The University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s basketball team has had its up’s and down’s this year as we approach the half way point of division play in the Summit League.
The team is currently 11-11 overall, and fifth place in the Summit League, with a conference record of 4-5. Not a bad place to be in right now, but life could certainly be better for the Mavericks. With seven games remaining in the regular season, here are three aspects of the team you should note.
1. Tra-Deon Hollins is On a Roll
If you aren’t familiar with senior guard Tra-Deon Hollins, you should get to know the name immediately. Hollins has been known for his lock-down defense, and the silly amount of steals he has tacked on not just the year, but in his career. The Omaha native averages three swipes a game and is currently tied for second in the country with 70 steals this year.
Oh, and he also has the most steals in UNO school history. Not a bad feat to throw on the résumé.
Having a defender that can shut down an individual is a coach’s dream, but its Hollins’ offensive play as of late that has got the attention of fans. Along with his steals, the guard is averaging 12 points and six assists per game. While that might not seem like a huge contribution, in his last four games, Hollins has averaged 21 points a game, nearly doubling his season average. Despite losing to Oral Roberts on Jan. 21, Hollins dropped a career-high 33 points, and was two rebounds and a dish away from a triple-double. His field goal percentage has also sky-rocketed, and in their loss against ORU, he shot 63 percent from the floor.
In their post-game press conference after the team’s win against Denver on Jan. 18, Hollins noted the team’s success and believes they can get better as the season progresses.
“We’re getting some things going, but the best teams peak in March,” Hollins said. “We’re not there yet but we are going to take it one game at a time and grow as a team.”
2. We are half way through the Summit League
Seven games remain on the team’s schedule, all of which are against foes in the Summit League. Why is this important? It means a few things, but the overall thought is that it is an opportunity for the fourth place Mavs.
Of the seven games remaining, half of them will be played against opponents ranked behind UNO. Six of the eight remaining games will also be played at the Baxter Arena. Home court advantage is huge for the Mavs and senior guard Marcus Tyus noted this home-stretch in his press conference following UNO’s last home win against Denver.
“First half of the schedule we were on the road a lot,” Tyus said. “And now we get to be home in front
of our fans and get to show them what we do best.”
These remaining games can also help boost the Mavericks’ stock in the Summit League. Right now, UNO is sitting in the middle of the pack. But if they can take down Denver, Fort Wayne and South Dakota, all teams ranked above them in their conference, UNO could find themselves with a two or three seed for the conference tournament in early March.
3. Mitchell Hahn is the best-kept secret in the Summit League
The casual UNO men’s basketball fan probably doesn’t know the name Mitchell Hahn, but teams in the Summit League are well aware of what this kid is capable of. Coming off the bench, Hahn is averaging 11 points, 25 minutes and is shooting 44 percent behind the arc each game.
Hahn got off to a slow start on the year, but has found his groove ever since conference play had started on Dec. 29. In their nine conference games, the sophomore has averaged 12 points a game and is shooting over 50 percent from downtown. In their recent win streak, however, the Fremont native averaged 16 points and shot 60 percent from three in a span of four wins from Jan. 7 to 18.
Indeed, Hahn is sneaking up on team’s radars and is one of the keys to UNO’s success. His three-point range provides a tool to keep defenses honest, and also opens up chances to score for Hollins and Tyus. In the same press conference, Tyus mentioned the appreciation of his teammate.
“It helps when Mitch is coming out and hitting deep three’s and driving to the lane and making the extra pass for extra guys,” Tyus said.
As we are wrapping up regular season play, the fourth place Mavericks certainly have an opportunity to climb the standings in time of the Summit League Conference Tournament. With Hollins on a roll, home games approaching, and Hahn sinking three’s, the odds are in favor of the Mavs.