Summit League Tournament 2nd round preview

We should have expected some intense match ups in the 2nd round of the conference tournament, but there is an in-state battle, and both match ups had teams split their season series.

Neither of these games are easily predictable.

For me, it’s also difficult because I did not get to really watch the Saturday night games.  I was babysitting my 5 year old niece and she was more interested in watching the Secret Life of Pets and not what I wanted to watch.  How rude?

I did watch some of the South Dakota versus Western Illinois game on my tablet, but couldn’t give it my undivided attention.  Was trying to not be a terrible uncle.

South Dakota versus South Dakota State

Monday night tournament game with a trip to the conference championship on the line between the two teams in the conference from the state of South Dakota.  So you guys think the arena will sold out?

The two regular season games between these two teams showed that these teams do match up well together.  Their best players match up at the same positions, and their benches are relatively the same as well.

The first game was won on a last second shot by the all powerful Mike Daum.  The second game saw South Dakota win after almost giving up a big lead, but the Coyotes battled through it to hold on for a 2 point win.

The difference in this game could come down to two key match ups between Mike Daum and Tyler Flack, and also Reed Tellinghuisen and Matt Mooney.

Mike Daum is going to score the ball no matter what teams do.  It’s like watching Robocop take down a biker gang at a gas station.  There are times where he almost does not seem guard-able.  He can score from anywhere on the court, and at 6’9″ he can get his fade away jump shot over anyone.  Tyler Flack is one of the few that can actually guard him.  In Vermillion, Flack got his chest right into Daum and made him struggle to get into the paint.  If Flack gets caught in foul trouble, the two back up centers for the Coyotes, Tyler Hagedorn and Dan Jech, cannot guard Daum in big minutes.

Mooney has proven he is one of the toughest players on the court in the Summit League.  He hits key shots, makes smart plays, and bothers opposing guards on defense.  Tellinghuisen has struggled at times of the season and been an inconsistent player all year.  He was on fire for most of the game between these two in Vermillion, but struggled to hit key shots down the stretch.  Tellinghuisen is also not the greatest defender in the league, so he will have to come up big against Mooney.  I say this, not knowing what defensive plan TJ Otzelberger will go with this game as he has been up and down with this all year.


Omaha versus IUPUI

I don’t even want to talk about IUPUI.  I’m so done with IUPUI.  They are like the more inconsistent version of the inconsistent Mavericks.

The Mavericks had one of their signature dry spells late in the first half going into the part of the second half and ended up finding themselves down 11.

Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins were incredible in that second half.  Both of them were making huge plays for the Mavericks and were hustling their asses off.  When the Mavericks needed energy, they brought the Kyler Erickson energy to will the Mavericks to the win.  That three that rattled in late at the end of the game by Daniel Norl was seriously one of the biggest shots in the history of the Mavericks.

Still, there are things that need fixed.  The Mastodons missed three wide open threes in the last minute of that game, and the ‘Dons made the right plays to get those open shots.  When Hollins slipped on the floor giving John Konchar the wide open look, the only thing I could think was that this was my hell.

The biggest fear I would have for the Mavericks is their emotional level and mindset now.  Getting past the first round was a huge goal of theirs, and you could see the emotion in the players and Derrin Hansen’s eyes after finally earning the win.  The ‘Dons had been in their heads, and to get a win against them in that situation was a highly emotional moment for all of the Mavericks.

Now, let’s see if they can continue with the momentum and pick up another win.

Luckily, the Mavericks may find more inspiration than just getting past a team.  Their loss to IUPUI in Baxter Arena was an embarrassing loss.  The Mavericks could never quite get into the game after starting the game down 11, and it was all on them.  Omaha made bad plays, turned the ball over with IUPUI not even really playing defense, and were just outplayed in energy.

The Mavericks know how important a big start is against the Jaguars this time around, hopefully the moment can energize them to give them the edge they never found when they lost at home to IUPUI.

 

A Senior Day Double-Header, oh my

Saturday, the Mavericks will have two separate senior days for men’s and women’s basketball.  Both games we get to say goodbye to some truly great players.  Whether it is on or off the court, these six seniors are going to go on to do tremendous things.

Kyler Erickson

Not going to get too much into Erickson as we went through this last season.

Before being sidelined with an injury, he was expected to see a loss in playing time due to the returns of JT Gibson and Marcus Tyus, and the addition of Daniel Norl.  The Mavericks really could have used Erickson’s energy in a few games where they seemed completely flat, as well as his scrappy defense.  Mavs also missed his ability to take changes and get up and turn that momentum into nuclear energy.

Tra-Deon Hollins

Possibly, the most all-around basketball player that the Mavericks have ever had.  His court awareness on defense and his ability to steal the ball in passing lanes, and on double teams changed the way offenses played against Omaha.  It only took Hollins a year and a half to break the school record for career steals.  He ranks in the top-10 in all time career assists and has the most career assists since the transition.

Hollins’ game against South Dakota State in Baxter Arena his junior year will go down as one of the greatest single game performances in Maverick history.  The Jackrabbits were the top team in the Summit League at the time, and Hollins scored 28 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished 8 assists, recorded 4 steals, and had a huge block in the final seconds to help secure a 96-92 Maverick win.

He led the NCAA in steals in his junior year, and is currently 3nd in the NCAA in steals per game his senior year.  His 93 steals on the season is tied for the most total on the year so far.  Hollins is also currently tied in 3rd in Division 1 in assists per game, and is tied in 4th in total assists.

Hollins has potential to play basketball in Europe or the NBDL, but it is unclear if either of those possibilities truly interest him.  Either way, Hollins is going to find himself in a fantastic situation and be very successful.

Marcus Tyus

One of the most efficient and explosive players the Mavericks have ever had.  When you first see Tyus, it is probably easy to think he is just a one dimensional player that hangs out behind the 3 point line and waits for guys to pass to him.  He is far more than that.  Tyus is great at finding space and blowing by his defender to get to the basket for points in the paint, and he has a deadly mid-range game as well.

All the time in athletics, we see players get injured and end up seeing the unexpected teammate come in and fill the shoes to be a catalyst for the team’s confidence in that time of need.  Tyus’ coming out party, may have been in his sophomore season when senior Justin Simmons sat down with an injury just one minute into the game against South Carolina State.  Tyus was only averaging 7 points per game on the season at that point, but he came in when the Mavericks needed him most and scored 24 points off the bench on 8-of-13 shooting.

There is no doubt that the Mavericks missed Tyus in 2015-2016.  Without his shooting, the Mavericks were one of the worst three point shooting teams in the Summit League last year, but are 1st in three point field goal percentage in conference play in 2016-2017.  The Mavericks struggled to score the ball at times with him on the bench as a senior.  There was no player more important to their offense in 2016-2017…maybe his back court senior teammate Hollins.  They probably tie actually.

Over time, Tyus has improved as a defender, and part of that came with having a bigger players on the court so he wasn’t always forced to defend guys that were 4+ inches taller than him.

He’s proven to be one of the best scoring guards in the history of the Mavericks.  With at least 2 games to go in his senior season, Tyus is 2 three point field goals away from tying the 5th most threes in a season by a Maverick, this is the most threes made by a Maverick in a season since transition.  He’s also 38 points away from being in the top 10 all time for Mavericks in scoring.


Michaela Dapprich

Your first thoughts when you heard Michaela Dapprich was transferring to UNO from Wichita State were most likely positive.  Probably the same excitement you get every time Christopher Nolan released a trailer for a new Batman film.

A Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention Player wants to come play basketball at UNO?  Sweet.

It was like over night there was hope that Mikaela Shaw and Remy Davenport would have a consistent third threat on offense.  In 2013-2014, the Mavericks had Paige Frauendorfer, Jamie Nash, and Carolyn Blair-Mobley as a dangerous Big 3.  Now, Maverick fans had a feeling that we could have that same type of threat in 2016-2017.

It seemed to take Dapprich a bit to find her stride with the Mavericks.  She struggled as the Mavericks struggled with their difficult non-conference schedule, but came around to find consistency on offense when the team got to conference play, in a competitive year for the Summit League.

In conference play, Dapprich is currently 6th in points per game, 5th in 3 point field goals made and 3 point field goal percentage, and 5th in overall field goal percentage.

You would never expect her teammate Mikaela Shaw to take a possession off, but you could feel comfortable as a Maverick fan that if Shaw was struggling, that Dapprich could take over.  Dapprich is also not afraid of the big shot and looks to score in clutch moments when the Mavericks need the ball the most.

The only thing you regret about Michaela Dapprich joining the Mavericks is that it makes you really wish we had more time with her.

Abi Lujan

Lujan is one of those special players that does not need stats to make a difference in a basketball game.  Her will and hustle is enough to swing possessions in the Mavericks favor.  When the Mavericks needed a spark off the bench in her senior season, Lujan was not shy to provide such a spark.  She was one of the best Mavericks in her junior and senior years with the team at boxing out and taking away rebounds when needed.

Mikaela Shaw

Plain and simple, the Mavericks will never have a player like Shaw ever again.  As a true all around talent, she will leave a legacy at UNO as arguably the greatest women’s basketball the university has ever seen.

Shaw came to Omaha during a difficult time for the Mavericks.  They were already in transition and moving through a coaching change in her freshman season with an entirely new roster.  She has seen a revolving door of teammates on her rosters and she remained with the program.

Her freshman season was filled with moments that had you thinking she was going to be an all time great.

A rare talent on offense, Shaw has probably spent some time at every single position for the Mavericks.  She’s one of the best players you’ve probably ever seen at picking her spots and playing with or without the ball.  Watching her on offense is similar to watching Batman in The Dark Knight secretly tying up all of the SWAT team members so he can push them over the ledge to go get a one-on-one with the Joker.  She systematically runs through every member of the defense to find her spots for open shots.

Shaw will leave UNO as the greatest.


A nerdy thing I like to do is keep track of the career and class rankings for the era after transitioning.  Though a young history, here are where these seniors rank respectively.

Points

2nd Marcus Tyus                1272

7th Tra-Deon Hollins       753

20th Kyler Erickson           198

Rebounds

7th Marcus Tyus                  313

9th Tra-Deon Hollins        283

20th Kyler Erickson              97

Assists

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         385

6th Marcus Tyus                  158

14th Kyler Erickson              43

Steals

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         220

4th Marcus Tyus                  117

18th Kyler Erickson             24

Blocks

9th Tra-Deon Hollins          20

15th Marcus Tyus                   12

21st Kyler Erickson                 5

3 Point Field Goals

1st Marcus Tyus                     161

8th Tra-Deon Hollins            54

15th Kyler Erickson                27

 


Points

1st Mikaela Shaw                   1731

7th Michaela Dapprich          376

22nd Abi Lujan                         182

Rebounds

1st Mikaela Shaw                    880

4th Abi Lujan                           290

17th Michaela Dapprich        119

Assists

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   303

10th Abi Lujan                            59

13th Michaela Dapprich          49

Steals

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   136

9th Abi Lujan                              42

12th Michaela Dapprich          37

Blocks

4th Mikaela Shaw                      49

9th Abi Lujan                               14

12th Michaela Dapprich           11

3 Point Field Goals

7th Michaela Dapprich             49

9th Mikaela Shaw                       42

17th Abi Lujan                              19

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 22-25

A little better last week, but damn it this league is hard.

February 22

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Bison really had no answer for Albert Owens in Fargo as he went off for 28 points and 9 rebounds for the losing Golden Eagles.  The Bison have lost their last 2 road games, and this will be Oral Roberts’ Mega Bowl as they are only playing for a good show and to send their seniors out the right way on their last game.

Omaha @ Denver

Denver shot 64 percent the last time these two teams played, and still lost.  The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Denver last season, but with 29 points from Jake White as the rest of the team struggled a bit.

Okay, I might be trying to reverse jinx the Mavericks here.

It costs $9.95 to view this game on the Pioneers’ website.  I really don’t want to give them my money, but I might.

February 23

Fort Wayne @ IUPUI on ESPN3

Fort Wayne defeated the Jaguars by 30 a month ago.  IUPUI had 20 turnovers in that game, and it’s probably a bad idea to give the fast paced team like Fort Wayne the ball 20 times at home.

The Jaguars will not turn the ball over that much at home, but their offense is not good enough, even against a sub par defense like Fort Wayne’s, to put up enough points to make up the difference against the Mastodons.  I say that, and remember at one time Western Illinois once outscored Fort Wayne.

South Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Western Illinois’ defense is capable of frustrating South Dakota, but South Dakota’s defense is also capable of frustrating the non-existent offense of Western Illinois.

South Dakota was without Tyler Flack and were able to beat Western Illinois in Vermillion.  The Leathernecks’ post players are not very well built to stop a player like Flack.

February 25

Denver @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

After a 51 point and 15 rebound performance against a fast paced offensive Fort Wayne, Mike Daum gets a week of rest to play a fast paced offensive Denver.

Maybe this is Mike Daum’s last game in Brookings?  Maybe not.  Either way, good luck Denver.

South Dakota @ IUPUI on ESPN3

The Jaguars are completely unpredictable, who knows what they’ll do.  They lost in Vermillion when the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack.  The Jaguars will need to knock down threes against the South Dakota defense, but the match up of the day could come down to Tyler Flack versus Matt O’Leary.

North Dakota State @ Omaha

The Mavericks have shown that they are a tough team to beat when they come out with a high energy level, and they should definitely be playing with some energy on senior night for Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins…and Kyler Erickson.

Are the Mavericks going to get a medical hardship for Erickson and make him a 7 year senior next season?

The game between these two last season in Omaha was one of the better games Maverick fans have seen at Baxter Arena or Ralston Arena.  The energy for both teams was high.  The Bison had to figure out how to play without AJ Jacobson, who was in foul trouble.  Jake White had to sit a little bit with some foul trouble, but came back into the game and made huge shot after huge shot.  The Bison were also without Paul Miller in that game, and he is capable of hitting big shots against the Mavericks defense.  Hollins, Tyus, Zach Jackson, and Daniel Norl will need to play big defensive minutes and slow him down.

The Bison are also not the greatest team on the road.  They have lost their last 3 of 4 on the road with the one win at Western Illinois.

Fort Wayne @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Okay, so my take on their previous match up couldn’t have been more wrong as I just wrote:

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Western Illinois somehow won that game.

Western Illinois was in a zone in that stretch of the season where they were hitting threes with consistency and putting up points.  Other than a 91 point performance in a double overtime game last week, the Leathernecks have struggled to score over the last month and a half.

Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak could go off against the poor defense of Fort Wayne.  That could be enough to top the Mastodons, maybe.

This could potentially be Billy Wright’s last game with Western Illinois.  Maybe the Leathernecks will want to see what he can do next season with a core of Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, and CJ Duff.  I don’t really know though, Western Illinois appears to care the least about athletics in the league.  He’s only been at Western Illinois for 3 seasons, but the Leathernecks have still yet to earn 20 wins over D1 teams.

Summit League predictions: Jan 18-21

January 18

South Dakota State (1-4) @ IUPUI (2-3) on ESPN3

It’s good that South Dakota State’s game plan this season has been MIKE FREAKING DAUM, and that Mike Daum went a combined 13-of-17 in his two games against the Jaguars last season, but South Dakota State’s defense is pretty terrible.  They are ranked in the 300s in many defensive categories, especially any based on perimeter defense.

Darell Combs and Kellon Thomas could combine for 50 tonight, which doesn’t automatically equate to a win, but it wont hurt.

Denver (3-2) @ Omaha (3-3)

There are a load of mismatches in this game, and it really could come down to which team gets into more foul trouble and all that fun non frustrating stuff that we all love.

Omaha has made it as public as they can that they are bitter about their loss to Denver in the Summit League tournament last season.  They also were also pretty upset with themselves losing in Baxter Arena last season to the Pioneers.  Some guys like Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins may have a bit to prove to themselves.

South Dakota (4-2) @ Oral Roberts (1-4) on ESPN3

Somehow, South Dakota versus Oral Roberts always turns out to be a fun game.  I don’t get it.

Seems like it would take more things to go right for Oral Roberts than South Dakota would need to go right.  Maybe we’ll see South Dakota starting to be affected by their post depth with Tyler Flack out when they go up against Albert Owens and Emmanuel Nzekwesi?  While Nzekwesi is a future star in the Summit League, he has not been totally consistent in his freshman season, which is completely understandable, but needing to rely on him against a team that has been consistently good and defending post players this season can be an issue.

January 19

Fort Wayne (3-2) @ North Dakota State (4-1) on ESPN3

This was expected to be a huge game before the start of the season, and should still be a huge conference game.  These two team currently have the two best RPIs in the Summit League with North Dakota State at 99 and Fort Wayne at 120.  Omaha is at 123.

Fort Wayne shot 28 percent in Fargo last season.  The Bison weave offense is a style that frustrates the teams like Fort Wayne and Omaha, but Denver didn’t have a problem with it last week.  Damn it, I’m so conflicted.

Here is something weird to think about.  Paul Miller only played in one of the three games against Fort Wayne last season, and the Bison won the two games he didn’t play in.

What I’m trying to allude to here is that I am seriously only picking North Dakota State because they are the home team.

January 21

Denver (3-2) @ IUPUI (2-3) on ESPN3

IUPUI is at home for the week and Denver is on the road for the week.  I really don’t want to go into this any further.

Denver is not bad on the road though.  The game should be close, but Jaguars by less than 5.

North Dakota State (4-1) @ Western Illinois (3-3) on ESPN3

Can you believe I picked North Dakota State losing at Western Illinois last season?  Clearly, I was too young and naive at the time.  North Dakota State has not lost to Western Illinois since 2013.  I THOUGHT THE LEATHERNECKS WERE DUE!!!

The Leathernecks did end a 9 year losing streak to the Jackrabbits this season, so maybe?

If Garret Covington is injured, and the Leathernecks heavily rely on him to win games, who knows what Billy Wright will do.  He might just give up and play Sudoku on the bench.  The Bison will be coming off a heavily contested game against Fort Wayne, and the Leathernecks will be on a full week of rest.

Look, I’ve tried to talk myself into Western Illinois in the past and it has burnt me every single time, so I’m going to stop.

Omaha (3-3) @ Oral Roberts (1-4) on ESPN3

Omaha had the sweep of Oral Roberts last season.  Defending Albert Owens could be an issue, but the same goes on the opposite end for the Golden Eagles guarding Tre’Shawn Thurman and Mitch Hahn.

Omaha is deeper and has better overall guard play to beat Oral Roberts, but Omaha has got to keep the turnovers down.  Oral Roberts loves to get out and run, so the Mavericks don’t want to give the Golden Eagles more possessions and confidence at home.

Fort Wayne (3-2) @ South Dakota State (1-4) on ESPN3

Remember talking about how abysmal South Dakota State’s perimeter defense is?

The Mastodons are throwing a party right now.

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 4

I didn’t get to watch any Summit League games over the last couple of weeks because I was visiting my in-laws in Oregon, and well…the time change messed with me in a number of ways.  Anyway, here are some observations that do not really mean a whole bunch this early on in the conference season.

1.North Dakota State

Did you know that AJ Jacobson had his first two consecutive games with more than 10 points over D1 opponents this season, in the Bison wins against Omaha and South Dakota State?  If Jacobson can get back to where he once was, the Bison could potentially win 13 or 14 conference games.  They have the maturity, depth, and coaching to last with anyone in the Summit League.

2. Fort Wayne

Scientists will be working for years trying to figure out how exactly the ‘Dons lost to Western Illinois.  Sure, they could just someone who was at the game, but they will have to wait until Fort Wayne fans come out of their group coma.

3. South Dakota

The newcomers for South Dakota have been able to gel well together, which is exactly what they needed for a successful year.  With their next three home games against IUPUI, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne, they may be able to pick up some wins against some of the top competition in the conference and really get some momentum going to be a top team in the league.

Over the last five games Matt Mooney  has averaged – 18.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.2 spg

4. IUPUI

The Jaguars are going to have a tough week at North Dakota State and South Dakota.  They have the depth to really make a run when they get to the Summit League tournament, and they have yet to deal with an actual injury.  Matt O’Leary and Darell Combs are quietly one of the better forward-guard combinations in the Summit League.  The two combined for 48 points against Western Illinois last week.

5. Denver

I don’t like Denver being good.  They’ve had the 3rd easiest strength of schedule, per RPI, in the Summit League.  So go them.

6. Omaha

The Mavericks have had problems shooting the ball in a number of games this season.  They are 0-4 when shooting under 40 percent from the field.  They are also 1-5 when their opponents shoot better than 45 percent.  That record shouldn’t be shocking, but that’s a lot of games of allowing teams to shoot high percentages.

Teams that throw zone at them are giving them problems.  John Karhoff pointed out that in his day, the Mavericks were able be successful against the zone when their guards were able to penetrate and create opportunities.

It’s growing more important for Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, and KJ Robinson to attack and create these opportunities.  Even though the Mavericks have more shooters this season, there is more standing around, especially off the bench, and not enough guys attacking the basket.

7. South Dakota State

Mike Daum needed to score a lay up in the final seconds to give the Jackrabbits a win over the Coyotes on New Year’s Eve.  The team has minor issues, but nothing they cant figure out by the time of the Summit League tournament.  They’re at the point where they are just going to give the ball to Daum and let him do whatever he wants, and hope to God some random guy can have a good night to help out.  It’s worked out a few times.

The Jackrabbits are 3-0 if Andre Wallace scores more than 10, who I feel like is the perfect guard off the bench to make Omaha cry.  Wallace played at Iowa Western, just putting that out there.

8. Western Illinois

It’s possible that they used their One Upset a Year card against Fort Wayne.

Mike Miklusak has been healthy for the last 8 games, and given the Leathernecks a second weapon, as he averages 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.  Miklusak has dealt with injury issues since he was a sophomore.  He got hurt last year in a game at Omaha and then had 14 points and 11 rebounds to upset the Mavericks in Macomb.  So that’s great.  If Miklusak can remain healthy, maybe the Leathernecks can rise in the standings a bit and secure a spot in the Summit League tournament this season.

9. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles didn’t pick up a win against a D1 team until December 19th, but they beat a Little Rock by 15, team that is currently 10-5.  They also went on to beat an Atlantic 10 team.  Then started Summit League play with two road games, and didn’t do too bad.  Even though they be having a bad year, you’re scared of them.

They may not be a super talented team, but they have some guys that could provide the ingredients for an upset if they get a little hot.

 

 

Imagining what would have happened had the Huskers played the Mavericks

Nebraska lost to Gardner-Webb yesterday.  Omaha beat Cal State Fullerton for the second time of the season.  Why couldn’t the Mavericks and Huskers have played yesterday instead of those two games?

I get that Nebraska fans feel Omaha should stop complaining about the two schools not playing each other in the last few years.  I also understand that both programs wanting their home games and schedules to align might be difficult some years.  But it sounds like Omaha’s offer to play is always on the table for Nebraska.

You know what may have been a good day that would have made sense to play each other?  The Sunday after finals week.  Just a thought.

The perception by Omaha fans is that Nebraska currently doesn’t want to play Omaha is because Omaha might be just a little bit better than the Huskers right now, and Nebraska wouldn’t want to risk the loss to their little brother.  Omaha may not have the athleticism and quantity of talent that Nebraska has, but they have some match up problems for Nebraska and enough bitter tenacity to give the Huskers everything they’ve got.

Not saying this is actually what’s happening with the Nebraska staff, just saying what fans put into their minds.

Now that Nebraska has lost to a Big South team, maybe facing Omaha might not be all that bad.  But the Husker-Mavericks match up wasn’t scheduled this year…so we’ll just have to imagine what this world would be like if they would have agreed to play yesterday…


Derrin Hansen does his hands in his pockets slow walk into the arena and glares out into the crowd.  Still not sure at what goes through Hansen’s mind when he does this, but in this case I am assuming he is doing whatever he can to raise his maturity level to not punch Herbie Husker in the face.

What is this?  When Hansen reaches the scorers’ table and a student manager provides him with a Diavolo Pizza from Dante Ristorante Pizzeria out of Omaha and two pitchers of beer.  Hansen sets the pizza and beer on the table next to his seat and glares down at Tim Miles.

“I am going to beat you while I am loaded,” Hansen screams across the court to Tim Miles.

Tim Miles’ response is to flash the cross bones in Hansen’s direction.

The crowd goes insanely wild, but collectively as a basketball miracle the fans just start chanting “SCREW THE JAYS.  SCREW THE JAYS.  SCREW THE JAYS.”  It doesn’t make a ton of sense given the situation, but it also makes perfect sense at the same time.

The analysts ask the question: What do the Cornhuskers have to do win this game?  The question alone should be a punch in the gut to a Big 10 team, but it’s actually a serious question in this case.  They need to penetrate and knock down open threes, so all of the Mav fans have a good laugh.

What do the Mavericks have to do to win this game?  Control the pace and get out into transition.  The Mav fans just continue laughing.

Tre’Shawn Thurman takes off his warm ups and walks to center circle to ready himself for the opening tip.  By getting ready, he just flexes the entire time as he walks up to face Ed Morrow.  Nebraska wins the tip.

Nebraska’s first offensive possession is spent with confusion among the players as teammates are asking each other if they are sure they were supposed to be starting tonight.  Some guard for Nebraska, I don’t know, it’s hard to keep track of them at times, tries a pass to Jack McVeigh and Tra-Deon Hollins gets in the middle of the passing lane and rushes down the court in transition.  He tries a fancy pants pass to Marcus Tyus, who wasn’t expecting the pass, so the ball goes out of bounds.

Oh, it’s going to be a sloppy game.  Who would have guessed?

Nebraska’s second offensive possession, the team works the ball into Michael Jacobson.  Jacobson is backing Zach Pirog into the lane.  Jacobson works a series of moves to confuse his defender, and works into in up and under move under for an easy basket.  Oh man, this Jacobson guy is going to kill us down low all night!

Omaha’s second offensive possession, Thurman gets the ball at the top of the lane and is defended by Nebraska’s Ed Morrow.  Thurman makes a jab step to the right, Morrow bites, Thurman moves into a fade away jump shot, and the basket is good.

Next, a pissed off Morrow aggressively attacks Thurman at the basket for a lay up.  Morrow and Thurman could provide to be a very fun match up throughout the game, but one of them is likely to get into foul trouble.  So that’s sad we have to imagine it.

Eventually Nebraska subs in Jordy Tshimanga for Morrow, and all of the Omaha fans cheer in excitement.

Mitch Hahn and Pirog outrun Tshimanga for easy baskets for a few minutes and Omaha goes on a 8-0 run.  Miles calls a time out and an assistant coach tells Tshimanga to fake an injury and head to the locker room for the duration of the game.

Jacobson gets Thurman down on the block and works a few post moves on him and gets another easy basket.  Seriously, how does this Jacobson only have two baskets?  Why don’t the Huskers go into him more frequently?

On the next possession, Thurman tries to get some revenge on Jacobson and moves at him out of control and picks up an offensive foul.

Hansen goes absolutely ballistic at the referee, even though it was a good call.  You have to remember that Hansen has at least one pitcher of beer and half of a pizza down at this point.

Omaha has a 5 point lead at half time.  Nebraska fans are really unsure what to do here.  They end up just bitterly accusing every Omaha fan of being MavSkers, and not being a true fan to anything.  You know, because you cannot just like things in this state without these people accusing you of being a home wrecker.

The Husker fans take a few moments wondering how they missed out on recruiting Tre’Shawn Thurman.  Sure, statistically, he would not of had the same career at Nebraska as he did at UNO, but he would have proven to be a quality Husker.  Omaha fans are wondering how UNO missed out on Michael Jacobson.

There is also some argument and debate trying to figure out which basketball program is doing the other basketball program a favor by playing this game.


Some half time stats:

Nebraska – 

Michael Jacobson – 4 points, 5 rebounds

Ed Morrow – 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 fouls

Jordy Tshimanga – 1 minute

Tai Webster – 8 points, 3 rebounds

And the guy who keeps track of how many times Jack McVeigh is not found wide open by Glynn Watson has broken his clip board and is being seen by a medical professional.

Omaha

Tra-Deon Hollins – 2 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers?

Zach Jackson – 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 10,000 people asking: who is this guy?

Tre’Shawn Thurman – 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 fouls


The teams come out of for shoot around at half time.  Tai Webster is just pissed.  Pissed!

Derrin Hansen stumbles out of the locker room a little surly.

Trev Alberts is seen on the big screen, and he is met with a mix of boos and cheers.  Shawn Eichorst is seen on the phone attempting to fire whoever is in charge of putting people up on the big screen.  He’s also trying to figure out who is in charge of keeping outside food and drinks from entering the building.  There is a man on the sideline with two pitchers of beer and a pizza!

The first four minutes of the second half are not basketball.  Both teams enter those minutes where they have complete offensive droughts.  Just turnovers and bricked jump shots for four plus minutes.

Miles is standing on the sideline with his arms crossed and a pissed off look on his face.  Hansen is just standing there with his hands in his pockets staring into the abyss.  That’s actually 100% accurate of their body language when their teams go on these offensive droughts.

Nebraska comes out of the media time out by having Tai Webster attack the rim.

Omaha has moved to their three point shooting line up with Thurman-Hahn-JT Gibson-Tyus-Hollins.  So naturally, they come out of the first media time out ready for Thurman to set some screens and Hollins to find open three point shooters.  This is not Omaha’s best defensive line up, so it’s enough to just keep the game close at this point.

We’re going to break into a basketball sports movie montage here –


Nebraska frees up the lane by confusing Omaha’s defense in the post, and Morrow gets a huge dunk.

Hahn makes a corner three after his defender thinks he has to help Jacobson defend an Omaha post player.

Webster breaks past Tyus through an open baseline for an easy lay up.

Hollins steals the ball from Watson and sprints across the court for an easy transition bucket.

Morrow gets an and-one opportunity.  Thurman gets an and-one opportunity.

Miles cracks a joke at a ref and the ref tries to hide his laughter.  This happens at least twice a game.

Hansen screams at an official for a blown call, and he earns a warning.  This happens at least once a game.

Zach Jackson gets McVeigh to jump on a pump fake, and Jackson drives baseline and Isaiah Roby fouls him.  Nebraska fans are still trying to figure out who this Jackson kid is.  He averaged 3.5 points a game last year, how is this possible!?  If this was the Doc Sadler era, it is entirely possible that Jackson would be a Husker.

Anton Gill gets into the lane and…well he does something basketball related, I guess.

A Nebraska fan talks about how at least Nebraska is only losing Tai Webster after this season.  Next year could be the Huskers’ year.  Right?

An Omaha fan complains about how Pinnacle Bank Arena doesn’t sell alcohol at Husker events.  That’s just an Omaha thing.

McVeigh finally hits a three.

Tyus comes off a screen and catches a pass from Hollins and knocks down a three.

Roby drives into the lane, gets the ball knocked out of his hands by Hollins, but the ball still some how ends up in Roby’s hands again and he puts up a shot with the shot clock expiring, and it goes in.

Tyus drives into the lane, misses a lay up.  Thurman gets the offensive rebounds, puts it up and misses, does that a few more times, and then gets an and-one.  Seriously, 4 misses and 5 rebounds in 10 seconds.  Thurman now has a double-double.

We’re looking at a 74-74 game right now, and Omaha calls a time out with 40 seconds left on the shot clock.  Derrin Hansen calls a time out.

Hollins stands at the top of the key dribbling and watching the shot clock dwindle down.  Pirog comes up and sets a screen.  Hollins drives to the basket, and with the attention focused on him and Thurman, Hollins passes the ball to a rolling Pirog who dunks the ball in.

Nebraska calls a timeout with 4 seconds remaining.

Omaha comes out showing a full court press.  Nebraska calls another time out.  Isn’t basketball fun?

Watson inbounds the ball to McVeigh near half court.  He drives enough to get the ball near the three point line, and throws up a three with Jackson right in his face.

And…

 

 

 

 

 

Does Tra-Deon Hollins have draft stock?

It’s a question that had been in my mind during months of not being able to watch college basketball.  Time I tried to fill a void with watching NBA Summer League, which is fine.  It’s wasn’t that fine really, I worked out a lot in that time and lost 20 pounds.  I also created my My Career player to be Tra-Deon Hollins

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Anyway, Tra-Deon Hollins might be the most complete players that the Mavericks have ever had, and the first legitimate guy that the Mavericks have had to with a chance to at least make a NBA or NBDL roster some day.  Looking around at the three division one programs in the state of Nebraska, he may have the best shot at the NBA or NBDL out of players that would be eligible for the 2017 NBA draft.

Mock drafts do have Creighton’s Marcus Foster as a potential 2nd round draft pick at this point, but he is still a junior, so we’ll see if he wants to leave Creighton early.  The city is getting robbed out of Foster and/or Maurice Watson versus Tra-Deon Hollins.  It’s like Greg McDermott and staff stole candy from a baby and then threw it in a dumpster.

With Hollins’ talent, he brings some excitement to a college basketball team that is already a fun product to watch.  I’ve had friends that poked fun at Omaha even trying to become division one that have asked “who is that guy at UNO who leads the whole nation in steals?  I need to get out and see that guy.  That’s awesome!”

Is there a more complete player that you have seen around the Omaha area recently?  Some writers have actually referred to him as the most all around player in the country.  Kerry Mill of Bleacher Report named Hollins as one of the top 25 seniors in college basketball for 2016-2017.

After averaging 12.5 points per game, 4.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, and leading the nation in steals per game as a junior; it’s hard to find another player of recent memory that do the things that Hollins can. Hollins might be the most likely player in the entire country that would be capable of getting a quadruple-double in a game.

I guess one could claim that his 28% three point field goal shooting would never cut it at the next level, and Rajon Rondo would disagree, but in the second half of the season Hollins was able to shoot threes at nearly 40%.

Maybe the 12.5 points per game is not incredibly attractive, especially on a team that plays at such a fast pace.  It takes some time for junior college transfers to get into the groove at the division one level.  For Hollins, that offensive groove maybe started coordinating itself in late December, maybe?

From December 22nd and on, Hollins averaged 14.4 points per game, and had slower teams in that statistical stretch like Denver and Western Illinois in there.  This season Hollins could be the 2nd or 3rd scoring option in most games after Marcus Tyus and Tre’Shawn Thurman, and will also be the team’s primary ball handler.  The points and the assists are going to be on the rise.


Fun Fact: 4 of the last 5 players to lead the NCAA in steals per game all at least made the NBDL in some capacity.  The 5th, is Tra-Deon Hollins who still has one more year of eligibility.

2015-2016: Tra-Deon Hollins

2014-2015: Corey Walden (3.1 spg) played for the Maine Red Claws, and appeared in four NBA preseason games for the Boston Celtics.

2013-2014: Briante Weber (3.46) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force in 2015, and the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat in the 2015-2016 season.  He even played in 2 playoff games for the Heat.

2012-2013: Duke Monday (3.1) was drafted to play in the NBDL but never made an official team roster.

2011-2012: Fuquan Edwin: (2.7) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force, and has played on the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans Summer League teams in the past.

One may want to argue that Hollins’ 4 steals per game is inflated because of the high pace of the Mavericks and the fact that they have a higher quantity of possessions as compared to other teams.  I doubt Hollins is going to send an apology letter to anyone anytime soon for being responsible for creating 4 more possessions a game for the Mavericks, with his steals alone.


Maybe a pessimist would want to take a minute to claim that Hollins only looks good because of the weak competition he faces.  You know who else had to face that criticism?  Steph Curry and Damian Lillard.  I am not comparing Hollins to Curry or Lillard, just saying that it might be possible that some of the best guys out there get overlooked.

I did sit there at Weber State and watch Damian Lillard take on the Big Sky and think that I was watching a NBA point guard, while all of my wife’s Portland friends and family thought Lillard was too small for the NBA and a waste of a draft pick.  I’m just going to set a little nugget it out there: Hollins would be a better back up to Lillard than Shabazz Napier.  Okay, I’ve officially reached full out homer biased mode.

While Hollins has a small sample size so far, since he has only played in one division one season, he has played well against NCAA tournament teams.  In three games last season, two against South Dakota State and one against Colorado, Hollins averaged 17.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7 assists, 3.7 steals, and shot 58 percent from the field.  With a tough schedule this season, Hollins should be able to showcase his talents against four to five point guards that should be in the NBA or NBDL at some point.

Hollins has mentioned before that he loves the big games, and loves going up against the bigger competition.  If one wants to knock that he doesn’t go up against the best competition, can you imagine how much better he may get against even better competition?

Hollins will definitely have his day to showcase his skills on the court to professional basketball teams.  The small market teams love bringing in players from mid-major programs with maturity and confidence to play at the next level.  The Utah Jazz invited over 100 players to work out so the Jazz could analyze their talents.

If you don’t think Hollins is booming with confidence, take a look…

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Derrin Hansen also stated in a radio interview that the coaching staff was able to analyze that defenses were figuring out that Hollins would either take a three point shot or drive the ball to the inside and expected it by the end of the season.  So over the summer, Hollins worked to improve his mid range jumper as it was a weakness of his.  If the most all around player in college basketball fixed his biggest offensive weakness to become an even more all around player, he could become the deadliest player in college basketball.

Hollins was the most improved player for the Mavericks, and maybe the Summit League, as the season went on.  With his current skill set, maturity, work ethic, and confidence, he is only going to get better and better.