Q&A: UNO men’s hoops coach Derrin Hansen

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March 19th, 2014

Omaha, NE – The University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s basketball team (16-14 overall, 5-9 Summit) is headed to the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament.

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After playing Big Ten teams Iowa and Minnesota into the final minutes of each game this season, the Mavericks are looking to make more of a statement, according to UNO head coach Derrin Hansen. UNO is not eligible for the NCAA tournament until the 2015-2016 season due to rules following their transfer to D-I in March of 2011. But the Mavs did get the invite to the CIT, a postseason tourney aligned for mid-major programs. UNO will face off in the first round of the CIT with Big Sky Conference foe North Dakota (17-16 overall; Big Sky 12-8) tonight, hosting them at the Ralston Arena at 7 p.m.

KVNO: Coach Derrin Hansen is in his ninth season at the helm of the University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s basketball team. Coach thanks for joining us today.

Hansen: Not a problem.

KVNO: Could you talk a little bit about what it means to your team and program to still be competing after the regular season has ended.

CJ Carter warms-up before practice at Ralston Arena. (Photo Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

CJ Carter warms-up before team practice at Ralston Arena. (Photo Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

Hansen: It’s a great testament to the hard work that has been put in by a lot of people. You have got to go with the administration first– Chancellor Christensen, Trev Alberts and his team, particularly, Josh White. Our assistant coaches have worked extremely hard recruiting the last couple years. Then with our players, buying in to what we are trying to do and to be able to play in March is just a logical step. We are in the transition and everyone knows that. It’s not always easy, we’ve never used that as an excuse but it is a reality. So to be able to play in the postseason when a lot of people didn’t think we could or would or should is an honor.

KVNO: You have lost five of your last six games, what are you telling your team or what message are you conveying to them going into tomorrow night’s game?

Hansen: We just want to make sure we compete and we’ve been able to do that. We’ve gotten healthier the last few games. Our guys are resilient they’ve played extremely hard in practice and we’ve gotten a lot of things done these last few weeks .We just want to make sure we come out and compete and play the best we can.

KVNO: Coach, talk a little bit about tomorrow night’s match-up with North Dakota.

Hansen: Number one they are very talented, Troy Huff is not only an all-conference player in the Big Sky, but he is an all-district player which includes three or four leagues. They are extremely talented. He will be a tough match-up for us. They are extremely athletic and long; they can score in a lot of ways. If we don’t guard and rebound we will be in for a long night. We have played them before, we know them, and they know us. I think it should be a good basketball game.

KVNO: Briefly here coach talk a little bit about John Karhoff and CJ Carter’s season for you, how have they gotten better?

Hansen: Well I think Karhoff is just so steady, you take his hard work along with his talent and he has slowly gotten better since he arrived. He is one of 10 or 11 guys in the history of our program to have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.  Then you look at CJ Carter – he was talented coming in but he has put on some weight he desperately needed. He has really embraced that and you put that with his quickness and ability to score and all of a sudden you have a really good basketball player.

KVNO: How can this CIT Tourney be a tool for you on the road with recruiting?

Hansen: It is big for us, we’ve got guys that have stayed in our program when people told them ‘you shouldn’t stay there you have nothing to play for’ so we’ve gone above and beyond in that regard. It has been great to tell future recruits what we’ve done and where we are going. So it is a testament to a lot of people’s hard work and we are happy to still be here.

KVNO: Thanks again for the time and good luck tomorrow night.

Hansen: Not a problem, thank you.

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