Omaha versus Fort Wayne preview

There is not a ton of separation between Omaha and Fort Wayne, just four straight wins for the Mastodons over the Mavericks.

It is difficult to beat a team that you are evenly matched with three times in one season.  Omaha is confident right now, and they are riding a three game winning steak, but who knows what their confidence level is when matched up against the only team that they couldn’t pick up a win against this season.

Even as Derrin Hansen was expecting any possible outcome, on the post game interview after the win against North Dakota State, it sounded as if he was playing off the anger in his attitude.  It could be that every game between the Omaha and Fort Wayne in the last two seasons has been close, but the Mavericks haven’t gotten the cigar.  Cigars are bad for you, so it’ s not like that part of it is a big deal.  The Mastodons could be in the heads of the Mavericks players and coaches.

One thing that would instantly jump out to the Mavericks is John Konchar.  Konchar is obviously a great player.  Yesterday he was named First Team All Summit League after averaging 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists a game; and on top of that he shot 64 percent from the field and 54 percent on threes.

I’m sure you would expect those averages to go up against the Mavericks because of the pace both of teams want to play at, but Konchar’s stats against the Mavericks would have you think he is playing against a division 2 opponent.  In 2 seasons, Konchar has averaged 24 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and shot 78 percent from the field and 85 percent on threes.  He has not missed a 3 point shot against the Mavericks this season.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Derrin Hansen and the Mavericks are probably not extremely thrilled that Konchar’s mix tape for professional basketball teams to see will be largely in thanks to the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Another face that will stick out to the Mavericks is Brent Calhoun.  The center that used to be heavier than my car, but has turned himself into a well conditioned basketball player that can run the floor and might even be the best Summit League player that purely stays in the post.

Calhoun was in foul trouble in one game last season and really didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate any stats, so not counting that game, but in the last two seasons Calhoun has averaged 13 points and shot 75 percent from the field against Omaha.  He dominates the low block against the Mavericks on offense and defense.

He also averaged 3.7 blocks in those three meetings.

Neither of these teams love the defensive end, but the Mavericks need to slow down and contain Calhoun and Konchar.  Players like Zach Jackson and Daniel Norl might not even want to take a shot in this game, and just focus all their time and energy on just bothering John Konchar.  That’s nearly impossible, they won’t not take shots in this system but it’s a theory.

The hope is that this is like some super hero movie.  The villain wins the early battles, the hero fails early on and learns more about the villain and even more about their own life, and then they go out there for one final jousting for a winner take all battle and the hero saves the freaking day.

Omaha coaches and players have stated throughout the entire season that they were upset with themselves with the early exit in the Summit League in 2016.  They said they wanted to be playing their best basketball of the season heading into the tournament, and they are, but we have seen them go on hot and cold streaks this season.  A win in this game relies on their mental focus and toughness in dealing with Fort Wayne.

In a game where the teams are so close to each other, but also so far away, every little thing matters.  Mavericks have to stay focused in on the big things, and the little things.

 

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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: Dec 28-31

I am sick on vacation, I am 2 hours behind in Oregon, and my in-laws are nuts.  Hopefully, this will make some sense.  It’s hard to pick between many of these teams because the non-conference schedule can have so many out liars, with some teams hardly playing any competition in November and December and Oral Roberts and Omaha having tougher schedules.

Oral Roberts strength of schedule RPI is currently ranked 10th in division one, and Omaha’s is ranked 88th.

December 28th

North Dakota State @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

Normally, I would probably just go with the home team in this match up.  The Jackrabbits have been pretty lackluster on defense this season, and the Bison weave offense will frustrate the Jackrabbits the entire game.  The Jackrabbits have appeared to get better and better as their team gets more time to gel together, but it seems to take a while for them to get into a rhythm each game.  If the Bison have a decent enough lead late in the game, their style of play will limit the amount of possessions that South Dakota State has to get back into the game.

The Bison may or may not have anyone who can stop Mike Daum, but who does?  Perhaps Dexter Werner and Deng Geu can give him different defensive looks for 40 minutes to bother him enough to get him just a little bit off of him game.

Oral Roberts @ Denver

This is actually kind of a good match up.  Daniel Amigo head-to-head with AJ Owens could be fun.  Jalen Bradley head-to-head with Joe Rosga should be fun.  Emmanuel Nzekwesi head-to-head with CJ Bobbit can be good.  Denver does have a bit more depth than Oral Roberts, and can run the Golden Eagles out of Denver.

Oral Roberts played the toughest non-conference schedule out of all the Summit League teams, so playing the Pioneers may seem like nothing to them.  However, the Golden Eagles are not a great defensive team, and the Pioneers have shown to be a solid team offensively.

December 29th

Western Illinois @ Fort Wayne

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Omaha @ South Dakota on ESPN3

The Coyotes are 6-0 at home.  Omaha has won in Vermillion two straight years, and swept South Dakota last season.

The Mavericks will be one of the deepest teams the Coyotes have faced at home, and while the Coyotes will be able to force Omaha to outside shots, that wont bother them too much now.  If the three point shooters for Omaha can knock down shots, they should be having a good night.  That Thurman-Hahn-Gibson-Tyus-Hollins lineup should create some points and start a good run of the Mavericks.

December 31st

Western Illinois @ IUPUI on ESPN3

It has to be pretty difficult to be the road team on a day like New Year’s Eve for college students.  The game is noon, though, so maybe Western Illinois will just be excited to get out of Indianapolis as soon as possible to head back to Macomb.

South Dakota @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

The Jackrabbits opening up the Summit League with two straight home losses…have I gone mad?

This game is incredibly important to both teams, but the Coyotes have been thinking of this game far longer than the Jackrabbits.  I mean, probably, right?

South Dakota has shown to be good enough at defense to keep themselves in games.

The Coyotes really don’t have anyone who can keep up with Mike Daum, and especially for 40 minutes.  Daum may have 40 points in this game, but maybe only one other guy can crack double figures.

The Coyotes may just let Mike Daum try to beat them on his own, which is a strategy other teams have gone with and been successful with.

Oral Roberts @ Fort Wayne 

What a rough start to the conference for Oral Roberts, travel wise.  They start out at Denver, and then head to Fort Wayne to play the Mastodons after the Mastodons pretty much get an open practice against Western Illinois.

Omaha @ North Dakota State

The Bison could be seeking a little revenge after Omaha came in last season and ended North Dakota State’s home winning streak.  The Bison are one of the better defensive teams in the Summit League this season, and their style of play is one that has bothered the Mavericks over the last couple of seasons.

Omaha did sweep the Bison last season, but if you recall: The Bison were playing without their leading scorer, Paul Miller, in Omaha and AJ Jacobson was in foul trouble for most of the game.

The Tre’Shawn Thurman versus AJ Jacobson has been fun to watch over the last couple of years, but the match up to see this year could be Zach Jackson versus Paul Miller.

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

My trivial Summit League rankings – Dec 8

A few weeks away from the start of the conference season for The Summit League, are you starting to get pumped? Nothing like some meaningless rankings and broad observations to help get you there.

1. Fort Wayne

The Mastodons beat Indiana.  Don’t you remember?

They actually average more steals than Omaha.  That might break you.

2. Omaha

Don’t let the Iowa State poor showing get you down.  The Mavericks were worn down in that game after putting all of their focus on the Hawkeyes over the weekend.  You could see how Tre’Shawn Thurman was warn down in that game, he had no lift in his legs what so ever.  The whole team seemed deflated from the opening tip.  I was hoping Derrin Hansen would have used half time as a kindergarten style group nap.

Also, don’t let Nebraska or Creighton smack talking fans take anything away from Omaha beating Iowa because “it’s a down year for Iowa.”  These are the same people that were in agreement that thought before the start of the season that Iowa would be in the NIT because “Fran McCaffrey is just that good of a coach.”  I guess it’s also a down century for Nebraska, so Incarnate Word should just forget their win over Nebraska a few years ago ever happened.

Looking up and down the Summit League, it is hard to find a team that is more set up for success this season AND in the future.  Even though the Mavericks still have some things they need to work on, they have an actual chance to win the Summit League this season.  In addition to that, sophomores Zach Pirog, Mitch Hahn, and Zach Jackson are showing that they could be a dangerous front court combination over the next few years.  Freshmen JT Gibson and KJ Robinson are also showing flashes of improvement and could combine with that front court in 2018 to be the best starting lineup in the Summit League in 2017-2018.  Yes, I realize that some teams could get some junior college players or some transfers from bigger schools to contend with them, but as of right now, we have a Pirog, Hahn, Jackson, Gibson, Robinson lineup to look forward to.

3. North Dakota State

The Bison have the second highest RPI and Kenpom rating as of right now, but remember when the Bison were just unstoppable at home?  Then the Mavericks broke that trend last season?  The Bison lost to the Fighting Si..Hawks by 18 in Fargo last night.  Dexter Werner had 30 points and 13 rebounds in the game, but no one else for the Bison really showed up.  The Bison back court of Paul Miller and Khy Kabellis combined for 1-of-18 from the floor.

It may actually shock you that the Bison currently have the worst three point shooting percentage in the Summit League.

4. South Dakota

Can we just call them Mini-Nebraska?  They are good at defense, poor at three point shooting, and struggle to score ball at times.  They also appear to have a ton of depth on the team, but really there is just not much difference from the starters to the bench players…but the starters are not exactly 1st Team All Conference players.

5. IUPUI

The Jaguars have had a pretty tough schedule, with only two home games so far, and they still have to play on the road against Southern Utah and Northwestern.    While you were not paying attention, because Omaha was playing in Iowa City, the Jaguars were able to pick up a win at Ball State.  Then they almost pulled off another Summit League versus Big 10 upset by playing Illinois close.

6. South Dakota State

Not sure if you’ve watched a South Dakota State game, but it’s not really looking all that pretty.  The team has no flow whenever Mike Daum heads to the bench.  There is no true point guard to really set up a pick-and-roll situation.  It really is a team of guys that have not played much basketball together and are still working to figure it out.  They can turn this around by late February, but the process of getting there may not be pretty.

They were able to beat UMKC over the weekend, but the Kangaroos were playing without their best player, Martez Harrison.

7. Denver

3-5 on the year so far, and the Pioneers have been competitive in almost every loss.  This team is still transitioning their offensive culture from Watch Out For The 10 Screens Every Play to They Shot That With 20 Seconds On the Shot Clock, but they may have a chance of having it figured out by the end of the year.

Joe Rosga is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists a game.  It may be a difficult decision if you have to pick who the best sophomore is in the Summit League between Rosga, Mike Daum, and John Konchar.

8. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles have still yet to beat a division one team.  Oral Roberts has the toughest strength of schedule in the Summit League, and they almost put a serious scare into Michigan State…which is why they are getting the edge on Western Illinois for not having the worst ranking in the Summit.

The Golden Eagles still do not have much of a bench, and their roster is filled with youth and inconsistency.  One has to wonder if the tough schedule will help them fight through and prepare them for the Summit League, or just wear them down to the point they cannot compete for 40 minutes each conference game.

9. Western Illinois

Work has been super hectic for me lately while we have been transitioning to a new software, the alternator in my car died last week, and when I had Roto Rooter come out to my place to snake my drain, and the guy poked a hole in a pipe so when I ran the dishwasher a bunch of water leaked into my basement.  We had to cut through drywall to replace the drain and all the of the furniture that was in that room is currently sitting in a hall way.

Sorry, I just thought you might want to hear about some problems I have had recently while we are on the subject of shit shows.

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.

omakc.png

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.

 

 

 

 

A month out game preview: Iowa

First off, congratulations to Chicago Cubs and all of the Cubs fans, except for all of the Cubs fans that were Royals fans last season. There is a special place in hell for you where they just force you to watch Major League 3 on a continuous loop but they replace Scott Bakula with Scott Baio, because you’re in hell and you did this to yourself.


I have no beef with the Iowa Hawkeyes.  My father attended the University of Iowa back in the day.  Both of my parents were born in our bordering state.  I have been forced to watch Iowa football games with a group of drunkards who just spat out nonsense the entire time. There is a very small part of me that has an unfortunate connection to the University of Iowa that I cannot deny.

Still, with my unfavorable connection, I cannot help but think negative things when I close my eyes and imagine up a die hard Iowa Hawkeye fan.  Usually, the person I enjoy working with the least always has Hawkeye memorabilia hanging up in their work space.

My wife was born into Oregon Duck fan hood, and when we first started dating we would go from establishment to establishment each week during football season in Omaha looking for a place for her to watch Oregon Duck games.  Typically, we would get told we could watch the bottom line of scores during the Husker game and if we were lucky ESPN might cut away to the Oregon game for a quick second to provide an update.

One time we went to DJs Dugout during a time that there was no Husker game, so we felt lucky about our chances that they would play the Oregon game.  We were told they would play the game for us, but there was an Iowa game on that night so there would be close to a 100 people in yellow screaming.  I immediately felt sorry for the waitress, knowing based on my Iowa roots that she would be dealing with a bunch of patrons complaining about not being able to smoke inside a bar and that clearly everything bad that happened was Obama’s fault.  Also, of course at the end of the night the dishwasher would have to deal with handling a number of glasses with spit, back wash, and chewing tobacco.

Still, I grew up as a closet Hawkeye fan.  My friends obsessed over Husker football recruiting and had Husker watch parties, while I had to watch Iowa games by myself or with the drunks.  If I even asked to change the channel to the Hawkeyes, I would get picked on.  Eventually, I just fell into peer pressure and went on in life as a Husker fan.  Yet, if I ever played a college sports video game, I typically would always play as the Iowa Hawkeyes…or create UNO as a team.  I still have Iowa as one of the teams I receive updates for on the ESPN ap, and I get made fun of for this.

I only provide you this prelude to hopefully point out that I might actually be objective in a Mavericks versus Hawkeyes match up.


December 3rd is apparently the Summit League versus Big 10 Challenege Day.

Oral Roberts will be playing at Michigan State, and the Golden Eagles will most likely get slaughtered.

Nebraska fans will spend their day pretending the Huskers did so poorly against South Dakota since Craig Smith knows Tim Miles so well, and not accept that the Huskers are actually just bad at basketball.  Actually, I think Nebraska will not be as bad as people think this season, but South Dakota still has a fighting chance against them.

The Omaha Mavericks will also take a short drive to face the sort of prestigious Iowa Hawkeyes.

omaiowa

I like Iowa.  Not the state, but the university and the athletic program.  With that said, I don’t think they will be very good this season.  My expectations are not very high for the Hawkeyes, yet I have been told to not count them out because Fran McCaffery is such a good coach, and many people expect them to be a NIT team.  While he is a good basketball coach, it is completely acceptable to tune into an Iowa Hawkeye game and wonder why they’re letting the team accountant pace the sidelines.

The Hawkeyes may have made the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2016, but they lost four starters from that team.  A team we thought would go undefeated in the Big 10 after they topped Michigan and Michigan State in the middle of the year because Fran McCaffery was such a good coach but then ended up losing 4 in a row and lost to Illinois in their first game of the Big 10 Tournament.  You should blame Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury for that, just because.  Don’t blame McCaffery, he’s the best.  Actually, it would be best to blame Obama.

The lone returning starter for the Hawkeyes is Peter Jok.  An athletic 6’6″ player that can play the guard position and hit threes.  Guys like this have not been kind to the Mavericks since transitioning to division one.  It would not be great for the Mavericks if the Hawkeyes were playing Jok at shooting guard against a smaller Marcus Tyus or Kyler Erickson.  I may just think this because of the haunting memories I have of Shavon Shields  a few years ago having his way with Tyus and just shooting over him all night.

Aside from Jok, the Hawkeyes are a young team and it appears they will be having issues trying to figure out who to play on the court, especially early in the season.  The Mavericks offense is based on running out into traffic and causing confusion, and it looks like the Hawkeyes could get easily confused by the Mavericks.  If the Mavericks get out and run, Tra-Deon Hollins spin moves into some and-one opportunities, the Hawkeyes could have some problems with their lack of chemistry and experience in this game…and the whole season.  This game, may actually be the biggest opportunity for the Mavericks to pull off an upset against a Power 5 team.

The Hawkeyes may have more athleticism, but the Mavericks at least know who and what they are.  Since teams in their own state wont play them, the Mavericks look at teams like the Hawkeyes for a win to bring a notoriety to their program.  Guys like Tre’Shawn Thurman, Tra-Deon Hollins, and Mitchell Hahn have had Iowa on their minds most likely since they were youngsters.  This is a game they badly want to win.  They may actually want this win more than the Hawkeyes.  Do you remember how close the Mavericks played the Hawkeyes the last time they traveled to Iowa City?

The Mavericks may not have the advantage if the game is slowed down.  Iowa recruited very well for post players.  They landed three freshman all around 6’8 and 250 pounds.  They probably cannot play all three of these guys, and are likely to redshirt at least one of them.  Tyler Cook is the most coveted, who McCaffery already thinks could be a legendary player at Iowa.

Cook does not appear super fast, but he also does not appear super slow.  He is a strong player with a number of post moves.  If the game is slowed down, Tre’Shawn Thurman will need to stay out of foul trouble, and let’s sit and hope that Daniel Meyer and Zach Pirog have both improved defensively.

That is somewhat of an issue for the Mavericks in this game.  With Iowa’s size and athleticism, the Mavericks need somewhat unproven guys like Meyer, Pirog, and Zach Jackson to really step up in this game for the best chance to win, especially on defense.

The Mavericks do have an opportunity to win this game, but they could be playing on tired legs with this being their sixth road game of the year, and the third of a four game road trip.  At least the Mavericks will be used to playing on the road already by early December…

This game will be at 1pm on a Saturday.  It is about a four hour drive to Iowa City, and you apparently (per Rylan Murry) need to check out some place in Des Moines called Zombie Burger on the way.  So plan for that.  Don’t wear your nice shoes to Iowa City either.  Actually, you might want to check out the prices of Hazmat suits.  I don’t think you can buy one of those at the UNO bookstore, so you may want to get on that.