The UNO men's basketball team will need to fill a big scoring void in 2019-20. Zach Jackson and Mitch Hahn graduated, and so did their 35 points per game. Halfway through preseason practices, coach Derrin Hansen likes how the new faces have progressed.
"We have some points and some production to make up, but I think we have the team makeup to do that," Hansen said at UNO media day on Tuesday.
Two new faces the Mavericks hope fill that scoring gap are versatile 6-foot-5 sophomore guard/forward Marlon Ruffin out of Madison, Wisconsin, by way of juco, and 6-7 freshman guard/forward Darrius Hughes, a Kansas City, Missouri, product.
"Both guys give us flexibility," Hansen said. “We can play a little bit smaller, a little bit bigger. We always like those guys that are flexible. If you are a 2 and can play a little backup, one advantage is with foul trouble or injuries. If you can move up and play the 3 same thing. If you are a 4 or a 3 and can slide down or up that just helps us ... it helps situational substitutions, it helps late in games and it helps with injuries and foul trouble. The more flexible you are I think the better you can be, and I think Darius and Marlon give us a lot of that."
Ruffin averaged 13.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 54.3% from the field, 47.2% from 3-point range and 76.9% from the foul line in his one season at Highland Community College in Freeport, Illinois.
At 230 pounds, Hughes could provide depth in the post initially.
"Darius comes to us right now as a true freshman from Rockhurst and comes to us as a 4, but I think he is going to be a 4-3 or a 3 when he walks out the door," Hansen said. “He'll be a work in progress."
Perhaps the most valuable addition to the team is 6-2 UMKC sophomore transfer Marco Smith, who played in 31 games for the Roos a year ago, averaging 16.6 minutes and five points. After a coaching change at UMKC, Smith entered the transfer portal and has applied for a waiver to be eligible immediately.
"No," Hansen said when asked if a waiver for Smith has been approved. "Still waiting on the waiver, but I think it is sooner than later, according to what I've been told."
Three freshman are getting acclimated to the college game for the Mavericks in 6-11 center Nathan Brusseau (New Prague, Minnesota), 6-foot guard La'Mel Robinson (Riverside, Missouri) and walk-on Grant Frickenstein (Fremont Bergan).
UNO women add five freshman
The UNO women return 48 points per game of the 58.6 they averaged last season. Six freshman join the roster for 2019-20. Akili Felici, a 5-10 guard out of Bellevue West, brings some local flair to the roster. Felici is joined by 5-8 guard Sarah Schmitt (Cedar Rapids Prairie, Swisher, Iowa), 6-foot guard Ella Ogier (Yarra Gramar School, Melbourne, Australia), 6-1 guard Abby Johnson (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) and 6-1 center Kia Wilson (Manhattan, Kansas).