From time zone to time zone, the Mavericks take on the Cougars tonight

The Omaha Mavericks will make the journey out to the Great State of Washington to take on some Cougars.

I have a lot of friends who follow the Pac-12, so I regularly follow the Pac-12 as well for conversation purposes.  A big time sports fantasy of mine is to go to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament.  It sounds like a real fun time.

Anyway, I can tell you with 100% certainty the Washington State Cougars are regularly the laughing stock of the conference. It wasn’t until the football program hired Mike Leach that Pac-12 fan bases actually respected them in something.  With that said, I have a lot of Washington State friends, and I’ve witnessed them sitting around screaming “WE’RE NOT THAT BAD, JUST GIVE US A YEAR OR TWO!”

As far as basketball fan hood goes, they are the Nebraska of the Pac-12.  Just to bring that home and find a relate able comparison for you.

The Cougars finished last season at 11-21 and 4-14 against the Pac-12. In their non-conference schedule they suffered losses to Seattle, Montana State, New Mexico State (twice), San Diego, and Santa Clara.

They’ve already dropped a game to Santa Clara so far this season. Like Omaha, they lack depth, and have similar characteristics to any other inconsistent basketball team trying to find themselves.

As of this morning, the Cougars are favored by 7 points. I would take Omaha to beat the spread and beat the Cougars…if this game was played one day later.

The Cougars will have 2 extra days of rest over the Mavericks, and the Mavericks most recent game was in Dayton, Ohio. After losing to Colorado State, the biggest problem for the Mavericks seemed to be not having enough time to prep for the Rams after playing Bethune-Cookman two days before.

So what can the Mavericks do to win?

The Mavericks will have their hands full with 6’6″ sophomore forward CJ Elleby, who is averaging 20 points per game and shooting 54% from the field.  Elleby did struggle in WSU’s road loss to Santa Clara, shooting 4-of-14 from the floor. It will be up to Zach Thornhill, Marlon Ruffin, and Wanjang Tut to spend their energy guarding and slowing down Elleby if the Mavericks want to win.

The Cougars really don’t have anyone to match up against Matt Pile.  The Cougars’ main offensive post threat, Jeff Pollard, has been struggling shooting 41% from the field so far this season, so hopefully Pile can stay out of foul trouble and make a difference for the Mavericks down low. The Cougars are currently last in the Pac-12 in blocks per game, averaging just 2.3 per game.  Please, just throw Matt Pile the ball!

The Mavericks could have a chance to win this game if Ayo Akinwole AND KJ Robinson are both on it this game.  With JT Gibson likely to guard WSU’s second leading scorer Isaac Bonton, Akinwole and Robinson will be needed to step up on offense and hit big shots. The Mavericks can’t afford an off night from either of those two.

Washington State has been atrocious shooting threes so far this season. They’ve shot 25% from behind the three point line. They also have somehow attempted 25 threes per game, like it was a good idea or something. Hopefully, Omaha can force the Cougars to the outside.


2015-2016 Opponent Preview, Game 1: UC Santa Barbara

So there are 13 weeks until the Mavs basketball season starts, so what is a better time to start previewing their 2015 fourteen non-conference opponents?  Probably last week actually if I wanted to take it one team at a time.  Crap.  Oh well.  Here we go.

The Mavs will open their season at the brand new Baxter Arena in Mavtown with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.   Don’t you love it how nicknames of California teams (pro and college) make no sense?  This will be after Mav hockey will already be 10 games into the season, but there will not be any hockey this weekend, so really it is a great weekend to open up the season for the Baxter Arena for basketball.  UNO Men’s soccer should be in Denver this weekend for the Summit League tournament and championship, and hopefully the women’s soccer team will have made some noise at this point and maybe have already made the Summit League tournament.  This will also be the final weekend of the regular season for the volleyball team.

I know some Mav fans were expecting a bit time opponent to open up the arena.  Some were thinking the likes of Nebraska or Creighton, but the Gauchos are not a small opponent by any means.  In fact, they actually finished the 2015-2016 season with an RPI of 98.  If case you forgot: Creighton finished at 157; and Nebraska finished at 155, but I know it is more about the name and prestige for most.  The Gauchos also finished the year with a winning record, tied for 2nd with UC Irvine in the Big West, and a trip to the CBI where they lost to Summit League team Oral Roberts.

In addition to all of this, Santa Barbara had one win over a power conference team, Washington State.  I know Washington State is someone to not take incredibly seriously right now as far as power conference teams ago, but the Gauchos beat them 71-43.

Side note:  My Northwest friends are mostly Washington State fans.  Last year, when I heard UNO was going to Seattle and looking to play Washington or Washington State while in the Northwest, I told my Northwest friends that they might have a Mavericks versus Cougars match up.  They laughed and said “there is an easy win for UNO.”

Speaking of Seattle, remember when UNO lost to them and we were incredibly shocked by it?  The Gauchos beat Seattle 87-46.  Looking at the rest of their 2014-2015 schedule, they had some close losses to some good teams.  As mentioned, they lost to Oral Roberts by 4 in the CBI.  The Gauchos also traveled to Lawrence early in the year to lose to Kansas by 10, the Jayhawks had a final RPI of 5.  The team did also split games with Florida Gulf Coast, losing to Dunk City by 6 in overtime before beating them by 13 later in the non-conference schedule.

I really wish UNO and Colorado State could meet every year, the Rams are a fun team to watch, and they are “sort of local” with a large number of UNO alumni (and former Omahans) in the state of Colorado.  Santa Barbara lost to the Rams by 2.  Colorado State had a final RPI of 37.

Speaking of other teams I would like to see UNO play, but this is because of my wife’s fan hood, Santa Barbara lost to Oregon by 4 points in overtime in Eugene.  Also, a team I hate discussing, SMU, beat Santa Barbara by 7.  Larry Brown’s final experiment finished with an RPI of 27.

The Gauchos are coached by Bob Williams, who has been with Santa Barbara since 1998 after winning a Division 2 championship with (then D-2) UC Davis.  Williams has made the NCAA tournament with the Gauchos 3 times, his last time was in 2010-2011.

Who did they lose?

The Gauchos lost a huge piece of their team.  6’8″ and 265lbs Alan Williams averaged a double double in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons for Santa Barbara.  He was an All Big West player for all three of those seasons as well.  He is actually probably solely responsible for what kept Santa Barbara in the game against Kansas, as he showed to be too much for Perry Ellis, in which Williams had 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Williams averaged 17.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg his senior season, he also was not a terrible free throw shooter at 77%.  He had a 20 rebound performance in a 65-60 overtime win over Mercer.  Oh Williams also led the NCAA in rebounding in 2014 and in 2015.

Willaims did miss 6 games in 2014-2015 with the Gauchos going 4-2 in his absence, and those two losses were against UC Irvine and UC Davis, the two top teams in the Big West.

After finishing his career as a Gaucho, Williams played for the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets in the NBA Summer League, where he was named All Summer League 2nd team after a 22 points and 21 rebound performance against the 76ers.  He has signed professionally with a Chinese team.

I feel like Mike Rostampour would have loved competing against this guy.

Who do they have coming back?

Williams is obviously a huge loss, but he was not the only Big West 1st Team player that the Gauchos had.  6’4″ senior Michael Bryson also made the all conference team after averaging 14 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game.  Bryson loves taking threes, he made about 2 threes per game in 2014-2015 with a total of 68 on the year.  In comparison, CJ Carter, who led the Mavericks, made 48 on the season.  Bryson also shot 85% from the free throw line.

The Gauchos return two more wing players that averaged over 10 per game last season.  6’5″ senior John Green averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds per game, though Green was mostly used at the 4 position last season since, other than Williams, the Gauchos did not have much of a post game.  The team also return 6’3″ sophomore Gabe Vincent who averaged 10 per game, but did face inconsistencies throughout the year, as most freshman do.  Vincent shot 41% on threes on the year, and had a total of 57.

So you’re telling me there is a chance?

Probably the Mavericks biggest weakness last season was their perimeter defense, so you get a little scared when you hear they are facing a team with their strength being their group of returning wing players.  The Gauchos will be trying to adjust to life without a walking double double, and after Williams, the Gauchos did not have a reliable post game.

So the keys to the game could be how much the Mavs can work the ball into Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman, as well as how good of a perimeter defender new Mavericks Tra-Deon Hollins can be in the game…who sounds to be a pretty stellar defender.

This is not going to be as easy of a game as playing Central Arkansas to open up the year, but to get better the Mavs have to play the best, this is great competition.  As of right now, it does sound as if Santa Barbara has the edge, but hopefully opening up the new arena (to basketball) can create a great atmosphere to give the Mavs a great home court advantage in this game.




Summit League Men’s Soccer Blind Resume Game

So even though the men’s basketball team is heading to Italy, we are still still a few months away from the regular season; but hey UNO has other sports to keep me from debating a chemically induced coma to ride out the wait until mid-November.

My wife and I recently took a much needed 10 day vacation, half of it was in Portland and the other half was in Vegas.  While we were in Portland, our friends were talking a lot of Portland Timbers talk and I just stood there and did the smile and nod to pretend to know that I knew what they were talking about.  A majority of our friends in the Northwest are Washington State alumni and fans, so they absolutely hate the University of Washington and I have jumped in that circle of hate (for the conformity).  Since the Cougars do not have a men’s soccer team, I have allowed them to join in on the Mavericks soccer bandwagon.  They were actually pretty satisfied to join the Mavericks bandwagon since UNO plays an exhibition against their bitter rival Washington Huskies.  We have a few more fans!

I know very little about soccer.  I sit there and watch it, and I am generally pretty entertained, but I am a lot like a woman trying to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron as her first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Offense?  I do not understand how to formulate an offense in soccer.  Whenever I have played open soccer, my strategy is to just kick it the ball in that one direction that gets less people getting mad at me.

So instead of being that guy that opens the hood of his car and pretends to know what he is doing until breaking his pride realizing that his man card is about to expire, I am just going to throw out some blind resumes and hope for the best here.

In the 2014 season: Denver, Omaha, Oral Roberts, and Western Illinois all tied for the regular season championship.  Denver won the conference championship, but how about we take a look to see if anyone can overthrow them as Summit League champions by looking at the blind resumes of those four teams based on some 2014 statistics. Aside from these four teams, IUPUI looks like they can actually be pretty good this season.  I based that on very little.

If you were a die hard fan, you probably already know who all of these teams are, so yeah, I am dumb.

Team 1-

RPI: 91

Overall Record:  11-8-1

In 2014, they had 6 All Conference players, one of which was on the 1st Team.  Of those six players, they are losing 2 of those players.  If you are keeping track, they are returning four 2nd Team players.

Best RPI win was against # 55, and they also had a win against # 57.

Worst RPI loss was against # 146, also lost to # 142.

Goals on the year: 32 (1.6/game)

Opponents Goals:  25 (1.25/game)

Steaks:  3 separate two game winning streaks

Team 2-

RPI: 99

Overall Record: 10-5-2

In 2014, they had 5 All Conference players, three of which were on the 1st Team.  Of those five player, they are losing three of those players.  They will be returning one 1st Team player and one 2nd Team player.

Best RPI win was against # 91, also had a tie with # 55.

Worst RPI loss was to # 166.

Goals on the year: 25 (1.47/game)

Opponents Goals: 18 (1.05/game)

Steaks:  3 separate three game winning steaks

Team 3-

RPI: 117

Overall Record: 9-7-3

In 2014, they had 5 All Conference players, four of which were on the 1st team.  Three of those players have graduated.  They will be returning one 1st Team player and one 2nd Team player.

Best RPI win against # 99

Worst RPI loss to # 189

Goals on the year: 22 (1.15/game)

Opponents Goals: 18 (0.95/game)

Streaks: 6 game winning streak (all shutouts), 2 separate two game losing streaks


Team 4-

RPI: 143

Overall Record:  8-8-2

In 2014, they had 2 All First Team Conference players, both of which have graduated.

Best RPI win was against # 76.

Worst RPI loss was to # 183

Goals on the year: 24 (1.33/game)

Opponents goals on the year: 25 (1.38/game)

Streaks:  4 games in a row without scoring a goal (3 losses, 1 tie).  3 shut out wins in a row

Based on this very little amount of information, I would have to say Team 1 is the favorite, but there is also very little information because I know very little…