The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s men’s basketball team has gotten off to a slow start this season and has many fans concerned on how this team will finish out the year. After showing glimpses of being a great team, the Mavericks are bound to finish strong.
The Mavs are currently 10-9 and are 3-3 in the Summit League. They lost five players from last year’s squad, and are allowing 83 points a game, ranking them 343rd in country. So, why the optimism? Junior guard Alex Allbery and the rest of the team still feel confident in their abilities.
“I feel we have played pretty well this season,” Allbery said. “We’ve had some inconsistency with how hard we play sometimes, but I think we’re starting to click and play good basketball.”
Throughout the season, the team has good games and bad, but the good one’s have radiated a feeling of optimism to the UNO community. Still skeptical? On Dec. 3, the boys traveled down to Iowa City and took down an Iowa (11-7) crew that made the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Mavs are also returning Omaha natives Tra-Deon Hollins and Tre-Shawn Thurman. The former Central Eagles were part of a few state championship teams during high school and have been doing well in Division-I competition.
After being one of the best in the country in steals a year ago, Hollins picked up right where he left off and is currently fourth in the country in steals per game, with a total of 57 on the year, and is now second in school history. Thurman is currently second on the team in scoring, averaging 13 points a game and a helpful eight rebounds to add to that.
The team’s leading scorer is senior guard Marcus Tyus. The Minnesota native averages 15 points per game and recently tied the University’s single-game record for eight three’s in their match up against South Dakota State University. Tyus’ play recently earned him his first Summit League Player of the Week award.
Despite losing big to USC (15-3), Kansas State (13-3) and Pittsburg (12-6) earlier in the season, these road games are what teams can use to build chemistry, mental toughness, and establish an assessment as to just how good a team really is.
These losses can be spun into a positive note for UNO moving forward, as they now know what they do well, but more importantly, what they need to do better as the season progresses. In their most recent loss against Fort Wayne (14-5), Allbery believes the team took a positive from the loss.
“Obviously we were upset about the loss,” Allbery said. “But we played at the pace and intensity that we want to against arguably one of the best teams in the conference, and it gave us some momentum going into the next couple games.”
With conference games now underway, the Mavs have won their last three and are slowly making a dent in their league as the season progresses. This team is capable of finishing at the top of the conference and could create a chance to go dancing in March. But, will they?