Friday, September 30, 2011

On Fathers

Great article from Dan Le Batard that will make you either: A) Want to become a better father, B) Appreciate your father more, or C) Both.

And isn't that the life of the exile? Making so many sacrifices so your kids have to make so few? Giving up your dreams so that your children can chase theirs? Turning the short straw into victory with love and work and will?

Top Newcomers in The Big Sky This Season

According to the Big Sky Prospectus, here are the top newcomers for each team in the Big Sky:

Eastern Washington - Collin Chiverton (Jr)
Idaho State - Melvin Morgan (Jr)
Montana - Kevin Henderson (Fr)
Montana State - Xavier Johnson-Blount (Jr)
Northern Arizona - Danny Cheek (Fr)
Northern Colorado - Tevin Syihovec (Fr)
Portland State - Lateef McMullan (Jr)
Sacramento State - Dylan Garrity (Fr)
Weber State - Frank Otis (Jr)

It will be interesting to see how they all fare for their first season in The Big Sky. Typically the junior college transfers (or in the case of Frank Otis, just a transfer) will have the biggest impact, but time will tell.

It is going to be a fun season.

A Look at Montana State Potential Recruit Adrian Jefferies

From Mslacat:

I have heard from a couple sources that the Bobcats men’s basketball coaches have invited Adrian Jefferies from Morgan Park high school in the Chicago Illinois area. Jefferies is a 6-5ish player who is projected to play the small forward and possibly guard in College.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kyndahl Hill Commits to Weber State

In their second signing of the recruiting period, the Wildcats have snared forward Kyndahl Hill:

So today yo boy commited to weber st
In case you don't know about Hill, he is a 6'7'' forward that can play either the 3 or the 4, but seems likely to spend most of his time at the 3 spot for the Wildcats, according to what I have read.

The consensus seems to be that Hill is a high major athlete that has mid-major skills right now. He was a big time football recruit, but recently decided to focus on basketball only. He averaged 13 PPG and 8 RPG per game.

He has the potential to be an elite defender in the Big Sky with his athleticism and versatility. I think he will eventually be able to guard anywhere from a 1 to a 4, he has that type of speed and strength. He has a developing 3 point shot also, and that will be key to his development.

Teamed with fellow recruit Joel Bolomboy, and all of a sudden Weber State will have two of the more athletic players in the Big Sky. When you combine those with the fact that Josh Fuller will be joining the team following his mission, Weber State shouldn't miss too much of a beat even after Kyle Bullinger and Darin Mahoney leave.

Hill's decision was down to Weber State and Utah State... his choice of Weber further signifies their rise in Utah. I think there is a solid chance they can be the best team in the state next season, and that will only continue to help their recruiting efforts. Randy Rahe has done an excellent job.

Danny Powell Commits to Eastern Washington

According to his page at Rivals.

Desert Vista High School's 6-foot-6 senior forward Danny Powell has made his college decision, as he has given a verbal comitment to a division-I program in the Big Sky Conference.
I don't know a ton about him... will write more after I do some research. He is a 6'5'' PF, according to Rivals.

He also had offers from Central Michigan and fellow Big Sky program Northern Arizona.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Antonio Biglow Will Miss The Start Of The Season

Have heard these rumors but it was finally confirmed recently by Gidal over at Blue & Gold:

It’s been rumored (or known) for a while, but Brad Huse officially told me Monday that Antonio Biglow won’t be here first semester. Biglow and I have communicated through Twitter, and it’s due to some sort of error on either his junior college (Mt. San Antonio College) or him in regards to getting his associate’s degree on time.
His loss will definitely be felt, as he was one of the top (if not the top) incoming prospects in The Big Sky this season. It will be interesting to see if Biglow gets redshirted for this year, even though he will be eligible to play sometime in December or January. As some Bobcat fans are speculating, it could depend on how confident Huse and the staff are in their jobs and how the season is going.

It is a story worth following, because Biglow could be one of the most talented guards in the Conference this season if he becomes eligible and is put on the active roster.

Crawfacts Reiterates Its Belief in Portland State

In a post you should read in its entirety if you are a fan of any west coast basketball, Crawfacts reiterates his belief that Portland State is going to win the Big Sky:

PORTLAND STATE---And speaking of coaches it is not often you talk about a head coach doing a great job, while only having a .435 winning percentage after only two years as head coach. Tyler Geving at Portland State is the exception to the rule. Last year he won one more game than the previous year, not usually not a big deal, but it was big deal when you consider the Vikings were short handed playing most of the year without year star player Phil Nelson and also the fact the Portland State was on probation due to a low APR, due to the lack of previous coach Ken Bone not minding the store during his tenure with the Vikings. Like Ben Howland, Geving also made a brilliant off season move in the summer of 2010, when he hired veteran west coast assistant coach Andy McClouskey. McClouskey is a steadying influence and great to have on a bench for a young head coach. The Vikings are now off of probation, they have some good players, including one outstanding player in Chehales Tapscott and as I have written about before are my favorite to win the Big Sky.
If he is right, they are going to wind up surprising a lot of people this year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Colorado Coaches Sit Down With Nuggets Coaches

A cool story and I am sure a very neat experience for some college coaches from around the Colorado area, as they were invited to sit down with George Karl and the Denver Nuggets coaching staff. The panel of coaches included BJ Hill and Northern Colorado assistants.

At the urging of coach George Karl, the Nuggets coaching staff opened up their playbooks to about 20 coaches from Colorado State University, Metro State College, the University of Colorado, the University of Denver, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Wyoming. The Air Force Academy coaching staff also was invited but could not attend because of scheduling conflicts.

"George wanted to keep our minds active and focused on basketball," said Nuggets advance scout/assistant coach Jesse Mermuys, who coordinated the event. "Coach is also about giving back to the game of basketball. Giving back to your state is pretty big-time. It could help the college guys and it could help us as well."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weber State Gets Some Love

Ballin' Is A Habit is starting their previews for the upcoming season, including a look at their top teams in the country. They have ranked Weber State at 50.

Outlook: The 2010-2011 season was a surprisingly successful one for the Wildcats. They lost star guard Damian Lillard to a broken foot nine games into the season and still managed to finish third in the Big Sky and make the CBI. That success was largely due to the play of Scott Bamforth, a junior sharpshooter -- he shot 55.1% from three in league play -- that will be a terrific compliment to Lillard in the back court this season, and senior Kyle Bullinger, a face-up four with three-point range. With Lillard back, the graduation of Lindsay Hughey won't hurt as much, but replacing Trevor Morris could be an issue. He was a big, physical presence in the paint. Look for Kyle Tresnak to fill his role in the paint. The x-factor may end up being Byron Fulton, a 6'7" sophomore and reigning Big Sky Freshman of the Year. Fulton averaged 7.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg while shooting 48% from beyond the arc as sixth-man. He should move into the starting lineup this season. With Montana and Northern Colorado both losing key pieces, Weber State should be the favorite to win the conference.
I think they may have forgotten about Frank Otis, who figures to have a role in the frontcourt, but overall it is a very nice write up. Check out their post and the rest of their season previews, which are sure to be excellent.

Could Will Cherry Be The Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year?

With Brian Qvale, Montana had the best defensive player in the Conference last season. Qvale was one of the best shot blockers in the country last year, and set conference records on the defensive side of the ball.

However, he is now gone, having graduated after four stellar years. But could the defensive Player of the Year trophy remain in Missoula after this year?

Will Cherry of Montana looks to be one of the best defensive players in the Conference, and certainly the best at getting steals. He had a 4.7% Steal rate last year, which was 14th in the country and best in the Big Sky. This gave him a solid 2.6 SPG, which was a big reason (along with Qvale) why Montana was the best defensive team in the Conference.

That performance was definitely not a fluke either. The year before, as a sophomore, Cherry had a 5.2% steal rate, which was 2nd in the nation. He has a nose for the basketball, and this gives Montana a couple of extra possessions every game.

I found an interview with Cherry from a couple of years ago where he talks about getting steals:

Q. You lead the team in steals. What's the key to getting steals?

A. Oh, man, I'm just a big anticipator. I just have a knack for getting the ball and knowing where it's at. I use my speed and quickness to my advantage to jump in those passing lanes. That was one of the goals for myself and (assistant) coach (Bill) Evans, for me to lead the team in steals.
Without a ton of top returning defenders (as least not ones that put up a lot of numbers - and that is a huge factor in awards like this), Will Cherry will have a solid chance to be Conference Player of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year

What do you all think of Cherry's chances?

Tyler Ott Commits to UC Davis

As seen on Nor Cal Basketball:

Ott made an official visit to the school this weekend, and his AAU coach Dwain Schallenberger said the visit went well, which prompted Ott to give his commitment to head coach Jim Les.
Weber State and Southern Utah were both in on his recruitment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

2 Weeks

Well ladies and gentleman, I get married in 2 weeks. :)

Busy with planning and moving today, but expect some more fresh content soon.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Southern Utah's Top Returners

Last season, Southern Utah finished 11-19, 7-11 in the Summit League. For their last year in the Summit League, they would certainly love to go out with a bang and build some momentum for their entrance into the Big Sky.

Their best returner is probably Matt Massey, a 6'9'' C that will be a senior. He is an efficient scorer, as he shot 57% from the field and 73% from the line (and got to the FT line at a decent rate). His rebounding rates were poor for a center, but he brings a lot of offensive skill to the table.

A lot of the rebounding was done by Kyle Davis, (who had a great freshman year, but is not listed on their roster... anyone have any ideas where he went).... and Matt Hodgson (who transferred), so that leaves a big void in the rebounding department. Ramell Taylor might be their best returning scorer, but he is a 6'5'' SF. Still, with his 13.5 DR%, he could see a lot of time. Tyson Koehler will also be counted on, as he is a big body and efficient scorer.

In the backcourt, they return some guys that got a lot of time. One is Ray Jones, who will be a senior PG. He had a 24.0 ARate, but he needs to cut down on his turnovers. A guy that could be a potential difference maker for them is guard Jackson Stevenett, who showed a lot of flashes as a sophomore. He got 55% from the field and 74% from the Line. He also posted decent rebound and assist rates. He could be a solid player for the Thunderbirds.

It could be tough sledding for Southern Utah to finish in the upper half of the Summit League in the final year, but they are not void of talent. It will be interesting to see how things go for them before the enter the Big Sky.

Idaho State Offers Two Players

One thing I have regularly heard from Idaho State fans is that Joe O'Brien hasn't gone for many Idaho players... well, they have just recently offered scholarships to two Idaho Select players.

In the past week both McKay Cannon (Shelley High School, 2013) and Clark Wilkinson (Highland High School, 2013) have received scholarship offers from Idaho State University. Neither has given a verbal commitment at this point.


Wilkinson, a 6-6 forward, and Cannon, a 6-0 point/shooting guard, played on Idaho Select’s White team this past summer, leading them to an 18-3 record, a championship at the NW Premier Showcase in Seattle and a final-four appearance at the Best of the Summer in Anaheim.


Cannon, as a sophomore, was a First Team All Conference selection, averaging 14.3 points, 4.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He first came on to college recruiter’s radars when he opened Shelley’s 2010-11 season with a 35 point performance. Cannon is expected to serve a LDS mission after graduating from high school.
I am not sure there is a lot O'Brien can do to redeem himself in the eyes of Bengals fans... but going after Idaho players certainly can't hurt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top Statistical Returners to The Big Sky

For All Games:

Scoring - Will Cherry (Montana) - 14.1 PPG
Rebounding - Chehales Tapscott (Portland State) - 8.1 RPG
Assists - Stallon Saldivar (Northern Arizona) - 5.4 APG
FG Percentage - Emmanuel Addo (Northern Colorado) - 53.7%
FT Percentage - Jordan Richardson (Weber State) - 92.6%
3PT Percentage - Scott Bamforth (Weber State) - 48.8%

Conference Games Only

Scoring - Charles Odum (Portland State) - 15.3 PPG
Rebounding - Abner Moreira (Idaho State) - 7.4 RPG
Assists - Stallon Saldivar (Northern Arizona) - 5.8 APG
FG Percentage - Charles Odum (Portland State) - 56.5%
FT Percentage - Jordan Richardson (Weber State) - 95.0%
3PT Percentage - Scott Bamforth (Weber State) - 55.1%

Just thought it was interesting! All numbers from the Big Sky Prospectus.

Portland vs. Portland State

Craw's Corner has an excellent article on why a Portland vs. Portland State game (or two) needs to happen every year. This is the most telling part, in my opinion:

Even worse, here are some schools which the teams have on their schedule this year at home. Portland has both Concordia of Oregon and Concordia of California, plus they are playing Lewis and Clark, which by the way is 30 minutes from the Pilot campus. Portland State has Walla Walla College and Linfield. Out of respect, it is tough for each school to schedule and actually they do as good as possible, as basketball scheduling is becoming increasingly tough for all D-1 schools.
It would be a great intra-city rivalry... hopefully the two schools decide to get it done in the future.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Good Words For Tim Miles

Coach Tim Miles from Colorado State went to college at the University of Mary, in my hometown of Bismarck, ND. That is one reason I like him.

Another is that he is a darn good coach. A third is that he seems a likeable guy, and he is definitely funny, as chronicled by Yahoo! writer Jeff Eisenberg. Miles has converted me to a Rams fan.

Jamal Webb - PG For North Dakota

If you make a list of the best mid-major point guards next year or in 2 years, there is a good chance that Jamal Webb will be on that list.

He had an impressive freshman season for the surprising Fighting Sioux. His best attribute is his playmaking ability, as he had a 29.7 ARate (5.4 APG), 88th in the country and an excellent mark for a freshman. He can make plays for other guys and looks for them, and that is obviously an important trait for a PG.

He is also a good looking shooter from outside. He shot 40% on 3s, which is certainly a respectable enough and definitely enough to keep defenses honest. Curiously, he only shot 55% (44/80) from the FT line, a number that will have to go up. He is an efficient shooter overall though, as he also shot a solid 48% from 2s. Not bad marks for a freshman.

He can be dangerous defensively as well with his quick hands. His 2.9 Steal% was best on the team, and resulted in an average of about 1.5 steals per game. He has the potential and athletic ability to be a lockdown defender.

Of course, his game is not without holes, and the biggest is his propensity to turn the ball over. He had a whopping 30.0% TO Rate, which is bad. He turned it over nearly 4 times per game, and if he is going to take the next step as a PG, he needs to cut down on the turnovers. If he does that, he can be a great college PG, because all of the other tools are there.

Jamal Webb is a guy not a lot of people (outside of North Dakota fans) have heard about, but he is a guy that Big Sky fans will want to get to know, because he could be very good by the time North Dakota enters the conference. He is a great distributor, solid outside shooter, and potentially excellent defender. If he can cut down on the turnovers and improve his outside shot a bit, he will be one of the best mid-major point guard in all the land.

Northern Arizona Schedule Released

Finally, the last of the Big Sky teams has released their schedule, as NAU has theirs finalized. Will go more in depth on it at a later date.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2011-12 Big Sky Prospectus Released

Will have a lot more to say about things in the Prospectus eventually, but for now, you can take a look at the Prospectus here [PDF]

Another Bobcat Recruiting Target

From the zen of all things Bobcat athletics, mslacat:

I have heard from a couple sources that the Bobcats had a couple recruits in this past week end (September 16-17). One of them was Jake Belford of Battleground high school in the state of Washington. Belford is a 6-9 center forward who seems to have gone on a growth spurt as of ate. As a sophomore he was listed at 6-5, junior 6-7 and over the summer he has been consistently listed at 6-9.
One of the places he no doubt saw it was Sea Town Sports, which tweeted the news on the 16th.

Kevin Cacabelos from Sea Town Sports also noted that C Ty Egbert will be visiting Montana State on October 1st-2nd.

Don't Believe Everything You Read

This is a little old... but an interesting article that deals with the other side of Yahoo! Sports jaw-dropping article on Miami athletics.

At the very least it causes me to stop and think about what really happened, and whether we should believe everything Yahoo! is telling us.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chase Grabau

Idaho State is full of uncertainty and question marks, and they will likely have some new faces in big roles. One of the holdovers is Chase Grabau, who will be one of the Bengals key players as a senior.

In his first year at Idaho State (after spending two years at North Platte CC, the 6'5'' G showed a nice, versatile game for the Bengals. In 27 minutes, he averaged 6.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 2.0 APG. He was a very solid role player for them, but they hope he can take the next step and become a solid starter.

His best attribute is his versatility. He is a solid rebounder for his size, as he had a respectable 13.4% DR%. He can also make some plays for others, as his 15.6% ARate (along with the fact that he averaged 5 assists per game his sophomore year in Junior College) would attest. Finally, he makes things happen defensively, snaring 1.4 steals per game and a steal percentage that ranked 177th in the country last year.

He is efficient offensively. He shot 37% from downtown, which is enough to keep defenses honest. He shot nearly 50% inside the arc. He is certainly not going to be a main option for Idaho State offensively, but he does enough that he is not a liability scoring the ball. Combined with his playmaking ability, and he is a nice guy to have out there.

Joe O'Brien is looking for a solid season to try to save his job. If that is going to happen, he will need big minutes from Chase Grabau, and for him to step up and become a solid starter for the Bengals. He will have a key role for this team as a senior and as a guy that can play some different positions.

Some More Montana State Recruiting Targets

Mslacat takes a look at a couple more guys the Bobcats are targeting - Matt Colbert and Trey Dickerson.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Look At Northern Arizona's Recruiting Class

Coach Mike Adras lost arguably his two best players last year in Cameron Jones and Shane Johannsen, who both graduated. Thus, it brings importance to this year's recruiting class.

The best seems to be Danny Cheek, a 6'4'' SG out of California. Cheek is a great athlete that has the ability to attack the rim off the dribble. He averaged 15.3 PPG last year. He also has solid defensive potential. He could be the best freshman recruit entering the Big Sky this season.

Another guard that was signed is James Douglas, a 6'0'' PG. He averaged 17.3 PPG and 4.8 APG as a senior last year, and could have a nice future as a scoring guard. He is not super quick, but will find a role in the Big Sky. He probably won't get a ton of time this year, but he will be a nice player for Mike Adras.

The third guard signed is Colin Gruber, a 6'3'' guard that is a proficient scorer. Last season he averaged an impressive 26.6 PPG and 11.6 RPG, and set records at his school for points and steals. He is the son of a coach, and has at least Nor-Cal Basektball thinking he will have a nice career:

Gruber will need to add strength -- as do most freshman entering college basketball -- but Coach Mike Adras run a guard-oriented style and a number of other D-1 coaches are going to rue the day they passed on Gruber.
Northern Arizona also added a JUCO guard in Jywrell Wison (pronounced Ja-rell), who is a 6'3'' combo guard. Last season he averaged 24 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 4.5 APG. He will be a nice fit in Mike Adras' guard-oriented offense with his versatility.

Two JUCO big men were signed. The first was Max Jacobsen. At 6'8'' he averaged 22 PPG and 8 RPG. He is a threat to score in the low post, but can also come out and hit the 15 footer. He will definitely get a look in a frontcourt that is full of question marks. Also important to note that though Jacobsen is a JUCO guy, he will still have three years of eligibility remaining. He originally committed to Portland State out of high school.

More depth will be provided by Ephraim Ekanem. He averaged about 8/6 last season, and will give Adras some minutes, though his ceiling is a bit lower than Jacoben.

Mike Adras lost a lot of talent after last season, so this was an important recruiting class for him. NAU signed 6 players - 4 guards, 2 forwards - 3 high school players, 3 JUCO. There is a lot of talent there to be sure, so it will be interesting to see who plays this year, and how everyone comes together. Adras has proven himself to be a solid program builder, so it is not hard to envision these guys bringing success to Northern Arizona.

Interview With Sacramento State AD

Sac State Sports had a good interview with Bill Bradley, athletic director for Sacramento State.

Speaking of basketball, how is the men’s program progressing under Coach Brian Katz?

We’re really excited about this year. Coach really feels that this team is one he feels the best about. It reminds him of his experiences down at Delta (Junior College). The talent level, the character of the team, I’m personally excited about. We have some really good kids. You’re going to see significant change in success for them. Now, I’m not going to say that we will win 25 games, but I think we’re going to compete differently than we have in the past. It is going to be a fairly young team. We’re going to rely on a couple freshman and a couple sophomores to lead us in to the future.
There are a few other good basketball nuggets, so check it out.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Where Will Sacramento State Get Their Offense From?

Last season Sacramento State had one of the worst offenses in the NCAA. Their AdjO of 90.1 ranked 319th in the country, and last in the Big Sky. Their EFG% was a dreadful 44.4%, 322nd in the nation. Their turnover percentage was 22.5, 293rd in the country. They shot 30.4% from 3-point range and 43.8% from 2s. They had an inordinate number of shots blocked.

Other than that, their offense was just fine!

After last season, their first and third leading scorers graduated (though I am not positive this is a bad thing. Leading scorer Sultan Toles-Bey shot 34% from the field - though in the interest of fairness he had an excellent 32.0 ARate), and their 5th and 6th leading scorers transferred. All of this begs the question - where are they going to get offense from?

The guy that seems the best best to lead them in scoring is junior John Dickson, a 6'6'' forward. He was an honorable mention Big Sky performer, and finished 2nd on the team in scoring last year behind Toles-Bey. He scored 10.9 PPG for the reason, but upped that to a team-best 12.6 PPG during conference play. His best attribute is his ability to get to the line. He shot 139 FTs last year, making 76.3% of them, a solid number. If he can stay away from shooting 3s (5/39 last year) and focus on what he does best, he will be a nice building block for Coach Brian Katz.

Another returner that will have a big role is Jackson Carbajal, who booked a lot of minutes last year as a freshman. At 6'3'' he will be handling the ball a lot, which may or may not be a good thing (had an almost 3:1 TO:A ratio last year). He took more 3s than 2s, but made 31% of 3s compared to 57% of 2s. He needs to take better care of the basketball this year, and he will likely be one of their leading scorers.

Walter Jackson is another guy that put in solid minutes for them last year, though he was more of a selective scorer. He is a 6'5'' G/F combo that averaged 6.0 PPG last year, but did it with a very efficient 49% shooting (though he too needs to avoid the 3 ball). He is also a solid offensive rebounder, and his 8.7% OR% was highest on the team of anyone that played as many minutes as he did. He started 19 games last year, and should get a starting role again.

Then, there are two newcomers who I think could have a big role in the offense. The first is Dylan Garrity, a 6'2'' G who averaged over 20 PPG last year in high school. He is a dangerous outside shooter, and I think could have command of the offense sooner rather than later. I am excited to see how he plays for the Hornets.

Another key guy could be JUCO F Anthony Costentino, who scored 18.7 PPG last year. At 6'7'' he can play both forward spots, and his versatility will be key for a team without a ton of depth. He can score both inside and offense, and should be their best offensive threat down low. He should get all of the minutes he can handle right away.

Who do you guys see as leading Sacramento State in scoring? Anyone I am missing that will have a big impact?

Weber State Makes Offer to Jared Stutzman (Class of 2014)

Via DeAnte Mitchell:

SG Jared Stutzman '14 picked up his second offer today from Weber State per his AAU coach. He also holds a Utah offer.
Since that posting I believe he has also received an offer from Utah State.

Here is a nice writeup on him over at USU Stats.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Importance and Potential of Tate Unruh

When Devon Beitzel graduated, Northern Colorado lost their best player, and perhaps the best shooter in the Big Sky Conference. While he will have to replaced by a hodge podge of guys (no one player is going to match his production from last season), but one of the guys that looks like he could be a leading scorer for the Bears is Tate Unruh.

As a redshirt freshman last season, Unruh played in 17.3% of the team's minutes, but he was very effective in that time. Unruh was 8/16 from 2-point range, and 13/31 from downtown. He is a great shooter - in high school he finished his career fourth as Missouri's all-time leading 3-point shooter (46%) and 2nd best FT shooter (87%).

He does need to add some strength. He is 6'4'', 170 pounds and still growing into his frame. A quote from BJ Hill from last season said he had grown 5 inches in the past year and a half, so it is not surprising that he is wiry at this point. If he adds strength, it will make him all the more dangerous. He could also improve his ballhandling and ability to get to the basket, as that would give him even more room to maneuver on the outside.

With the loss of last year's Big Sky Conference POY, there is room in Greeley for someone to step up and take command of the team, and become the leading scorer on the team. Don't be surprised if Tate Unruh is one of the best offensive players in the Conference by the end of the season. He has the pedigree and skills, and by all accounts he has the work ethic to get the job done. If he can make the leap from his freshman to sophomore year, UNC will be sitting pretty heading into the Post-Beitzel Era.

Northern Colorado Misses On A Couple Recruits

From a few days ago, an article in the Laramie Boomerang (which, in case you are wondering, is Laramie's voice since 1881) has an article on a couple of guys that were also being recruited by Northern Colorado.

Jason McNamaren from Torrington, WY, and Josh Adams from Parker, CO, both committed to play for Larry Shyatt and the Cowboys.

McManamen averaged 15.7 points and 9.9 rebounds last season in leading the Trailblazers to an overall record of 25-5 and a third-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament.


McManamen also talked to Northern Colorado and Montana during the recruiting process.
Adams was the sixth man at Chaparral as a sophomore before becoming a starter last season. He averaged 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season in helping the Wolverines to an overall record of 15-11.


Adams also was being recruited by Northern Colorado, Portland, Boston College, Hawaii and South Dakota.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Impact Will Frank Otis Have On Weber State?

One of the biggest transfers into the Conference that is eligible to play this year is Frank Otis for Weber State. Otis transferred from SMU, and eligiblity-wise will be a junior.

He played two seasons for SMU. As a freshman, he averaged 2.4 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 13.9 minutes. As a sophomore, he averaged 2.1 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 11.0 minutes. As a sophomore in his role he posted very solid rebound rates, and shot 55% from the field (albeit on 42 FGA).

Otis is a 6'6'' F who is primarily a low post player, which is important because that is probably the area where Weber State is the weakest. While Otis probably won't start this year, he will definitely be in the rotation. In addition, with the graduation of Kyle Bullinger and Darin Mahoney after this season, Otis looks likely to be a starter next year (obviously a lot of things could happen between now and then).

Weber State (and Big Sky) fans, what do you expect from Otis? Will he be a significant contributor this season?

Montana State Offers Matt Colbert Scholarship

From the Twittersphere, from someone named (hopefully not literally) Madzilla:

Marcus Colbert, post falls, Idaho offered by Montana state
I don't know a ton about COlbert, other than that he is a PG that is very quick and explosive. Mslacat had this to say about him:

Colbert avg 16 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 4.9 apg for Post Falls last season he is an explosive playmaker. Saw him @ Griz camp thought he was great
Excellent stuff from Mslacat as always, as he is very keyed in to Montana (and especially Montana State) basketball. It will be interesting to watch, Colbert seems like he could do some nice things in the Big Sky.

EDIT: Alson heard Idaho State has been active on Colbert, but has not offered a scholarship at this time. Montana had him at their basketball camp, but I am not sure if there is an offer on the table for him right now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Montana State Makes an Offer To Trey Dickerson

Here is a scholarship offer made by Montana State, via the Twitter feed of Trey Dickerson:

Picked up a offer from Montana State today
Short and to the point!

Dickerson is a 6'0'' G from California. Here are his stats last year, and here is an interview with him. Judging by other things I am reading (such as on his Twitter feed he says he is waiting for an offer from San Diego St), it doesn't seem overly likely that Bozeman will be his college choice, but we will see how things pan out. He certainly looks like he has the talent to be dynamic in the Big Sky.

UPDATE: Sources now say that an offer has not been made yet, but might be. I'll update more if I hear anything.

UPDATE 2: Dickerson will be visiting Montana State on October 1.

An Early Look at Portland State's Schedule

Portland State was one of the last schedules released among the Big Sky teams, so let's take a look at some of their key games, most notably their out of conference slate.

They start the season on the road on November 11 against Denver out of the Sun Belt Conference. While not a marquee game by any stretch of the imagination, Denver has been a respectable team over the past couple of years, so a road win to start the year would be solid.

Two other conference road games of note are against Oregon and Oregon State, and it would be huge if they could beat even one of the in-state rivals. They will play Oregon on December 12 and Oregon State on December 18th. Oregon is coming off of a solid first year under Dana Altman, and Oregon State has recruited some nice players under Craig Robinson, but these are games the Vikings should go into thinking they can win. Their other non-conference road games come against Utah Valley and Cal State Fullerton.

Their home slate, like is customary for Big Sky teams, is not one that is going to excite a lot of fans. They take on Seattle, Linfield, Walla Walla, and Cal State Bakersfield. On the one hand, this is not a lot of competition and they should win these games. On the other hand, it could be nice confidence builders for them before the Big Sky season. Late in the year they will get a home Bracket Busters game.

They will also play in the Jim Thorpe Classic in Laramie. There they will take on the hometown Wyoming Cowboys, and then have neutral court games against Louisiana Tech and Maryland East-Shore. Talent-wise they should come out of that 2-1.

This will be an interesting season for Coach Tyler Geving and Portland State. After a couple of bad seasons following the departure of Ken Bone, expectations are starting to pick back up, as on paper this team has the talent to finish near the top of the Big Sky. How they fare in the non-conference slate will certainly be a harbinger of what is to come in conference play. With their schedule, 9 wins should be a reachable goal, and anything less than 8 would be a little disappointing, in my opinion.

What do you think? What is a reasonable expectation for the Vikings in the non-conference?

Stacy Davis Will Be Visiting Eastern Washington

Just ran across this tweet from Stacy Davis:

yeahh i go to Pepperdine this week, Fresno St next, Saint Marys after and then Eastern Washington. should be fun thouu broo
Davis is a 6'7'' F from Arizona who averaged about 23 PPG and 10 RPG last year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

30 Days, 17 Hours to Midnight Madness

As of the time I post this, according to the ticker on Rush The Court.

Basketball season is getting closer!

A Few More Thoughts on Joel Bolomboy

I wrote a little about Joel Bolomboy, a F recruit out of Texas that committed to Weber State in the last week, but I had a few more thoughts on the biggest takeaways from his commitment.

1) The Big Sky can recruit with bigger conference schools - Bolomboy had offers from New Mexico, Texas A&M, Fresno St, and others, and he still chose Weber State. The key is for Big Sky schools to be able to identify the players earlier than others and stick with them longer (obviously easier said than done). According to The Standard, "Weber State was the first school to recruit Bolomboy, starting in his sophomore season, and also the first to offer him a scholarship."

2) Bolomboy fills a need for Weber State - Darin Mahoney will be one of the top shot blockers and defenders in the Big Sky, but he will be a senior this year. Kyle Bullinger is a part-time post player, and he is a senior. Frank Otis will be solid after transferring from SMU, but he will be a junior this year. They will need some big men, and Bolomboy fits the bill.

3) Bolomboy has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the Big Sky - He is athletic and has a long wing span (which is a bit of a cliche, but still worth mentioning) and a quick jump, which allows him to be a solid shot blocker. He is still developing there, and could be a force on the glass and defensively inside for Weber State. He is certainly not lacking in confidence: "I'm really good at rebounding. I'm better on defense," Bolomboy said. "I can shoot really good for my size, dribble the ball. I can jump very high, very explosive in traffic." If WSU can develop him properly, they will have a really good one.

What are your biggest takeaways from the signing of Bolomboy?

Eastern Washington Player Goes From Basketball To Football

In 2009-10, Alden Gibbs averaged 2.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.3 SPG (though his ESPN stat profile says he is 0 feet, 7 inches tall, which makes his numbers even more impressive in that light).

Today, he is a cornerback on the EWU football team. The Spokesman-Review has a good article on how that happened.

Alden Gibbs found himself in a strange place in the early spring of 2010, shortly after completing his first season as a small forward on Eastern Washington University’s men’s basketball team.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who had made his way to Cheney via College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., he just reached a “mutual agreement” with then-head coach Kirk Earlywine to look for playing time at another school.

Gibbs’ idea at the time was to transfer to a lower-level college in California. Until then, however, he was without a team to play for the first time since he was in grade school.

But then Taiwan Jones, one of the friends he had made on campus and a standout running back on the Eagles’ football team, suggested Gibbs might want to stay at Eastern and give football a try.

And come Saturday, Gibbs will find himself in another strange place when he makes his first start as the Eagles’ right cornerback in their 2011 season opener against the University of Washington at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Big Sky Recruiting Interests

Some excellent stuff from Sea-Town Sports, a lot of which talks about guys Big Sky schools are interested in. So, without further ado.

Forward Mitch Brewe (Sr.) out of Seattle Prep gained an offer from Army last month to go along with his offer from Drake. UC-Santa Barbara, Montana and St. Mary's are also showing strong interest. The 6'8" forward sees himself as a Matt Howard type of player at the next level. He is looking to make a commitment in the early-signing period to avoid having it as a distraction during the season.
Kennedy Catholic's Mitch Penner (Sr.) has always put up numbers in high school career, but because of the lack of competition in Seamount I wasn't sold on him until I saw him play for the Emerald City Pioneers this summer. He's the real deal. He'll probably play the two or three in college because of his size. However, his best strengths are his high motor and hustle. Penner has two D1 offers from Army and Hartford and an offer from NAIA school Carroll. Currently he is drawing some interest from mid-major D1 schools. Cal Poly, Colgate, Denver, Holy Cross, Portland St., San Francisco and UC Riverside.
Lake Washington's point guard, Matt Staudacher (Sr.) is a name to remember this upcoming season. Perhaps he's been overlooked on Friends of Hoop with both Zach Lavine (Jr.) and Mike Washington Jr. (Sr.) starring at the guard position for the team. Regardless, Denver, Idaho St., Montana, Penn, and Portland St. have shown some interest. Staudacher describes himself as a smart playmaker that can compete and shoot the ball well.
The top combo guard in the state, O'Dea's Sekou Wiggs (Sr.) is close to gaining an offer from UC Davis. Montana St. has also entered the picture. Cal Irvine, Cal Poly, Idaho, Portland St. and San Francisco have all offered. You can read our interview with him here.

Tajai Johnson Visited Sacramento State

From NorCal Basketball:

Vallejo's Tajai Johnson is visiting Sacramento State this weekend and Langston Morris-Walker of Berkeley High is down in El Paso at UTEP.
His MaxPreps profile.

UPDATE: Tajai Johnson has also visited with Portland State, according to Cameron Schott.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Great Story on 9/11

Eamnonn Breannan from ESPN asked current college players for thoughts, reactions, and memories from 9/11, and compiled it all here.

Still, in advance of Sunday's 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, I decided to ask some current college basketball players to discuss their personal experiences during and after that tragic day.

Some were directly affected; Penn State forward Billy Oliver knew four families that lost loved ones in the attacks, and Illinois forward Meyers Leonard's brother Bailey Leonard has since been deployed to Afghanistan twice. Some grew up in the New York area and were in the city at the time. Others watched in horror from afar.

Together, we talked about memories, fears and lessons learned. I compiled their responses below.

If you're looking for a tidy 9/11 story neatly wrapped and tied with a bow, this isn't it. There are no overreaching conclusions here. Instead, we just talked. This is what came out.

Man In The Red Bandanna

In case you haven't seen this video yet, go and do so now, and take a tissue with you.

Man In The Red Bandanna

Ten years later: remembering a man who led people to safety after terrorists struck the World Trade Center on September 11th - a former Boston College lacrosse player whose trademark was a red bandanna
Just an amazing story and typical of the heroes created on September 11.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kyndahl Hill Visiting Weber State

Word on Weber State message boards is that 6'7'' forward Kyndahl Hill is visiting Weber State this weekend.

Hill was seen as a top football recruit, but he decided to choose basketball, where he averaged 13 PPG and 8 RPG last season as a junior.

"I can bring toughness," Hill said. "I think being able to deal with tough situation and the physicality [of football] will help me out. I've thought about this a lot, and I knew it'd be tough, but I think I made the right decision."
After signing one Texas recruit in Joel Bolomboy, Weber would love to nab another, as Hill's pedigree certainly suggests he would be an elite athlete in the Big Sky.

UPDATE: This is confirmed via TexasHoops twitter account.

Patrick Mitchell - The Best Player on North Dakota's Team

When people think about the future of North Dakota basketball (which, I know the majority of people DO lay in bed at night thinking about the future of North Dakota basketball), the first thing that comes to mind is their five-member class of 2014, and for good reason. As a class, they had a very successful freshman year, and they provide a lot of hope for the future, particularly when North Dakota enters the Big Sky next season and is eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

For next season, however, their best player is probably Patrick Mitchell, who will be a senior. The 6'8'' F averaged 10.6 PPG and 5.8 RPG last season for the 17-16 Sioux.

Mitchell is a solid all-around player... he doesn't dominate in any area, but he does a little bit of everything. Probably his best attribute is his versatility on offense. He shot 37% from downtown (on 140 attempts), but he also shot a solid 49.6% from 2s, and got to the line a solid 105 times. His 52.7 EFG% was second on the team behind only Brandon Brekke.

He also had the highest DR Rate on the team, at 19.6%, which was about 200th in the nation. For a team that does not have a lot of height (or, frankly speaking, talent) down low, this is huge for UND. Mitchell can also make some opponents think twice in the lane, as he had a 6.8% Block Rate, 92nd in the nation.

He could stand to improve his FT shooting a bit, as he shot only 63.8%, and any improvement would make a difference since he is adept at getting to the line.

Mitchell is not the most athletic guy you'll find at this level, but he is a very good player, and a big key to what UND wants to do this season. He will be missed after his graduation. In the end, I think Sioux Blog probably said it best:

... it’s important to note that while Huff is the most talented player on the team, Mitchell is probably its best player.

Walk-On Mitchell Schwab at Montana State

Good article about walk-on 22 year old freshman Mitchell Schwab at Montana State from Star Valley Independent. Every program needs guys like this... just really solid characters who provide leadership to the team.

From reading the article, you get the impression that whether or not Schwab plays a minute for the Bobcats, he is going to have a positive impact on the program:

“I just want to give it all every single practice,” he replied. “If I don’t do that I  can’t improve. The hardest workers will get the spots. I feel like I have a lot more faith that I’m going to improve with this staff.”
Good stuff right there.

Tip of the cap to mslacat for the link.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Potential Montana and Montana State Recruiting Targets

Nobody is more plugged in on these schools recruiting than Mslacat, who has a couple of great posts up on potential recruiting targets for Montana and Montana State:

Montana Potential Recruitign Targets
Montana State Potential Recruiting Targets

In addition, his twitter account is a must follow for fans of those schools, and really for Big Sky basketball fans in general. Dare I say you are not a true Big Sky basketball fan unless you follow him on twitter.

Check the articles out, full of great information.

Walk-On Earns Scholarship

This has made the rounds a bit in the college basketball blogiverse over the past couple of days, but the best write-up came from Jeff Eisenberg over at The Dagger.

The video is about a 5'4'' guard from Green Bay named Eric Valentin, and how he was awarded a scholarship. Great video and great feel good moment!

If you haven't already, go read the article and watch the video!

Where Will Southern Utah Finish In The Summit League?

A little old, but a look by Rush The Court at the Summit League:

Southern Utah – The next team to leave the Summit League, Southern Utah is looking to the future but has to deal with the reality of next season first. Last year their defense was one of the worst in the conference, and it should be a point of emphasis this offseason. They signed Chris Nsenki, a 5-A all-state player from Kansas City, Missouri. He will be given his opportunity to make this team his own, but as a freshman in the Summit League, it’s hard to predict how he will perform. Needless to say, Thunderbird fans are pretty excited with the kid’s athleticism.
The writer checking in on the Summit League projected the Thunderbirds to finish 9th in the Summit, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. They finished 8th last season after being pretty bad offensively and very bad defensively.

They would like to leave the Summit League strong, but I think the biggest thing will be getting into a good position heading into their entrance into the Big Sky. It will be interesting to see if they can build some momentum, because the Big Sky is looking like it could be especially tough in 2012-13.

Another Joel Bolomboy Article

We saw a couple days ago how Texas F/C Joel Bolomboy signed with Weber State, and another article about it has popped up from The Standard.

Bolomboy is a long, athletic post player with an approximately 7-foot wingspan who runs well and is a shotblocker.

"I'm really good at rebounding. I'm better on defense," Bolomboy said. "I can shoot really good for my size, dribble the ball. I can jump very high, very explosive in traffic."

Weber State was the first school to recruit Bolomboy, starting in his sophomore season, and also the first to offer him a scholarship. He says he also had offers from New Mexico, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech, Missouri State, Hartford, Long Island, IUPUI, and St. Francis.

While other schools wanted him to redshirt, the Wildcats' staff won Bolomboy over with the chance to play as a freshman. He took an unofficial trip to Missouri State, but decided on Weber State after an official visit to the Ogden campus Sept. 2-4.
I will have more to say on Bolmoboy in the coming days, but it certainly looks like Weber State got a good one, and Wildcat fans are rightfully very excited.

Portland State Schedule Released

Finally, Portland State has released their basketball schedule. A rundown of the schedule can be found here.

The Portland State men's basketball program has released its 2011-12 schedule, featuring 12 homes games, 16 road games, two neutral site games and an ESPN BracketBuster contest.
Will have some more to say on the schedule in the coming days.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Idaho State's Frontcourt Production

When Deividas Busma exhausted his eligibility, Idaho State lost not only one of their two best players, they lost their best (and the cynic in me would say only) inside scorer from last season. Who will fill the void left by Busma?

One guy that will try to step in is Abner Moreira, who will be entering his senior year. He was the best rebounder on the team last year, and that should certainly continue. He shot a respectable 45% from the field, but that could stand to improve. He is decent at getting to the FT line, which is great, because he shot 80% from there last season.

After Moreira, no returning post got regular minutes last year, which leaves a lot of uncertainty. Jakub Kusmierak will get some PT for a couple of reasons. One, he has some D1 experience, having spent his freshman year at UTEP. Second, he is 7'4''. Kusmieruk will have a chance to earn consistent minutes for the Bengals.

Nobody else on the roster is taller than 6'8'', so they might have to play small for long stretches. Dejan Kostur from Australia will get a chance to be in the rotation, but he averaged just 8 PPG and 4 RPG last season (for a very good JUCO team.

Brandon Glanz is 6'6'', but he did averaged 17 RPG his senior year of high school (not a typo), so he figures to be able to play in the post a bit. He redshirted last season. Then there is Garrett Swanson, also at 6'7'', but he is more of a perimeter player than a post. He will have a role on the team though, as he can drain it from outside. If you are interested, he's got a lot of highlight videos.

Bengals fans, who do you see having the biggest role in the post this year? Am I forgetting anyone?

Former Sacramento State Players Overseas

Always fun to read about the guys from The Big Sky that are able to play professional basketball, but it is easy to lose track of the guys that go overseas.

The Sacramento State website put together a nice write-up on five of their former players who recently complete seasons overseas. Pretty cool to see where they all are.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lateef McMullan (Portland State Recruit)

If Portland State really is going to have any chance to win the Big Sky, they are going to need Lateef McMullan to come in and be a solid contributor right away.

McMullan is a JUCO PG, coming to the Vikings from Tulsa, OK, with stops at two different colleges along the ay (most recently Citrus Junior College in CA, and his freshman year at UC Riverside). Last season he averaged 16.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 4.2 APG.

"Lateef is extremely quick with the basketball and can get from free throw line to free throw line in a hurry," said Geving. "That's what we need with the style we like to play. He makes good decisions, can break people down off the dribble, then score or make plays for his teammates. Lateef has a great understanding of the game and I expect big things from him."
He also brings an outside shooting element to the Vikings, as he made 94 3-pointers last year after shooting 41% his freshman year at UC Riverside. His quickness with the ball and ability to find the open man will fit perfectly in Tyler Geving's system, as the Vikings were the fastest team in the Big Sky last season.

Coming out of high school, this is what Scout had to say about him:

Talented guard who has a floater, speed and a tough mentality. At his size he's got to be a knock-down shooter. Likes to score and has a few different shots in his bag of tricks.
Lateef will be a lot of fun to watch next season, that we know. His speed in getting up and down the court will make him a crowd pleaser. If he can properly distribute the ball to the talented guys the Vikings have, as well as knock down some open shots, Portland State could become very dangerous in the Big Sky.

Shavon Shields Pick Nebraska

A couple weeks ago, I wrote that Shavon Shield was drawing interest from Northern Colorado and Weber State.

Well, it was for not, as Shields has chosen to become a Cornhusker, per Eric Bossi.

Per @MOKANElite director Matt Suther. Kansas wing Shavon Shields is offthe board to Nebraska. 6-5 wind had tremendous summer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Joel Bolomboy Commits to Weber State, Class of 2012

Weber State has secured their first commitment for the class of 2012.

PF Joel Bolomboy from Keller, TX, committed to the Wildcats after reportedly visiting campus last weekend. Last year, he averaged 9.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 1.3 assists per game, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

As far as I can tell, this was first reported by Josh Gershon of / Foxsports.

Bolomboy is a little on the small side for a PF/C at 6'7'', but he has long arms, and seems like he could have some growing to do. He is an athletic rebounder and shot blocker, with a developing offensive game. Best guess, he will never be more than an average offensive player, but he has a lot of potential to be very good defensively on the block.

Here is a highlight video I found of him... much of which is basically a block party. Bolomboy is definitely a nice get for Head Coach Randy Rahe.

North Dakota Player Catches 40 Pound Catfish

As seen on The Dagger, North Dakota Center Mike Mathison caught a 40 pound catfish on an Animal Planet show called "Hillbilly Handfishing."

Even though North Dakota's Mike Mathison only scored a total of four points last season, the seldom-used 6-foot-10 center can still lay claim to having the surest hands in all of college basketball.

How many other guys can hoist an oversized catfish out of a river without the help of a rod or some bait?
Check out the article for video and a full round-up of the fishing!

Kevin Winford

If you look at Kevin Winford's stats last season, he looks just like any other 3-point specialist. He averaged 9.9 PPG, and jacked up 187 treys (compared to 74 2s). He was a solid outside shooter, but most of all he took a lot of 3s.

However, looking a little deeper, you notice something else - he has games of 39 points and 28 points last season. For a guy that is the 4th leading scorer on a team, that is pretty impressive. And it is one of the reasons EWU might be picked to finish as high as 3rd in the Big Sky.

Winford is no doubt a bit of a volume shooter, as none of his percentages jump out at you. In the game he scored 28 points against Idaho, he shot 9/20 from the field and 8/16 from downtown. In the 39 point game against New Hope Christian, he shot 14/27 from the field, 10/23 from downtown. Those aren't bad, but it is not an amazing shooting percentage.

It is unclear if he will be given as much of a green light from Jim Hayford as he had under Kirk Earlywine, and so he needs to add a little variety to his game. He does get many assists (though he doesn't turn it over a lot either), and he is not one to get to the hoop and get to the FT line. He is a 3-point specialist, and 35% is actually pretty average for someone with that role. He is definitely athletic, so it would be nice to see him show a little more restraint in simply jacking up 3s.

With the presence of Jeffrey Forbes, Cliff Colimon, and Collin Chiverton, it remains to be seen if Kevin Winford will start. But either way, he figures to be a key role for the EWU offense. He is very talented... if he can get a little more efficient, he can be one of the most dangerous scorers in the Big Sky.

Tanner Samson to Make Official Visit to Montana

From ESPN'S Dave Telep:

Colorado Chaos wing Tanner Samson will make officials to Elon, Pepperdine and Montana
Samson is a 6'4'' SG from Littleton, CO. ESPN gives him an 85 grade, making him their 4th best prospect out of Colorado.

He looks like a typical Big Sky prospect, as he is not an excellent athlete, but he is very skilled and has good range on his jumpshot. He would definitely be a nice get for the Griz.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Big Sky Schedules

Weber Hoops has put together a nice page with the schedule for all of the Big Sky teams, which can be found here.

Still waiting on a final schedule release from Northern Arizona and Portland State, but check it out, it is definitely a very good resource.

A Look At Sacramento State's Recruiting Class

After a last place finish in the Big Sky, Sacramento State is in need of some hope. They hope their four-man recruiting class will provide that.

The best of the bunch appears to be Dylan Garrity, who is also the only freshman recruit the Hornets are bringing in. At 6'2'', he is a solid all-around guard that will likely be asked to play a lot of minutes right away. He averaged at least 17 PPG each of his last three years of high school, including 20.6 PPG his senior year. He also had 3.7 APG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.8 SPG. He is a solid outside shooter (45% from downtown). He was all-state twice in high school, and holds his school record for points and assists. If the program is going to turn around under Brian Katz, Garrity will likely be behind it.

They also signed 3 JUCO guys. One of them is Anthony Costentino, who is 6'7'' and played at Southwestern College in Chila Vista, CA last year. He was named the conference MVP both of his years there, and last year put together a line of 18.7 PPG AND 6.9 RPG. He is dangerous from everywhere on the court, as he shot a respectable 38% from beyond the arc. “Anthony is very versatile player who has perimeter skills and can go inside and post up,” says Brian Katz. “He comes from a basketball family and has grown accustomed to winning at every level he has played.” He figures to be in the mix for playing time at the 3/4.

Another G/F combo is Joe Eberhard, who comes to Sac-Town after playing two years at Irvine Valley JC. Last season he averaged 11.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG. He is a very versatile player, and could see some minutes at a couple of different spots for the Hornets.

The last guy they brought in is combo guard Jordan Estrada, who played at Diablo Valley JC in Concord, CA. He averaged 13.2 PPG to go with 1.8 APG last year. He also showed a propensity to hit the deep ball, making 40% last year. He will be in the rotation for minutes at the guard spots, though he doesn't look to me to be a starter.

What do you think of the class? Who is the best, and what do you expect from them?

Big Sky TV

If you plan on watching any Big Sky basketball this year (and really, you probably aren't reading this blog unless you are), you should check out the Big Sky Conference's Official Blog and their posting on Big Sky TV, and changes to it.

First off, you must create a new account this year. Even if you registered in previous years, you will have to create a brand new account.

You can do this roughly five minutes before the start of event, or when the game information box changes from blue to green. We encourage fans to check out an event prior to the event you really want to watch so you don't encounter problems and miss the game. This link takes you to the entire Big Sky schedule. There are some volleyball matches tonight, and that would be a great time to check out the system.
A very good service there and a unique part of being a Big Sky fan... take advantage of the ability to watch the games this year.

Happy Labor Day!

Hope you all enjoy a great Labor Day, full of the outdoors, barbecue, and lots of relaxing!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Other Star in Ogden: Kyle Bullinger

When you think of Weber State, Damian Lillard is the first guy that comes to mind. He already has a Big Sky Conference MVP Award under his belt, and he will be one of (if not the) favorites to win it again this year.

But if you think all of Weber's success is because of him, you would be wrong. Last year, though he got hurt before conference play began, the Wildcats still finished 11-5 in the Conference. One of the big reasons for that was Kyle Bullinger, who was an all Big Sky performer last season.

Bullinger is 6'6'' but more forward than guard for Randy Rahe. He averaged 11.1 PPG and 6.2 RPG, but is even better than his numbers suggest. For one, he is an excellent rebounder, posting a 21.2 DR%, 126th in the country (and 3rd in the Big Sky last season).

Offensively, he can hurt you in different ways. He is potent from the outside (a theme for the Wildcats), as he shot a solid 42.9% from downtown last year, making 54/126. He is also adept at getting to the line, shooting103 FTs last year with a solid 39.3 FT Rate. He made about 69% of the attempts, which isn't great, but solid. And he shoots 46.3% from 2s, which again, not bad. Add it all up, and his EFG% is 55.0, which was 7th in the Big Sky.

Putting it all together, and Damian Lillard is certainly the star for Weber State, but he is not the only one. One of the reasons why Weber State is going to be picked to do so well is guys like Kyle Bullinger... they might not get a lot of press, they'll never make it in the NBA, but they are excellent college players at the mid-major level.

Shout-Out To Our Football Brethren

It was a nice, competitive day in Big Sky football, which should be recognized.

The biggest game of the day was Sacramento State football shocking Oregon State, 29-28 in OT. Displaying the "nothing-to-lose" attitude that we all love, Sacramento State was down 28-21 in OT when they scored a TD, and then went for the win instead of kicking the PAT to send it to a second OT.

The Hornet victory was the first against a Football Bowl Subdivision team in 11 tries and snapped a streak of 49-straight losses by Big Sky Conference schools against FBS foes dating back to 1996. In addition, the win snapped a 29-game losing streak by Big Sky teams against Pac-10 teams. The last Big Sky win against the Pac-10 came on Sept. 7, 1996 when Montana beat Oregon State 35-14.
Of course, the Big Sky almost got a couple more.

Defending FCS champion Eastern Washington lost a barnburner to Washington, 30-27. And in a late game, Weber State missed a late FG, but they put together a great effort against Wyoming, losing 35-32.

Ultimately, any publicity for the Big Sky for any sport will help the conference, and that is what happened Saturday. With one victory and two narrow losses to the FBS opponents, it was definitely a great day for Big Sky football.

Lucas O'Brien Will Visit Some Big Sky Schools

From Mslacat's twitter feed:

Lucas O'Brien 6-10 C/F from Gilbert Az will visit @UMGRIZZLIES_BB (10/7) @ N. Ariz (9/9) 4 other school are also showing serious interest
Also, according to his feed:

Lucas O'Brien avereaged 13pts, & 7 rbs and stock has been rising as of late.
Productive big men are always in demand in the Big Sky, so it will be interesting to see what happens with O'Brien.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Could Portland State Win the Big Sky?

Recently we looked at who might be the third best team in the Big Sky, considering for the sake of the argument that Weber State and Montana would be 1-2. In the post, I consider Portland State perhaps the favorite to be 3rd.

But Craw's Corner has gone a step further, making a bold prediction that Portland State would win the Big Sky:

The Portland State Vikings will win the Big Sky championship this year in men's basketball. Yes those Vikings who play in a clean, sparkling, but awfully small arena, the Stott Center, which is seldom filled, but as noted, has the best band of any school in the country, with the band having an average of what I would guess 50 years old.
While Portland State is long on talent, I personally don't see them winning the Big Sky, and here is why:

- Coach Tyler Geving may someday be a very good coach, but he is not there yet. He is only 38, and after two seasons (albeit marred by some messes left by Ken Bone), there has been one thing about his resume that has stood out - PSU has been terrible defensively. Two years ago they had an AdjD of 112.4 (meaning opponents scored 112.4 points per 100 possessions against the Vikings), which was 338th in the country. Last year, they were down to 113.8, which ranked 334th in the NCAA. I don't care what league you are in, that will not get it done. They need to emphasize defense, and Geving hasn't shown yet that he can do that.

- They don't have a ton of experienced depth. Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott are their senior leaders. Michael Harthun and Brandon Cataldo are talented but it's tough to say how good they will be. Lateef McMullan looks like he will be a solid contributor coming in as a JUCO. But what will their depth look like? I'm not sure.

- I think Weber State is actually going to be very good this year. Craw says it's "easy to win the Big Sky," but I don't think it will be easy at all to beat Weber State this year. They will be deep at all positions, they have great shooters, and they have an excellent coach in Randy Rahe. To top it off, you know they will be hungry after their preseason top ranking in the Big Sky was derailed by the injury to Damian Lillard. He will be back, and they will be good.

What are all of your thoughts? Does Portland State really have a chance to win the Big Sky?

Things You Should Read

Have had a crazy night... the joys of apartment living, as the (vacant) room above me had a pipe break, causing my ceiling to sprout leaks from about 10 places. I suppose everyone needs one of those stories in their lives...

- The story on Javaris Crittenton was one of the sadder things you'll hear about, but that is not how National Hoops Reports remembers Crittenton - The sad tale of a good kid.

- You may have heard about Maryland signing a mysterious Ukranian big man... well, he is slightly less mysterious to me after reading Jeff Eisenberg from The Dagger's article on Olexiy Len.

- There are a lot of interesting viewpoints to the Andre Drummond signing... another of them is that Alex Oriakhi was even shocked by the news.

- Just some good, solid writing on Stanford, and their attempt to become relevant again in basketball (Josh Childress, where have you gone?)

- Non basketball related, but my alma mater pitched a shutout in their season opener.

- Will have more to say soon another of Craw's Corner's posts, but for now time to take a step back and appreciate the things that we do have in this life. Life is a beautiful thing and we can't ever lose sight of that.

Hope you all have had a great start to your holiday weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

How Good Can Gabe Rogers Be?

After the graduation of Cameron Jones, someone is going to need to step up and be the leaders for the Lumberjacks next season. The frontcourt is lacking in established players and star talent, which could a lot of pressure on the backcourt.

Fortunately, NAU has a very talented player back there in Gabe Rogers, who could be a star entering his junior season. Rogers was second team All-Conference last season, so he is no stranger to success. But this year, there will be no Cameron Jones to draw the attention of defenses.

First and foremost, Rogers is an elite shooter from the outside. He shot 46.8% from 3-point range last season, draining 81 of them. Because of this, he posted solid EFG& and ORtg, though not quite as good as you would expect for someone with that high of an outside percentage. The reason is that he only shot 40.1% from 2-point range, which is a very mediocre mark. It is not really an aberration either, because he was at 41.2% his freshman year. An improvement to even a modest 45% would do wonders for his offensive efficiency.

Rogers takes good care of the basketball, posting a pretty solid 15.9% TO Rate, even with using 21.6% of their possessions. However, his Assist rate was also pretty average, at 16.1%. If he is going to be the leader, he has to become a better distributor. While he will be off the ball a bit with Stallon Saldivar in town, he needs to create shots for his teammates more often.

One more improvement would be if he can get to the FT line a little bit more. He is a very good FT shooter, and so some increased attempts would be a nice boost for his scoring and efficiency.

Cameron Jones used 37.6% of NAU's possessions last year, second most of anyone in the NCAA. That is a lot of shots and possessions to make up. Gabe Rogers was second on the team in those areas last season, and even more of the load will fall onto his shoulders this year. If he can improve inside the arc, maintain his great outside shooting, and find a way to get teammates a few more open looks, he could definitely be a member of the First Team All-Conference at the end of 2012.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Will Brandon Cataldo Provide For Portland State?

I think there's a chance Portland State could make the leap up to third in the Big Sky Conference this season, but they are going to need some guys to step up. They should know what they are going to get from Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott. We have looked at Michael Harthun and what he could bring to the table this year.

The other key piece could be Brandon Cataldo.

Cataldo is a 6'10'' redshirt freshman out of Rainier, OR. He got injured his senior year of high school (with a broken leg) and spent last year working on his game and getting back into shape, according to the school website. He has the potential to be a great Big Sky player.

Going into his senior year, he was the 10th ranked high school center in the country, and the 2nd highest ranked center on the west coast (though his rankings dropped a little bit because of the injury, pre-injury he was behind some guy named Josh Smith, who might be the best player in the Pac-12 this year). As a junior he was the conference player of the year in his high school conference.

He was a bit of a late riser as a high schooler, but if he can get back to his former shape and explosiveness, he will be one of the top bigs in the Conference. He has excellent hands and moves well for a big man (he has had some weight issues in the past). He is a solid passer as well. Unlike some guys that like to play on the perimeter, he is a true post player that is not afraid to get dirty.

Cataldo will be one of the more interesting stories in the Big Sky this year. If he is back 100% (or close to it), a front-line that involves Tapscott and Cataldo could easily be the best in the Big Sky.

Some Questions on Big Sky Coaches

Some good stuff from Craw's Corner:

Will Jim Hayford be as good in D-1 as he was at D-3? This will be one to watch for sure. I have always been a big proponent that a coach can win at any level, if he is a winner. Hayford had a great run at D-3 Whitworth, built them into a national power. The challenges are much greater at Eastern Washington for Hayford, where he has to worry lots, including making sure his athletes are attending classes. I have always said it does not take much to rise to the top the Big Sky, Eastern has potential to do just that in future years.
I think EWU could be a top 4 team in the Big Sky this season, as they have a lot of talent coming back (and some nice additions)... it will be interesting to see the style of play that Hayford has his teams play.

Will Joe O'Brien win five games at Idaho State? Idaho State is overmatched even in the weak Big Sky and as bad as Idaho State has been under O'Brien, this year could be even worse. I think the only thing that could save him from being terminated at the end of the year would be if his team won 20 games and that is not going to happen, winning 10 would be a successful season and that is not going to happen. In the winter in Idaho, people deserve to watch good basketball, or actually at Idaho State it is been so long since they have seen good basketball, would they even recognize it.
He is spot on here... O'Brien will need a miracle to see one coming. I suppose by the very definition of the word "miracle" it is something that you can't see coming, and that is more than applicable here. It would be a shock if O'Brien is still the coach after this season.