Head Coach: Chris Crutchfield
Location: Omaha, NE
Last time out: Lost to Kansas
Shirt not to wear: Chicago Bulls jersey
Opening Line: Nebraska by 17.5
- Long time assistant Chris Crutchfield is in his first year as Omaha's coach taking over for longtime Maverick coach Derrin Hansen. Crutchfield played both basketball and football for the Mavericks in college.
- Officially Nebraska is 4-0 vs Omaha and Omaha is 0-3 vs Nebraska as their 2006 matchup was scheduled as an exhibition game for then D-II Mavericks
- Former Nebraska player Akol Arop now plays for Omaha though it appears he will not play tonight due to injury
- The Mavs have 7 Nebraska natives on the roster
Player to watch: Soph. F. Frankie Fidler
Fidler lead Omaha in scoring as a freshman including a couple of 30+ point performances. Named to the preseason All-Summit League first team, the Bellevue West product is a three level scorer. Older brother Louis Fidler also appears to be on the roster as a walk-on.
Player to watch: Jamal Ambrose/ Kennedy Brown
Freshman F/C Ambrose at 6'10" 250# and Juco product Kennedy Brown at 6'9" 225# (along with Arop) project to be the best rebounders and/or rim protectors for the Mavs though neither played vs Kansas due to injury. Ambrose reportedly will play tonight. Nebraska's projected dominance on the boards (still weird to type) probably depends on what, if anything, you can get from these guys.
JUCO PG JJ White starts and is noted for his quickness. La’Mel Robinson started at PG last season though he is still working back from injury. JUCO SG Jaeden Marshall seems poised to be among the leading scorers and 3pt shooters on the team. Yet another JUCO product in 6'7" Marquel Sutton will be active in the paint (think Juwan Gary). Rail thin 6'9" Dylan Brougham functions as Omaha's center while on the court. Freshman stretch four Luke Jungers won't be shy about shooting from outside and will operate as Omaha's' small ball center. Tony Osburn and Ja'Sean Glover are guard depth.
UNL Game Notes
Probable starters for Nebraska
5 Sam Griesel G 6-7
25 Emmanuel Bandoumel G 6-4
0 C.J. Wilcher G 6-5
4 Juwan Gary F 6-6
15 Blaise Keita C 6-11
30 Keisei Tominaga G 6-2
32 Wilhelm Breidenbach F 6-10
10 Jamarques Lawrence - G 6-3
12 Denim Dawson - F 6-6
33 Oleg Kojenets F 7-0
12 Sam Hoiberg G 6-0
31 Cale Jacobsen G 6-4
35 Henry Burt F 6-6
24 Jeffrey Grace III G 6-3
* 13 Derrick Walker F 6-9
3 Quaran McPherson G 6-3 - Out for the Year
2 Ramel Lloyd G 6-6
Seems like Omaha made a pretty good hire with Crutchfield who potentially has an Omaha metro of undervalued players to mine for talent going forward. In the meantime he's bringing in JUCO players to supplement two nice local parting gifts Derrin Hansen left in Frankie Fidler and Luke Jungers. I suspect at least for this season Crutchfield will push some pace like Hansen used to but look for "Crutch" to make defense the emphasis of his program.
We'll see what sort of lineups the Mavs roll out there tonight as Maine's small ball lineups ended up relegating Blaise Keita to the bench. If you're a plodding center in this day and age you need to be able to punish small ball lineups on the offensive end as defensively you become a liability to 3pt shooting forwards. At some point Nebraska will start running into high major opponents where hopefully the investment into that 90s center we've wanted for the last decade will pay off.
Not sure how much of a problem Omaha will be tonight but thus far most of the problem solving for Nebraska has been Juwan Gary. Starting lineup getting off to slow starts? Put in Juwan Gary. Missing shots? Juwan Gary. Need someone to play center vs small teams? Juwan Gary. At some point there will be game(s) where he's the answer to the question "why is Juwan Gary shooting so many 3s" but for now, please enjoy the Juwan Gary experience and please be sure to tip your Juwan Garys.
Still not sure that this Nebraska team has a very high ceiling but watching them close out Maine at least makes you think that the floor is at least high enough for Hoiberg to finally win all his pay games.
Prediction: Nebraska 85 - Omaha 69