Maverick Maniac's Musings

January 26, 2009

Men’s Basketball Has Destiny in Their Hands Once Again

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Green @ 12:31 am

Thanks to Southwest Baptist going down once again, this time on the road at Central Missouri, the UNO Men’s Basketball team once again has destiny in their hands.  Win out, and the Mavericks will be in 1st place.  Easier said than done of course, but it’s good to see that now 1 game into the 2nd half of the season, and the Mavericks are sitting at 7-4, tied for 3rd, and a game out of 1st.  I think Maverick fans have to be pretty happy with this performance after entering what has proven to be a much tougher league than the NCC was.  The effect of playing 20 conference games, a grueling schedule for any team, let alone one coming off a season featuring 12 conference games, hasn’t hurt the Mavericks too much yet.  UNO has yet to see an easy win, with just 3 wins decided by double digits (by 11 @ Missouri Western, by 11 vs. Truman State, and by 10 vs. Missouri Southern).  Every night out is a fight, a battle to see who will emerge the victor.  The Mavericks are 2-4 on the road, but 3 of the 4 losses were very close (by 1 to Washburn on a foul at the end, by 6 to Emporia State in a game that the Mavericks led by as much as 14 and as late as with 5:45 to go, and by 2 to Pittsburg State on a shot with under 5 seconds to go in Overtime).  Even the 13 point loss to Central Missouri isn’t too embarassing consdiering the Mavericks were without the services of Justin Petersen and had to start a 6-3 guard at the PF spot.  


I don’t think I’m out of place to say the Mavericks are THIS close to being 16-2 and in the top 10. 3 of their 5 losses were by 2 points or less.  This team is pretty dang good, and definitely has the talent to make a run in Kansas City at the MIAA Tournament and at the South Central Regional, wherever that may be (I’m just gonna tell you now you might want to book a hotel near Oklahoma City and Central Oklahoma University).  


The Mavs had a huge home win on Saturday over Washburn.  The Mavericks avenged an earlier one point road loss with a 93-88 win.  It wasn’t always pretty, but it got the job done.  The Mavericks lost Michael Jenkins to a twisted ankle just 2:13 into the game.  Enter Tyler Albers.  Albers had averaged 14 minutes and 5.8 points per game this year, and only 3 points per game in the MIAA, with just 2 in the first meeting against Washburn.  Tyler though played his best game of the year and went off for 20 points on 7-10 shooting, including 5-8 from 3. He also had 5 assists and 3 rebounds.  Incredible game for Tyler.  


Not to be outdone, younger brother Mitch decided to bring it as well.  For the 2nd straight game, Mitch went for a career high.  On Wednesday night it was 28 against Pittsburg.  On Saturday he eqauled his jersey number for the first time with 30 points. It was his 4th game with 20+ points this year. Mitch also added 4 assists before fouling out late in the game (on an interesting note Mitch picked up all 5 of his fouls in the 2nd half, starting with 15:40 to go and fouling out with 20 seconds left). 


The Mavericks rode a hot shooting first half (68% from the field, 7-12 from 3) to a 54-41 lead.  Washburn quickly cut into that lead in the 2nd half and had the lead down to 6 just 3 minutes in.  They would eventually take the lead momentarily with 6:29 to go after an old fashioned three point play. But the Albers brothers took over (Mitch with a layup, Tyler with a 3 and a FT (he was fouled), Mitch with another layup) and the Mavericks were back up 5 and would not trail again.


The Mavericks were out rebounded by 10 by a tall Washburn lineup (3 starters at 6’5, one at 6’6 and one at 6’9), but saw Justin Petersen pick up 7 and Dion Curry pick up 5. Andrew Bridger continue some solid play with 7 assists (6 in the 2nd half) and only 2 turnovers along with 3 steals.  


Looking ahead: the Mavericks take on Fort Hays State on Wednesday.  Fort Hays nearly beat UNO at home, but the Mavericks won 80-77.  The Mavericks have a chance to get hot here.  The next two road games are winnable (At Northwest Missouri State where UNO won last year, and at Truman State, the worst team in the conference).  If the Mavs can pick up those two and defend the Sapp they’d be on a 7 game winning streak heading to SW Baptist in what would then be absolute gigantic matchup. Of course the Mavs could easily lose at NW and probably at Truman too and make this all null.


I still think 16-4 probably wins this conference (and that 16-4 is in Bolivar Missouri), but I’m starting to think 15-5 just might cut it… The Mavs would have to go 8-1 from here on out to go 15-5.  Dreams can happen!


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