While the real winner was charity, the Creighton Bluejays defeated UNO 96-67 in the men’s basketball exhibition showdown at the CenturyLink Center on Oct. 26 in front of 8,280 fans.
Both teams had a chance to show off new players, but more importantly, give their teams a ‘trial run’ during the match designed to raise money for Red Cross hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nine Mavericks played more than 10 minutes to give meaningful game experience to the team in their first matchup with Creighton since 2009.
“…it’s October. And normally we don’t play games in October. So at times, it looked like we shouldn’t be playing games in October because a lot of mistakes were made,” mentioned Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott. Derrin Hansen, the Mavericks’ head coach, said “We’re a brand-new team and we’re 16 practices in… we’re going to need some time. But I’ve said this before, I really like our talent level.”
The lack of practice time before a game so early in the season showed, as the Mavs shot only 29.9 percent from the floor. Transitions were a weakness as well – the Bluejays scored 18 fast-break points. Both teams in the past have relied on a fast pace. UNO was ranked seventh in the country in possessions per game last season, while Creighton was ranked 41st.
A common theme in the development of both teams is the search for a new point guard. After losing Maurice Watson Jr. to both an ACL injury and graduation last season, “…the Jays have been splitting reps between four players all offseason,” according to an Omaha World-Herald article. Meanwhile, Omaha looks to replace Tra-Deon Hollins, who garnered national attention for his ability to steal the ball, but also played a vital role on offense.
The young UNO team shot just above 20 percent overall from the three-point line. Creighton made 52 rebounds, well past the Mavs’ 42. Creighton also logged 22 assists as a team, compared to Omaha’s 7.
For the Mavs, Junior Mitch Hahn shot two three-pointers and four for 12 overall, collecting 12 defensive rebounds on his way to a double-double. Returning guard Zach Jackson shot six for 17 overall, missing all four shots beyond the arc. Freshman Matt Pile shot two field goals, along with two free throws, four rebounds and two blocks.
“I hope it’s something that the NCAA will allow us to continue to do,” coach McDermott said of the charity match. The Jays had originally attempted to work out the game with Missouri State; however, when the Jays couldn’t find a good time, coach McDermott’s next call was to Omaha’s Hansen.
All proceeds made from the game were given to the American Red Cross hurricane relief fund. In addition, the three referees for the game donated their single-game wage to the Red Cross as well.
Omaha will open its regular season competition against Montana State on opening day for college basketball on Nov. 10. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be called by Gary Sharp on 1180 Zone 2.