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New and familiar faces jumpstart basketball season

Sports Editor

Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Updated: Sunday, January 19, 2014 15:01


 

At halftime, University Nebraska Omaha men’s basketball led Iowa University by seven points. With just six minutes to play they were tied. UNO fell short in the end, but nearly beat a Big 10 team that has risen to become a mid-level squad in arguably college basketball’s best conference. 

Along with the effort versus Iowa, UNO beat Northern Illinois to kick off the season on the road and scored a whopping 101 points in their rout of UMKC in the home opener Wednesday night. Creighton scored 96 on UMKC just half a week prior. 

Along with returners C.J. Carter, John Karhoff and Justin Simmons and the rest, the Mavs have new faces doing big things--primarily starters Devin Patterson and Mike Rostompour

Rostampour has started in the post this season and has average 6.5 points and five rebounds. Along with his high energy and intensity that carries with him another experienced big man in the rotation is something UNO needed many a times last season, and now have.

“It’s not only just Mike bringing the toughness, which I think is an identity we needed a little bit more of a year ago, but the depth that he brings us in the front court is big for us,” said Derrin Hansen, head coach. “He provides that force he provides the rebounding, he takes so pressure off of John Karhoff, Hagerbaumer and Kyrich.” 

Defensive has been huge, especially for the Mavs who love to run when they can, and there’s no better way to push it then to force a turnover or a bad shot. Patterson had four steals both against Iowa and UMKC.

“Devin has really been good at the head of [the defense]. You can talk about bigs a lot and you can talk about if they can play 1-on-1 then everyone else can stay home. With Devin when there’s a ball screen up top if he’s quick enough to get over it and stay on that guy on those screens, then everyone else can stay home and that’s been beneficiary to us,” Hansen said.

Overall, to go along with depth, the age and maturity of the team has shown through when it comes to discipline. UNO has won the turnover battle in three of their four games, including 9-21 in their three point loss to UNLV. 

“I think a little bit of maturity in our guys, we’re a little bit older than we were a year ago and have a little more Experience. A couple guys might be in more of a natural position too so put all those things together and hopefully makes for a smarter more intelligent basketball team,” Hansen said.

 Much of last years production came out of Simmons, who led the Mavs with 16 ppg. Scoring has come more from C.J. Carter this season, the three-year Omaha native who has thrived in his new off guard position. 

“He’s grown so much. He’s always been athletic. His skill level, his mental ability, his toughness have all kind of caught up to that,” Hansen said. “To his physical ability, you can see it as a coach when a player will come over to the bench during games and will ask questions and things of that nature. Now he will go and make suggestions so you can see that growth in him. He’s really taken off.”

Through four games, Carter has averaged 18.9 ppg, scoring 22 against Iowa and UMKC, 16 of those points against UMKC coming in the first half. 

“Defensively, we’re being more aggressive, getting stops that’s helped me a lot more,” Carter said. “[It] was fun to see 100 points on the scoreboard.” 

UNO’s upcoming slate includes South Carolina State at home and then back-to-back road games against Drake and South Carolina State again at their home.

This year UNO doesn’t have as hard of a road grind as they did last year when they played the likes of Wisconsin and Iowa State on the road, but the Mavs still hope to post a decent record when they come out of non-conference play. Hansen remained optimistic for his team. 

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