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Mavericks

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Ray Koch
CONTRIBUTOR

Tonight’s game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers has been marked on the calendars of Maverick players since their last meeting on April 5. That was a tough pill to swallow.

In a season with a lot of negatives, the University of Nebraska at Omaha had a chance at a season-salvaging win against Nebraska on a brisk night earlier this April. The Mavericks were unable to capitalize with runners in scoring position, leaving 12 runners on base throughout the game.

Coach Evan Porter’s last words that night? “Just one hit away.”

It’s hard to find a game the Maverick players wanted to win more. Not only are the Huskers in-state rivals, but with so many players on both teams from Nebraska, many of the players have played with or against each other at some point in their little league or high school days.

To add fuel to the fire, Nebraska is a Big-Ten school, and The Summit League, while Division-I, is not up to the caliber of the Big Ten conference. For all of those reasons— and probably many more–UNO will come into this game with a chip on its shoulder.

The Mavericks did everything right. Their pitching and defense showed up, and they found a way to get base runners on. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to scoring more runs than the other team. Leaving the bases loaded three times, UNO was unable to break the game open. As the game wore on, fans inside Werner Park could feel the momentum slipping from the Mavs grip. Lincoln finally went ahead in the eighth inning, scoring two runs. The Mavs never threatened again.

Their first matchup mimicked the plot of Rocky I. The Mavs went toe-to-toe with the Huskers, trading blows for the entire distance. Rocky stunned Apollo Creed when he went the distance in their boxing match.

Although Rocky lost, he proved to himself that he was as good as Apollo. The next time he stepped in the ring with Creed, Rocky left the champion. The same could be true for the Mavericks, as they prepare for round two with the Cornhuskers.

The Mavs will have their chance to go the distance and get some revenge. At 6:35 p.m. at Hawks Field, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Joe Franco
SPORTS EDITOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha ended its 23-day search for a new hockey head coach when the university announced Mike Gabinet would take over as the third coach of the UNO hockey program.

Yes, Gordon Bombay would have been a fun choice, but the reality is UNO landed a fresh coach that has extensive knowledge of the game, and will be a great fit with this young team. UNO athletic director Trev Alberts said in a press conference that not only did the UNO athletic board approve of the hire, but the players also gave him high praise.

“It also was very important to us to get the feedback from the players and to a man, they all endorsed Mike as the kind of coach who is a great teacher and some-one who could help our program take the next step,” Alberts said.

Gabinet logged 130 games for UNO from 2000-04 and is currently 10th in school history in scoring with 47 total points as a defenseman. He went on to play eight seasons of professional hockey in the American Hockey League, the ECHL and in Europe.

The former Maverick went back to his native land after his playing days and started coaching in 2012 as an associate coach at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. He was later bumped up to head coach in 2015 and led NAIT to an undefeated season and an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship, and was named ACAC coach of the year his first year as the top dog. The guy is a winner and Alberts agreed.

“We undertook an extensive search, and Mike rose to the top of our candidate pool because of his detailed, comprehensive approach to creating a sustainable culture of excellence,” Alberts said. “He has the passion and understanding of what it means to be a Maverick, and he has the ability to institute the kind of structure and attention to detail that will allow us to be successful in college hockey’s toughest conference.

Gabinet came to Omaha in April 2016 when he joined the program as an assistant coach. He released a statement following his hire stating his appreciation of the school and the hockey program.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to be the head coach of my alma mater and excited to build on what’s been established here by Mike Kemp and Dean Blais,” Gabinet said. “I came to Omaha last year because of my passion for this program and the great experience I had here as a student-athlete.”

The new head coach will fill the shoes of the former eight-year head coach Dean Blais. Blais took UNO to its first Frozen Four in 2015 and aided in turning the hockey program as the focus of UNO athletics. Associate athletic director and former UNO hockey head coach Mike Kemp is eager to have a young mind help mentor UNO’s student-athletes of the game.

“It is a great moment for a program like ours to have an alumnus take over as its head coach,” Kemp said. “I have known Mike since he was a junior player in Canada, and I always admired him as a character person who was a great leader and someone who cared about his teammates. As a player, he analyzed what we did and made respectful suggestions. He was a student of the game, even as a student-athlete.

Though hockey season has ended for UNO, Gabinet is eager to get his team focused for next season.

“I’m amazed by how far UNO has come since my playing days and I’m excited about where we’re going,” Gabinet said.

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Photo courtesy Omaha Athletics

Joe Franco
SPORTS EDITOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha ended its 23-day search for a new hockey head coach when the university announced this afternoon that Mike Gabinet would take over as the third coach of the UNO hockey program. Does that name sound familiar?

Yes, Gordon Bombay would have been a fun choice, but the reality is UNO landed a fresh coach that has extensive knowledge of the game, and will be a great fit with this young team. UNO athletic director Trev Alberts said in a press conference that not only did the UNO athletic board approve of the hire, but the players also gave him high praise.

“It also was very important to us to get the feedback from the players and to a man, they all endorsed Mike as the kind of coach who is a great teacher and someone who could help our program take the next step,” Alberts said.

Gabinet logged 130 games for UNO from 2000-04 and is currently 10th in school history in scoring with 47 total points as a defenseman. He went on to play eight seasons of professional hockey in the American Hockey League, the ECHL and in Europe.

The former Maverick went back to his native land after his playing days and started coaching in 2012 as an associate coach at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. He was later bumped up to head coach in 2015 and led NAIT to an undefeated season and an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship, and was named ACAC coach of the year his first year as the top dog. The guy is a winner and Alberts agrees.

“We undertook an extensive search, and Mike rose to the top of our candidate pool because of his detailed, comprehensive approach to creating a sustainable culture of excellence,” Alberts said.  “He has the passion and understanding of what it means to be a Maverick, and he has the ability to institute the kind of structure and attention to detail that will allow us to be successful in college hockey’s toughest conference.

Gabinet came to Omaha in April of 2016 when he joined the program as an assistant coach. He released a statement following his hire stating his appreciation of the school and the hockey program.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to be the head coach of my alma mater and excited to build on what’s been established here by Mike Kemp and Dean Blais,” Gabinet said. “I came to Omaha last year because of my passion for this program and the great experience I had here as a student-athlete.”

The new head coach will fill the shoes of the former eight-year head coach Dean Blais. Blais took UNO to its first Frozen Four in 2015 and aided in turning the hockey program as the focus of UNO athletics. Associate athletic director and former UNO hockey head coach Mike Kemp is eager to have a young mind help mentor UNO’s student-athletes of the game.

“It is a great moment for a program like ours to have an alumnus take over as its head coach,” Kemp said. “I have known Mike since he was a junior player in Canada, and I always admired him as a character person who was a great leader and someone who cared about his teammates.  As a player, he analyzed what we did and made respectful suggestions.  He was a student of the game, even as a student-athlete.

Though hockey season has ended for UNO, Gabinet is eager to get his team focused for next season.

“I’m amazed by how far UNO has come since my playing days and I’m excited about where we’re going,” Gabinet said.

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Charlotte Reilly
CONTRIBUTOR
DISCLAIMER. THE TOPICS AND ISSUES COVERED IN THIS EDITION ARE NOT REAL NEWS.
… HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY.

Students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha chant “Save the balls!” in an attempt to save Durango the Maverick from castration this week.

UNO officials voted to castrate the bull after Durango impregnated a local cow.

“The new budget cuts are making it hard to support Durango,” the UNO Chancellor said. “We can’t afford to support a herd of baby bulls and heifers.”

Officials plan to sell the calf to Omaha Steaks in order to pay for the mother’s medical bills.

Students have been marching around the bull since the announcement last Monday. Protesters, who have nicknamed themselves the Mad Cows, hold signs reading “Mess with the balls, get the horns!” and “Stop this bull****, save the balls!”

“There is no respect in today’s society. No respect at all,” said UNO sophomore Pat Bunderson. “Durango should be allowed to have as many children as he wants without fear of them being taken by Omaha Steaks.”

Omaha Steaks officials said “We are not the villains here!” when asked why they agreed to buy the calf. The company claims it will provide adequate care for the calf until it is old enough to be slaughtered.

“Durango’s calf will be in good hands,” the Omaha Steaks President said. “We will make sure to sell the beef back to Durango’s Grill in the Milo Bail Student Center as tribute to the bull.”

Eating Durango’s baby goes against protesters’ morals.

“I do not want to eat a new member of the UNO community,” said Gordan Bombay.

UNO junior Amanda Heinder. “Welcome to UNO; we eat your children. What kind of message is that?”

A GoFundMe page has been created to raise money to support Durango’s baby and stop UNO officials from castrating the bull.

The GoFundMe page, titled No Bull Left Behind, pleads with UNO students, faculty and community members to donate.

“If we prove we can take care of Durango’s children, maybe officials will stop this madness,” one Omaha vegan said.
Protesters plan to use the pep bowl to raise the calves and put a fence around it to deter potential poachers.

“Omaha Steaks is going to build that fence, and they’re going to pay for it too,” sophomore Kina McToshin said. “Even thinking about grilling our beloved Mascot’s offspring is a crime against COWmanity.”

So far protesters have raised $14,763.42 on the GoFundMe page. The goal is $75,000. The money will be used to build a safe environment for any future calves Durango may have.

“Come on people this is unBULLevable! Don’t be selfish,” protesters said Monday. “Think of the children. Would you like it if your child was grilled with a side of fries?”

The Omaha Police Department is monitoring the protests.

“This is the largest cow protest since December, when that semi tipped,” an Omaha Police Officer said. “It is UDDERly impossible to stop these protesters from marching.”

Durango has kept silent during these protests and instead is focusing his time on caring for Moolinda, the mother of his unborn calf.

Protesters are now reaching out to PETA to resolve the issue.

“I hope PETA can help save Durango’s balls and his calf,” McToshin said. “If they can’t, I’ll hate them forHEIFER.”

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Photo Courtesy of Omavs Twitter

Ray Koch
CONTRIBUTOR

“We finally stopped beating ourselves and let our opponent beat us instead,” joked Evan Porter, head coach for the University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks’ baseball team after it’s latest loss against Northern Colorado.

A week before the conference schedule starts, the Mavericks dropped both games of their doubleheader in it’s first ever game at Isaacson Field. Having previously played at Boy’s Town, the first game in the Maverick’s new home stadium saw a 9-4 loss to Northern Colorado. The Mav’s took a 4-3 lead into the eight inning, but an eight-run assault by the Bears demoralized all chances of an Omaha home-opening win. The hardships continued the next game, as UNO lost, 7-3.

Despite the bad weekend, coach Porter feels good heading into conference play. This bold statement may surprise some given the fact that the team has lost 12 in a row. However, Porter feels that his team is “finally learning how to win.”

As Porter had said before the season started, he isn’t concerned with wins as much as progress until conference play. After a 20-3 opening day loss back in Feb., there was a lot of room for progress. Porter cites improvement in his team’s hitting as of late. After only scoring 17 runs in it’s first 10 games, UNO has scored 29 runs in six games since. Still, the Mavs recent burst of offense hasn’t produced wins.

If anything can be taken away from the Mavs season thus far, it’s that they clearly have flaws. Omaha has yet to find a facet of their game that they can rely on. When the Mavs have had leads, they lose them late in games, courtesy of its bullpen, which fails to have a reliever with an ERA under seven. On offense, the team average is sitting at just a .197 batting average.

When both a team’s hitting and pitching are struggling, wins are going to be few and far between. That is why Porter knows improvement must come before success does.

“We are just trying to improve one area at a time, and I feel like we are doing that little by little,” Porter said. With the conference opener against South Dakota State looming this Friday, the time for the Mavs to turn around a 1-14 record is here and now.

Following a grueling start to the season, Porter declares “I think we’re finally ready to win some games.”

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Joe Franco
SPORTS EDITOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s softball team has been on an adventurous road trip this season so far exploring the scenery from places like California and Atlanta, and multiple pit stops in between. One of those pit stops includes their most recent away series in Norman, Oklahoma to take on the defending national champions: No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners.

The Mavericks have had a shaky start to the year, but were beginning to show promising signs of a good squad slowly discovering its identity. After starting the season 1-4 in their first stop in Cedar Falls, Iowa, UNO had begun to gain some momentum in their last series in St. George, Utah, where they won three of their five games, including a win against No. 16 Utah.

After departing from Utah, UNO made its way down to Norman to take on No. 9 Oklahoma in a double-header on Friday.

Playing a team pitted in the top ten nationally could have been the catalyst to jumpstart the Mavericks’ rest of the season towards the winning direction. Even competing in a closely fought battle with the defending champs could’ve earned some bragging rights. The reality of it is that UNO blew a great chance to pick up some momentum after dropping both games to the Sooners.

The 15-4 Sooners eliminated any offense the Mavs implied that they brought on their road trip, and in the process, Oklahoma capitalized offensively to take two easy wins on the weekend. To put it bluntly, UNO’s 9-1 loss in the first game was its most exciting game of the series.

Omaha managed to put up one run in the game, despite being held to just two hits. Junior outfielder Kelly Pattison and junior catcher Megan May were the only two Mavericks to tally a hit. May reached home in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead on the nationally ranked Sooners. This was the highlight of the day.

Oklahoma kicked it into gear in the fourth and fifth innings to eliminate any hope and dreams Omaha had of an upset. In the fourth inning, the Sooners picked up three runs on three hits, and they carried their hitting streak into the next inning to finish out the game.

In the fifth inning, OU put on an offensive clinic by scoring six runs on six hits to seal the deal in game one. Sophomore right-hander Laura Roecker picked up the loss for UNO after giving up all nine of Oklahoma’s runs in four and two-thirds innings pitched.

The first game was a brief foretelling of what the second had to offer, only the Sooners held Omaha to zero runs this time.

The second game was all Oklahoma, as they scored early and never looked back.

The Sooners picked up one run in the first and second innings of the game, before recording six runs in the bottom of the third to solidify their 8-0 win in five innings.

Omaha was shutout and was held to just one hit courtesy of senior outfielder Lizzie Noble. Senior right-hander Abbie Clanton picked up the loss for the Mavericks after giving up all eight runs in just three innings pitched.

The Mavericks stayed in Norman and took on Illinois-Chicago following their two losses to Oklahoma.

UNO’s next road trip will be in Lawrence, Kansas on Friday through Sunday. The team will take on Kansas, Tulsa, Southeast Missouri State, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and No. 4 Louisiana State University in three days.

The trip to Lawrence will be the last one of their opening 29 away games. Omaha comes home on Tuesday, March 21 to host New Mexico State in its first home game of the season.

The rocky start can be forgotten if UNO can capitalize on a small piece of momentum and show signs of consistency. Taking on No. 4 LSU presents yet another opportunity for Omaha to find itself on the winning track. The question is, was this Oklahoma series a foreshadowing of what’s to come against their next top ten opponent?

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Joe Franco
SPORTS EDITOR

It was exciting. It was fun. It was impressive. But most people would choose the word “heartbreaking” to describe the University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s basketball season.

The Mavericks finished their regular season with an overall record of 18-14, going 9-7 in the Summit League Conference. Some might say going four games above .500 isn’t the most braggadocios record, but Omaha made it all the way to the Summit League Championship in their conference tournament; the furthest any UNO team has gone.

The first game of the tournament might have been UNO’s best of the week. After trailing by nine points at half, the Mavericks came back against Fort Wayne and nudged past the Mastodons 84-80.After the game, senior Marcus Tyus told the media they knew it was going to be a battle.

“We had to fight through it,” Tyus said. “We knew it was going to be a tough one going in.”

UNO was led by junior forward Tre’Shawn Thurman, who certainly made the argument for being the conference tournament’s Most Valuable Player last week.

The Omaha native finished the first game with his eighth double-double of the season, racking up a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. It was Thurman’s emphatic slam dunk that gave UNO its first and only lead of the game with 42 seconds on the clock to seal the deal. He mentioned after the game that Omaha wanted it more.

“Tonight we were just the tougher team,” Thurman said.

In the semifinals, Omaha was all offense and they took care of business. Facing an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis team that split with UNO on the regular season, the Mavericks put their foot down on the gas pedal and finished with a blowout 90-62 win.

Thurman and sophomore Mitch Hahn led the team on the offensive side of the ball. Thurman finished with another double-double, his ninth of the year, with 12 rebounds and shot 6-of-9 to tally up 15 points.

Hahn had perhaps his best game in a UNO jersey and has evidently become the Mavericks’ hot-hand heading into the next season. The Fremont native came off the bench and recorded his first double-double of his career with a team-high 21 points and 10 boards.

The Mavs made it to the championship and were playing their best basketball of the season. Just one more win and they would be dancing in the NCAA Tournament.

Unfortunately, UNO fell just shy to South Dakota State in the final seconds of play.

The game was riddled with lead changes and was neck-and-neck down to the wire. For the third game in a row, Thurman emerged as Omaha’s go-to man and led the team in scoring with 21 points and eight rebounds. UNO was up four points with five minutes to play, but the Summit League Player of the Year Mike Daum was on a roll that night, and pushed the Jackrabbits ahead in the last few minutes.

After a three-pointer from Hahn in the final minute, and a few missed free throws from SDSU, Omaha found itself down two points with just a few ticks on the clock. A desperation deep three from Tra’Deon Hollins was missed and that was all she wrote. After the game, Hollins said that he would’ve done the same thing if he had the chance.

“I knew I was shooting the three as soon as he missed it and we were down two,” Hollins said. “It’s something I thought about and prayed about. You can’t win them all.”

Although the loss was certainly heartbreaking, especially after how well the team battled in the tournament to make it the furthest any UNO team has gone in postseason play, the Mavs have to hold their heads high. Senior Marcus Tyus was proud of his team this year, despite coming up short.

“Not a lot of people expected us to make it this far,” Tyus said. “We had a great run and I am proud of our guys.”

Moral victories are often tossed around to losing teams that they almost lose their meaning. Yes, a win would’ve been ideal to send off the Mavs to the big dance, but making it all the way to the championship game is something UNO should be proud of.

Making it further than any other college from Nebraska in its conference championship has solidified UNO as a legitimate Division I team. Head coach Derrin Hansen gave all the credit to how hard his team worked all year.

“I am disappointed we didn’t win the game, but I am in no way disappointed with our team and our effort,” Hansen said. “Our guys were great; they were tremendous. It was a great three-day run. They did everything we asked and they gave us everything they had.”

Ending on a losing note hurts, but the future for UNO basketball has only scratched the surface.

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Ray Koch
CONTRIBUTOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s tennis team (4-6) has been riding a hot streak heading into its most recent match against the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Friday. The squad’s last two matches leading up to this match were both seven to nothing sweep victories against Midland Lutheran and Doane. That’s one way to end an ugly three-match skid.

After losing three matches in a row in early February, the Mavs seemed to find their stride as of late. After a week off, the Mavericks rolled through Midland Lutheran and Doane on their way to playing UMKC Friday night in Lincoln. But on Friday night, the winning streak came to a halt.

The Mavericks lost 5-2 at the hands of UMKC. The only wins for the Mavericks came from 53rd ranked Razvan Grigorescu and Nathan Reekie. Matt Dunn, Joni Heizlsperger, Colin Buckley and Alex Woodward all were defeated. This was a tough loss for Omaha, as the hot streak the Mavs were on gave them an opportunity to get back to .500. Instead, the loss dropped them to 4-6 on the season.

In doubles tennis, Grigorescu and Buckley combined for a win, while the combos of Nathan Reekie/Matt Dunn and Alex Woodward/John Ellis both were defeated 6-4.The Mavericks get a week off before they host Central College on Friday at 3 p.m., followed by Hastings at 7 p.m. These will be two big games that could get the Mavericks back to the .500 mark for the first time since late January.

Getting wins from young guys such as Grigorescu will help the Mavericks gain some experience as the conference stretch begins. After a rough skid, the Omaha tennis team rattled off two impressive wins. Their recent loss against UMKC puts them a step back, but they will have plenty of time to figure things out. The Mavericks will surely look to get bounce back this weekend.

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