The numbers aren’t pretty, but no one expected them to be.
Considering where the program is in its transition to Division I and where it has played in the process, there’s probably not a lot that could have been done.
“I haven’t looked at those kinds of statistics one bit, because very few, if any, of the teams — even those down there with us — played 10 games in a row on the road against as many high-major teams as we did,” University of Nebraska at Omaha coach Derrin Hansen said. “That’s where it gets exaggerated. The last thing I’m doing is looking at statistics and panicking.
“We’re going to know a lot more about our team in the next three weeks than we found out in the last three weeks.”
The Mavericks (3-11, 0-2 Summit League) get back to the conference portion of their schedule in Saturday’s noon game with South Dakota at Ralston Arena. It’s the fourth home game of the season for UNO, followed by another league home game, at 5 p.m. Monday against Missouri-Kansas City.
“It’s great to have some league games at home,” Hansen said. “We’ve actually had five practices in a row at our arena.”
After this weekend, the Mavs play at Oakland and Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, then return home for games with Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis and Western Illinois that will get them to the halfway point of the Summit League schedule.
Maybe by then UNO, which was picked to finish last in the nine-team Summit in its initial season in the league, will have improved some of those statistics.
For the record, of the 347 teams that are either in Division I or are transitioning to that status, the Mavs are 324th or worse in three categories: turnover margin (324th at minus-4.1 per game), field goal percentage defense (329th at .481) and rebounding margin (340th at minus-9.0).
That has contributed to UNO attempting per-game averages of 10.2 fewer field goals and 6.6 fewer 3-pointers than its opponents. UNO’s turnovers (16.6 per game) and offensive rebounds allowed (13.8 per game) give it fewer possessions than opponents, who have already been more efficient with those possessions.
Hansen has been focusing on the second half of the season, when UNO plays more teams that are either similar to it or are where the Mavs would like to be once their Division I transition ends and they become eligible for NCAA and NIT play in 2015-16.
And, at least in South Dakota, they also have an opponent with whom they are somewhat familiar.
The Coyotes (5-8, 1-1) are long-time North Central Conference rivals of the Mavs who just completed their Division I transition.
They still play a lot of 2-3 zone like the old days — though not exclusively any more — and do many of the same things offensively.
“They’re a little bigger, a little stronger and more athletic than they used to be, but what they did was very fundamentally sound in Division II, and that translates to Division I,” Hansen said.
South Dakota, which played Iowa close for most of the first half before fading, has also lost to the likes of Gonzaga, Wyoming and Southern. The Coyotes’ league loss was to first-place Western Illinois on a basket at the buzzer.
Guard Juevol Myles, who appeared in 19 games for Kansas State in 2010-11, is fourth in the Summit in scoring (16.0 points per game), second in free-throw percentage (.896), sixth in assists (3.5 per game) and tied for sixth in steals (1.5). Center Trevor Gruis averages 11.5 points and is seventh in the Summit in rebounding at 6.4 per game.
Though South Dakota was picked to finish one spot ahead of UNO in the Summit, Hansen isn’t necessarily focusing on this particular game — or Monday’s matchup with seventh-place pick UMKC — as a measuring stick.
Last season, South Dakota scored four points in the final minute, tying the game with 47 seconds left and going ahead on two Gruis free throws with seven seconds to go, to beat UNO 83-81.
“We’re just trying to get through the conference as a whole, to play every team home and away, then look back and see where we stand,” Hansen said. “You figure some things out as you go, but we haven’t tried to measure up team by team.
“Right now, we’re just excited about having some home games.”
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