(Photo Credit: UT-Arlington Athletics)
After a disappointing loss to Arkansas, IU hits the court again Tuesday night with little time for reflection. It’s the second game in three nights and the third game of the last six days, but a quick turnaround may be best possible thing for the squad. Let’s be honest, the Hoosiers didn’t necessarily play poorly on Sunday. They shot 40% from three and out-rebounded Arkansas, a team with a potential lottery pick big. But, they did have a few major flaws. In particular, they committed 18 turnovers (9 of which came from guards: Langford and Durham). Similarly, they struggled with ball movement and had seven fewer assists than Arkansas. It’s also important to note that IU is still shorthanded due to injury and that certainly has affected the squad’s depth and rotations. Yet, the defeat was largely due to self-inflicted mistakes. Thus, with the hard-fought one-point loss still lingering in their minds, IU turns its eye towards UT-Arlington hoping to refocus and recalibrate.
As for UT-Arlington, this game is a large step up in quality of opponent, which is more meaningful than one may initially realize. This is because the Mavericks are an entirely different team than they were last year when they won 21 games. I mean that. They are an entirely different team. In fact, they have 12 new players.…yep, you read that correctly… THEY HAVE 12 NEW PLAYERS.
In fact, UT-Arlington has one of the largest roster turnovers in all of college basketball. Not to mention, the change of personnel includes the departures of Kevin Hervey who was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Johnny Hamiltonwho signed with the Detroit Pistons, and Erick Neal who is playing professionally in Turkey. Therefore, not only is there a multitude of new players, but they are coming in attempting to fill the shoes of top-level talent.
Besides the chaos of shifting personnel and acquisition of a cornucopia of transfers, the Mavericks also decided to make a coaching change. Yet, despite the moving parts, the team has remarkably gotten off to a 3-1 start. While the opposition hasn’t been particularly strong, it is still rather impressive that the Mavericks have weathered the storm and piecemealed a team together that has been competitive since day one.
With one team at the start of a major rebuild and another hoping to shake-off a recent loss, here is everything you need to know about Tuesday’s match-up:
Meet the Mavericks
- Kevin Hervey – 6’9″ / 230 lbs / Forward – Hervey was one of the most underrated players in the nation last season. He averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Hervey with the 57th pick of the 2018 NBA Draft.
- Erick Neal – 5’10″ / 155 lbs / Guard – Neal had a terrific season, posting 16.7 points, 6.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2 steals per game. His versatility and court vision will be hard to replace this year. He is now playing professionally in Turkey.
- Johnny Hamilton – 7’0″ / 230 lbs / Center – Hamilton provided a strong inside presence, posting 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. Over the summer, Hamilton signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons.
- Kaelon Wilson – 6’2″ / 192 lbs / Guard – Wilson was another major loss for the Mavericks. Wilson was an efficient scorer, shooting 43.8% from 3. He averaged 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds.
- Nathan Hawkins – 6’5″ / 205 lbs / Guard – Averaged 6.3 points per game.
- Davion Turner – 6’9″ / 185 lbs / Guard – Transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University
- Julian Harris – 6’5″ / 235 lbs / Forward
- Link Kabadyundi – 7’1″ / 274 lbs / Center
- Mairega Clarke – 6’5″ / 184 lbs / Guard
- DJ Bryant – 5’11″ / 185 lbs / Guard / Junior – Bryant is the only returning player for the Mavericks that played any meaningful minutes last season. So far this year, Bryant has played well, scoring 7.5 points per game and shooting a team-best 40% from three.
- Scott Muirhead – 6’3″ / 206 lbs / Guard / Junior
- Patrick Binzer – 6’1″ / 180 lbs / Guard / Junior
- Brian Warren – 5’9″ / 160 lbs / Guard / Junior – Warren has been a standout this year. He is averaging 18.5 points and 3.3 assists, while shooting 35% from three. He has really seized his opportunity and emerged as a leader. Transfer from Tyler Junior College.
- Edric Dennis – 6’0″ / 190 lbs / Guard / Junior – Dennis has looked great. He is averaging 12.5 points per game and, impressively for a guard, 7.3 rebounds per game. Transfer from Jackson State.
- David Azore – 6’4″ / 205 lbs / Guard / Redshirt Freshman – Azore suffered an injury in a scrimmage early last season against Oklahoma and had to miss the entire season. He was a highly thought of the recruit who was ranked the #14th best player coming out of the Houston area. He is averaging 11.5 points per game.
- Radshad Davis – 6’2″ / 205 lbs / Guard / Junior – Averaging 9 points and 7.3 rebounds. Transfer from Missouri State-West Plains.
- Patrick Mwamba – 6’5″ / 188 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Averaging 7 points a game.
- Jabari Narcis – 6’9″ / 230 lbs / Forward / Junior – Transfer from Jacksonville College
- Tiandre Jackson-Young – 6’3″ / 195 lbs / Guard / Junior – Transfer from Tyler Junior College
- Ike Durham –5’9″ / 162 lbs / Guard / Junior – Transfer from Independence CC. (Durham played a game this season, but he may have recently left the program as he has been scrubbed from the team website).
- Andres Ibarguen – 6’5″ / 230 lbs / Forward / Junior – Native of Santa Marta, Colombia (Trinity Valley CC)
- Pedro Castro – 6’6″ / 185 lbs / Guard / Redshirt Freshman – Native of Fort Worth, Texas (Brewer HS)
- Ayoub Nouhi – 6’5″ / 196 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Native of Brussels, Belgium (Institute Saint-Louis Namur)
- McKade Marquis – 6’0″ / 215 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Native of Whitehouse, Texas (Whitehouse HS)
Expectations for the Mavericks
UT-Arlington is coming off of one of the best years in recent memory. Yet, at the same time, the season was seen as an underachievement when considering the talent on the roster. Last season, the Mavericks went 21-13 and finished 112 in the RPI. They also reached the Sun Belt Championship Final game for the first time in their five years in the conference. UT-Arlington has won 20 games for three straight seasons. Much of this success was due to the contributions of Kevin Hervey and Erick Neal. These two do-it-all players were among the most underrated players in all of the nation. Between them, they averaged about 37 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals per game. The loss of their productivity alone would be difficult to overcome. But, those departures were only the beginning.
The Mavericks lost nearly their entire team, including their top 9 scorers (8 graduations; 1 transfer). Thus, UT-Arlington has a staggering 12 newcomers. This is one of the largest roster turnovers in all of the country.
But, it’s not only the personnel that has changed, but also the coaching staff. Despite his efforts to build the program over the last few years, Scott Cross was fired at the end of last season. The Mavericks then hired Chris Ogden as head coach. Ogden most recently was an assistant under Chris Beard at Texas Tech. He also previously worked under Rick Barnes at both Texas and Tennessee. Ogden has a great resume and appears to be a terrific hire. However, it is without question a major rebuild. Ogden came into this year with little idea of who his best players would be and if the multitude of junior-college transfers would be able to adjust to the next level. This season is the epitome of a transition year.
The Mavericks are projected to finish 11th out of 12, according to the Sun Belt preseason polls. With so many unknown variables, expectations are low. However, the Mavericks have gotten off to a solid start to the season.Dennis, Azore, and Warren have all had impressive starts to the season and have seized the opportunities presented. But, the question remains whether the team can sustain this play across an entire season.
What to Watch For:
- Drippin in Phinisee – Phinisee has been terrific so far this season and does a great job managing the offense, but he has yet to have a marquee individual performance. Part of his allure is his unselfishness. He is always making the right play and is always focused on setting up his teammates. Yet, he has a great offensive skill set that he is yet to fully unleash. Facing a largely inexperienced team, this might be the perfect opportunity for him to be more aggressive.
- 3 D – IU’s perimeter defense had been absurdly good to start the season. Through the first three games, IU held opponents to under 20% from three. The team did not quite have the same success initially against Arkansas, as the Razorbacks shot 40% from three during the first half. The Hoosiers tightened up in the second half, holding Arkansas to 26% from three for the game. Look for Hoosier defense to return to form and stifle the Maverick shooters. Three point shooting will be one of the key stats to watch. UT-Arlington will need to be extremely efficient from three to hang in the game.
- Paint Domination – Juwan Morgan has been a steady leader all season and contributed in a variety of ways. Similarly, Fitzner has been able to float between the post and the perimeter. However, with UT-Arlington’s lack of post depth, this game serves as the perfect opportunity for IU to assert dominance inside and get some easy buckets. Likewise, if they can control the boards early and limit second chance opportunities, this game could be over quickly.
- Limiting mistakes– IU had 18 turnovers against Arkansas. This number is way too high. Expect taking care of the ball to be an emphasis the rest of the year. (Side-note: While the team had 18 turnovers, freshman point guard Rob Phinisee had zero. He has been tremendous this season in this department).
- No games off – UT-Arlington will be IU’s third game in six days. As with any young team, one always worries that mental fatigue could set in and the squad might appear lackadaisical. Moreover, after running up against quality opponents like Marquette and Arkansas, it’s important that IU not overlook any opposition. Most likely, IU will come out on fire hoping to avenge the Arkansas loss. But, it is crucial that the team not take anything for granted.
Indiana will likely still not have the services of senior guard Zach McRoberts (back), junior guard Devonte Green(thigh), and redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson (concussion), and freshman forward Jerome Hunter (leg).
How to Watch
|Date||Tuesday, November 20|
|Time||7:00 PM EST|