roles.  Nazione had 12 points and 7 rebounds against Omaha last season.  The Eagles will get to replace Nazione with Nick Madray, a 6’9″ transfer from Binghamton, who averaged 10.8 points per game as a freshman before ending his freshman and sophomore seasons with injuries.

The main issues the Eagles may have is their depth.  They really only have 6 players that are in their main rotation, which could be a problem for a fast paced team like the Mavericks.  They have three players that transferred in but will be sitting out the 2016-2017 season, and while that is good for the future of the program, that hurts your depth right now.

The Eagles were able to win in Baxter Arena with a lack of depth against the Mavericks on the Mavericks shooting 37% from the field and 4-of-17 on threes.  With Mitch Hahn, JT Gibson, and Marcus Tyus in the lineup, the Mavericks do not plan on going 4-of-17 in many games this season from behind the arch.  Let’s just hope they can shoot so well that the Mavericks wont have to worry about rebounding…

This game will be played at noon on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  On ESPN3, so get prepared for your spouse to yell at you about hanging up Christmas decorations “because this is the best day to do it.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet future Mav Mitch Hahn

I have never met a guy name Mitch that I liked, nor have I ever met a guy named Mitch that I did not like.  I have never met anyone named Mitch.  The closest I have ever come to meeting a guy named Mitch is watching Billy Crystal’s character in City Slickers, and I guess the sequel.

Helllllllooooooo.  Here, click here.

Anyway, Mitch Hahn comes to the Mavericks from Fremont, Nebraska after sitting out a year after transferring from Holy Cross.  Hahn was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Nebraska as a senior in high school, averaging a double-double.  Out of high school he reportedly had scholarship offers from North Dakota and Central Arkansas, according to Verbalcommits.com.  I remember wondering if Omaha was ever going to offer him a scholarship, there appeared to be “interest” but never heard anything that he actually had a scholarship offer from the Mavericks out of high school.

In Hahn’s one season at Holy Cross, he played in 23 games and averaged 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds.  In those 23 games, he did have 3 outings in which he got into double figures for scoring.  A 22 point game against Albany where he shot 8-of-9 from the floor on 6-of-6 from three.  Excuse me, baking powder?  6-of-6 threes?  Hahn also had 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 blocks in 26 minutes in an overtime loss to Army.

After a coaching change at Holy Cross, Hahn decided to transfer back home and was apparently recruited by Tyler Erwin to play for the Mavericks.  I feel like Erwin is responsible for recruiting all the shooters for the Mavericks.

At 6’8″ you may be thinking that Hahn is going to be a replacement for Jake White, but Hahn’s game is completely different from White.  White could go in and post up, and muscle his way to the foul line, hit the baseline jumper, rebound, and get called for a ton of bad referee calls.  Hahn, at 205lbs, is more like a small forward.  He has the ability to beat guys off the dribble and get to the basket, shoot the three, play on the wing, and find the open man.

Just get yourself excited at the prospect for every time Hahn hits a three you will get to scream HHHAAAHHHNNN!

One of the biggest keys to the Mavs’ roster in 2015-2016 was their versatility.  They could play bigger, play small, go fast, or go even faster.  With Hahn, the Mavericks still have that versatility.  The Mavericks will be able to go with a post of Daniel Meyer and Hahn, or Tre’Shawn Thurman and Hahn, or even a little Pirog and Hahn…or dare I say a front court of Meyer, Thurman, and Hahn?  That’s big.  The Mavericks did go with a big lineup like this when the team had a 6’8″ Koang Doluony for 7 games in 2012-2013, which I assume was before most people paid attention.

Hopefully the Mavericks could rebound with this type of lineup, in addition to being a better all around shooting team.  Hold on, I’m having a flashback to that Denver loss last season where the Pioneers got 4 offensive rebounds on one possession while Randy Reed sat on the bench with concussion like symptoms.  Okay something is wrong with my heart, I have to use an Automatic External Defibrillator on myself for a minute.  I attach one of the pieces to my temple, right?  It’s cool, I’m certified, well actually my certification is expired but it’s really not all that difficult to get re-certified.

The Mavericks were one of the worst three point shooting teams in the NCAA last season.  They got better as a team once Kyler Erickson and Tra-Deon Hollins got going in the second half the season, but the Mavericks game plan from game to game should change in 2016-2017 with Hahn and a crew of shooters on the team.

I think my favorite thing about Hahn is that he comes off as a no nonsense guy on the court.  He’s not barking at the crowd, or flexing his biceps after cool plays.  Just makes shots and gets back on defense.  I was at the Omaha Metro Summer League when his Nebraska High School Hoops team was going up against Creighton’s Toby Hegner’s team.  Hahn did not appear as if he was there to make friends, not start any trouble, but just play basketball and do what he could to help his team win.  He hit threes, had 20+ points, played good defense on Hegner, and while everyone was catching their breath at halftime, Hahn was shooting jump shots in the intermission.

He’s intense.  Not like the intensity of the guy that shows up to a co-rec noncompetitive softball team in baseball pants, batter’s gloves, eye make up, refuses to swing at any pitch unless it’s absolutely perfect, and yells at the umpire for making a correct call…but he seems like he could be intense.  Oh, did you know that there are Trump softballs?  I’m just going to let you roll with that one.

 

 

A look at who the Summit League is losing

College sports graduates teams every year, players transfer, and teams are affected by that from year to year…duh.  Some top teams get worse because of what they are losing, and other teams get better with what they have coming back.

Here is who Summit League men’s basketball is losing this year, and the list is in order of what teams will be affected most by their losses.


South Dakota

It feels uncommon to see the team that finished 8th in a conference to be losing so many players.  Seems like these teams are typically youthful and at least have a lot to look forward to in the future as they develop their team.  South Dakota will graduate 4 players on scholarship and one walk on player; as well as lose three players to transfer.

The Yotes will have a new look with three transfers coming aboard, and could potentially have the deepest core of post players as most of their post players this season were freshmen and sophomores.

From 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, the Coyotes were losing the most scoring off their team at 57% and they fell from 4th in the conference to 8th.  Going into next season, they will again be the team that loses the most scoring at nearly 80 freaking percent of their scoring.

Graduates

Tre Burnette, 6’5″ guard/forward

Played in 32 games and started 23 in 2015-2016.  Averaged 13.2 points; 6.6 rebounds (4th in the Summit League), shot 44% from the field; 51% from the free throw line; and, 32% on threes.  Finished his senior season with 8 double-doubles.

Burnette played the 2, 3, and 4 for the Coyotes at different times.  His production and hustle will be missed by the Coyotes, but he could be being replaced by more efficient players.

Casey Kasperbauer, 6’1″ guard

Started in all 32 games for the Yotes in his senior season.  Averaged 12.1 points; 2.5 rebounds; 2.1 assists; and 1 steal per game.  Shot 41% from the field; 95% (led the Summit) from the free throw line; and 41% on threes.

Craig Smith once called Kasperbauer the best shooter that he had ever coached, and that will be missed by the Coyotes.  The transfer guards coming in for South Dakota appear to be slightly more versatile than Kasperbauer and be more productive over the 34 minutes a game that Kasperbauer was playing.

Trey Norris, 6’0″ guard

Played in all 32 games for the Yotes, and was moved into the starting rotation after Shy McClelland left the team, which was weird because Norris seemed to be the better point guard on the court for the team.  Ended the year averaging 7.5 points and 4.3 assists per game, but was averaging 12 points 5.4 assists in February and March.

Eric Robertson, 6’8″ forward/center

Started in all 32 games for South Dakota as a senior.  Not much of a rebounder for a big man averaging 3.2 per game.  Robertson scored 8.3 points per game on 47% from the floor.

I thought that Tyler Hagedorn or Dan Jech should have been playing more time than Robertson, and I may be more bias for Hagedorn being that he is from Nebraska, but both true freshmen seemed that they could have been more productive over Robertson.

Duol Mayot, 6’5″ guard/foward

Played in 17 games in his senior season as a walk on.

Departures

Dejon Davis, 6’4″ sophomore – Transferred to Indianapolis (D2)

Considered to be one of the most improved players in the Summit League after seeing his scoring go from 1.9 points per game in his freshman season to 9.3 as a sophomore.  Davis’ playing time was increased as well going from a seldom used guard his freshman season at 9.3 minutes per game to starting in 31 of 32 games in his sophomore season and averaging nearly 30 minutes per game.  He was 6th in the Summit League in field goal percentage shooting 55.1% from the field.  He was likely to see a reduction in minutes with Matt Mooney and Carlton Hurst becoming eligible, but Davis still would have been a contributor to the team.

Shy McClelland, 6’0″ junior – Left team in early February

McClelland averaged 11.5 points on 49% from the field in his time with South Dakota, but he shot 51% from the free throw line attempting over 4 free throws a game.  He was pretty inconsistent in his time on the team, but could have been a contributor to the Coyotes in 2016-2017.

Zach Dickerson, 6’4″ sophomore – Left team in early February

A transfer from Eastern Illinois that was not seeing much playing time for South Dakota, and probably was not going to see much of an increase in minutes in 2016-2017.


South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits are losing nearly half of their scoring, and they will working with a new head coach in 2016-2017.  Teams in the Summit League may not have the same fear that they’ve had going up against the Jackrabbits that they have had over the last few years.

Graduates

George Marshall, 6’0″ guard

Marshall ended the year struggling when it mattered most.  The Jacks had to survive through his 15% shooting in the conference tournament to move on to face Maryland in the big dance.  Marshall ended the regular season as a 1st Team All Summit League player with his 14.9 points per game, which was 10th in the league.

Marshall has potential to play basketball overseas or in the new NBLA.

Deondre Parks, 6’1″ guard

Parks played in 33 of the team’s 34 games and also averaged 14.9 points per game, and he was a good rebounder at his size with 4.6 per game.  He was shockingly pushed down to the Honorable Mention Team for the Summit after being named to the preseason 1st team.

Like his back court teammate, Parks also has potential to play basketball overseas or in the new NBLA.

Jake Bittle, 6’4″ guard

Bittle did not receive any post season awards after being named to the preseason 1st Team for the Summit League.  He was forced out and also played through some injuries, which may have led to some slightly inconsistent play for himself and the Jackrabbits.  Bittle led the Jackrabbits with 25 points in their win at Minnesota.

Losing Bittle as the guy to actually run the Jackrabbits offense is what could hurt the team the most.

Cory Jacobsen, 6’1″ guard

Never really saw much playing time as a walk on for the Coyotes.  Scored 2 points his senior season.

Departures

Connor Devine, 6’10” junior – Transferred to Alaska-Anchorage (D2)

Never truly broke into the rotation at South Dakota State playing behind a number of quality post players in three years.  Devine did average 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds as a junior, and shot 64% from the field in 8 minutes per game.  Could have been potentially a starter or the 1st post player off the bench in 2016-2017 with the Jacks currently with a lack of big men.

Logan Doyle, 6’8″ sophomore – Transferred to Northern State (D2)

Basically the exact same situation as Devine.  Only played in 7 games as a sophomore, but could have been one of the first guys off the bench in 2016-2017.


Omaha

Graduating four contributors is really hard to make up in college basketball, but the Mavericks will get to reload some of their roster with transfers and players returning from injuries.  The Mavericks will also literally be blessed with a 6th year of eligibility to Kyler Erickson.

Graduates

Devin Patterson, 5’11” guard

Patterson was the fastest player in the league, and that speed is what kept the Mavericks in a few games and gave the team a few victories.  Making up 18 points per game (3rd in the Summit) will be difficult, making up for his speed and his ability to get to the free throw line with be more difficult to overcome.

Patterson has potential to play basketball overseas or in the NBLA.

Jake White, 6’8″ forward

Even though White seemed to constantly be in foul trouble, he finished his senior season 5th in scoring in the conference with 17.3 points per game; as well as 6th in the Summit in rebounding at 6.2 rebounds per game.  It is hard to find a big man like White that can score from anywhere on the court as well draw as many fouls as he did.  As much as White did commit fouls, he was also able to tie for 3rd in the Summit for free throws attempted per game behind Obi Emegano and Devin Patterson.  White also shot 81% from the free throw line as a senior, which was 2nd in the league among forwards.

White has potential to play basketball overseas or in the NBLA.

Randy Reed, 6’6″ forward

Reed may have only averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds per game in his senior season, but the energy and hustle that he brought off the bench for the Mavericks was priceless and will be incredibly difficult to replace.  His 21 points and 5 rebounds off the bench on senior night was one of the most fun performances by a Mav to watch in person since the Mavericks made the transition to division one.

Tim Smallwood, 6’2″ guard

Smallwood was a little inconsistent, but he was able to improve on his shooting from his junior season to his senior season.  As a junior he shot 26% on threes, and he ended up shooting 37% on threes in his senior season.  I personally thought Smallwood was an underrated one-on-one defender.

Departure

Devin Newsome, 5’9″ sophomore

This appears to be unofficial at the moment.  Per the Omaha World Herald, Newsome is looking for a school to transfer to, but there has not been an official statement from anyone.  Newsome was rarely used in his freshman and sophomore seasons, and was unlikely to see an increase in minutes with the guards expected to be on the 2016-2017 roster.


IPFW

Graduates

Max Landis, 6’2″ guard

The ‘Dons are losing the Summit League player of the year that averaged 10 points a game on just three point field goals.  This is not something that is just easy to make up, but it can be done with a few players taking over the load of scoring and shooting.  After Mo Evans was forced off the team in the second semester, Landis stepped up as a passer and averaged over 4 assists without Evans on the roster.  IPFW has Purdue transfer, Bryson Scott to help take over the scoring load but he shot 29% in his two years on threes at Purdue while Landis just shot 45.6% on threes as a senior, which was 30th in division one.

Landis has recently had workouts with the Indiana Pacers and has potential to play in the NBDL.

Joe Reed, 6’8″ forward

The ‘Dons may end up missing Joe Reed more than they think.  He averaged 10.5 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game, but he was always ready to take a clutch shot.  The ‘Dons loved their small ball style in 2015-2016, and Reed was perfect to play at the 5 for that style.  Their core of post players in 2016-2017 may not be the best players for that type of system the coaching staff seemed to fall in love with.

Michael Calder, 6’2″ guard

Calder was fantastic making up for the loss of Mo Evans in the second half of the season.  He was a bit of a one dimensional guard in his junior season when he averaged 4.7 points, and he was able to step that up to 10 points per game overall as a senior.  Calder averaged 14.4 points in Summit League games after Evans was forced out for the 2nd half of the season.

Departure

Andrew Poulter, 6’11” junior

When Poulter signed with the ‘Dons, I was under the impression that Jon Coffman was going to start and play Poulter at the 5.  Poulter was overweight, shot terribly in junior college, was quite slow, and the ‘Dons wanted to go to a new small ball style.  I thought we were going to have to get Coffman checked into some sort of rehab, but instead Poulter hardly got any playing time at IPFW and decided to leave.  Just didn’t seem like the right fit from the beginning.


Oral Roberts

Graduates

Obi Emegano, 6’3″ guard

So I read somewhere that NBA scouts thought that Emegano was a junior and they were not taking his stock into the draft very seriously.  This seems like a really bitter end for the conference scoring champion after a bulk of his teammates leaving Oral Roberts over the last few years, a shoulder injury in the summer, a mid-season concussion, and being surrounded by an incredibly inconsistent youthful squad with zero chemistry.  Though a year from now we could be talking about how the 2016-2017 Summit League scoring champion, Garret Covington, was only a part of 40 wins in his entire collegiate basketball career.

Emegano has potential to be in the NBDL as he appears to be too short to play the shooting guard position in the NBA, nor really enough speed to be in the NBA…but people said the exact same things about Steph Curry.  The loss of Emegano is obviously huge for the Golden Eagles, and they may be classically bad in 2017.

Brandon Conley, 6’6″ forward

The undersized big man suffered through little injuries his entire senior year at Oral Roberts, which led to inconsistent play.  Conley did shoot 56.2% from the field, which was 4th in the Summit League.  His averages of 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds are something that can be easily made up with Oral Roberts’ youth.  They seem to routinely have a guy that goes from averaging 2 points a game to getting 8 to 10 points each game the following year.

Departures

DaQuan Jeffries, 6’5 freshman

Jeffries looked like a guard that loved playing against faster paced teams like Omaha and IPFW, and he even looked pretty good for what Oral Roberts liked to do…yet he transferred away from the team.  His versatility as being a 6’5″ guard who was actually probably better as a forward made it difficult to figure out where to play him in each and every game.  His 6.7 points per game was going to be 4th among returning players to the team.

Tre Vance, 6’9″ junior

Vance averaged less than one point and one rebound in his time at Oral Roberts.  Not really sure what to say here…  I’ve lost 17 pounds in the last 2 months…I’ve been working out a lot and eating really well.  It’s cool and all, but I have to buy a bunch of new clothes because I look like a little kid wearing a bunch of hand me downs from his big brother.


Western Illinois

I want to say it really couldn’t get any worse for the Leathernecks, but it doesn’t seem like it will get much better.

Graduates

JC Fuller, 6’3″ guard

Fuller started the year off pretty hot, and then his shooting dropped off toward the end of the conference season.  Fuller averaged 12.7 points a game, but I doubt Billy Wright will miss his shot selection.  The Leathernecks won two games in a row over Omaha and Denver when they decided to play freshman De’Angelo Bruster more than Fuller…then they went back to giving more minutes to Fuller and lost 4 of their last 5.

I will still remember Fuller as the guy that was absolutely on fire in the first half at Baxter Arena and talking shit to the Maverick bench, then put his forearm into Kyler Erickson’s chest right in front of a referee to push off to miss a 30 foot jump shot.  Then Fuller went missing the second half and the Mavericks came back from a big deficit to win the game.

Tate Stensgaard 6’9″ forward

I feel like Stensgaard was injured throughout his entire career.  He always appeared as if he was playing with a pulled hamstring.  Stensgaard could hit 15 foot jump shots consistently, and could put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket and draw fouls, he shot 60% from the field and averaged 8.6 points as a senior.  Western Illinois just boggles my mind.

Jalen Chapman, 6’8″ forward

Chapman started at center for the Leathernecks and averaged 17 minutes a game in each of his 2 seasons at Western Illinois.  I’m not really sure where else in the Summit League that he would have averaged 17 minutes a game.

Jamie Batish, 6’4″ guard

Batish was a really good shooter that had his career affected by nagging injuries.  The Leathernecks may have picked up a few more wins with the shooter being able to play more as a senior.


North Dakota State

Graduates

Kory Brown, 6’4″ guard

Brown is going to be hard to make up for the Bison, but they pride themselves on their Next One Up philosophy.  It’s not easy to lose a guy that was a part of 2 NCAA tournament teams and went to the conference championship every year he was a member of the team.  He was second on the team in rebounds and was arguably their best perimeter defender.  Brown was also that guy that you forgot was in the game when they’re down by 10 and then all of a sudden he makes a handful of defensive stops and scores on 4 straight possessions to get the Bison right back in the game.  They may not have that guy that can just create a 10 point swing in 2 minutes completely by himself next season.

Chris Kading, 6’9″ center

Normally, you wouldn’t think the loss of a guy that averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds is a big deal, but it is actually a little bit of a big deal for the Bison to lose Kading.  His senior year was slowed down with surgeries before the start of the season, which is what led to a reduction in playing time, but he was still effective for the Bison on the court with his smart play and defense.

In the game at Baxter Arena, AJ Jacobson couldn’t guard Jake White or Tre’Shawn Thurman and Jacobson got into foul trouble so David Richman called on Kading.  Kading grabbed some big boards, drew some fouls on Jake White, hit a big three in the first half, and helped spark a little run to keep the game close.  Thurman and Randy Reed were both bothered by Kading and couldn’t really score on him.  The second half, Jacobson got more playing time before ultimately fouling out, and the Bison probably could have won that game if Kading was fully healthy and could have gotten 35 minutes.

Departures

Trey Miller, 6’7″ freshman

Miller played 5 minutes for the Bison and just decided to say “eff this” and left the team.

Brian Ishola, 6’5″ sophomore

I’m not sure who Ishola was.  I think he was just a player that EA Sports made up when there weren’t enough players in the game anymore.


IUPUI

The Jaguars are graduating two seniors, but they are going to have the most returning to their roster in 2016.  They also added two senior transfers that will be eligible immediately and could have the most depth in the Summit League in 2016-2017.

Marcellus Barksdale, 6’5″ guard

One of the best perimeter defenders in the Summit League, and Barksdale had to play every position at some point in his career with the Jaguars as they just about didn’t have anyone else on the team in his first 3 years in the program.  If James Gardner had not come along for IUPUI and brought in a bunch of transfers with him, Barksdale may have been a part of 8 wins in his entire year with the IUPUI.

The stats for Barksdale won’t be hard to make up for the Jaguars, but his defensive presence that allowed the Jaguars to start most of their fast breaks may hurt them to a degree.  They really didn’t win games with their amazing offensive efficiency, they won 9 conference games with their scrappy defense that Barksdale was a major catalyst for.

Mason Archie, 6’5″ guard

The Jaguars considered Archie to be their best perimeter defender, yet that seemed like a ploy to have teams forget about Barksdale somehow.  His length may have bothered some of the smaller shooting guards in the league a bit, but it’s not like that is something teams couldn’t overcome.

The Jaguars are going to be the most experienced team in 2016-2017, if that wasn’t the case, I may have said the losses of Barksdale and Archie were more detrimental to the team.  They return 80% of their scoring from their 9-7 team, and are adding two graduate transfers and a transfer from Syracuse to the roster.  They’ll be fine.

 

 

The Mavericks: Reloaded

2016-2017 is going to be a bit of a sequel to last season.  Consider it The Mavericks: Reloaded.  Is The Matrix Reloaded the 2nd or the 3rd one of the Matrix series?  They blend together to me for 4 and a 1/2 hours of stupidity for me, so it is difficult to remember.

The Mavericks graduate Kyler Erickson, Devin Patterson, Randy Reed, Tim Smallwood, Jake White from the program.  Each player brought something unique to help guide the program through the first year of transition into the CBI.  Erickson brought the heart, and the other 4 bought some earth element to create a superhero to save the world of disaster.  Normally teams that lose 5 seniors do not compete too highly the following season, but the Mavericks get to quickly reload their roster with Marcus Tyus (redshirted to recover an injury), Mitchell Hahn (redshirted due to transfer from Holy Cross), and JT Gibson (only played 10 games due to an injury).

The decision to redshirt Tyus apparently came a day or two before the start of the regular season.  Really, it was a smart move on the part of the Mavericks.  He tore his ACL in February of 2015, and normally tearing your ACL takes over a year to fully recover.  I still showed up to the opening game and had a 2 hour WHERE IS TYUS panic attack for that game.

You have got to think that Tyus will get the most shot attempts on this team next season.  His junior season, he may have had one of the most efficient seasons since the transition to division one, for a guard at least.  In his junior season he shot 49% from the floor and 44% on threes.  The only guard who really came close to that, that played most of a season, was Justin Simmons who shot 47% from the field and 40% on threes in his junior season.

While Tyus may take over as the primary shot taker, he never really showed the ability to create his shot in the same capacity that Devin Patterson could.  I’m not really sure this program has seen a guy that has that ability that Patterson had, and no one remaining on the roster is really that guy who can do that; so next season the team will have to work together more to get open looks…which can be good because of less standing around and less jump shots with 25 seconds on the shot clock.  Patterson attempted 5 threes a game in 2015-2016, granted that number would have been lower with Tyus on the floor, but Tyus should be taking about 4 threes a game in his senior season, but his percentage should put him at making the same number of threes each game as Patterson did in 2016.  Tyus wont really need to create his own shot with a play maker like Tra-Deon Hollins with him in the back court.

The Mavericks finished 8th in the conference in three point field goal percentage at 33.7%, but that number should go up with Tyus, Hahn, and Gibson on the court; and also Hollins improved from behind the arch as the season went on.  Hollins shot 17% on threes in November and December, and 39% on threes after January 1st.

Aside from the expected better shooting; arguably the best post player the Mavericks have had since transition, Jake White is graduating and that will be a huge piece to make up. Tre’Shawn Thurman will continue to get better and should be an All Conference player in his junior season.  Daniel Meyer and Zach Pirog will really have to improve this summer to help make up for that post production.  I never got to actually watch Mitchell Hahn in high school, but he doesn’t appear to be the same type of rebounder that Jake White was, or a dominating post player against Nebraska high school basketball.  Hahn has the ability to handle the ball and play as a very tall three, which could make the Mavericks very versatile team.  Either way, I hope one of the main on the court goals of the Mavericks this season will be to get my section to stop screaming “BOX THE EF OUT!”

The Mavericks currently have 10 players on scholarship.  Maybe 11 if they give Ben Kositzke a scholarship, who actually could be a pretty underrated player.  He has some really nice post moves, a baseline jump shot as good as Jake White’s, and he just had a year of redshirting to work out on basketball.  Kositzke also apparently had a scholarship offer to Tennessee Tech out of high school.  I was telling my wife about some of the Mavs’ roster and mentioned this, and she usually does some shit talking whenever a university in the state of Tennessee is brought up, instead she was like: “Tennessee Tech, really?  They’re a really good program, that’s a great scholarship offer…and he walked on to the Mavericks?  That’s great!”  That’s got to be worth something.

Speaking of basketball in Tennessee: the Omaha signee Daniel Norl, originally from the state of Tennessee, appears as if he can really add depth to the Mavericks back court.  The 6’2″ guard averaged 11 points, shot 50% from the floor, and 40% on threes for a top 25 junior college in 2015-2016.  He started his career at Eastern Kentucky after getting offers from Tennessee Tech, Belmont, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State, and Murray State.  In his highlight videos you can tell he is a solid defender and likes to make the extra pass on offense.

There are still many available transferring players out there.  It is unclear if Nebraska’s Johnny Trueblood is going to transfer somewhere to play basketball, or if he going to just destroy every pickup basketball game in Lincoln; but many Husker fans on the Husker Hoops Central would like to see him transfer to UNO.  I’m sure both South Dakota schools will try and move in on Trueblood should he decide to pick the Mavericks.

South Dakota State was able to pick up a transfer from Southern Utah, AJ Hess, who will be a senior and eligible to play immediately for the Jackrabbits.  Hess only played in 6 games for South Utah in 2015-2016; in his junior season at SUU, he averaged 11.7 points and 3.7 rebounds; Hess also shot 44% from the floor, 41% on threes, and better than 80% at the free throw line.  The Jackrabbits are going to be able to put out some bigger lineups with two 6’6″ guys who can play the guard position.

I’m bummed that Omaha Benson/Iowa Western’s Thik Bol committed to Southern Illinois.  His post defense combined with Hollins’ perimeter defense would have been a delightful combination on the court.

With the potential to sign two to three more players, and another assistant coach, the Mavericks still have a lot to come in the next few weeks.

 

#MarchMavericks versus Denver Pioneers Summit Tourney preview

I almost forgot this game was happening.  It’s not that I am not used to the Mavericks playing in March, or that I am weirded out at a 8:30 pm college basketball game in the state of South Dakota on a Sunday night.  I just almost forgot the Omaha Mavericks, or the Summit League, was a thing because I made the mistake of listening to John Bishop and Josh Peterson on Unsportsmanlike Conduct all week try the 215th way to rephrase the questions: Is Mike Riley a good football coach; and is Tommy Armstrong Jr a good quarterback?

Oh, but it’s happening…it’s finally here, the Mavericks are playing in the Summit League tournament as a 3 seed.  I don’t really know where to start with this as I am too excited.  So um, okay, how about this…

Denver, huh?

I like the idea of Omaha fans traveling to Denver this weekend for hockey, all while other Omaha fans are traveling to Sioux Falls to see Omaha and Denver play in men’s basketball.  The fans going to Denver get to start little trivial arguments of who is better, drink some beer, go to a hockey game, bond over why they both hate North Dakota, and grow a rivalry.  Oh, and not to mention, UNO softball is in Colorado this weekend to play Colorado State and Idaho State.  I know it doesn’t have much to do with the Pioneers, but hey, hopefully some Mav fans can get to Fort Collins for some Mav softball.

Omaha and Denver basketball have two contrasting styles.  Omaha loves to get out and run and find quick baskets, and Denver likes slug up the court and pass the ball 5 times before even thinking about shooting, and then pass 3 more times, and then get a backdoor cut for a player to get a wide open shot.  These two contrasting styles makes this game the hardest to guess on to win and get out of the first round of the tournament.

Denver, though, while last in the Summit League in scoring, can actually really play at a fast pace and keep up with higher scoring teams.  Playing in Omaha, the Pioneers were able to get 5 guys in double figures and were able to outscore the Mavs with 75 points.  Weeks later, playing at IPFW, Denver scored 84 points before losing by 4 to the Mastodons.  Denver had three different guys score more than 20 points in that game, and they were able to hit 20 three point field goals as a team.  20!  Amazingly, Denver shot absolutely no free throws in that game.  IPFW had to shoot 62% from the field in that game and shoot 12-of-18 on threes to outscore Denver in that game.

Statistically, it’s not easy to talk about Denver because of their Princeton offense.  They are last in scoring in the Summit League, last in rebounding, last in blocks; but they are first in field goal percentage and free throw percentage…the things Denver cares about.  Interestingly, Denver finished 4th in the conference in steals, which is good for them because they love playing possession to possession.  So maybe, we should look more at some intangibles in this game.

I’m just going to assume that Denver is going to be the least represented fan base in Sioux Falls, based on what LetsGoDU whined about last month, well they may have more fans than Western Illinois there.  Zing.  Omaha has a bus of students heading to Sioux Falls, and people that have the ability to not work on Monday morning could be headed up…and people that do not care about sleep.  Seriously, 8:30 pm on a Sunday, and maybe an even later start time if the earlier games don’t go according to plan.

The Mavericks may have some Oh Shit, We’re Actually Here jitters, but Derrin Hansen made a point that the quickest way to get over that is to get out play fast and make it a basketball game.  Denver’s staff has been here before, but Denver’s players may actually have those jitters as well since the team is mostly newcomers.  Denver does have some seniors that have been here before that can help ease the nerves of the Pioneers.  Oh here is a stats thing: Denver’s senior forward, Marcus Byrd averaged 17.8 points per game over the last 6 games of the season, he also shot 59% from the field, and 60% on threes.  That is pretty scary.

It’s good for the Pioneers that the Mavericks don’t have anyone that has been in a conference tournament before.  Oh wait, there is Jake White!  In 2013, White played in each of Wichita’s State’s games in the Missouri Valley tournament.  He had a 9 point, 8 rebound, and 3 assist performance in the first round against Missouri State.  That team also went to the Final 4 that year.

I’m sure Jake White is happy being named to the All Summit League 2nd Team, but maybe he feels a little disrespected and is incredibly hungry to win and keep playing.  Not that the guys on the 1st Team weren’t great, and I am sure it was incredibly hard to decide between John Konchar, Mike Daum, and Jake White to get onto the 1st Team…but 2 freshmen beating out a senior has to piss someone off.  The same goes for Devin Patterson.  How about the snub to Tre’Shawn Thurman?  Garret Covington was selected to the 2nd Team,  for scoring a lot of points on a team that was limited on scoring options that finished last?  Thurman averaged more points, more rebounds, more blocks, and shot a higher field goal percentage than AJ Jacobson who was named Honorable Mention…and Thurman averaged less minutes.  I know the stats may not be a big part of it because guys are going to get stats for Omaha at their pace, but still…Thurman has to be happy for his teammates, but not happy about the snub.

Tra-Deon Hollins was the first Mav men’s basketball player to be named to the 1st Team for the Summit League, by the way.

I don’t think there is just one guy that is most important for the Mavericks to get a win in the first round.  All of the Mavs needs to play efficiently, and make few mistakes…especially after the load of mistakes the Mavericks made against the Pioneers in Omaha with the missed layups, missed dunks, and terribly timed turnovers.  That’s the other thing, is there a game that Omaha would like to have back more than any other as that Denver at Omaha game?  Actually, maybe that whole week.  Omaha seems to have more of a revenge factor, and be playing for more recognition in this first round than Denver.  That was also a game that Omaha played without Randy Reed, who just had two of the best basketball performances of his life in the last two games.

Derrin Hansen also said it pretty well on the radio this morning when he said his team appears to play better when going into their tougher games.  I didn’t get all of it, because I had that moment at work where the guy that takes 15 minutes to ask me a question that a normal person only takes 1 minute to ask had to come up and ask me a question…and give me the whole story has to why he has come to ask me the question…you know, so I could understand the point of view of all the characters involved.

By the way, could Hansen feel slightly snubbed for not being named Coach of the Year?  Hansen actually probably doesn’t care all that much, but his players might be a little angry about it and that may add to their hunger for some conference wins.  Not to take anything away from Jon Coffman.  He did a great job, even after losing a player due to academics.  Hansen lost his returning leading scorer, lost a freshman who was expected to help replace the shooting lost in Marcus Tyus, and finished 3rd in the conference after being expected to finish 7th in the Summit League.

For all 7 of the people that have paid attention, I basically selected no upsets in the first round of the Summit League tournament…which is kind of lame.  If someone had a gun to my head and said I had to pick who was the most likely to get upset in the first round of the conference tournament, I would have to answer because I really question the mind of the person who would hold a gun to my head for something that like, but I would shockingly pick South Dakota State… I like South Dakota State, but their game with Oral Roberts just looks like a trap.  The Jackrabbits swept Oral Roberts, but just played them last week, and Oral Roberts has a great coach and the leading scorer in the conference, and a load of dudes that can just randomly turn it on in a game.

 

 

 

 

 

Hey seniors, thanks for the memories

On Thursday night, five seniors will play their final regular season game in Baxter Arena.  Though none of them are 4 years players into the program, they will still leave behind some lasting memories onto the program.  Here are just a few the memories that they gave Mav fans during their time here in the Ralston and Baxter arenas (so far).

November 13th, 2013

In Devin Patterson’s first game, he had 9 points, 8 assists, and 4 steals to help Omaha get their first home win 2013-2014.

November 16th, 2014

In the first game of last season during transition, Devin Patterson had an incredible performance to help lead Omaha to a 25 point win over Central Arkansas.  Patterson finished the game with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.  Randy Reed showed some of his promise with 10 points and 7 rebounds off of the bench, while Jake White  almost had a double-double in the first half before being going to the locker room with an injury.  White’s injury would eventually lead Mav fans to constantly wonder what the season would have been like had White been healthy throughout the season.

November 22nd, 2014

While it was not a home game, Mav fans were left to continuously and gleefully keep reloading the box score on their phones and screamed “HOLY CRAP THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN” as the Mavericks were able to pull off an upset at Marquette.  Patterson led the way with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists.

November 27th, 2015

Another game not played in Omaha, but Mav fans were given the opportunity to watch the game on ESPN3.  Jake White, playing in his home state against Minnesota, was in foul trouble the in the first half of the game.  When the Mavericks were on the verge of making a comeback on the Gophers, Jake White stepped up on offense in the second half before fouling out.  He finished with 23 points with 3 three point field goals, which all seemed to be exactly when the Mavericks needed them.

February 12th, 2015

Tim Smallwood made his first career start after Marcus Tyus’ season ended with a knee injury.  Smallwood was able to show that he was more than just a three point shooter with some key defensive plays against the guards of South Dakota…He finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block.  This game was also the most minutes Kyler Erickson ever got at the Ralston Arena, and he was able to show off his hustle, heart, and enthusiasm to the Mav fan in his opportunity, Erickson had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block…and I’m sure flexed and screamed at the crowd at some point.

February 19th, 2015

In what would be the last game at the Ralston Arena, the Mavericks were almost able to pick up an upset in a 3 point loss to Oral Roberts.  Patterson led Omaha with 23 points and 3 assists.  Randy Reed really brought some energy off the bench that game with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 2 blocks and played really good defense against Korey Billbury while on the court.  Jake White was appearing more healthy at that point and had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks; yet you could see he was still a little slowed down with injuries.

November 13th, 2015

The first home game after transition, and first official basketball game in the Baxter Arena, was probably the most anticipated game this century for the Mavericks.  The game turned out to be an offensive struggle for the Mavericks, shooting 35% from the field and 3-of-22 on threes in the game.  Randy Reed was able to provide a huge spark off the bench in the second half with a couple of key dunks, and he finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds.  Jake White also had a moment where he was knocked to the ground and quickly got up without the help of any of his teammates, probably to show Mav fans that he was healthy once again…at least that is what went through my mind.

November 17th, 2015

The Mavericks had to force overtime to make a comeback win against UMKC with the help of three seniors in double digits.  Devin Patterson had a key play at the end of the game where he broke by his defender and forced a UMKC player to foul him and send him to the line for the opportunity to send the game to overtime.  Jake White finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds; Devin Patterson with 19 points and 2 assists; and Tim Smallwood with 11 points and 4 rebounds.  The three seniors combined for 24 made free throws.

January 1st, 2016

Another game where the Mavericks had to come from behind to win in the 2nd half to pick up a win.  Western Illinois was ahead by 16 in the 2nd half, but then Tim Smallwood hit a couple of threes and Devin Patterson scored 7 points as part of a comeback run in the second half.  The Mavericks were able to force 9 turnovers in the final 8 minutes of the game, led by Smallwood who had 5 steals.  Smallwood ended with 14 points and 4 threes; Patterson ended the game with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals; and Jake White ended the game with 20 points and 5 rebounds.

January 16th, 2016

IPFW’s Max Landis was close to impossible to guard, and the Mavericks had to comeback to force overtime before losing to the Mastodons.  Devin Patterson and Jake White combined for 50 points in the loss; White as also able to grab 11 rebounds.

January 30th, 2016

Another game that Devin Patterson and Jake White were able to combine for 50 points to help the Mavericks cruise to a win over South Dakota.  Tim Smallwood also added 12 points; and Randy Reed had 9 points and 5 rebounds.

February 10th, 2016

Kyler Erickson was just selected to the NABC Good Works Team and was honored before the game, and rewarded with his first career start.  Erickson played quality minutes and made huge hustle plays on defense to help the Mavericks pick up their first win over a team with a RPI in the top 50.  Jake White scored hit 4 threes in the game to help him reach 18 points on the night, after being limited with foul trouble in the first half.  Devin Patterson added 15 points and 4 assists; Tim Smallwood finished with 7 points; and Randy Reed had some high energy plays to give him 6 points.

February 13th, 2016

With most of his team appearing gassed after their win against South Dakota State, Jake White put on a show with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting, he also had 7 rebounds to lead the Mavericks to their first win over North Dakota State in Omaha and their first season sweep of the Bison.  Kyler Erickson finished with 7 points, and had a huge dive for the ball to grab possession for the Mavericks.

The seniors will have one final run at home when they meet Obi Emegano and the Golden Eagles, though it is possible that the Mavericks could host a post season game at home.  All 5 players were incredibly essential to the growth and success of the men’s basketball program.  I wish them good them good luck on their senior night, The Summit League tournament, and on whatever future plans they have.


Here are how the seniors stacked up in the since transition stats, and they still have at least two games to go.

By the way, if you’re sitting around like: this guy is an idiot to keep these stats like this…what a loser…he has too much time on his hands.  My wife is working on her PhD and is on a research project that requires her to work from 8am to 10pm everyday of the week.  I was so bored last night that I watched the movie “Dutch” and then backed it up by watching the third Terminator movie…well I was in and out on the Terminator film, and I was really just watching it to remind myself of how terrible it was…the point is, yes, I do currently have time on my hands.  And “Dutch” didn’t hold up like I remembered it as a kid.

Points

3rd Devin Patterson                      1137

7th Jake White                                  651

14th Tim Smallwood                      279

16th Randy Reed                              250

17th Kyler Erickson                          151

Rebounds

7th Jake White                                   361

8th Devin Patterson                         231

14th Randy Reed                                134

15th Tim Smallwood                         118

17th Kyler Erickson                            86

Assists

2nd Devin Patterson                         303

13th Tim Smallwood                           40

14th Kyler Erickson                             36

17th Randy Reed                                  26

20. Jake White                                      19

Steals

1st Devin Patterson                        169

11th Tim Smallwood                         38

16th Randy Reed                                25

17th Kyler Erickson                           21

19th Jake White                                   15

Blocks

7th Randy Reed                                   18

10th Jake White                                   14

18th Tim Smallwood                            6

19th Kyler Erickson                              5

3 Point Field Goals Made

2nd Devin Patterson                        104

7th Tim Smallwood                             55

11th Kyler Erickson                             24

14th Jake White                                    22

25th Randy Reed                                     4

Double-Doubles

2nd Jake White                                         6

Games Started

3rd Devin Patterson                             87

10th Jake White                                      32

15th Tim Smallwood                               7

17th Kyler Erickson                                 4

Points-Sophomore

3rd Devin Patterson                             323

Rebounds-Sophomore

5th Devin Patterson                               85

Assists-Sophomore

1st Devin Patterson                              106

Steals-Sophomore

1st Devin Patterson                                57

3 Point Field Goals Made

2nd Devin Patterson                              32

Points-Junior

5th Devin Patterson                             317

10th Jake White                                     146

11th Tim Smallwood                              113

13th Randy Reed                                     104

17th Kyler Erickson                                 63

Rebounds-Junior

6th Jake White                                        112

11th Devin Patterson                             76

12th Randy Reed                                      52

13th Tim Smallwood                               51

17th Kyler Erickson                                29

Assists-Junior

3rd Devin Patterson                             104

12th Tim Smallwood                              23

14th Kyler Erickson                                14

16th Randy Reed                                      12

17th Jake White                                          9

Steals-Junior

2nd Devin Patterson                               59

10th Tim Smallwood                               19

14th Randy Reed                                       11

16th Kyler Erickson                                 10

18th Jake White                                           6

Blocks-Junior

5th Randy Reed                                            9

7th Jake White                                              7

11th Tim Smallwood                                    3

13th Kyler Erickson                                      1

3 Point Field Goals Made

5th Devin Patterson                                   27

9th Tim Smallwood                                    18

12th Kyler Erickson                                       7

14th Jake White                                              4

15th Randy Reed                                             2

Points-Senior

2nd Jake White                                            505

3rd Devin Patterson                                   497

9th Tim Smallwood                                    168

11th Randy Reed                                           145

14th Kyler Erickson                                     100

Rebounds-Senior

2nd Jake White                                             182

7th Randy Reed                                              83

9th Devin Patterson                                     69

13th Tim Smallwood                                     62

14th Kyler Erickson                                       57

Assists-Senior

1st Devin Patterson                                       93

9th Kyler Erickson                                         21

11th Tim Smallwood                                      18

13th Randy Reed                                             15

16th Jake White                                              10

Steals-Senior

1st Devin Patterson                                       51

8th Tim Smallwood                                       18

11th Randy Reed                                              14

13th Jake White & Kyler Erickson                9

Blocks-Senior

6th Randy Reed                                                 9

9th Jake White                                                   7

10th Kyler Erickson                                          4

12th Tim Smallwood                                        3

3 Point Field goals Made-Senior

3rd Devin Patterson                                       46

5th Tim Smallwood                                        37

9th Jake White                                                 18

10th Kyler Erickson                                        17

15th Randy Reed                                                2

 

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 10-13

I went 4-4 last week, and I have the confidence to go 2-6 this week.

If you’re wondering about my resume for predictions; I finished in the top 5% of ESPN brackets last season, so I’m kind of cool.  The worst my bracket has ever done was when I picked Kansas to win the whole thing and Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh hit a game winning shot to upset the Jayhawks.  Farokmanesh jogs on the same jogging path as me, and I have yet to scream at him, so I also have that going for me.

February 10th

South Dakota State (8-2) @ Omaha (7-4) on ESPN3

Badly want Omaha to be wrong on this game, it would be the biggest win they’ve had since transitioning to division one, but it is a really big challenge and Omaha would have to play nearly perfect.  The Omaha team we saw against Denver was far from perfect, and almost lost that game completely on fundamentals.  Omaha cannot win if Devin Patterson is 2-of-9, Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman are in foul trouble, and Randy Reed & Tim Smallwood are both hurt.

But hey, if Creighton can beat the # 5 team in the country on Tuesday, why can’t Omaha beat the # 45th-ish team in the country at home on Wednesday?

As much as South Dakota State has embarrassed Omaha since the transition, the Jacks are only a 3 point favorite tonight.

February 11th

IUPUI (7-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-8) on ESPN3

Obi Emegano only played 20 minutes in their first meeting and ended up fouling out, and hearing that would make you think IUPUI won the game.  The Jaguars were out rebounded by 12 and gave up 10 threes, though.  The Golden Eagles are on a 5 game losing streak and do not appear to have any momentum going their way, but IUPUI also dropped their last 2 games.  Oral Roberts had guys step up, who normally don’t step up to beat IUPUI, can they really do that again?

Look, I just think IUPUI is an all around better team.  Do you want to fight about it?

North Dakota State (6-4) @ South Dakota (3-8)

North Dakota State narrowly beat the Coyotes in Fargo last month, and Coyotes are a bad match up for the Bison…especially if Paul Miller won’t be playing for NDSU.  The Coyotes are going to force teams to shoot threes, and although they have the worst defensive three point field goal percentage in the Summit, the Bison do not have a lot of guys that can consistently hit threes outside of Miller and AJ Jacobson.

Something I would like to randomly point out about Omaha: The Mavericks are no longer last in three point field goal percentage in conference games.  They are 7th above South Dakota and Western Illinois thanks to Omaha shooting 41% on threes over the last three games.

Yeah, I think North Dakota State is a better overall team.  I don’t want to fight about it.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Denver (5-6)

Western Illinois still has some fight in them, but the Denver players are really getting the hang of their system.  Western Illinois has yet to beat Denver since the Pioneers joined the Summit, and they have lost by an average of 11 points.

February 13th

North Dakota State (6-4) @ Omaha (7-4)

A sweep of the Bison?  You homer, you!

Paul Miller missed NDSU’s last game with a knee injury, even if he plays, can he be nearly as dangerous on a bum knee?  The Bison will struggle to score without Miller.

Of course I say that the Bison will struggle without Miller like a complete jerk, after NDSU just beat IPFW by 16 in Fargo.  The ‘Dons were playing that game with basically 6 players, more evidence to stick out there that IPFW is the least equipped team, of the top 4 or 5 teams in the League, to play 3 games in the Summit League tournament.

South Dakota (3-8) @ South Dakota State (8-2) on ESPN3

The Coyotes have still yet to win in Brookings since both schools joined the Summit League, and South Dakota has lost in Brookings by an average of 18 points.

Denver (5-6) @ IPFW (8-3)

IPFW only beat Denver by one in Denver.  IPFW should actually not be heavily favored in this game, Denver won 2 upsets last week by a total of 5 points.  This game could be another big game for Max Landis, and the Denver slow pace could be really good for him to have an efficient game.

Western Illinois (1-9) @ Oral Roberts (3-6) on ESPN3

Got to say, I don’t feel that confident in Oral Roberts here.  The inconsistency of both of these teams is incredibly scary to really make a call.  I am still going with I just can’t see Obi Emegano letting Oral Roberts lose to his former school.

Maybe the Leathernecks can win again if they barely play JC Fuller like they did against Omaha.  The kid has an awful shot selection, and Billy Wright decided to play De’Angelo Bruster a bulk of the minutes.  Bruster did not make any shots, but he only took 3, and he got his teammates involved and made some really good decisions on the court as a freshman.