A short and apathetic list of schools for the Summit League to consider adding

IUPUI leaving the conference creates some problems, or really just brings some problems to light.  The Jaguars cited geography as their primary reason for wanting to leave the Summit league.

When you look at a map of the Summit League and compare it to other small conferences, yeah, it’s looks pretty rough.  The schools along I-29 don’t have it too bad, but travel costs look a little difficult for Denver, Oral Roberts, Fort Wayne, and Western Illinois.

The lack of travel partners made things difficult for teams in basketball.  Someone might luck out one week if they traveled to Vermillion on a Thursday and then play in Brookings on that Saturday, but for the most part teams would get to travel to Fort Wayne for a Wednesday night game and then head to Brookings for a Saturday night game.  The current President of the United States would call that a “total disaster.”

When North Dakota joins the league*, teams will consider it lucking out when they get to spend a half a week in the states of South Dakota or North Dakota, but someone like Fort Wayne could have to deal with flying to Omaha and then getting on a plane the following morning and flying to Tulsa for a Saturday game.

*Will the Summit League ever give us the ultimate North Dakota-Omaha weekend?

  • Thursday night: North Dakota vs Omaha women’s basketball
  • Friday night: North Dakota vs Omaha hockey
  • Saturday noon: North Dakota vs Omaha men’s basketball
  • Saturday night: North Dakota vs Omaha hockey

That might make this whole division one transition experiment worth it.

Can the Summit League also consider the traveling fans?  The South Dakota schools are pretty close to Omaha and it’s not too difficult for the fans to travel to away games in these match ups.  So why is South Dakota playing at Omaha on a Wednesday night?  South Dakota fans do not want to leave Vermillion or Sioux Falls to get to Omaha at 7 pm on a Wednesday night, and then get back in the car and get home late at night.  Games with that proximity should always be played on Saturdays if we’re going to have this wacky Wednesday and Saturday scheduling system.

Fort Wayne is in a weird place.  I assume they are trying to get all the Horizon League members together and frame UIC for murder to open up a spot for the Mastodons.  Let’s get the Farewell cards ready for their potential exit.  While the ‘Dons would be missed, we’d understand their situation.  I’ll also no longer have to debate that 10 hour drive or $500 flight to watch a sporting event.

Fort Wayne would also appear to be in a better situation if they got placed into the Ohio Valley.  They’d still be pretty far away from most of the schools in the OVC, but they would be closer than most of the schools in the Summit League.

Denver also creates a bit of a travel problem for schools.  The city has a major airport, but I can imagine it can be difficult for someone like Omaha or North Dakota State to drive to Vermillion and then cart their stuff to fly out of Sioux Falls to Denver, then fly from Denver back home.  This cuts me to the core to say, but you have to keep Denver happy and in the conference, right?  Their damn soccer team is just too good to let go.

Denver fans appear to hate that the conference is South Dakota based, so I’m sure their blood is boiling now considering that Augustana is considering making a jump to Division 1.

So are there any current D-1 schools to add to the Summit League to help out this geography problem?


Chicago State

Average distance to each WAC school:  ALL OF THE SOUTHWEST RAPID REWARD POINTS

Average distance to each Summit League school:  570 miles

Pros:  1) Travel partner for Fort Wayne (assuming the ‘Dons stay). 2) Chicago is neat. 3) They have all the sports that the Summit League has and wouldn’t have to find a league as an affiliate member for football, wrestling, men’s volleyball, or whatever.

Cons: Their basketball team won six games last year.  One of them was against Billy Wright and Western Illinois!  They also played at Creighton a few years ago.


Northern Colorado

Average distance to each Big Sky school: 817 miles

Average distance to each Summit League school: 698 miles

Pros:  1) The Bears could add a travel partner for Denver.  2) Could add a baseball team to the Summit League (they currently play in the WAC for baseball) 3) Weekend trip to Denver/Greeley!

Cons: Would they join the MVC for football, stay in the Big Sky for football?  What to do!


UMKC

Average distance to each WAC school: HAHAHAHAHAHA

Average distance to each Summit League school: 438 miles

Pros: 1) Travel partner for Omaha. 2) Big airport for the Pioneers to go to and not complain about it. 3) Another city that could compete to have the conference basketball tournaments in. 4) UMKC could actually see a spike in attendance when traveling fans from the South Dakota schools and Omaha travel to Kansas City.

Cons: 2) They might be okay in some sport some day, right?

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A month out game preview: UMKC

I’m not really sure of what route to go with here when I have to compete with Bluejay Banter’s pregame analysis of the Kangaroos.

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Not sure how much to take away from the Kangaroos based on their game against Creighton.  UMKC was down by 26 at one point, and were able to break that lead down before losing to the Bluejays by 7.  The ‘Roos were able to force enough turnovers in the last ten minutes of the game and put a little bit of a scare into the Jays.  Much of this was after the Jaystrokers thought the game was over and left, so many Creighton fans will never realize this ever happened.

Take it as the Jays were beating themselves for much of the second half, or that the Kangaroos refused to back down and would fight until the very end.  Either way, this does not help Jays fans support their argument of Creighton would beat UNO by 50.

I know we shouldn’t compare Creighton to UNO in regards to UMKC, but the Maverick players appear to find some extra motivation when they are playing a like opponent.  After beating Central Arkansas in 2014, the players said they did their part, now it was Creighton’s turn.  There was also Marquette that year.

The Kangaroos have a very talented back court with Martez Harrison and LaVell Boyd who combined for 35 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, and 6 steals in Baxter Arena when they lost to the Mavericks in overtime a year ago.  A game that was neck and neck throughout the entire game, and the Mavericks needed overtime to pull off the win.

Outside of Harrison and Boyd, the Kangaroos are not filled with a load of talent and lack depth, especially in the post.

A key piece missing from last season is 6’6″ forward Darius Austin who transferred to Jackson State.  Austin had 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Mavericks last season.

One post player that did not do well against Creighton was senior Kyle Steward.  Steward was 0-of-5 from the floor against the Jays and had 7 rebounds.  Last season, Steward averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds per game, and he shot 45% on threes.

Since the Mavericks did not have much of a perimeter game last season, especially early on, they beat UMKC on their penetration and getting to the line.  There were moments in that game when any other team would have shot three after three, but Devin Patterson used his speed as an advantage to get in the lane and create contact.  The Mavericks shot 48 free throws in that game.

Tre’Shawn Thurman had 30 points and 11 rebounds against the Kangaroos last season, which was the first game that made me wonder if Thurman had NBA potential.  He was in the zone that night, and could be due for another big game this season with UMKC lacking a post game again.

Zach Jackson and JT Gibson could also be large pieces of the offense in this game, with the Kangaroos lacking quality wing players.  Tim Smallwood had some moments off the bench in the win last season, and Gibson may need a few of those like last season.  If the Jackson that had 14 points and 8 rebounds against UC Santa Barbara showed up, the Mavericks should be able to pick up the win in Kansas City.

Lack of post players and wing players.  Do you see how much work Harrison and Boyd have to do just for this team to finish in the top half of the WAC?

Of the three games I have seen of UMKC coached by Kareem Richardson, it is hard to figure out what their plans are on offense.  It appears the plan is to let Harrison drive into the lane, hope to god that works out, if not, kick it out to a guy for a three.  If the player that gets the ball from Harrison doesn’t have an open three, they will wait for Harrison to come back out and get the ball and do that all over again.

Richardson has stated that he likes a high pace with lots of scoring, like the Mavs, but the Kangaroos struggled to get into the 80s last season.  If their game against Creighton were to show you anything, it should show that Richardson does demand maximum effort out of his players.  If the Mavericks have one of their game where they play 35 minutes instead of 40, the Kangaroos could pick up a win.

With it being such a short drive to Kansas City, the Mavericks may just be happy to not be forced to fly all around the country for a basketball game.  This game is sandwiched between two home games against Montana State and Cal State Fullerton.

Now excuse me, while I get into the history of marsupials.

 

 

 

 

Just a few potential random schools to list off to join the Summit League

 

After it was announced that New Mexico State football would be leaving the Sun Belt Conference, their administration has mentioned that they would form a committee to research a move looking into a new conference for their Olympic sports.  Their administration mentioned The Big Sky as a conference that they have been in contact with, and one other unnamed conference.  The move would more than likely break up the WAC, which is just the worst anyway, so how about we open up a topic of: Could the Summit League be growing anytime soon.

Here are some potential schools that could join the Summit League as a 10th member from the WAC or just something at random I felt like bringing up.


New Mexico State 

Geographically there are conferences that would work out better for New Mexico State for their non-football sports.  The SWAC, Southland, Big West, Big Sky, and the West Coast Conference all come to mind as suitors for New Mexico State to join.  The Mountain West would too if the conference wanted to take on a 13th football member.  Have you heard Wichita State has thought of adding football and joining the Mountain West?  Oh wait, anyway…

You might be thinking that New Mexico State could be a travel partner with Denver, but really New Mexico State is a 9 hour drive from Denver.  This is a school that is currently in a conference with programs in Kansas City, Chicago, and Seattle; so Denver may not be all that far away really in their minds.  And Denver dream every week of joining a new conference.  They’re probably somewhere right now discussing about how moving to the Big West would be better than the Summit League.

The school is open to the possibility of moving to FCS in football and maybe the Missouri Valley would be the most competitive conference for them to move into than the Big Sky.  I have a friend who was a quarterback at Montana, and he said he would be against New Mexico State joining the Big Sky because it would put them at 15 teams with Idaho also joining the conference in 2018…and that is just too many damn teams.  Though, the back up quarterback for Montana in the early 2000s does not decide who joins or leaves the conference.  Or could he?  It could be like that terrible Swing Vote movie with Kevin Costner that only Kevin Costner and whatever family member he forced to go with saw.

Again, the Aggies joining the Summit is a long shot, but the school could really help improve baseball for the Summit League.  It would put the league at 7 baseball programs, and it is never bad for your conference to get more South and more West for baseball and softball recruiting.  Aggies Baseball is coached by Brian (not Austin) Green, who is a former assistant of Kentucky and UCLA.  He helped take the Aggies from a 10 win team to a 34 win team in baseball.


Northern Colorado

So maybe New Mexico State does join the The Big Sky and the conference does annoyingly have too many teams.  If that happens, some school may want to get out of the conference.  Maybe that school is Northern Colorado.  It would make sense.  Their football team could move to the Missouri Valley for football, wrestling would still be in the Big 12 with North Dakota State, and Denver would have a travel partner.  Again, Denver is apparently a wild card in remaining in the Summit League.

The Bears may not be the most competitive athletic program, but it works out as far as what sports they have to offer.  It would be hard for me to turn down a weekend trip to Colorado for the Mavericks versus the Pioneers and Bears.  A weekend of college basketball, and possibly NBA basketball, hiking, Illegal Pete’s breakfast burritos, breweries, and maybe some hockey.


UMKC

Really, why did they leave the Summit League?  I was a little pumped to get to Kansas City to see the Kangaroos and Mavericks play year after year.  There was a decent number of Maverick fans that made the drive when I went in 2013.  I don’t think I can turn down a short drive to see the Mavericks and the prospect of eating at Oklahoma Joe’s.  Now, I’ve got a shorter drive to look forward to get to Vermillion and eat at…Chick Fil-A is probably pretty exciting I guess.  I just crave their cups of expired fruit.

If the WAC did end up breaking up, I really do not see where else the Kangaroos could go.  Hold on, I just tried to think of how to compare the ridiculousness of UMKC asking to get back into the Summit League to my Trump loving uncle asking me for portions of spaghetti noodles in the 2020 American Civil War.

UMKC has very fan support.  The Kangaroos have under performed in basketball the last few years under Kareem Richardson.  Men’s soccer has a losing record in WAC games.  They have no baseball and no football.  Their main bargaining chip is that Kansas City is a pretty fun place, and I think we’re actually all okay with that.


Drake

Honestly, I just really think that the Summit League needs to go all in to get Drake to join the conference.  I have no idea what I mean “go all in” because I don’t know what the official conversations consist of when a conference invites a school to join.  Maybe we wave some fees?  Give them a post season tournament?  Buy them a steak?  Squeak a cute dog toy in their direction and say “cooooooommmmeeee onnnnn.”

I have never really heard of Drake being consistently competitive in anything in the Missouri Valley, and for some reason their football team plays in the Pioneer League?  Their women’s basketball, volleyball, and softball team have been okay the last few years, but nothing great.  Drake could consistently be in the top half of every sport in the Summit League.

The Bulldogs in the Summit could help recruit some more Iowa kids to the conference, and open up another place like Des Moines for Summit League championships.  I’m told that Des Moines is a great place by every boring person on the planet.


Central Arkansas

The Bears men’s basketball have not been eligible for post season play for the past two seasons due to APR penalties, so they may not be the most ideal program to add to the Summit League.  Russ Pennell actually seems like he could turn their basketball program around with a little time.  Other men’s teams are really not all that competitive, but their women’s teams are all pretty competitive in the Southland.  The women’s basketball team finished the season at 28-4 with a trip to the NCAA tournament; and tennis; softball; and volleyball all finished with winning records as well.

Central Arkansas may actually benefit from joining the Summit League than the Summit League would benefit from Central Arkansas joining the conference.  They could join the conference as a travel partner with Oral Roberts as they are only 3 hours away from Tulsa.  The closest Southland school to Conway, Arkansas is a 5 hour drive.  My initial feeling if Central Arkansas were to join the Summit League would be that the Denver fans would want out of the conference, but they find a new reason to get out of the Summit League every week.

By the way, they call their women’s teams the “Sugar Bears.”

 

2 games, 2 nights, 2 losses, and I had to eat some pride

I will accept a partial amount of blame for the loss of this Eastern Michigan game.  You see, and please do not attempt to find me and punch me in the face, but I took a Creighton season ticket holder to the game with me.  Yes, I took Dick C. Fan with me.  DCF is a UNO graduate.  He is a MavJaySker, though Husker football is the only Nebraska sport that he roots for, but he is cool with UNO sports.  DCF is more of a Creighton fan though, and because of his Creighton roots, he used to despise Jake White due to his Wichita State days.  The funny thing is, DCF actually looks a little bit like Jake White.  Remember, part of the plan is to get the MavJaySkers to get to UNO games and respect the players, coaches, and where the program has come.  I may have given DCF a little too much flack in the past.  He did follow UNO athletics in their division 2 days, but thought them moving to division 1 was a bit of a joke at first, but he appears to be comfortable with it now.

When Jake White announced that he was going to transfer to UNO, I immediately texted DCF and told him that his distant relative was going to be a Maverick.  DCF was not happy.  I think he cussed me out over a text message, and begged me to stop calling Jake White his cousin.  Over parts of last season, I would text DCF to update him on how good Jake White was playing as a Mav, and he never responded to any of the texts.

The day the Mavericks played UMKC, DCF texted me to see if I wanted to go to the Creighton game with him.  I told him no, but he could go to Eastern Michigan-UNO with me, so we struck up a deal that we go to the games together.  Tuesday afternoon, I asked him if he was excited to see his cousin play basketball.  He was the opposite of pumped.

When we got to the game, I really thought DCF was going to just start yelling expletives in Jake White’s direction.  Instead, the UNO fan in him came out, and he said “there is my boy.”  DCF even threw out a first pump when Jake White’s name was announced in the starting lineup.  Then, the game happened…


  • This is the first game that I walked up the arena and people were not on the community ice practicing curling.  DCF and I used to want to start a curling team, but we legitimately know nothing about curling.  I would feel bad if I get into curling and was instantly good at it and pissed off some guys that were doing curling for decades and saw some guy who doesn’t know how to do it is amazing.  It’s no diss at curling, I just don’t know what makes a curling guy a good curling athlete.  I’ve never heard anyone say: “oh that Caleb Steffensmeier had a pretty good basketball career, but could imagine him as a master curler?”
  • DCF asked every question you could think of about Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins, as he remembered watching them play at Central.  I really thought about lying to him, but I told him what I knew.
  • DCF then told me how excited he was about Creighton’s Khyri Thomas, and I almost broke into tears to admit that I used to sit around and hope that Thurman and Thomas would come to UNO and kick start the program to the next level.  UNO got half of my equation.
  • DCF kept hoping that UNO would pass the ball to Jake White, this was quite the change as 3 years ago he was calling Jake White offensive names.
  • You could tell that he was immediately impressed with Tre’Shawn Thurman, and he should be.  Creighton fans will catch glimpses of him over time and be saying things like “ah crap”
  • With Thurman having 13 points and 8 rebounds at half, we shared a short discussion of Is Thurman better than Creighton forwards…it’s kind of a dumb conversation to get into, but it is what Omahans that like basketball are eventually going to talk about.  We agreed that Thurman is probably right on par with Cole Huff from an amount of talent, there are things that Huff does better than Thurman, but there are things that Thurman does better than Huff.  It would be pretty difficult for most coaches to decide who to start between them.  We then agreed that Thurman is better than Zach Hanson and Toby Hegner, but DCF pointed out that Hanson is playing the best basketball of his college career up until this point.  My thought on this is:  It is Hanson’s junior year, he should be playing the best basketball of his collegiate career up until now.  You don’t want to say, “hey, this guy was one of the best freshman I had ever seen and now he is absolute crap.  I love it.”
  • I thought the most shocking part of looking at the stats of this game was that the fouls were actually even.  Though, I continuously felt like UNO’s fouls were giving them the shaft.  No one was ever really in foul trouble except for Hollins.  I think the fouls got into the heads of some of the UNO players, especially the no calls.  It is just weird that the refs get incredibly knit picky for 97% of the game but space out for another 3% of the game.  All players need to adjust to this crap, the deeper and more mature teams are going to get through this.  I believe Scott Nagy said that…not in those exact words, but you get it, right?
  • Jake White got fouled going up for a basket and the ball flew backwards…DCF and I went on to make a number of Caddyshack 2 references.  This has to be the first time anyone has referenced this movie in quite some time.  There were also Celtic Pride references shared between us.  If Celtic Pride and Caddyshack 2 are not films you are familiar with, I am not sure we would get along.
  • DCF and I were both thinking that the Mavs should have kept Hollins out on the court when he picked up his 3rd foul pretty early in the second half.  The offense was completely flat without him.  There was too much standing around when he was on the bench.  Can we get a check on how many assists Hollins gets as a result of his penetration to the basket?  It has to be 2/3 of his assists.
  • Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman each had double-doubles…when was the last time UNO had two guys with double-doubles in a game…and when was the last time a Maverick had two double-doubles in a row…and when was the last time a sophomore had two double doubles in a row?
  • I had another game where I found myself asking: why did Randy Reed not play more?  The kid had some real hustle plays down the stretch…the team needed that energy for more of the game.  Can we not go with a front court of White-Thurman-Reed all at once?  I know you probably lose some three point shooting with that line and do not stretch out the floor a bunch, but just let them all set screens for Hollins and Patterson to get around and they will find a cutting man.  Is it something you want to go with for 20 minutes of the game?  No.  But I wish it is something that should be tried out for a 3 to 4 minute stretch.  Last year the Mavs went with a Rostampour-Thurman-Reed front court against Oral Roberts for a few different couple minute stretches and it really bothered Korey Billbury of Oral Roberts.
  • DCF commented about how watching Jake White now is like watching a completely different player than what he saw from him at Wichita State.  Claimed that at WSU he just stood around and wanted to shoot threes, and now he is down low posting up and getting knocked around down low.  He was really blown away at his nemesis turned…not friend…but…dude guy he has no reason to hate?
  • I tried to get DCF to go to the family that holds up pictures of Maverick players faces when they are shooting free throws and demand an answer as why they have his picture when they are holding up Jake White’s photo.  I could not convince him to do this, but it could been entertaining.
  • Thanks to Facebook’s On This Day, I was able to get reminded that 3 years ago on December 1st, I watched a terrible football game in which Nebraska was involved and it was the most embarrassed I ever was to watch a Husker football game.
  • Mavericks were 4 of 17 on threes in this game…is this killing Marcus Tyus?  Like how it was killing Mike Rostampour when he was sitting out and the Mavs could not rebound the ball?

Night 2 – Creighton vs Arizona State

This was painful for me.
This was painful for me.

I do not hate Creighton athletics, but I do get annoyed with their fans.  I would say it is safe to call me a MavJaySker…in fact I think that is my gamer tag on Xbox.  I would just much rather watch their games on television or listen to them on the radio than to actually attend a game.  Hanging with 18,000 people freak out at every single whistle, good or bad, is not my thing.  Let me make a correction there, I would be with about 14,000 people freak out at ref calls as at any given time the CenturyLink Center has a combined 4,000 fans walking the arena looking for the cheapest beer that they can find, or they are permanently planted in the beer garden to brag up about how they went to the most expensive bar in all of Nebraska.  You can also always find a handful of people reading a magazine at any given moment.

It’s also stressful to hear some drunk guy try to convince his friend that the ranking of best basketball programs goes as this:  1. Duke/North Carolina/Kentucky/Kansas…2. Creighton…350. UNO…351. Nebraska…And Creighton was a three point shot away from Booker Woodfox from beating Kentucky in the National Championship in 2009?  2010?  Ah hell, that one year the NIT second round was just as good as the NCAA Tournament.

I also love that when you go to a Creighton game and the fan’s pregame analysis is just that the other team sucks.  For three straight hours Wednesday night, I just heard how Arizona State was a shitty basketball team…then the Jays lost to them.  So I guess that means the Jays are back.


Some takeaways from the Creighton game…

  • I remember a few years ago thinking that Geoff Groselle was going to be one of the worst ever in Creighton basketball history.  He was recruited to be a Missouri Valley player, and his first couple seasons were filled with several injuries; and when he did play he would bobble the ball a lot and could never score a basket.  I thought for sure he would transfer out at some point.  He has turned into a completely competent player though, and the Jays actually draw up plays to get him the ball in the post.  He had a moment at the end of the game where he grabbed an offensive rebound under the basket and the guy in between him and the basket was 6’3″ or so, and he should have just gone back up for the easy basket, instead he pissed off 18,000 people…or just the 6,000 or so people that were paying attention.  I know the Jays were down by 3 at this point with a few minute to go, but take the easy basket when you can get it!
  • The Jays take care of the ball, and their perimeter defenders are never caught flat footed.  They really don’t have the greatest weak side defense though…which led to a few wide the hell open threes.
  • An attendance dip tonight for the Jays actually, only around 16.2k…was it the 8 o’clock start time?
  • I’m still sitting here wishing Khyri Thomas would have gone to UNO.
  • What is with Division 1 universities in Omaha not being able to box out and let up a bunch of offensive rebounds?
  • I know the Jays like having stretch 4s, but Cole Huff and Toby Hegner took 13 threes.  It’s nice to have big men that can hit threes, but having forwards that only want to take threes is…well…Walter Pitchford…  Don’t you want bigs that use it as a last resort type of thing?  Maybe I am just old fashioned and love Jake White shooting 60% in the paint.  Dumb, right?
  • Arizona State’s warm ups had hoods on them.  I am sure there is some story behind this, but I am just going to assume it has something to do with witchcraft and that is why they had a better second half.
  • Arizona State did not look like a great three point shooting team, but they hit threes right when it mattered.
  • Whoever is in the Billy Bluejay costume is doing a great job.  He spun a basketball on his finger, that cannot be easy in a costume like that.  They were also a great break dancer, seriously, a great job and could really give the Oregon Duck a run for his money…even if Billy Bluejay looks like an evil stork and not a Bluejay.
  • Cole Huff missed 2 free throws and 1 three pointer in the last 8 seconds of a 1 possession game.  I feel sorry for Huff, not just that he missed the shots, but that the Jays fans are going to completely turn on him.  How many days until they demand that Toby Hegner start over him?
  • I watched a number of Jays fans heading for the exits when Creighton was down by 1 point with 6 seconds to go, like the Jays were down by 12 points.
  • There were two guys behind me that looked like Creighton Bluejays super fans, but instead of talking about Jays basketball or cheering on the Jays, they just talked about Breaking Bad the whole time.  Seriously though, Breaking Bad was fantastic.  Great basketball scenes that were totally applicable to what was going on too.
  • I heard a number of Jays fans say that Creighton would have won that game if the refs would have called the 8 travels that Arizona State committed in the game.  I seriously want you to find me a basketball game where the refs got every single traveling call right.  I watched a number of Jays players travel with no whistles blown, and the Jays fans would clap on like it was a great move.  I complain about calls too, but I would never say the one and only reason a team lost the game is because of the fouls.
  • Isaiah Zierden is the best shooter out of Creighton, Nebraska, and UNO.  The balance in his shot is the best…the best Jerry.  The Jays have great quick plays to get him wide open on the outside too, it is the best thing about watching the Jays.
  • I really thought Greg McDermott was going to have a hard time dividing up minutes between Groselle, Hanson, Hegner, Huff, and Krampej this year, as he has seemed to have trouble distributing minutes other than when it was just obvious to go with Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge at the same time; but Greg has done a great job of that so far this season.
  • Heard a couple of Jays fans saying the worst part about the loss was that Arizona State didn’t have any stars that scare you.  Honestly, what star does Creighton have?  Zierden is a great shooter, but is he a star putting fear into his opponents for 40 minutes?

 

I’ve gone to two basketball games in two nights, and the home teams have lost in each one.  I wanted to go to the Lady Mavs game tonight, but I am afraid I’ll drop three in a row and be the bad luck guy.

 

 

 

Notes: Mavs rebounded really well against the Roos

It was one of the most stressful games I have seen in a while, but the Mavericks got the win, so I cannot complain.  There were some teaching moments, and there was also some great aggressive plays from the Mavericks.  I was kind of upset in the first game that the score board did not tell you how many points and fouls the players had.  I am super glad this got fixed.  The battery on my phone was getting pissed at me for having to look it up every couple minutes.

Basketball was fun last night.
The worst picture ever, but basketball was fun last night.
  • The Shock Top stand is not open on weeknight games I guess.  I just wanted Twisted Pretzel.
  • Kareem Richardson just always looks like he is ready to leave as quickly as possible.  He’s done a great job at UMKC though.  I doubt he is in Kansas City too much longer.
  • The first time I saw Shayok Shayok, he is was 6’6″, and now he is listed at 6’9″.  Why can’t I grow like that?
  • My favorite thing about the MavX ap is that it tells you the menus of all the concession stands in the Baxter Arena.  My wife is an extremely healthy eater, so usually when we go to sporting events we spend a half hour walking around the entire arena finding her something healthy to eat.  The ap cuts down on this time, and that has pretty much made my year.
  • Tra-Deon Hollins court awareness is just unreal.  I feel like he is in training to be The Flash.  In the Flash, they just shoot arrows and other objects at him to see if he can catch everything.  Hollins has a way of making it appear as if the opposing team is just throwing the ball at him to see if he can catch it.
  • Jake White appeared that he had something to prove against UMKC.   Not that it ever looks like he’s ready to put on an open mic stand up comedy routine, but he looked like he knew he had a task to stay out on the court and to not let UMKC get any offensive boards.  He was fighting out there.  The Mavs let up a few key offensive boards, but it is going to happen no matter what you do sometimes.  The Mavs only gave up 9 offensive rebounds this game, and Jake White had a big role in keeping the ‘Roos off the glass.
  • LaVell Boyd and Martez Harrison might one of the three best back courts the Mavs play this year.
  • Another guy who looks as serious as the Terminator trying to hunt down Sarah Connor is Tim Smallwood.  He’s the Timinator.  He’s constantly ready put up a three, and he chases after his misses, and he’s hustled his ass off the last two games after not getting much time against Santa Barbara.  That is exactly what you want out of a senior guard.  His near coast to coast drive was something we did not see much out of him last season.
  • I know that UMKC made quite a bit a threes in the game, the Kangaroos did find some wide open looks from the perimeter, but the Mavs did contest a lot of those shots.  Just being that the Mavs are forcing so many threes, you can tell that teams are maybe a bit nervous about having to get through Devin Patterson and Tra-Deon Hollins…The Devil’s Gate.  The ‘Roos had some threes from big guys, there are not many bigs in The Summit that can hit multiple threes a game.
  • I felt like I was watching the pre-LeBron James Miami Heat play the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals in the second half.  The Heat that year just put the ball in Dwayne Wade’s hands and kept having him drive to the basket because of the all the fouls.  Why do I feel like this?  The ‘Roos had 37 fouls in the game.  The Mavericks were 36-48 from the free throw line.  When the Mavs came down the court down 83-80, I was thinking it would almost be dumb to shoot a three.  It seemed like the Mavericks were stuck at 5 of 18 on threes for the past 15 minutes, and I was looking at the fouls and just saying that: I would bet money here that UMKC will make a dumb foul here.
  • We need to keep getting more excited for Zach Jackson.  Out of the three freshmen on this year’s team, he had the least known about him coming into the year.  He makes a few odd decisions, but for the most part he plays great, and what college freshman doesn’t make a couple questionable decision in his first three college basketball games.  There are seniors out there making poor decisions on the court.  Near the end of the game, there was an overthrown pass to him that went out of bounce and some guy near me was pissed that he didn’t try and save the ball.  Really, had he thrown the ball back it could have gone to an opposing player and UMKC would have been off to the races at the end of the game and anything could have happened.  Jackson is a high IQ player, the Mavs need that for a guy that is filling in.  I made this point earlier, the Mavs are asking less out of their newcomers compared to other Summit League teams.  Others are asking newcomers to be stars right away, the Mavs are asking the newcomers to be role players…this has to be something that will pay off.
  • Growing increasingly nervous about this team’s three point shooting as we head to The Summit League, but the Mavericks advantage is going to be Patterson and Hollins breaking down the defense and getting into the lane.  The Summit does not have a bunch of post players, White and Thurman could be 2 of the top 5 post players in the Summit League.
  • This game needed a little cowbell toward the end of the game.
  • Tre’Shawn Thurman literally wiped the floor tonight.  He was playing like he was in a video game, and his player rating kept rising because of his great play.  He’s added some moves, he was feeling it, and was incredibly focused.  He just looked more relaxed at the free throw line tonight, which I thought showed with 7 of 9 from the line.  Thurman has the highest ceiling of any Maverick that we have seen in a while.  When people walk into the Baxter Arena, they immediately take notice of the muscle he put on.
  • Kelley Wollak did a great job as the MC in timeouts.  I feel bad with her being on crutches out there though.  I was a little bummed that Mikaela Shaw could not be in Omaha and Grand Forks at the same time.  It feels like it could have been a Bill Brasky level of story that Mav fans could have screamed at a bar in the future.  ONE TIME MIKAELA SHAW RAN FROM GRAND FORKS TO OMAHA SO SHE COULD GIVE OUT A FREE OIL CHANGE AND THEN SHE RAN BACK TO GRAND FORKS TO DROP 19 ON NORTH DAKOTA….TO MIKAELA SHAW!!!!
  • Every win is needed, but this was a much needed win for the Mavericks.  UMKC is an improved team, and going on a three game road swing after going 1-2 would have been…I think my brain just tried to escape my head.
  • Who else sat there entire time asking: Why is UMKC in the WAC?

Elsewhere in The Summit

Western Illinois beat Illinois-Chicago 84-57.  Jabari Sandifer had 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.  JC Fuller had 19 points and 9 rebounds.  Garret Covington had 17 points and 3 rebounds.  The Leathernecks are making us all look like idiots.

 

Can the Mavericks improve on 5 Summit League wins?

Sometimes I find preseason predictions pointless, other than starting a conversation about the upcoming season or letting people know what could potentially be the biggest games of the year, there is not really much of a point to it.

I mainly find them useless because of the methodology in ranking teams.  Many seem to just copy and past the standings of last year, and then make a small edit if a team had a high amount of turnover from last season’s roster.  But I came up with a plan to do this for the Summit League.  I was reading some preseason predictions for the Big 10 football season which was done by a bunch of ESPN writers.  Some made good points but they all had to come up with a record for each team, and the math did not always make sense.  One clown had Ohio State going 12-0 with a 8-0 Big Ten record and Michigan State going 11-1, and also with a 8-0 Big Ten record.  Seriously, how drunk and lazy and/or bad at math was that guy?  Or some guys would have two teams going 8-0 in conference, a couple going 0-8, and everyone else going 5-3.  The math didn’t add up and they were telling you that these teams would win these amount of games because they are Skeletor and they said so.

So I came up with a plan.  I would go through the Summit League conference schedule and assign wins and losses over the course of a number of weeks.  At first it was just: South Dakota State is a better team than Denver, so win goes to the Jackrabbits.  Then later, I would look at the difficulty of each team’s conference schedule.  Obviously, everyone plays each other twice, but there are some things that stick out; like how Denver is the only team with the highway to the danger zone in playing at North Dakota State and South Dakota State in back to back games.  Or how South Dakota and Oral Roberts are the only two Summit League teams without three straight games on the road in conference play.  Then things like Omaha playing on the road against someone on a Thursday, as road games on Thursdays appear to be difficult for most teams.  Actually road games are pretty difficult for anyone.  Then I would go through the schedule again and consider some teams’ strengths versus their opponents weaknesses.  Like how teams better be good at three point shooting against South Dakota as they forced teams to take the most threes with their defense…and other things.

But I assigned wins and losses to each game, and did it several times considering different factors.  Then I plain and simple would add up each team’s wins and losses to see who had the most after going through it about 15 times.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it better than just saying South Dakota State will go 15-1 in conference because of Jesus?  Probably.

Really, after going through all of this; I really do not see much separation between many of the teams.  South Dakota State seems like a clear cut favorite.  Then North Dakota State seems like they are 2nd best, but they really should not be as comfortable as one would think.  Then Oral Roberts-Omaha-IPFW-IUPUI-South Dakota appear to be in a fight for spots 3 to 7 with Denver and Western Illinois sitting at 8 and 9; but Denver is a difficult place to play; and Western Illinois, while not great last year, they do return basically everything.

So much of the 3 to 9 in the Summit League appears to come down to:

  • Who can stay healthy?
  • Who can win on the road?
  • Who can pick up a win against South Dakota State and North Dakota State?

But for the sake of length, I am going to just post about Omaha to get started and why they should win more games than their 5-11 record last season.  Then I will come out with the rest of the Summit League later.


Omaha

Range of wins:  7 to 11 wins

Boldest Predictions:  Will pick up win against North Dakota State at home, will sweep South Dakota

Clearly, I am biased in how well I think the Mavs could do this season.  The Mavericks finished 5-11, but they had 4 conference losses decided by one or two possessions.  I know it does not work this way, but the Mavericks could have finished 8-8 or 9-7 in the Summit League had just a couple more things gone their way.  There is also more to play for with the Mavericks this season, and they should have a slightly stronger home court advantage with their new arena being right on campus. The attendance for the Mavericks has risen each season since transition, and people in town are starting to take them more serious.  2012-2013 was probably the most fun season to watch, but Omahans did not seem to even notice.  UNO Men’s Basketball was that new television show that had some good looking commercials that got you interested; but it was pitted in the same time slot as Breaking Bad in it’s prime and Sunday Night Football.   Justin Simmons had some of the most exciting dunks you could possibly witness; but Doug McDermott was in the middle of one of the greatest careers in Creighton and NCAA history; and Tim Miles was bringing a personality to the Huskers.  Omahans were in the mode of thinking they’d like to go to a Mavs game, but never fully pulled the trigger.  A few years later:  Creighton is down and Nebraska is too young for locals to know what is happening.  UNO has a brand new arena, in a fun part of town, some local guys on the roster that can make some noise, and six seniors to help start the new era of the program.

The Mavericks also have a pretty good way to start conference play with Western Illinois and IUPUI at home.  2013-2014 started @ Western Illinois, @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State; and 2012-2013 was @ North Dakota State, @ South Dakota State, and then a month conference break before they had South Dakota and Kansas City at home before going back on the road against very good IPFW and Oakland teams.  Last year the Mavs started on the road @ South Dakota and Western Illinois, and then came back home for North Dakota State and South Dakota State, before going back on the road against Oral Roberts.  The Mavs are finally not being welcomed to the Summit League with the middle finger jammed in front of their face, so hopefully they can start league play with some momentum.  The most difficult part of the conference schedule is going to be three straight road games at Denver, and the Mavericks yet to have a good game in the state of Colorado; then at Oral Roberts which is one of the toughest places to play in the Summit League; and then at South Dakota State who is the preseason favorite in the league and swept the Mavs last season by margins of 19 and 22 points.

As far as what is returning to the Mavericks: they lost Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter, but they are returning 61% of their scoring; which is the 4th highest in the league.  Marcus Tyus and Devin Patterson as a returning back court is arguably one of the top 3 back courts in the league.  Jake White is hopefully healthy enough to give significant minutes when the conference season turns around, he is tied with his fellow teammate Tre’Shawn Thurman as the 2nd leading returning rebounder in the league.  Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood should hopefully finally have roles edged out to really help this team improve.  Lack of depth was an issue for this team last season, but newcomers Zach Pirog, JT Gibson, and Tra-Deon Hollins sound as if they can really help the Mavericks improve on some of the weaknesses the Mavs had in 2014-2015, and add some needed depth to this team.  This team can go big, it can go small, it has adaptable lineups that can go up against anyone in the Summit.

From what I could tell, the preseason predictions biggest concerns with the Mavericks are that they cannot make up for the loss of Mike Rostampour and CJ Carter.  Okay, everyone loses someone in college athletics, but should we really be concerned about losing two guys that were not recruited to ever play in a Summit League conference tournament?  So really, why are people so hard on them for losing Rostampour and Carter, but no one is hard on IPFW for losing Steve Forbes and Joe Edwards; or South Dakota for losing Tyler Larson and Brandon Bos; or Oral Roberts for losing half of their team?  Please don’t take this as a Rostampour and Carter Were Not Unimportant thought… The Mavs would not be the same without them.  The point is, it does not seem like the Mavericks are asking as much out of their newcomers and returning players as much as other teams.  They are asking Jake White to be healthy enough to score 2-4 more points and grab a couple more rebounds, which I realize is easier said than done; Tre’Shawn Thurman to continue to improve; Tyus and Patterson to be more consistent; and Reed and Smallwood work more on their roles that they established toward the end of last season.  Other than North Dakota State and South Dakota State, everyone else appears to be asking guys to come in and be stars or huge impacts right away.  One thing that does scare me about Omaha finishing in the top half of the conference is the injury to Marcus Tyus.  He’s coming off ACL surgery that he injured in February.  Being ready in full form throughout November, December, and January just seems like a lot to look for at this point.

2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 8: Missouri Tigers

Missouri

2014-2015 record:  9-23

2014-2015 SEC record: 3-15 (last in the SEC)

2014-2015 final RPI ranking:  218

Random stat:  Derrin Hansen and the Mavs posted a 4-3 record against Kim Anderson and Central Missouri in the MIAA.

Best wins in 2014-2015:  vs Valparaiso (57), and vs LSU (65)

TV: SEC Network, 7pm


 

Let me start out by saying that I hate University of Missouri Athletics.  Every time I watched Nebraska play the Tigers in any sport, I found an unease and chill move down my spine like I was Batman trying to investigate a crime scene left by the Joker.  I sometimes find myself unable to change the channel when I turn on a Missouri sporting event and see that they are losing.  I was in a hotel in downtown Denver during softball season and I was the only person in the entire hotel bar watching Alabama beat Missouri in softball, actually I was probably the only person in Denver watching it.  I could sit here and say a lot of nasty things, but I do not really want to do that even though I would have the time of my life.

Anyway, after I get back to reality and think about Missouri Tigers basketball the only thing that comes to my mind is that they lost to UMKC to open up the season last year.  A friend of mine told me that he knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy that coaches for UMKC, or something like that.  So when I was checking basketball scores at the beginning of last season and saw that UMKC upset Missouri and texted my friend that I was proud to have a connection of six degrees of separation to someone involved with beating the Tigers; we both grew an agreement that the Missouri Tigers were done as a basketball program last season, and we were apparently right.

The Tigers finished 9-23 last season, but they did play what appeared to be a somewhat difficult non-conference schedule.  Try and wrap your head around the fact that UMKC beat Missouri, but Missouri beat Oral Roberts.  Try that one.  Then again a Missouri fan could say: how did the Mavericks beat Marquette and lose to Chicago State?  I know I have difficulties with it as well, but I know the Mavs were not fully healthy.

The Tigers are a young team with only one senior on the team, 6’10” Ryan Rosburg that averaged 3.3 ppg and 2.6 rpg in his junior season.

How about we go over the players that Missouri has lost.


 

Graduated

Keith Shamburger – 5’11”: 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 38 FG%, 33 3ptFG%. 89 FT%

Keanu Post – 6’11”: 4.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 57 FG%

Transferred

Jonathan Williams (Gonzaga) 6’9″: 11.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.6 bpg, 41 FG%, 34 3ptFG%, 62 FT%

Montaque Gill-Caesar (San Diego State) 6’6″: 9.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 36 FG%, 31 3ptFG%

Deuce Bello (East Tennessee State) 6’4″:  1.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 38 FG%


It is probably never good when your team loses guys named Keanu and Deuce.  Never.

Something that sticks out about Missouri is that they were virtually in the bottom half of division one in every statistical category last season, and on top of that they lost 3 of their top 4 scorers.  The Tigers ranked 321st in points per game as a team and 307th  in field goal percentage, so based on that it does not seem like the Mavs’ poor defense would be too much of an issue here.  Maybe it is a good thing they are losing those guys actually, but losing two young core players to transfer is never anything anyone brags about.

The Tigers were able to pick up the 55th best recruiting class in college basketball for whatever that is worth.  On top of what sounds like an okay recruiting class, Missouri is returning Wes Clark a 6’0″ junior that averaged 10 points per game along with 3.5 rpg and 3.1 apg.  The Tigers were able to pick up two junior college transfers, one that was a 6’2″ second team Junior College All American, and a 6’9″ player who was a 14 and 7 guy in junior college.

Wes Clark did miss the last 8 games of the 2014-2015 season.
Wes Clark did miss the last 8 games of the 2014-2015 season.

Just looking at the Missouri fan board, Tiger fans have many mixed emotions about their team.  Fans appear confident in Kim Anderson as a coach, but maybe not so much confidence riding on him as a recruiter.  I would assume fans found some confidence after upsets against Valpo and LSU.  Also Anderson has not taken over a dream situation for any coach.  As a fan base for Maverick basketball, it appears our fans are pretty optimistic moving forward, so it feels pretty good going up against a power conference opponent that has a fan base mumbling uncertainty.

Anderson had been an assistant at Missouri and Baylor before spending 12 solid seasons at D-2 Central Missouri
Anderson had been an assistant at Missouri and Baylor before spending 12 solid seasons at D-2 Central Missouri

With that in mind, you have to feel comfortable that the Mavericks can make this a competitive game, and maybe even pick up a win.  The Tigers do have a pretty difficult non-conference schedule with Xavier, Kansas State, Northwestern (or North Carolina), North Carolina State, and Illinois.  So it is entirely possible for a young team like Missouri to completely overlook a team like Omaha that was plagued with injuries the season before.

I know before I said that our best chance to pick up a win against a power conference team was Minnesota, but this may actually be a little more doable.   The big hope is that the Mavs will have a healthy back court of Devin Patterson and Marcus Tyus at this point in the season.  Patterson has averaged 16.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 spg, and shot 55% from the field in 5 career games against power conference teams, and Tyus has averaged 8.4 ppg and shot 52% from the field in nine games against power conference teams.  Also on top of that, Tre’Shawn Thurman averaged 8 ppg and 5.7 rpg and shot 52% in the three games against Marquette, Kansas State, and Nebraska last season.