Tuesday, November 8, 2016

UNO vs. UCSB Men's Basketball Game Preview, by GauchoFreg

Game 1, Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks vs. UCSB Gauchos
Saturday, November 12, 2016, 2 pm (Pacific time)
Men's Basketball game at The Thunderdome

Game Preview

The Gauchos open their season with a return match against Nebraska Omaha whom they defeated with an Eric Childress buzzer-beating layup in the season opener in Nebraska last year.   That season was the first year UNO was a full-fledged D1 member eligible for all post-season tournaments and they did very well as a first year program, finishing in third place in the Summit League with an overall record of 18-14.  They played in the CBI, losing in the first round to Duquesne.  The Summit was the 11th ranked conference in RPI, just ahead of the Mountain West. For reference, the Big West was 15th.  For the 2016-17 season, the Mavericks are picked to finish 4th in the Summit.

This year’s team is headed by 12th year coach Darrin Hansen. UNO returns nine letter winners from the 2015-16 squad so has experience but did graduate their two top scorers. They are led by pre-season Summit First Teamer Senior PG Tra Deon Hollins who boasted a stat line of 12.5 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 6.1 assists per game and 4 steals per game.  Yes, 4 steals per game, the highest theft rate in 16 years according to his coach.  He takes about three 3-pointers a game but only makes 28.6 percent of them.  He brings some size to the point guard position standing 6’2”, 195 lb.  At the other guard position returns 5th-year senior, two-year starter, Marcus Tyus.  Tyus averaged 13 ppg as a junior before tearing his ACL late in the season and missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery. UNO missed his touch from long range. While the 6-foot-1 guard hit 44 % of his 3-point shots as a junior, the Mavs shot only 34 % from beyond the arc last season. 

The Mavericks return their leading rebounder, pre-season Summit honorable-mention junior PF Tre Shawn Thurman who is also the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 13.9 ppg last year. Thurman is efficient, shooting at a 53.6% clip last year.  At 6’7”, 235lb, he’ll be a much greater physical challenge for Jalen Canty and Ami Lakoju compared to what the two faced from Fresno Pacific.   At the other forward position is 6’8”, 210lb Sophomore Mitchel Hahn who transferred in from Holy Cross. Coach Hansen is high on Hahn and expects significant contribution on the offense from him.

The Mavs have terrific depth at the guard and wing position.  In addition to Hollins and Tyus, they have a pair of 6’3” guards in JT Gibson, a freshman coming off a medical redshirt year, and Daniel Norl from Eastern Kentucky.   Two returnees, guards Zach Jackson and Kyler Erickson both have some starting experience.

Additional notes about the Mavericks:
  • UNO was 4th in the nation in both offense (ppg) and steals
  • 10th for steals and 12th for turnovers forced
  • UNO returns 45 percent of its offensive production from last season. The returners are also credited for 51 percent (581) of last season’s 1,132 rebounds.
Matchups and Prediction  It will be strength-on-strength in the backcourt with UCSB’s two Honorable Mention All-Big West players Childress and Gabe Vincent up against Hollins and Tyus.  UNO does have a significant advantage in terms of depth at the guard/wing positions and we may see a lot of turnovers by the Gauchos when Childress is on the bench.

UCSB counters with much more size and depth in the frontcourt.  If the Gauchos can get Thurman into foul trouble the Mavericks won’t be able to answer the Gauchos down low. 
It will most likely be an ugly game as many first games are.  It should be tightly contested initially, with UNO possibly getting a lead when Childress or Vincent takes a breather early on.   Gaucho depth in the front court should pay off, and they overcome a deficit to pull off a 65-61 foul-plagued, turnover-filled affair.


UNO Season Previews 

Game preview by GauchoFreg, with contributions by GauchoDan

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